For years, Samsung has been accused of being an Apple copycat and staying in shadows of the American smartphone giant based out of Cupertino, California. However, with the launch of Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, the Korean phonemaker seems to have emulated its rival by coming up with a great original design.
When the iPhone 7 Plus was launched, people didn't go gaga over it. While it wasn't bad, it really wasn't inspiring. However, reactions were of a different order when Samsung launched its flagship smartphone. People went, "OMG that screen!" You can sense the excitement in people when they hold the phone for the first time.
I have been using the Samsung Galaxy S8+ for a couple of days now and it is a marvellous thing to behold every time I unlock it. The aesthetics of the iPhone 7 Plus just doesn't cause that level of amazement. If you set both the phones side by side, there is hardly any difference visible.
You can clearly make out that the Galaxy S8 has much more screen space thanks to the removal of the iconic Samsung front button. Additionally, the display of the S8+ is set to full HD by default (2220 x 1080). However, you can alter the settings and make it WQHD+ (2960 x 1440). All of this makes the Galaxy S8+'s display much more attractive than the iPhone's Retina display.
The 18.5:9 aspect ratio used by Samsung is great to look at but you will have to adjust the grip very often to reach certain parts of the screens.
Samsung began its journey towards beautiful phones with the S6 and S6 Edge two years ago. Now, finally, they seem to have realized their vision. This will be a tough device for Apple engineers to match. Plus, they have to bear in mind that they will be called copy cats if there is any resemblance to the Galaxy S8.
One annoyance with the Galaxy S8's design though concerns its unlocking mechanism. The phone has famously placed the fingerprint sensor on the side of the camera making it awkward to reach to because of the device's elongated shape. Samsung has included the alternative IRIS and Face scan mechanisms to unlock the phone. However, you need to hold the phone at a certain angle and distance to trigger either of them, making them less smooth to operate than the fingerprint sensor.
The material and mechanism used for the fingerprint sensor is not very good either. There are more misses than hits while using it. On the other hand, iPhone's improved touchID works like a charm.
Having said that, if Apple can incorporate the touchID onto the screen they will gain a huge advantage over their rivals. There were reports of Samsung trying that as well but so far there have been no reports of success.
If we look at the user experience, iPhone still has an upper hand. Siri, despite being really awful most of the time, works in certain cases while Samsung's AI experiment, Bixby, is not really functional yet.
Samsung's software still lacks that finishing polish that will provide the user with top-notch experience. There are badly designed icons and a cluttered settings menu. That being said, the S8 launcher is nice and Samsung has managed to clear out a lot of unnecessary things from the device.
As an iOS user, one tends to lean towards functions that just work. But that is not really the case with the Galaxy S8+. There has been plenty of talk about cameras as well but that calls for a separate comparison piece.
One more important set of hardware that warrants comparison is the speakers. The iPhone's dual stereo speakers are really pleasant to use as compared to the Galaxy S8+'s feeble bottom feeders.
All in all, the iPhone has a design hill to climb while Samsung has to iron out the experience part of things. But Apple has a match in hand with the upcoming iPhone and expectations are high.