Apple has announced the iPhone X, celebrating 10 years of the iPhone with a new premier edition of the handset. Apple says this is the future of smartphones, losing the home button, embracing new technologies and being the biggest shift in iPhone design since iPhone 1.
But is this the future of smartphones? We’ve pitched it up against the Samsung Galaxy S8, the phone it most closely sits next to in a number of areas.
We’ve torn our way through these two devices, we’ve issued the order and to settle this ultimate battle of the specs, it’s pistols at dawn, in full honour and with all decorum.
Here’s how the iPhone X compares to the Galaxy S8.
Apple iPhone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Design
- iPhone X has greater screen to body ratio
- iPhone X is smaller
- Both offer IP environmental protection
- Both have glass front and back, with metal edges
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is constructed with a metal core and glass to the front and rear of the device. The glass is Gorilla Glass 5 front and back for protection against scratches while the construction offers IP68 protection against water and dust. The S8 is a dual curved Infinity Display, and it measures 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0mm and weighs 155g.
The iPhone X measures 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm so it is smaller than the Galaxy S8 although it’s heavier at 178g, likely down to the use of surgical grade steel rather than aluminium for those edges. It offers IP67 protection. The design of the iPhone X is similar to Samsung, with Apple adopting a 19:9 (ish) aspect for the display, lending some similarity to Samsung’s device that launched in April 2017.
Apple have pushed the extremes, however, increasing the screen to body ratio and although it doesn’t take the curved edges of the Galaxy S8, it does reduce the bezel top and bottom, except for that distinctive notch at the top. In some ways, it out Infinity Displays the Samsung Infinity Display, but that notch design is difficult to avoid. Apple says this is the toughest glass you’ll find on a smartphone.
The fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S8 is on the rear of the handset next to the camera, while a virtual home button sits under the display on the front; the iPhone X offers Face ID unlocking, with no fingerprint scanner.
The iPhone X is a massive change for Apple, but there’s a slight feeling that Samsung got here first and we love those curved edges to the display.
Apple iPhone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Display
- Both feature a 5.8-inch OLED display
- Both offer wide aspect ratios
- Samsung offers dual curves to edges
- Samsung is a higher resolution
- Both support HDR
With all the rumours of Samsung supplying the display for the iPhone X and the move to OLED for Apple’s new device, it’s easy to see how these two devices might be similar. Apple’s aspect ratio looks more like 19:9 compared to Samsung’s 18.5:9, but both are a world away from the 16:9 of the past, both a similar idea.
The use of OLED means punchier colours, increased contrast and blacker blacks. That’s long been the trait of Samsung’s displays and the Galaxy S8 is the best yet. The shift in aspect means fewer black bars in that widescreen movie content and a great splitscreen experience. Samsung offers a 2960 x 1440 resolution, 570ppi and a brightness of over 1000 nits.
Apple very much repeats this performance with the new iPhone X display, but chooses a lower resolution at 2437 x 1125 pixels for 458ppi, and with a brightness of 625 nits. What does this mean? It means that technically, Samsung can show more precise detail and give you sharper images, although more pixels means more battery power.
Samsung’s display can also go much brighter which is great for beating reflections and potentially means more impactful HDR content as the peak brightness can be so much higher. Again, that puts huge demands on the battery and lets not dismiss those curved edges which give a completely bezel-less effect.
Apple also supports HDR, but includes Dolby Vision which Samsung doesn’t. This is a universal decision from Samsung that applies to its TVs too. Dolby Vision might technically be more capable as an HDR format, but with content being so rare at the moment, this doesn’t give Apple a huge benefit on day one.
What does give Apple the advantage is the True Tone technology it’s rolling over from the iPad Pro. This will ensure that the white and colour balance suits the environment to make your content look its best. We love it on the iPad and it could well avoid that criticism that Samsung often faces of being slightly too saturated with colours on its phones.
Both these displays look staggering. Vive la OLED révolution!
Apple iPhone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Cameras
- iPhone X has a dual camera
- iPhone X offers dual OIS
- Samsung has a wider aperture
When it comes to the cameras, iPhone X has a distinct advantage. Samsung’s older Galaxy S8 doesn’t have a dual camera, so you’re looking at a 12-megapixel Dual Pixel sensor, f/1.7 with OIS.
The iPhone X by contrast has a wide-angle and telephoto camera, both 12-megapixel and both offering optical image stabilisation. If you want to compete with this, you’re going to have to move to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 instead, or wait for the Galaxy S9 in 2018.
The iPhone offers f/1.8 and f/2.4 on its cameras (wide and telephoto respectively), so Samsung can let in a little more light. What really matters here is how well that image data is then processed and Apple has a new dedicated ISP to do just that.
Samsung’s camera is an excellent performer, good in low light and very dependable, but with optical zoom from that telephoto lens and a range of clever features like portrait lighting, the iPhone X has more features at its disposal.
Both camera are likely to be excellent, but how they compare in a straight shootout is yet to be seen.
Apple iPhone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Hardware and specs
- Apple A11 Bionic chip with M11 coprocessor
- Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 for Samsung
- 64GB storage and microSD standard for S8
- Both offer wireless charging; both support fast charging
- Face ID on iPhone, fingerprint on Galaxy S8
Hardware is one of the most difficult areas of comparison for Apple vs Android devices. Apple doesn’t tend to say too much about what is powering its phones – except to say they are more powerful than the last. In the case of the iPhone X, it’s a hexa-core chipset, with two cores for heavy lifting and four for lower power work.
We know it’s more powerful than the iPhone 7, with a marked improvement in graphics performance. Apple’s advantage comes in pairing hardware and software for complete optimisation, often getting better performance out of less powerful hardware than its rivals.
The Galaxy S8 uses either the Exynos or Qualcomm 835 platform, both octo-core with a similar arrangement and both have been excellent performers. The Galaxy S8 flies and is a very capable handset. We suspect that in daily tasks, you’ll see no lag on either phone and currently it’s difficult to say which is going to be the better performer.
What we can say is that Samsung offers greater flexibility in storage, with 64GB standard and microSD for expansion against Apple’s 64GB standard. If you want more space, you have to pay more money – and in the case of Apple, a lot more money.
On the battery front we have a similar story. The Galaxy S8 has 3000mAh battery that will last you through the day. Apple says that the iPhone X will give you 2 hours more than the iPhone 7, so again, that’s the whole day.
Both offer fast charging through cables, however, and both offer wireless charging and both support Qi. Samsung also supports the rival format, PMA.
When it comes to security, Samsung sticks with a fingerprint scanner, but its position on the rear of the phone is a little awkward. Apple claims that its Face ID is more secure than fingerprint and uses an array of sensors on the front of the phone to unlock it. It’s a very different approach, although Samsung also offers iris scanning: both involve looking at the phone to get it to unlock.
Apple iPhone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Software
- iOS 11 with a twist
- Android Nougat with a twist
This is where the field divides, you’re either an iOS fan or an Android fan. The iPhone X runs iOS 11, the latest version of Apple’s mobile software, bringing with it a new Control Centre and a range of new features.
On the iPhone X there’s a slight change to this arrangement, with a swipe up to go home and a swipe down to get to Control Centre or your notifications – which is pretty much how Android works too, ironically.
Samsung’s reworking of Android is the most accomplished Android skin you’ll find and remarkably it doesn’t slow things down when it comes to using it. It’s absolutely packed with options and features, in many ways reflecting the sort of ecosystem that Apple has built.
Apple has that advantage of pairing hardware and software, is always front of the line when it comes to ecosystem support and often this means app updates and features that don’t make it to Android. In some cases the experience is the same, with the vast majority of apps available on both platforms.
Apple’s killer fun feature on the iPhone X though is animoji – animated emoji. Using that clever front camera you can map your face so you can become a talking poo emoji (or a range of animals). It’s seriously fun and we’re not sure how long it’s going to take Android to offer anything similar.
And let’s face it. The iPhone X will update to the next version of iOS on the day Apple wants it to. For the Samsung phone, you’ve no idea when Oreo is going to land.
Apple iPhone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Price
- Samsung Galaxy S8 is cheaper
- Yep, that’s about it
There’s not a huge amount to say here. The Galaxy S8 is now 6-months old and there are deals for this handset all over the place. You can buy it for £689 SIM free from Samsung.
The iPhone X, however, falls into a new premier tier for Apple, more expensive than the new iPhone 8 models. The 64GB iPhone X will cost you £999.
That’s about all there is to it – iPhone X is an expensive phone.
Apple iPhone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Conclusions
So there we have it. Apple has the advantage with the iPhone X in being a brand new phone. While it probably betters the Samsung Galaxy S8 in a number of areas – camera, potentially display realism and probably power – that is likely to change with the launch of the Galaxy S9. That’s the fun of having launch cycles that overlap.
There’s a lot of similarity. Both offer a similar construction and both these rivals are closer in size and display than they have been for a long time. Samsung pushes resolution and those dual curved edges have a wow factor that’s still delightful. Apple’s True Tone display tech might keep things on the realism scale, even if on paper the display is less capable.
We don’t doubt that the iPhone X will out-perform the Galaxy S8 in some day-to-day aspects around app speed and performance. This is often the case, with Apple’s close eye on hardware and software optimisation. Ultimately the software experience will fall to personal preference, but we’re sure both will be a first class experience.
However, while the specs in many cases align on these similar devices, the price does not. Samsung is clearly the more affordable device, priced closer to the standard iPhone 8 than the iPhone X. We just hope that the birth of the iPhone X doesn’t see Android phone manufacturers trying to compete on price. Apple can sustain those high prices, but we’re not sure other tech companies can.