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Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Is an iPhone Replacement—Sometimes

The new Samsung S8 is on display for the press after a new conference in New York on March 29, 2017.Timothy A. Clary—AFP/Getty Images

In the world of big-screen smartphones, there’s only room for two—maybe.

Earlier this week, the Galaxy S8+ I ordered finally arrived on my doorstep. A long-time iPhone user, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but thought now was as good a time as any to complement my Apple (AAPL) lifestyle with something from the Korean conglomerate.

After all, when Samsung (SSNLF) unveiled its Galaxy S8 last month, I was impressed by what it offered. A high-end Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 835 processor could deliver better-than-iPhone performance, I thought. And the Galaxy S8’s design, featuring a curved screen and impossibly small bezels that forced the company to eliminate a physical home button in favor of a virtual option, got me excited. After living with only modest iPhone upgrades over the last few years, it was refreshing to see something so different.

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Still, I knew I couldn’t ditch the iPhone 7 Plus I’ve been using since the fall. All of my friends and family are using iPhones and iPads, and as a Mac user, as well, being able to share and access content between smartphone and computer is ideal.

So, rather than ditch my iPhone, I decided to add another line to my wireless plan and carry both a Galaxy S8+ and the iPhone 7 Plus. And although I haven’t used the Galaxy S8+ long enough to decide for sure whether it’s lived up to the hype I’ve constructed in my mind, at least so far, I’m really, really impressed.

But there are some caveats and other quirks that still make the iPhone better in some ways.

Here’s a brief look at a few comparisons I’ve gathered in my time using both the Galaxy S8+ and iPhone 7 Plus:

Where the Galaxy S8+ Wins

  • Design: The Galaxy S8+’s design is second to none. The device features a huge screen, but is surprisingly narrow, making it easy to hold and use apps with just one handset. Everyone I’ve shown the device to is impressed by its design and even a few remarked that it makes the iPhone 7 Plus I have looked awfully outdated in comparison.
  • Display: If I have to choose between watching videos on my iPhone 7 Plus or the ultra-wide-screen Galaxy S8+, I’m choosing the latter every time. For one, the Galaxy S8+’s screen is bigger and its resolution is higher, so I can see content in far more detail. Additionally, Samsung’s smartphone uses organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen technology, which produces much brighter and more color-accurate images than the iPhone 7 Plus’ liquid-crystal display. Using the Galaxy S8+’s screen is an absolute delight.
  • All the Extras: The Galaxy S8+ ships with so many features, it’s hard to pick just a few that really stand out. But just open the device’s Camera app and spend some time in the settings and you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about. Want to change video-capture resolution? Want to boost the aspect ratio? How about some dog or cat graphics to overlay on your child’s head when you snap a photo? It’s all there. You can also modify battery usage, change how apps behave on the big screen, and much, much more. It’s almost overwhelming.
  • Battery Life: I know Samsung has had its fair share of troubles with batteries, but the Galaxy S8+ lasts much longer on a single charge than my iPhone 7 Plus. And I love wireless charging options.

Where the iPhone 7 Plus Wins

  • Ease of Use: Apple still tops when it comes to making it easy to use a smartphone. The iOS interface is intuitive, its design is outstanding, and I find it far more user-friendly than the Android running on the Galaxy S8+.
  • De-cluttering: I was shocked (and, frankly, annoyed) by the number of unnecessary apps that come bundled with the Galaxy S8+. From odd utility apps I’ll never use to an entire folder filled with Samsung-branded apps that I’ll never use, my phone has been overtaken by junk software. Worst of all, when I tried to remove some of those apps, I wasn’t allowed. Thanks, Apple, for not doing the same.
  • Lifestyle: This might not be for everyone, but as someone fully invested in the Apple universe, using a Galaxy S8+ isn’t easy. I like being able to use iMessage, access my iCloud information, listen to music, and have all my tabs sync without installing other apps or jumping through hoops. Apple has found a way to integrate into my life and make me productive. At least so far, I’m less productive with the Galaxy S8+.

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