iPhone vs Sam­sung: how the new mod­els square up

We com­pare the fea­tures of Ap­ple’s much-hyped iPhone X with the Sam­sung Galaxy S8


IT HAS fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy! Edge-to-edge dis­play! No more home but­ton! Ap­ple fans are in rap­tures over the tech gi­ant’s lat­est re­lease – the iPhone X is “the most pow­er­ful iPhone ever”, the com­pany says. And the fact this is Ap­ple’s 10th an­niver­sary phone means it’s big­ger and bet­ter than any­thing the com­pany has de­vel­oped be­fore. Tak­ing to the stage in the Steve Jobs Theatre at the new Ap­ple Park in Cu­per­tino, Cal­i­for­nia, CEO Tim Cook re­vealed sev­eral highly an­tic­i­pated new de­vices, in­clud­ing the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. But none has gen­er­ated as much buzz as the iPhone X. “Our teams have been hard at work for years on the fu­ture of the smart­phone,” he an­nounced.

“Now 10 years later it’s only fit­ting that we’re here in this place on this day that will set the path for tech­nol­ogy for the next decade.”

But while the tech un­der the hood of the iPhone X (pro­nounced iPhone 10) is be­ing touted as ground­break­ing, plenty of it is noth­ing new on the mar­ket. In fact, Sam­sung fans have pointed out that their de­vices have been able to pull off sim­i­lar phe­nom­ena for months.

But as die-hard Ap­ple fans will tell you, the tech might not be new but Ap­ple has taken it and per­fected it. So what’s the dif­fer­ence? We com­pare the pow­er­ful new iPhone X with Sam­sung’s “smart­phone of the year”: the Galaxy S8.


The in­cred­i­ble dis­play tech is clearly what Ap­ple is par­tic­u­larly proud of in its new baby. The iPhone X boasts new “Su­per Retina” dis­play – the high­est pixel den­sity dis­play yet in one of Ap­ple’s smart­phones. It’s the first OLED dis­play in an iPhone, which refers to an or­ganic light-emit­ting diode as op­posed to the usual liq­uid crys­tal dis­play (LCD) tech that the iPhone 8 mod­els use. Ap­ple gen­er­ally shunned this type of dis­play, crit­i­cal of its colour sat­u­ra­tion and lack of bright­ness. But as Phil Schiller, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing, bluntly put it, the com­pany fi­nally found an OLED dis­play “great enough to be in an iPhone”.

And it packs a vi­brant punch, with a res­o­lu­tion of 2 436 x 1 125 for 458 pix­els per inch. The S8 also fea­tures a 5,8-inch OLED screen, but a res­o­lu­tion of 1 440 x 2 960 for 570 pix­els per inch – so the S8 is higher res­o­lu­tion and pic­tures ap­pear sharper. The new edge-to-edge dis­play al­lows users to get the full, im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of bet­ter im­agery.

In the case of the all-screen phone, Sam­sung beat Ap­ple to the punch with the S8, and many would agree the South Korean brand did it bet­ter with the ex­quis­ite curved In­fin­ity Dis­play of the Galaxy S8. Un­like Sam­sung, Ap­ple didn’t quite get the all-screen sit­u­a­tion right – its edge-to-edge dis­play fea­tures a cutout that cov­ers a sliver of the screen. This could make for some slightly awk­ward

full-screen video watch­ing. The cut-out, which houses a range of sen­sors, was cru­cial for the fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech in par­tic­u­lar, Ap­ple said at its launch event.


Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the X’s cam­era has a 12MP dual-lens rear cam­era – but it comes with swanky new fea­tures. It has op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion on both lenses and the sen­sors are both larger and faster than ever, Ap­ple claims.

The Galaxy S8 has only a sin­gle lens 12MP cam­era on the back, also with op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion. It has a larger aper­ture ( f/1,7 as op­posed to iPhone’s f/1,8). The front-fac­ing (selfie) cam­era is sim­i­lar on both de­vices, with iPhone X’s com­ing in at 7MP and the S8’s at 8MP.


The iPhone X is pow­ered by Ap­ple’s new six-core A11 Bionic chip, which the com­pany says sup­ports bet­ter gam­ing, higher qual­ity pho­tos and can bet­ter power aug­mented re­al­ity tech.

The Galaxy S8 boasts a slick octa-core chipset (a Snap­dragon 835 in the US or an Exynos 8895 else­where). It also has 4GB of RAM – that’s as much as many mid-range lap­tops.

Ap­ple has yet to re­veal just how much RAM is un­der the hood of the X but if Ap­ple’s his­tor­i­cally zippy pro­ces­sors are any­thing to go by, the X will cer­tainly be able to give the S8 a run for its money.

THE FUN STUFF Phone home

If you were at­tached at the thumb to your iPhone, the new no home-but­ton sys­tem will take some get­ting used to. Users will now swipe up for the Home screen, swipe up and hold to open apps, swipe down from the top right cor­ner for the Con­trol Cen­tre and swipe down from the left for the No­ti­fi­ca­tions screen.

The Sam­sung S8 also nixed the tra­di­tional but­ton in favour of a pres­sure sen­si­tive “home but­ton” on the bot­tom cen­tre of the screen. But An­droid users who want the Home but­ton can set the An­droid three-but­ton bar – Home but­ton, Back and Mul­ti­task­ing – to show.

Face off

“Your face is your pass­word!” The Fa­cial Recog­ni­tion Un­lock feature is one that has folks most worked up. The Face ID will “mem­o­rise” your face so ev­ery time you look at the iPhone it de­tects your face – even in bad light­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Ap­ple, Face ID is far more se­cure than Touch ID ( fin­ger­print au­then­ti­ca­tion – even though the newly an­nounced iPhone 8 still fea­tures that tech). The com­pany claims there’s only a one in a mil­lion chance of another per­son be­ing able to look at your phone and un­lock it (un­less you have a twin, of course).

But as The In­de­pen­dent’s tech colum­nist Aatif Sul­ley­man points out, Face ID might look like some­thing out of Star Trek but users trust Touch ID. Which Ap­ple knows, given that the com­pany has cho­sen to in­clude the tech in its other new mod­els, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

Of course, fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech was one of the Galaxy S8’s key fea­tures. Sure, the func­tion­al­ity isn’t su­per-slick but Sam­sung still opted to in­clude fin­ger­print scan­ners for users who pre­fer it – which Ap­ple cut al­to­gether in the X.

Ru­mour has it the com­pany had hoped to build Touch ID un­der the iPhone X’s screen but couldn’t quite get it right.

Where are the wires?

All three of the new iPhones sup­port Qi wire­less charg­ing but Ap­ple hasn’t de­vel­oped its own wire­less charg­ing ac­ces­sory yet – the AirPower is in the works, but will only be avail­able next year. For now, Ap­ple users will have to use those de­vel­oped by third-party man­u­fac­tur­ers – a sur­pris­ing move from the no­to­ri­ously in­su­lar in­no­va­tor.

Sam­sung and plenty of other flag­ship An­droid de­vices have sup­ported the func­tion­al­ity for well over a year, us­ing the same stan­dard sup­ported by the new iPhone mod­els.


The iPhone will be avail­able for pre-or­der on 27 Oc­to­ber. The en­try-level 64GB model will set you back $999 (R13 486,50) in the US. While no of­fi­cial SA re­lease date or lo­cal price had been set at the time of go­ing to print, Fin24 es­ti­mates Ap­ple’s new hero will cost more than R18 000 when it even­tu­ally ar­rives here.

Sam­sung’s S8, which has been on the mar­ket for sev­eral months, costs around R14 000 for the 64GB de­vice.

The iPhone X and the Sam­sung Galaxy S8 are strik­ingly sim­i­lar.

Ap­ple is work­ing on their own charg­ing mat, the AirPower – but is likely only to be re­leased next year.

The iPhone X uses FaceID. It maps the user’s face so you can un­lock the de­vice with a glance.

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