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.
ALL ABOUT THE PICS
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.
SO WHAT’S UNDER THE HOOD?
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.
“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 FINE PRINT
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.