8 ways the iPhone 8 can beat the Galaxy S8

The Galaxy S8 might be the best phone of 2017, but the year’s not over un­til the next iPhone makes its de­but. Michael Si­mon re­veals how Ap­ple can take the crown back from Sam­sung

iPad&iPhone user - - CON­TENTS -

If there wasn’t al­ready a moun­tain of pres­sure on Ap­ple to de­liver some­thing spec­tac­u­lar with this year’s iPhone up­date, there surely is now. If you haven’t no­ticed, Sam­sung has re­leased the Galaxy S8 and S8+, and they’re pretty re­mark­able. As a for­mer iPhone 7 Plus user, the S8+ might be the best phone this writer has used, with a stun­ning screen, speedy pro­ces­sor and a gor­geous de­sign.

But what makes the S8 so amaz­ing is how unique it is. We got to spend a week with it while writ­ing my re­view, and we came away stunned. For the first time in a while, Sam­sung is stand­ing alone on the cut­ting edge with a phone that needs to be seen to be be­lieved. From its barely there bezels to its bril­liant wrap­around screen, the Galaxy S8 truly gives Ap­ple a run for its money.

But there’s still a lot of time be­tween now and the re­lease of the next iPhone. Ac­cord­ing to ru­mours, the lineup this year will con­sist of the usual S mod­els along with a iPhone 8, which is re­ported to adopt a sim­i­lar aes­thetic to the Galaxy S8, with an edge-to-edge OLED dis­play and the re­moval of the phys­i­cal home but­ton. But just be­cause it might look sim­i­lar doesn’t mean it can’t still be bet­ter. Here’s how Ap­ple can still steal the crown from Sam­sung:

Killer cam­era

The Galaxy S phones has al­ways had a cam­era on par with the iPhone, so it was a lit­tle sur­pris­ing that Sam­sung didn’t up­grade the S8’s all that much. The 7 Plus is al­ready a step ahead here, with 2X op­ti­cal zoom and the sub­lime Por­trait Mode, but the iPhone 8 could re­ally sep­a­rate it­self from the S8 by tak­ing it even fur­ther. Along with a megapixel bump, Ap­ple could add op­ti­cal im­age sta­bi­liza­tion to the sec­ond lens, which will go a long way to­ward in­creas­ing photo and zoom qual­ity. But what would set it apart would be a larger sen­sor and greater ISO range to make it a low-light leader.

AR not VR

While Sam­sung is go­ing all-in on vir­tual re­al­ity with the Galaxy Gear and the S8, ru­mours sug­gest that Ap­ple is more in­ter­ested in aug­mented re­al­ity (see page 19). And

that could be one of the fea­tures that sets the iPhone 8 apart. Smart­phones have been slow to in­cor­po­rate AR into the in­ter­face, but if Poké­mon Go has taught us any­thing, it’s that peo­ple are way more in­ter­ested in see­ing the world through their screens than strap­ping a head­set to their faces. An AR-fu­elled iPhone 8 could con­nect us to the world in fun new ways with­out sep­a­rat­ing us from re­al­ity.

Well-placed fin­ger­print sen­sor

While the Galaxy S8 is one of the best smart­phones ever made, one tragic flaw pre­vented it from be­ing per­fect: the place­ment of the fin­ger­print sen­sor. For some go­daw­ful rea­son, Sam­sung put it right next to the cam­era, all but en­sur­ing your fin­ger will not only miss it, but also re­peat­edly smudge the lens. If the ru­mours are cor­rect that Ap­ple will also be re­mov­ing the home but­ton in the iPhone 8, it has two op­tions: un­der the screen or on the back. A first-of-its-kind in-panel sen­sor would be revo­lu­tion­ary, but if it’s on the back, Ap­ple needs to learn from Sam­sung’s mis­take and put it lower, like on the Pixel.

Ex­panded Siri

When Sam­sung un­veiled the S8, a ma­jor part of the pre­sen­ta­tion was spent in­tro­duc­ing its new AI as­sis­tant, Bixby. How­ever, the new ser­vice wasn’t just a com­peti­tor to Siri, Alexa, and Google As­sis­tant. Sam­sung in­te­grated Bixby deep into the in­ter­face to let it ac­cess apps, fetch in­for­ma­tion, and cut down on how of­ten we need to touch our phones. It’s a cool idea, ex­cept the only prob­lem is it doesn’t re­ally work. If Ap­ple could do some­thing sim­i­lar with Siri and ex­pand its reach to work in­side apps while we’re us­ing them, it could beat Bixby at its own game.

iOS 11

One of the big­gest gripes peo­ple have had about Sam­sung’s phones has al­ways been its TouchWiz in­ter­face. But that’s changed with the S8, as Sam­sung has crafted an in­tu­itive, refined sys­tem that takes full ad­van­tage of its su­perb hard­ware. If Ap­ple is go­ing to re­lease a rad­i­cally redesigned iPhone with curved edges and a wrap­around screen, the same old iOS isn’t go­ing to do it jus­tice. It might be time to re­think iOS for mod­ern times and give it more than new fea­tures and a fresh coat of pix­els.

True wire­less charg­ing

While Sam­sung has had wire­less charg­ing in the Galaxy S since the S6, Ap­ple has been slow to adopt it for the iPhone.

All signs in­di­cate that’s go­ing to change for the iPhone 8, but if Ap­ple wants to top the Galaxy S8 and not just keep pace, it’s go­ing to need some­thing a lit­tle more ex­cit­ing than a pretty charg­ing pad. One of the ru­mours we’ve read sug­gests that Ap­ple could adopt true long-range wire­less charg­ing for the next iPhone, which would power up the bat­tery when­ever you’re within range of the charger, even if it’s in your pocket. That alone would be an S8 killer.

Bun­dled AirPods

Sam­sung didn’t just re­sist the trend to ditch the head­phone jack on S8, it em­braced the 3.5mm jack in a big way. In­side the S8 box is a pair of pre­mium AKG-tuned ear­buds that are a few steps above the usual build and sound qual­ity you get for free – cer­tainly bet­ter than what Ap­ple gives us. But

if Ap­ple re­ally wants to em­brace the wire­less fu­ture of the iPhone, it needs to stop in­clud­ing a wired set of EarPods, even if they are Light­ning. A pair of AirPods in the box (or a cheaper Beats al­ter­na­tive) would re­ally set it apart from the 3.5mm S8 and make a strong state­ment.

Blow-away bat­tery

Sam­sung has had its share of bat­tery is­sues, but the S8 looks to put them in the past with a long-last­ing bat­tery that hope­fully won’t blow up. But while it can get through the whole day for the most part, the S8 didn’t de­liver the real break­through we were hop­ing for. We’re still wait­ing for a phone that lets us com­pletely for­get about the bat­tery un­til our day is over, and we’d love to see the iPhone 8 de­liver some­thing in the range of 12 hours and truly change the game.

Bixby hasn’t ex­actly ex­ploded out of the gate, but it does a lot that Siri doesn’t do

Sam­sung’s wire­less charg­ing sup­ports Qi and PMA stan­dards, and the pad stands up or lies flat. But it’s not long range wire­less

The bat­tery life on the S8 is re­ally good, but the iPhone 8’s could be even bet­ter

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