The year 2016 was a memorable year for a great many reasons. This fact is especially true when it comes to the two Korean tech giants, LG and Samsung. They suffered hardships last year and we’re all saying “There’s a lot riding on this company’s next phone” for both companies. It’s hard to forget what Samsung had gone through with the whole Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, and LG just launched a dud. These events left the mobile world trying to fathom how crucial the next flagship launches of each company is. Well, these next flagships have finally been unveiled and a lot of the buzz going around is between these two handset: the Galaxy S8/8+ and the LG G6. How do these stack up and set the pace for the rest of 2017? Let’s see!
Both phones are similar in several ways; one way is in their design. Both of these phones have excellent build qualities. They both utilize a metal frame with glass on the front and back, making them catch the eye almost as well as they catch fingerprints. They both use Gorilla Glass, but LG has opted to use a mixture of Gorilla Glass 3, and 5 (the weakest of which, ironically, being on the front). This could lead to some concern about durability, but LG has a trick up its sleeve to address that issue- we’ll get to that shortly. Continuing the trend it started last year, LG put the power button/fingerprint combo on the back, with the volume rocker on the left side of the device. Samsung chose to incorporate those trademark curved edges onto both variants of the S8, making it the fourth generation of the curved glass. This design hasn’t changed much from the Note 7, but there have been some refinements to the ergonomics. Overall, Samsung has mastered making a device that feels great in the hand. The curved display on the Galaxy S8 handsets give the impression that you’re holding a device that’s thinner than it actually is. The G6, on the other hand, is not making any effort to give you a thin device coming in at 7.9mms thick. One main gripe with the Galaxy S8’s design the fact that Samsung decided to put it’s fingerprint scanner on the back, up high next to it’s camera, making for quite an uncomfortable reach to access it. Both companies pulled out all the stops in order to design beautiful and high quality devices. This is not as much of a surprise in Samsung’s case as with LG. The G5 was a questionable mix of materials that definitely earned LG a lot of flack from consumers. The G6, on the other hand is a well built device and stands as a reminder that LG can create a device with excpetionally high build quality.
An area where these two devices share probably the most similarities is in their displays. Both devices have wildly unconventional screens at similar resolutions. The display on the G6 is a sizable 5.7 inches, but holding the phone, you would not guess it. LG has managed to shrink the bezels down to miniscule, making for an incredible 80% screen to body ratio. The phone’s not trying to be bezeless, but it seems that way. The tiny bezels make for a phone that has a big screen, but handles like a phone with a small screen, undercutting the likes of the Google Pixel, the HTC U Ultra, and iPhone 7 Plus- all with similar screen sizes, but much bigger bodies. One thing that stands out most about the G6’s display is the fact that it has rounded corners, giving it a unique and pleasing appearance. The curves on the corners of the screen compliment the curves of the device’s corners. What’s most notable about the display is its aspect ratio of 18:9, or 2:1. It’s basically two perfect squares stacked on top of each other. It makes for a slightly taller display, giving the user a little more screen real estate to work with. Its resolution is similar to other phones with QHD displays at 2880 x 1440 (it’s called QHD+). It’s a beautiful LG IPS LCD panel with support for HDR content. Some apps like Netflix can display content using the full screen, rounded corners and all, but it’s going to be some time before other apps add support for that aspect ratio. Some apps, like Youtube, display videos, with black bars on either side of the video. The rounded corners do serve a purpose other than aesthetics. Looping back to the Gorilla Glass 3, the rounded corners add durability to the screen, protecting from cracks better than sharp corners; the force of impact can be more evenly dispersed throughout the curves, rather than all a one point, which would be the corner. On Samasung’s side, we also see some notable features. Dubbed the “Infinity Display,” it stays true to a working formula: Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology, making for vibrant, stunning colors with great viewing angles. There are also rounded corner on the Galaxy phone displays, and they blend beautifully with the curved edges. Samsung also has content that can use the full screen with the rounded corners, but it can also force apps to fit the screen; this includes Youtube. Not only the rounded corners, but the aspect ratio is where both phones share similarities. The Galaxy phones have an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Because of this odd aspect ratio, the S8 also uses an odd resolution at 2960 x 1440, edging out the G6 by 80 pixels. This difference is negligible, however. The bezels are also tiny on the S8, giving the phone a whopping 82% screen to body ratio. This means that the iconic Samsung physical home button had to be tossed, and replaced with onscreen buttons. Whether that’s good or bad is up to the user. There’s also HDR support for this display, which is no shocker after the Galaxy Note 7. The Galaxy S8 uses Gorilla Glass 5 for its front and back. Both of the displays on these devices are formidable and push the envelope of smartphone display technology.
The processing power is where the similarities trail off. The G6 is rocking last year’s titan, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, and The S8 has the new Snapdragon 835 under the hood. Many ask why LG chose so use an older processor when its competition has the newest silicon. LG needed to get the G6 out early, and Samsung called first dibs on the 835, so LG could have waited, or launched early. Regardless, the 821 is relatively new (don’t let the phrase “last year’s” throw you off) and still a beast of an SoC. The verdict is still out on the performance of the 835, but we’re expecting it to be a powerhouse. There will undoubtedly be difference in performance down the road, but real world performance should not be a problem for either phone.
As for software, both phones offer slightly improved version of their respective user interfaces. Samsung added some tweaks to its UI, but the real kicker for software on the S8 is the integration of Samsung’s new AI assistant, Bixby. Samsung boasts that it can do anything that Google’s Assistant can do, but better (then again, what company wouldn’t say that?). It’s not fully fleshed out as of yet, but it’s going to be an exciting ride discovering how it stacks up to Google’s assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Siri and Cortana. Bixby has quite the task ahead of it, as Google’s Assistant is baked into the phone. LG isn’t really pushing anything new with its software. The usual UI tweaks are present. What’s pleasant is that fact that The G6 is the first phone, besides the Pixel handset duo, to have Assistant backed in natively, so we’ll see some software optimizations there. Software is as subjective as anything with these two phones.
Both LG and Samsung have lead the pack when it comes to smartphone camera technology. The G5 has gotten a lot of criticism, but it’s camera was phenomenal, and Samsung’s cameras are always formidable. LG believes that there’s a future for its duel camera setup, so we see this in the G6. One is a standard lense, and one is a wide angle lens at 120 degrees. Unlike the G5 and the V20, both cameras are the same resolution at 13 megapixels, so there’s no drop in quality when switching lenses; this was a gripe with the G5’s setup. The switching between lenses has become much smoother, almost matching the seamlessness of the iPhone 7’s. LG reduced the angle of the wide angle lense in order to get rid of the intense barrel distortion found in the G5’s camera. The camera on the S8 is much the same as the one found on the Note 7… and the S7. Not to say that this is a bad thing, though. Samsung struck gold with the camera for its 2016 flagships, and it’s understandable for them to stick true to their guns. Regardless of which you choose, you’re going to be getting a stellar camera.
Both handsets come with fast and wireless charging, micro SD card expandability, IP 68 water and dust resistance, down facing single fire speakers and non-removable batteries. The S8 comes with a feature called Dex. Comparable to Microsoft’s Continuum, Dex plugs the S8 to a monitor, and displays content as if it were a full blown computer. These phones are both well stacked with the basics to satisfy the pallettes of common useres and mobile geeks alike.
So, where does this leave us? On paper, the Galaxy S8 seems to pull ahead slightly with it’s newer generation processor and Gorilla Glass, slightly more screen compared to its body, and slightly more pixels, but these difference dissolve in real world use. Both phones are sleek, sexy and powerful, with a host of features that are offer an all around full smartphone experience. There are two different mentalities behind these two devices, even thought they’re both crucial to their respective companies. Samsung is always pushing the limits of what a smartphone can do, and the S8 brings a few features that remind us of that. This phone looks downright futuristic and very attractive. It employs some of the same features found in the S7 and Note 7, while bringing us some new innovations like Bixby, and Dex. It’s on the bleeding edge of Android smartphones with its use of the newest Snapdragon SoC. This phone is the phone that will push the company back to its prime and continue the momentum that was started with the S7. LG on the other hand has a different story. The G5, while a very nice phone, but did not sit well with audince, diminishing some of the faith that consumers had in the company. While people were praising the S7 for it’s gorgeous design and new features, they were wondering what LG was doing with its highly experimental approach to many aspects of the phone. It was swiftly tossed aside. The G6 is, in a way, LG’s way of reassuring the masses that they can design a compelling device. The G6 doesn’t do much in the way or pushing boundaries, but it does great in presenting a handset with excellent execution of the basics, offering a strong core smartphone experience. Its screen offers added functionality and an interesting look. It’s an overall robust looking device. It’s a not rocking the newest Snapdragon SoC, but it’s got more than enough power to power the life of whoever owns it. Either way you slice it, both Samsung and LG gave us some absolutely kick-ass devices, and they will set the bar for what a 2017 flagship phone SHOULD be.
But what are your opinions? Let me know in the comments below!