Should fans skip iPhone 8 and buy the Galaxy S8? [Friday Night Fights]



You have to be impressed by the new Galaxy S8 — even if you’re a long-time iPhone fan. Samsung’s new phone boasts everything you could want in a smartphone, and it packages it all into a stunning curved-glass shell with an edge-to-edge Infinity Display.

Friday Night Fights bug But can the Galaxy S8 help you forget about the iPhone 8? Should you wait for what might be another boring iPhone refresh, or throw in the towel now and finally make the leap to Android?

Join us in this week’s Friday Night Fight as we duke it out over Samsung’s latest flagship and whether it can help Apple fans forget about the iPhone.

Luke Dormehl FNFLuke Dormehl: Samsung debuted the Galaxy S8 this week and, well, it’s tough to say that it’s a bad smartphone. In fact, it looks like a pretty great smartphone. While it can be dangerous to rush out too many plaudits for Samsung devices too soon (*cough* the exploding Note 7 *cough*), it’s fair to say that everyone’s favorite South Korean Apple frenemy has come a long way since its early, dodgy entries into the smartphone market.

But should we all throw in our Apple-supporting towels right now and take the plunge to buy the Galaxy S8? I’m not so sure. Certainly, if you’re going to compare features and spec, the new phone offers a lot compared to the latest (RED) iPhone 7. But that’s no more than a limited edition variant of last year’s iPhone. Instead, the real challenge is going to come from this year’s tenth anniversary iPhone refresh — and as the biggest upgrade since 2014, it looks worth waiting for.

I won’t rattle off all the features we’re expecting here, but there are certainly a few features that I think have the potential to give Apple the edge. For example, Apple could take the innovation lead from Samsung if it manages to embed the Touch ID sensor under the iPhone 8 display. This is something it’s been exploring for a while, as we’ve seen from various patents. If the technology works well it’s also one step ahead of Samsung, whose vaunted facial recognition “security” feature has already been shown to be unlockable using just a photo of the user in question.

Potentially more significantly, we’ve also heard that Apple may be using 3D depth-sensing to add augmented reality elements to the iPhone 8. If this turns out to be a big focus of the handset, that’s another way Apple could not only match the Galaxy S8, but overtake it. The likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook have been pretty vocal about VR and AR representing massive opportunities for the tech industry, and if Apple has something interesting to offer in this capacity it’s going to immediately make the S8 look like a smartphone with a physical keyboard after the advent of the first iPhone.

Then you’ve got Apple arriving with an OLED display, and more. Plus the not-insignifant fact that this is an iOS device, meaning that you get the much stronger range of apps and quality control Apple’s known for. I’ve been a bit down on some of Apple’s iterative improvements as of late — but this year’s iPhone is set to be really exciting. So I’d suggest people wait and see. Worst case scenario: if this turns out to be a massive disappointment, you can jump to Samsung in six months time. I don’t think there’s too much chance of that, though…

Killian Bell FNFKillian Bell: I don’t think I’ve ever read so much rubbish in 30 seconds. Your desperate defending of the iPhone is typical Apple fanboyism.

I agree that we shouldn’t really compare the Galaxy S8 with last year’s iPhone (but we could compare it with last year’s Galaxy S7, and it would still lose). It’s six months old now, and the rumors have promised that the iPhone 8 coming this September will be significantly greater. But I’m willing to bet good money that it will still be lacking big features found in the Galaxy S8.

I wrote a piece earlier this week that listed five things Apple should steal from Samsung’s latest flagship. Some of those things, like wireless charging, could be coming with iPhone 8. But there are features Apple almost certainly won’t deliver, like that downright gorgeous Infinity Display (arguably the Galaxy S8’s biggest selling point). We’ll probably get the same old Retina displays with the same disappointing resolutions. Apple refuses to catch up.

Apple might put Touch ID beneath the display, and that would be cool. But it’s not a reason to choose the iPhone 8 over the Galaxy S8. No one buys a phone based on where the fingerprint scanner is located. As for augmented and virtual reality, Apple has a lot of catching up to do. You seem to be forgetting that Samsung is way ahead.

Samsung already offers the Gear VR platform, which is developed with the help of Oculus — the company that transformed modern VR. It’s by far the best virtual reality experience you can get on a smartphone, though Google is catching up with Daydream. Samsung has also introduced Bixby, its new virtual assistant that uses augmented reality to identify things in the real world.

Maybe Apple’s AR and VR solutions will have some novel new features that we haven’t seen before. I hope they do. But I don’t imagine it blowing the likes of Gear VR and Oculus out of the water with its first attempt. And unless I’m mistaken, Apple’s technology won’t be ready this year, so it won’t be competing with the Galaxy S8 either way.

Don’t even get me started on OLED displays. Samsung has been using them for years, and if you read any review of a Galaxy device, you’ll quickly learn that no other smartphone maker beats Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays.

I’m not even going to enter a debate about Android’s range of apps and quality control with someone who never uses the platform.

Luke Dormehl FNFLuke: Of course, I’ve used the platform. I don’t think you would even consider debating that Android has the superior range of apps or quality control. The fact is that we’re going to have to wait and see if Apple delivers the features we’ve heard rumored — but if you’re an iOS users, this of all years is going to be one where you’ll want to wait and see what Apple releases.

As I mentioned above, given Samsung’s abysmal recent track record of smartphones, washing machines and — the day before the Galaxy S8 announcement — even a retail store that burst into flames, I think a “wait and see” approach is the best thing to do for the Galaxy S8, regardless of other rival devices.

Are you really expecting the iPhone 8 to be a disappointment then? Or, as with every other report we’ve heard, is this likely to be a massive upgrade for Apple that will be its biggest selling handset yet?

Killian Bell FNFKillian: Then you would know there’s nothing wrong with Android’s quality control.

I agree that if you’re an iOS user, you might want to wait to see what the iPhone 8 brings before jumping on the Galaxy S8. But if you can’t hold out and you buy a Galaxy S8 when it goes on sale next month, you’re almost certainly not going to be disappointed with your decision come September. The iPhone 8 won’t deliver anything the Galaxy S8 doesn’t already have.

Samsung doesn’t have an abysmal track record when it comes to smartphones. The Galaxy Note 7 was a disaster because of a battery fault Samsung didn’t identify before it shipped. Other than that, it was a stellar smartphone, and every other handset that came before it was a huge success. Samsung sells more smartphones than any other vendor for a reason. And let’s not forget that Apple has had its fair share of hiccups.

Just a few months ago, I thought the iPhone 8 would be the iPhone I’ve been waiting for for years. The rumors promised curved glass and OLED displays, and features like iris scanning. Now we’re hearing that only one version of the iPhone 8 (the one that could cost over $1,000) will get that OLED display, while all the others will retain disappointing LCD panels.

I’m not asking Apple to give us everything Samsung is. But it won’t even catch up in areas where the iPhone is really, really lacking. Getting a 720p display on an iPhone 7, which costs $650, is just pathetic in 2017. It’s not like Apple has been using its resources on a redesign, either; the iPhone has looked exactly the same for the last three years!

Luke Dormehl FNFLuke: Well, if the iPhone 8 turns out to not offer us the major redesign fans have been expecting, I’ll be the first to voice my disappointment come September. My point is that of all the years to consider ditching Apple for Samsung, this isn’t the year to do it. The iPhone has consistently beaten the Galaxy devices every year they’ve existed, and for the tenth anniversary of the iPhone I’ve got to believe Apple’s not going to let us down!

But maybe we’ll have to reconvene in September to battle this one out. For now let’s turn this over to readers. Which smartphone are you planning to spend your hard-earned money on this year? Were you impressed by the Galaxy S8 when it was announced this week? What “must have” features do you want the iPhone 8 to come with, and what would turn it into a definite yes or no upgrade in your book? Leave your comments below.

And have a great weekend.

Friday Night Fights is a series of weekly death matches between two no-mercy brawlers who will fight to the death — or at least agree to disagree — about which is better: Apple or Google, iOS or Android?


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