With new phone releases scheduled for both Samsung and Apple in the near future, and a whole bunch of people who will be looking to upgrade to either one of the two, I thought it a pretty fitting time to write an honest user review on both of the current handsets available at the moment from these top two mobile competitors.
I’m pretty fortunate when it comes to testing out phones, as my partner not only works with them, but is also a Samsung representative. This means that we get a pretty huge discount on contracts from any manufacturer and he also has the benefit of being supplied with the newest Samsung device every time they release a new handset. At the moment I use an iPhone 7, and my partner uses both an iPhone 7+ and a Samsung S8+. Over the past few weeks I have trialled all three handsets, to find out how different they really are from a users perspective. Now I’m going to be honest with you here and get it out of the way nice and early: I am not an expert. This is true for both phones and general technology. In fact I really am one of the least technical people, and this is not going to be a review filled with specs and technical jibber jabber, so I apologise but if thats what you were looking for then you might as well click off now. I’m writing this to tell you the real pros and cons in my opinion, how the handsets compare to a consumer and an every day user. I’m hoping that this will have a lot more real life benefit to anyone similar to me who just wants it explained in terms people can actually understand. The reviews of all aspects listed are purely my honest opinions, I’m sure there will be people that completely disagree with me which is fine, but these are just the views which I have following my experience with the handsets in question.
iOS vs Android
In terms of how easy the phone is to actually navigate I have to say that Apple have the upper hand. I find that the phone is easier to navigate because iOS launches the phone straight into the menu, whereas Android launches you into a pretty pointless home screen, from which you then have to navigate yourself into the menu. I know that sounds like a such a tiny little extra step but when you’re taking it just under a hundred times a day, every single time you open your phone it can get a little tedious.
This is a tough one because in my opinion there are pros and cons to each. A benefit of the Samsung (below right) is the access to the numbers and the full stop key as a standard part of the keyboard, you don’t have to access another keyboard in order to type them, they’re just there. Saying that, there are two disadvantages of the Samsung keyboard in my opinion. Firstly, emojis don’t come as standard, you have to download them. Now emojis are a pretty crucial part of text speak nowadays, at least they definitely are for me, and Apple (below left) trump Samsung by having them already built into their keyboard. Secondly, there is a settings key on the Samsung keyboard. Now I don’t really know why this is necessary, and I never found a use for it, but I did accidentally hit it a couple of times and its so frustrating because it takes you away from whatever you’re doing and into your phone settings, which I found pretty inconvenient.
According to my other half, Samsung’s Android operating system offers more apps, and more of the Android apps are free than on Apple’s iOS, however I didn’t find a difference with regards to the apps that I personally use.
There is one difference that I found between the apps on each phone which greatly influenced something that I use pretty regularly: Instagram. Lets talk about how disappointed I am with Samsung’s lack of compatibility with the Instagram app, specifically the selfie camera. The photos taken with the Instagram front camera on S8+ below show you exactly why; the iPhone takes the picture exactly as it should and gives you the normal options to edit and move forward, lovely job. However Samsung just can’t handle this, it takes the picture and automatically zooms in so that your face is the only thing in the shot (see below)… not so candid and definitely not Instagram material, thanks a lot Samsung. This might not be a big deal for a lot of people, but I use the Instagram selfie camera much more often than I use the standard selfie camera because you can screenshot the photo on Instagram so that it doesn’t mirror image your face. Apple 1 – Samsung 0.
This is another toughie. To begin, I prefer the iPhone fingerprint unlock position on the front of the phone as opposed to Samsung’s, located on the back. I believe there are mixed feelings about this but I find that it seems so much more natural to place my thumb on the front middle of the phone rather than the back, where most of the time my finger will smudge the camera lens (located right next to the scanner) before finding where it needs to be to actually unlock the phone. Another benefit of having it on the font of course, is that if your phone is resting on a table or your lap etc. you don’t have to pick it up to unlock it. Samsung’s reasoning behind moving the scanner to the back of the phone is to give the front more screen space, however I just don’t think that the compromise is worth it. On the other hand Samsung earns extra points for offering both iris scanner and facial recognition unlock technology which the iPhone does not.
Technically speaking the Samsung S8+ camera is better than the iPhone, and generally speaking I do find this to be true. If I’m taking a standard photo, the Samsung is the phone I will reach for, the picture quality is so obviously better that if I’m going anywhere that I might want to take pictures, I’ll specifically take the Samsung. When using the S8+ the colours seem to pop, the camera seems less affected by different levels of light and it is able to focus on finer details a little better than the iPhone. I’ve placed a comparison picture below so that you can see first hand the difference between the picture quality.
With regards to the iPhone cameras, I’ve found that the 7 and the 7+ have slight differences and each have one benefit over the Samsung. Surprisingly, I’ve found that the 7 seems the best camera to use in very low light as the colours pop a little more. The 7+ camera has one benefit over both other phones in that is has a feature called ‘depth effect’, this allows the lens to focus on one object or person in the forefront of the picture, and it will slightly blur out the background leaving you with a lovely professional looking picture.
Now heres what you all really want to know; which phone is better for taking selfies?!? No I’m kidding, but this obviously is a consideration. I’ve already spoken about my disdain for the Samsung’s Instagram selfie, but with regards solely to the front camera, I have to say that I like the S8+ more than the iPhone 7’s. This is because it comes with ready made filters which you can select before taking the picture, these are very subtle but they do make a slight difference to the picture with regards to brightness or skin texture.
Both Samsung and Apple have impressed me when it comes to additional products, but in very different ways. Firstly everyone knows how handy it is to have all Apple; your iPhone, iPad and iMac all syncing perfectly to aid you in running your life just that little bit more smoothly. However in my eyes its both a positive and a pain in the arse. I have all of the above and yes, it is nice to have everything working so well alongside each other. On the other hand though, I do feel almost bullied into it by Apple, whom don’t really play fair and who make it so god damn difficult to own any other brand.
The Samsung offers an entirely different additional product in the form of a Virtual Reality headset. I’m really not someone who would identify as any level of ‘gamer’ but I have to say I’m such a huge fan of this. Granted, you would never use this outside of your home as the headset is huge and you really do look like a wally in it, however to sit at home and kill zombies in 3D VR is pretty damn cool.
I hope that this proves helpful for anyone who may be interested in the differences between the models, or that it gives you a bit of insight into the other brand if you’ve only ever used one of the two. I’d love to know what everyone else’s opinions are of these phones so comment below if you agree or have any other points for me to consider!