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iPhone X vs. Galaxy S8: Powerhouse Smartphones Face Off

Apple's newest iPhone lineup is here—iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X—but it's that last one that packs in the most compelling features, like an edge-to-edge OLED display, gorgeous body, and facial recognition, not to mention wireless charging also found on iPhone 8.

Any of that sound familiar? It should, because you can find most of those features on the Samsung Galaxy S8 as well. Read on to see how the Apple flagship stacks up against the best Android smartphone.

Design and Physical Features

The iPhone X is a design revolution for Apple that brings the company closer in line with Android rivals. In broad strokes, you have a front that resembles the Essential PH-1. There's an edge-to-edge display that leaves you with a smooth expanse of glass except for a cutout at the top for various imaging sensors and the earpiece, and another at the bottom for the speaker. Along the sides, you have a band of metal that melds with the glass on the front and back.

That's a bit of a different look from the S8, which curves the display along the sides but keeps a tiny bezel on the top and bottom to spare you from an awkward cutout. Aside from that, both share design elements like glass front and back panels and metal sides.

S8

The S8 does have three things the iPhone X is missing, though: a headphone jack on the bottom, letting you listen to music without a dongle; a microSD slot for more storage; and a fingerprint sensor on the back next to the camera. That's a feature the iPhone X gets rid of in favor of Face ID, which lets you unlock the phone by glancing at it. Apple claims this will be as reliable and accurate as Touch ID and also work with Apple Pay.

In terms of dimensions, you're looking at two similarly sized phones. The iPhone X measures 5.65 by 2.79 by 0.30 inches (HWD) and weighs in at 6.14 ounces. That's a little bit heavier than the S8 (5.87 by 2.68 by 0.31 inches, 5.47 ounces), but generally speaking, both phones should fit in your hand comfortably and neither should strain your thumb when reaching across.

Both phones also support wireless charging and are water- and dust-resistant. The iPhone X is rated IP67, letting it survive in around 5 feet of water for half an hour. The S8 is IP68, allowing it to withstand immersion for a similar length of time at a slightly deeper 6 feet.

Display

If there's one area iPhones have typically lagged behind, it's display technology. Apple has stuck with standard 1080p panels while the rest of the market has moved toward Quad HD. The iPhone X changes that with a 5.8-inch, 2,436-by-1,1125 Super Retina HD panel that packs in 458 pixels per inch, the first increase in pixel density since the iPhone 6 Plus.X

The Super Retina HD display is an OLED panel, meaning for the first time Apple users get the same rich, saturated colors and dense inky blacks that Samsung owners have enjoyed (we mean that literally; the OLED panels are sourced from Samsung). You also get Apple's wide color gamut, True Tone display, and HDR, allowing for significant visual enhancements for photos, videos, and streamed content. A high maximum brightness should allow for good sunlight visibility and the iPhone X has the same pressure-sensitive 3D Touch feature that dates back to iPhone 6s.

That said, the 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy S8 has one distinct advantage—a higher resolution at 2,960-by-1,440, working out to 570ppi. That higher pixel density will make images and text on the S8 appear sharper while retaining the advantages of an OLED display.

Processor, Battery, and Camera

The iPhone X runs Apple's new A11 Bionic chipset and—if leaked benchmarks on Geekbench are to be believed—it will be incredibly powerful, with a single-core score of 4,061 and a multi-core score of 9,959, beating every Android device and all previous iPhones and iPads.

It's hard to overstate the power of this new chipset. It blows the Snapdragon 835-powered S8 out of the water (1836/5960), scoring double in both categories. Of course, we'll reserve judgment until we can run our own benchmark tests.

S8 camera

We don't have details on the iPhone X's battery capacity yet, but Apple claims it should last two hours longer than the iPhone 7 Plus. For reference, the 7 Plus clocked 6 hours in our battery test, in which we stream full-screen video over LTE at maximum screen brightness. That would put the iPhone X at 8 hours. By contrast, the Galaxy S8 lasts a shorter 5 hours, 45 minutes. Again, we'll reserve judgment until we do our own testing.

Camera capabilities are the hardest to determine without doing a shootout test. The S8 is one of the best camera phones we've tested, boasting a single 12-megapixel rear camera that excels in capturing detail and shooting in low light. You also get optical image stabilization, 4K video recording, and manual controls.

The iPhone X has a dual camera sensor setup that gives you a pair of 12-megapixel sensors. One is a standard lens, the other is a telephoto lens, and both come with OIS letting you take clearer, more stable video and improving shooting in low light. Having two camera sensors should also present some advantages when it comes to depth sensing in AR.

There are no manual controls, but the iPhone X does introduce a unique aspect to portrait mode, letting you adjust lighting on selfies to a studio-grade level. A bokeh effect is also introduced for the 7-megapixel front camera. An improved image signal processor should allow the iPhone X to focus faster in low light, snap quicker, and take better quality HDR photos. Other standard features like 4K video recording are also present, but rather than the normal 30fps, you can shoot at a smoother 60fps. It's also capable of 240fps slow-mo video.

Software and Features

The new iPhone X will come running iOS 11, Apple's latest operating system. It will roll out to all iPhone owners on Sept. 19 and bring with it new features like ARKit's augmented reality support, a file manager, and serious multitasking capabilities.

AR on the iPhone X is particularly noteworthy because it doesn't require any additional hardware beyond what's already on the phone. On the other hand, the S8 does run Android 7.1 Nougat and should get an update to Android 8.0 Oreo, as well as support for Google's ARCore, though Apple has a head start there.

iPhone X battery

Samsung TouchWiz UI also offers its own visual design and unique set of apps and features, giving you more functionality than you might get on stock Android. For example, Samsung Pay works with all credit card readers and terminals, not just those that are compatible with Android Pay.

A small ecosystem of S8 accessories also expands functionality. Samsung Dex lets you hook the S8 up to a monitor and keyboard, to mirror Android onto a bigger screen for productivity and games. The Samsung Gear VR headset and a touch controller lets you use the phone for fun gaming experiences.

You won't find similar accessories for the iPhone X. Apple's charging pad doesn't launch until 2018, though the Qi standard gives you no shortage of third-party options, like those from mophie and Belkin.

Price and Availability

Here's where things come down to brass tacks. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is currently available for sale both unlocked and from carriers at a price that ranges between $750 to $800. The iPhone X won't be available for pre-order until Oct. 27, and it won't ship until Nov. 3.

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The iPhone X will also put a bigger dent in your wallet, starting at $999 for the 64GB storage option and $1,149 for 256GB. No matter how you slice it, you'll pay $200 to $300 more for the iPhone X compared with the Galaxy S8.

That could be a hard pill to swallow taking into account that two phones largely share the same set of features including a gorgeous design, high-resolution edge-to-edge display, wireless charging, and great camera quality. On the other hand, the iPhone X looks like it may be the most powerful phone on the market and its dual rear camera sensors and unique Face ID unlock will have lots of potential when it comes to AR. We'll surely put the iPhone X to the test, so stay tuned for our full review.

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