Whenever two near-identical versions of the same phone are announced, you have to ask yourself: which one should I buy? Sometimes the differences are so noticeable the choice is pretty easy, as it was last year with the flat vs curved screen Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. But this year things have changed, and the differences between the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are much smaller than you might think.
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus officially announced: what you need to know
Screen size and pixel density
Obviously, the Galaxy S8 Plus is the larger phone, with a 6.2-inch display and correspondingly larger footprint. It has the same QHD+ resolution as the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 though, so other than size, the big difference is pixel density.
Spreading that 2,960 x 1,440 pixel resolution across a larger area makes the S8 Plus’ pixel density come in at 529 ppi vs the Galaxy S8 with 570 ppi. The truth is though that no normal human would be able to spot the difference in sharpness between the two devices with the naked eye. Both are eye-poppingly gorgeous and crisp.
The difference here really comes down to just how large your hands are and how big a screen you like on your phone.
So the difference here really comes down to just how large your hands are and how big a screen you like on your phone. Of course, the larger dimensions on the Galaxy S8 Plus also mean that awkwardly placed fingerprint scanner is even further away. Perhaps your fingers are sufficiently elongated for that not to be a problem, but most folks are going to have to resort to face unlocking instead.
Consideration 1: Hand size and finger length.
Battery and weight
Neither Galaxy S8 variant has a particularly huge battery, especially so when you consider the presence of a QHD+ screen. The Galaxy S8 is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery while the S8 Plus gets a larger 3,500 mAh cell.
The S8's battery hasn't grown since last year and the S8 Plus' is actually a little smaller than the Galaxy S7 Edge.
For reference, the S8’s battery hasn’t grown since last year and the S8 Plus’ is actually a little smaller than that found in the Galaxy S7 Edge. So battery capacity isn’t really going to help you decide either. Sure, the S8 Plus has a larger battery, but it also has a larger screen to push pixels around.
As for weight, a larger phone with a bigger battery also tends to weigh a little more. So if you hate the feeling of a heavy phone in your pocket then you might want to opt for the smaller of the two. At 173 grams the S8 Plus is hardly a piece of lead, but it’s size and weight might put off some potential buyers.
By comparison, the more diminutive Galaxy S8 weighs it at just 155 grams. That’s about the same as the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge from last year while the Galaxy S8 Plus weighs a tiny bit more than the monstrously large HTC U Ultra. So while these phones have really big displays they weigh about as much as other phones with much smaller screens.
Consideration 2: A tiny bit more battery life. Probably.
This is really where the line in the sand will be drawn for most folks. The Galaxy S8 price outright in the US is $750. The Galaxy S8 Plus however is $850. That’s a lot of money. While carrier discounts and upgrade programs will apply to a lot of people, there’s no denying these phones are really expensive.
The Galaxy S8 price outright in the US is $750. The Galaxy S8 Plus however is $850.
To put that price in perspective that’s what the limited edition Product Red iPhone 7 costs. The regular iPhone 7, typically heralded as being a super expensive piece of kit, is actually around a hundred bucks cheaper than both new Galaxy phones right now.
Consideration 3: $100
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus pricing and availability: what we know so far
What I’m getting at here is that this year there isn’t the usual benchmark for deciding which phone is the natural choice. Their specs sheets are identical aside from the obvious points noted here. There isn’t a dual camera on one, larger internal storage on the other or the choice between a flat or a curved screen. So the choice is literally down to which one feels best in your hand and how much you’re willing to spend.
The difference in size between the two is actually not that huge either, so unless your grip is already maxing out on the S8 you probably won’t have too much of an issue with the larger S8 Plus. But the larger phone is more unwieldy, no doubt. One-handed use, reaching the finger scanner or the top of the screen and generally just using the S8 Plus on the daily will all be a little less comfortable than on the regular S8.
If you're already used to huge phones, then you'll be right at home with the S8 Plus, but if you're upgrading from the Galaxy S7, prepare yourself.
If you’re already used to huge phones, then you’ll be right at home, but if you’re upgrading from the Galaxy S7, prepare yourself. Personally, I’d recommend the S8 unless you see that additional battery capacity or larger screen and have already made up your mind. But whichever one you choose, no one is “missing out” on anything major this year.