Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus: Which is best?

Need a Plus-sized phone? You've got a couple of brilliant options here

Last year's iPhone 7 Plus was far and away the best iPhone in the pack, and with only modest enhancements to this year's editions, the iPhone 8 Plus handily beats the iPhone 8 again.

But what about the competition? With its dual-camera array, the 7 Plus had a leg up on a lot of Android phones at the time, although more have adopted that trick since. Besides, the iPhone 8 Plus doesn't have quite the same standout additions, unless a glass backing and wireless charging do it for you.

Right now, the leader of the large-phone pack is Samsung's Galaxy S8 Plus. It's just as strong as the near-identical standard Galaxy S8, albeit with a bit more screen and more battery life packed in. Up 'til the release of the iPhone 8 Plus, we called it the best phone around (tied with the smaller S8).

Does Apple's new phablet change that recommendation, or does the iPhone 8 Plus slot in just behind the Galaxy S8 Plus, just like its predecessor did for the last six months? Read on to find out.

Design: Head-turner or has-been

Apple didn't take any big risks with the iPhone 8 Plus design, which is still identical from the front to 2014's iPhone 6 Plus. Yes, that three-year-old aesthetic returns yet again. It's fine, but it's certainly not turning any heads.

We do like the addition of glass on the back, though, which not only lightly refreshes Apple's aesthetic but is a bit more stylish to boot. But overall, there's no dramatic shift here - once you stick a case on it, there's no telling you've got a fancy new iPhone at all. The iPhone X will provide that come November, but not the iPhone 8 Plus.

The Galaxy S8 Plus, on the other hand, is a stunner. Samsung's gone nearly all-screen with its latest flagships, minimising the top and bottom bezel by moving the fingerprint sensor to the back, and leaving a seamless, curved impression as a result. It's our favourite phone design right now, while Apple's feels like more of the same.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Screen: Serious stunners

The 5.5in 1080p LCD screen of the iPhone 8 Plus doesn't see any dramatic upgrades from last year's display. It still looks rather nice: it's plenty bright, impressively crisp, and has great viewing angles. The one new advantage is Apple's True Tone tech, which adds a newly natural edge by automatically adjusting the colour based on your ambient lighting.

It's nice, but the Galaxy S8 Plus screen is better. The 6.2in screen is extra tall with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio, plus it's extra crisp at Quad HD resolution. Better yet, it's a punchy AMOLED panel (the kind coming to the iPhone X) with dazzlingly deep blacks and brilliant contrast, and it supports high dynamic range (HDR) lighting for supported media.

Apple's screen is plenty fine, and it has 3D Touch pressure sensitivity – your actual interest in that may vary (it mostly gets a shrug from us). But Samsung makes the best mobile screens around. It's another notch for Sammy here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Camera: Perks that pop

We haven't gone head-to-head in a camera battle with these phones just yet, given that we've only had the iPhone 8 Plus for a short span – but this is one area in which Apple seems to have a slight edge thanks to its dual-camera perks.

Like last year's phone, you get two 12-megapixel back sensors: the main one (f/1.8) with optical image stabilisation, and a telephoto sensor (f/2.8) without. Having two cameras enables optical zoom capabilities and lets you take snazzy DSLR-like Portrait photos.

And with the iPhone 8 Plus, the Portrait results are sharper and more accurate than last year, plus now you have Portrait Lighting to tweak, letting you choose the kind of lighting conditions to augment the results. Furthermore, a larger and faster main sensor leads to snappier, more colourful snaps. We called it "one of the best smartphone cameras we've ever tested."

Granted, we said much the same for the Galaxy S8 Plus and its single 12MP f/1.7 sensor, with optical image stabilisation and dual-pixel autofocus, on the back. Images are packed with detail and natural colours, with speedy image processing that routinely turns out brilliant shots.

Again, we haven't compared these side by side yet, and we'd call the main back cameras two of the best out there right now. But then the iPhone 8 Plus adds its second sensor for perks that the Galaxy S8 Plus just can't touch. So based on our experience so far, this one goes to Apple.

Winner: Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Performance: Mobile muscle

Apple's A10 Fusion chip from last year's iPhone 7 Plus held its own pretty well against this year's crop of Android chips, but the A11 Bionic blows past all of them. According to benchmark testing, the multi-core performance scores shown by the A11 Bionic are about 50% higher than the Galaxy S8 Plus' Exynos 8895 chip.

Samsung has a bit more RAM (4GB vs 3GB) to play with, but Apple has a heap of bonus muscle ready and waiting to be tapped. That might not matter much when you're sending texts, snapping photos, and browsing the web, but it could come in handy down the line when higher-performance games and apps roll out.

Both phones are impressively swift and capable, but Apple seemingly has more power to play with between them.

Winner: Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Battery and perks: It's lopsided

The Galaxy S8 Plus has a fair bit more battery capacity to play with – 3,500mAh vs 2,675mAh in the iPhone 8 Plus – but the lifespan difference isn't dramatic. Samsung's phone can take a bit more beating from media and games usage, but it also has a higher-resolution Quad HD panel to power. Still, any advantage helps when it comes to uptime.

Thanks to Apple's switch back to glass on the rear, both of these phones offer wireless charging capabilities. Both also can do fast charging, but Samsung's does it quicker – and you need to buy an extra adapter to do it with the iPhone 8 Plus anyway. Womp womp.

Both phones offer 64GB of internal storage with the base model, while £150 extra bumps you up to 256GB with the iPhone. But with Samsung, you can just buy cheaper microSD cards and get only as much as you need. That's smart. Apple's solution isn't.

And then the Galaxy S8 Plus has added benefits like the great Gear VR headset, or the DeX Station, which uses the phone as the brain of a desktop computing experience by plugging in a display, keyboard, and mouse. Apple doesn't have any perks like that. The iPhone 8 Plus doesn't even have a headphone port. The Galaxy S8 Plus does, though.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus