Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Apple iPhone 7 Plus: Which is best?

Which plus-sized Plus is the plushest of all?

If you're buying an Apple phone today, you really ought to go with the Plus-sized model.

The iPhone 7 Plus is undoubtedly Apple's best handset to date: a super-big, super-fast smartphone with great components in nearly every respect – including that snazzy dual-camera array on the back – and the smooth and streamlined iOS 10 running the show. If you've set your heart on an iPhone, it's worth the extra splurge to get the Plus over the standard iPhone 7.

But in the world of large phones it now has some serious new competition. Samsung's Galaxy S8+ releases this week, and it has quickly vaulted to the top of our list of the best smartphones available today, sharing a spot with the standard Galaxy S8. The regular version is already a very big handset, but the Plus adds another 0.4in to the screen while keeping the sizzling design. It's a mighty device.

Still, both of these big phones occupy a space in our Top 3 right now, and both are pretty brilliant all around. But which big phone deserves to weigh down your trouser pocket in 2017? Here's how they compare, now that we've fully reviewed both.

Design: Sizzling S8

The Galaxy S8+ is absolutely identical to the regular Galaxy S8 in design, but it adds just a smidge more screen size along the way. Otherwise, it's the same jaw-dropping look: almost all screen on the front, with right and left curved sides and very little bezel on the top and bottom.

It's all glossy metal and glass, as many phones are these days, but you haven't seen a smartphone look quite this sensational. Even if you typically haven't liked curved screens, it's hard not to given Samsung props for such brilliant work here. And since the phone's screen is extra tall, the Galaxy S8+ doesn't feel monstrously large: it's just over 1mm wider than the iPhone 7 Plus, and actually somehow 4.5mm shorter.

When it comes to looks, the iPhone 7 Plus just feels rudimentary – especially after seeing and touching the Galaxy S8 Plus. It's the same basic design that Apple has trotted out for three years now, albeit with less-obnoxious antenna lines and no headphone port.

The new Product (RED) version is dazzling, the matte black is the sure pick of the bunch, and the glossy Jet Black is appealing (although scratch and fingerprint-prone), but it's hard to get excited about the old iPhone 6 form factor yet again. Apple needs something dramatically enticing for the iPhone 8, because right now, Samsung is crushing it. This is Samsung's best design to date, by far.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Screen: Samsung's superiority

Apple's standard iPhone 7 screen is notoriously low resolution for a flagship phone today (it's 750p), despite the Retina branding, but at least the iPhone 7 Plus hits the 1080p mark. And truth be told, the 5.5in LCD panel is striking, with great colour and contrast, loads of brightness, and excellent viewing angles. There's really nothing to complain about.

Well, except that sharper Quad HD (2K) panels have become the Android flagship norm over the last couple years, and Samsung's had the best of them all. That's surely true again with the Galaxy S8+'s curved AMOLED panel, branded an Infinity Display, and it lives up to the hype.

As mentioned before, it's taller than your average phone in one hand – that's because it uses an 18.5:9 aspect ratio in landscape view, rather than the standard 16:9 widescreen approach. Even so, it remains ultra crisp and vivid, plus it has the benefit of mobile HDR (high dynamic range) support, which means compatible shows like Stranger Things and House of Cards will look downright spectacular once the Netflix app is updated.

Apple still has the big perk of 3D Touch, as the pressure-sensitive screen lets you press harder for additional interactions or to access handy menus. That's nice, but it really hasn't been a game-changer for mobile app and game design so far, let alone within iOS itself.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Camera: Brilliant either way

It's the iPhone 7 Plus' most obvious addition, both over the iPhone 7 and the previous Plus: the dual 12-megapixel camera setup on the back. Apple wasn't the first to try this trick, but it works incredibly well here, as you can switch to the other sensor with a tap for zoomed-in shots without losing any detail along the way.

You'll also get the great Portrait feature, which blurs backdrops for a DSLR-like look. And the wide f/1.8 aperture captures loads of light for everyday snaps, turning out some of the best photos you'll find on any smartphone.

The Galaxy S8 Plus sticks with one main camera, meanwhile, and it hits the same core specs as the one on last year's Galaxy S7: 12 megapixels with f/1.7 aperture. Given how fantastic that camera was, it's no surprise that this one's also a winner.

In fact, Samsung is using smarter software this time around to improve your results. You'll grab three separate images each time you hit the shutter button now, and Samsung's processing will reduce noise and clean up the results to minimise blur in the one final shot. So the results are even better than what you'd find on the Galaxy S7.

Now that we've put the S8 Plus through its paces, we'd say it's pretty even overall when up against the iPhone 7 Plus, as well as the Google Pixel. Any of these phones offer an amazing shooting experience, and image processing here was even a bit faster than the Pixel. But you can't go wrong with either of these devices.

Winner: Draw

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