Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: Which is best?

This spring's boldest Android flagships enter the arena

It's been a while since Samsung and LG seemed like even competitors on the biggest stage.

The LG G3 ruled for a while, but then Samsung's Galaxy S6 dominated the slightly uninspiring LG G4, and last year's Galaxy S7 impressed more than the modular experiment that was the G5.

But now, with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6, this feels like a fight that could truly go either way.

Both pack taller-than-usual, HDR-capable displays on bezel-light faces, and otherwise load in a lot of top-of-the-line tech to delight and entice potential buyers. And now that we've put both through our extensive review gauntlet, we can tell you which is the best - and why. Here we go!

Design: We'll take the curves

The most exciting thing about the LG G6, at least conceptually, is that it ditches the modular approach of the G5. While that was an interesting twist, the concept of add-on accessories didn't really catch on, and wasn't worth the expense or trade-offs.

Luckily, the G6 is much more than just a unibody G5. This glass-and-metal slab is a beauty of top-end flagship design, and it all starts with the front, which plasters the stunning screen across more than 85% of the phone's face. You still get slim bezels on the sides and slightly larger ones on the top and bottom, but the G6 is an eye-catcher for sure. And it's a flat screen, in case you're not swayed by curves.

The Galaxy S8, on the other hand, is all about those curves. It likewise puts a tall screen all over the front of the phone, with no bezel seen on the curved sides, and very little on the top and bottom. The way the screen blends into the curved bezel is really seamless and attractive.

Both look absolutely brilliant, and if you put it to an office poll, we'd surely have some outliers. But overall, we're more excited about the Galaxy S8, now that we've wielded both for some time, as the seamless, super-curved design just stands out a bit more than LG's own. It's close, but Samsung's phone makes the bolder impression here for sure.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Screen: Extra tall, extra great

Flagship screen sizes have pushed the width boundaries about as far as they can go before feeling deeply uncomfortable and unmanageable – so both the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 avoid the issue by pushing height instead.

Both devices ditch the long-standard 16:9 aspect ratio, with the G6 using an 18:9 screen at 5.7in (2,880 x 1,440) and the Galaxy S8 going for 18.5:9 for its 5.8in panel (2,960 x 1,440). By going taller, both phones give you more screen real estate without stretching your one-handed grip, and both are actually narrower than their predecessors – the S8 being compared to the Galaxy S7 Edge in this case.

There's a fair bit more in common between these displays: both are super-crisp Quad HD stunners, and both have mobile HDR capabilities, offering stronger contrast between light and dark colours. With compatible content, such as Netflix original series like Luke Cage and Stranger Things, you'll really see a difference – well, once the Netflix app is updated, at least.

Both also have rounded edges, which is a neat trick. But while Samsung's screen is another AMOLED panel, LG has stuck with its Quantum IPS LCD for the G6. You won't get the deeper blacks of an OLED screen on an LCD, but it's quite bright and has great viewing angles.

They're close, really close, but the AMOLED makes just enough of a difference to really stand out here, and the technology makes a lot of sense with the always-on display. The Galaxy S8 has the best phone screen we've ever laid eyes on, and it takes the win here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Camera: Single, please

Last year, we gave the Galaxy S7 a slight advantage over the LG G5 when it came to camera performance – and you agreed with us. Our readers picked the Galaxy S7 as the best camera over the OnePlus 3 and iPhone 6s, based on sample photos, while the G5 finished 4th.

It's an all-new battle this time around, however, and both handsets are packing improvements. The Galaxy S8 largely sticks with what worked last time around, hardware-wise, with another 12-megapixel main camera with f/1.7 aperture. However, it uses more image processing tricks: the S8 snaps three photos every time you hit the shutter button, then tosses in noise reduction, pixel binning, sharpening, and shake reduction to reduce blur.

Meanwhile, the LG G6 keeps the dual-back-camera approach from last year, but changes the components. Instead of having mismatched megapixel counts, both are 13MP sensors, with one at 71° and the other a 125° wide-angle lens.

In our time with the G6, we've found it to be faster than the LG G5 with locking onto subjects and adjusting exposure, albeit a bit slower than the Google Pixel. You'll get great results with good lighting, but expectedly less so with low light, with plenty of noise visible – especially since the wide-angle lens doesn't have optical image stabilisation.

And yet when it came down to conclusions, we decided that last year's Galaxy S7 Edge still produced slightly better results than the new G6, according to our reviewer's eyes and analysis. With the Galaxy S8 being just a smidge better than its predecessor, it definitely has the win here. There's no better smartphone camera available today, although we'd say it's a close tie overall between the Galaxy S8, iPhone 7 Plus, and Google Pixel.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8