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May 31, 2017

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: What’s the difference?

by John_A

The Essential Phone, or PH-1, is the latest in the line up of Android smartphones. It comes from one of the original creators of the Android platform, Andy Rubin, and it has been designed with minimalism and durability in mind. 

It has an edge-to-edge display and a body built from titanium, but how does it compare to its competition? Here are the differences between the Essential Phone and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+. You can also read how the new device compares to the Pixels in our separate feature.

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Design

  • Essential slimmest device, but heaviest 
  • S8 lightest and smallest in width
  • Essential titanium and ceramic, Samsung’s glass and aluminium and waterproof 

The Essential Phone features a titanium frame, a ceramic rear and a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protected front. Aside from a small bezel at the bottom and a cutout for the front camera lens, the front of the device is pretty much bezel free, making for a pretty striking design.

It’s nice and slim, measuring 141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8mm, though pretty weighty at 183g. The rear sees a flush dual-camera setup, a circular fingerprint sensor, and two magnetic pins for attaching modules, such as the company’s charging base or 360-degree camera.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ both feature an aluminium frame with a glass rear and like the Essential Phone, there are minimal bezels for an almost-all screen front. Dual-edge displays are present on both, as is a singular rear camera lens, rear-mounted fingerprint sensor next to the camera lens and a dedicated Bixby button on the side of the devices. 

The Galaxy S8 is the slightly smaller of the two, measuring 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm and hitting the scales at 155g, while the S8+ measures 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm and weighs 173g. Both are IP68 waterproof.

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 review

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Display

  • Almost bezel-free displays on both Essential and Samsung devices 
  • Essential has smaller screen, S8+ has largest display
  • Samsung devices offer higher resolutions and HDR

The Essential has a 5.7-inch IPS LCD display with an unusual resolution of 2560 x 1312 pixels and a ratio of 19:10. This results in a pixel density of 504ppi across the almost entirely bezel-free display.

As Essential opts for LCD over AMOLED, the display is likely to deliver accurate colours and images, though not as saturated or vibrant as an AMOLED panel would offer.

By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display, while the S8+ offers a 6.2-inch screen, meaning both are larger and likely to be punchier than the Essential Phone.

The two Samsung devices opt for a ratio of 18.5:9 and a Quad HD+ resolution of 2960 x 1440, resulting in respective pixel densities of 570ppi and 529ppi, both of which are sharper than the Essential, though this may not be noticeable to the human eye.

Samsung also offers Mobile HDR on the S8 and S8+, making the two Galaxy devices ready for when HDR content arrives for mobile on Amazon Video and Netflix.

  • Mobile HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Mobile HDR Premium explained

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Camera

  • Essential Phone has dual-rear cameras, both 13MP
  • Essential and Samsung devices all have 8MP front cameras 
  • Samsung devices have wider aperture

The Essential Phone features a dual-camera on its rear, featuring two 13-megapixel sensors, both of which have an aperture of f/1.9. Like Huawei, one sensor is monochrome, the other colour, and they can be combined to take better low light shots.

There is an LED flash on board the Essential Phone, as well as phase detection autofocus and laser detection autofocus. An 8-megapixel sensor is also present on the front, featuring an f/2.2 aperture and 4K video recording capabilities.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ both have a Dual Pixel 12-megapixel rear camera sensor, featuring an aperture of f/1.7, along with an 8-megapixel front camera, also with a f/1.7 aperture. 

On the rear, there is an LED flash, phase detection autofocus and optical image stabilisation, while the front camera offers autofocus too, as well as Auto HDR. Both sensors offer excellent results.

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Hardware

  • Latest processors under hood of all three devices with 4GB RAM 
  • No microSD on Essential Phone but more internal memory
  • Largest battery capacity in S8+, all three have quick charge

The Essential Phone features Qualcomm’s latest chipset, the Snapdragon 835, which is supported by 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal memory. There is no microSD slot so no storage expansion with this device.

In terms of battery, the Essential Phone features a 3040mAh capacity, which is charged via USB Type-C and it supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack on board, though the Essential Phone does offer stereo speakers.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ feature either the Exynos 8895 chip, or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835m depending on the region. Both model variations have 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and both offer microSD support for storage expansion up to 256GB.

The Galaxy S8 has a 3000mAh battery capacity, while the S8+ has a 3500mAh capacity, both of which are charged via USB Type-C and support quick charge. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack on both the S8 and S8+.

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Software

  • Essential Phone offers pure Android software, no bloatware
  • Samsung devices offer different experience, though still Android 

The Essential Phone will launch on Android Nougat with no bloatware, offering a pure Android experience.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ on the other hand also run Android but they have Samsung’s TouchWiz software over the top, meaning the experience will be slightly different. The Samsung devices also have the Bixby voice assistant and Google Assistant, while the Essential Phone will likely only have Google Assistant. 

We’d expect all three devices to be upgraded to Android O when it launches later this year, though nothing has been confirmed as yet.

  • What is Bixby? Samsung’s smart AI explained

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Price

  • Essential Phone slightly cheaper than S8 and S8+
  • Essential Phone not available as yet

The Essential Phone will start from $699 in the US when it goes on sale in the third quarter of 2017. It will be available in four colour options.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 costs £689, while the Galaxy S8+ costs £779. It comes in five colours, though not all are available in all regions.

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Conclusion

The Essential Phone has plenty of things going for it. It will seemingly offer a solid build based on its materials, it has a nearly bezel-less display, dual-camera and powerful hardware, as well as a raw Android software experience. 

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are fantastic phones though and tricky ones to beat. They offer lovely designs, sharp and vibrant displays, excellent cameras and great performance.

The Essential Phone is likely to be a little cheaper when it becomes available, and it’s certainly striking, while the Samsung handsets are already available and they have proved themselves as excellent handsets. The decision between these devices will therefore probably come down to how soon you want a new device and which design you prefer.

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