LG and Samsung have unveiled their latest phones, and since we spent enough time to come up with near-final conclusions, let’s compare the two hottest phones in the “large display” category. The LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ are leading a new push for large-screen displays with incredibly high display-to-body screen ratios, especially for high-volume devices. How do they stack against one another? Let’s take a look.
“Design” is one of the 4 to 5 major factors that influence a smartphone choice, so this is a critical aspect that should not be overlooked in favor of “specs.” If you do not care about the appearance of your phone it is completely legit; it’s just not how most people choose theirs.
Beauty (S8 wins)
Both the Galaxy S8 and the LG G6 phones are agreeable to look at and nice to hold. However, from a pure design standpoint, we would give an advantage to Samsung’s design. The curvature of the Galaxy S screen has proven to be an eye-pleaser (which is why Samsung has now retired the flat design), and The S8 brings even more screen area than the already impressive G6.
The Galaxy S8 is also a bit thinner, and its overall performance/capacity in relation to the internal space is just amazing from an industrial design standpoint.
Durability (G6 wins)
The weak point of the Galaxy S8 is that this beauty and the curved glass makes it potentially/statistically more fragile. It is because the edge design increases the likelihood of a glass-to-surface contact during a drop. You simply cannot have it both ways. It is beautiful, but you have to be mindful that a glass crack is more likely if there’s a drop.
You can read our article on how LG designed the LG V20 to survive drops. It explains the general context of phone drops, and what can be done to mitigate the issue (mitigate, not solve). We have talked to other OEMs, and they agree that the general principles are sound. The G6 has some of those mitigation techniques, although not all.
The LG G6 also has glass on the front and back. However, the absence of a curved edge design and the metal rim all around the sides and corner make it less likely to shatter. Also, the antenna slits have been moved further away from corners (where ~50% drop contact happen) to increase the endurance of the waterproof seals at these locations (the slits could leak after a shock).
"THE GALAXY S8 LOOKS STUNNING, THE G6 IS BEAUTIFULLY TOUGHER"In the end, it depends on your priorities. Protecting the S8 is as simple as using a case, although it is a pity to hide such a nice design. If you are clumsy, the G6 has a beautiful design and large display too (not quite as big). In general, people tend to favor aesthetics over durability (until they drop the phone), so the Galaxy S8 looks better, the G6 is tougher.
Display (S8 wins, S8+ slays)
Displays are extremely important since they are obviously used by everybody every time the phone is ON (or even sleeping). Here, you have got the two best high-volume large-screen smartphones. Although LG was first to enter the arena, I think that it is fair to say that the Galaxy S8 has an advantage because its screen is larger, and has an excellent image quality as well. Both have extremely high pixel density (image sharpness) with 565 PPI and 568 PPI. For example, the iPhone 7 has 326 PPI.
If you take into account the Galaxy S8+, the 6.2” will probably dominate the large-screen (high-end) phone market until the Galaxy Note 8 arrives, if such a phone is even planned. Both LG and Samsung are formidable display makers, and here you can see where the strategic decisions are taken years ago lead to today’s outcome:
LG has decided to turn its manufacturing towards OLED TV and is reaping the dividends in the high-end TV market with models like the LG W-Series Signature series. At the same time, Samsung has dedicated its OLED capabilities to smartphones and tablets (12-inch or less) and dominated that market with Galaxy phones and Tablets+PCs.
We expect things to shake up a little with the potential LG V30, but it remains to be seen. LG has of course built OLED phones with the LG G Flex and LG G Flex 2 handsets, but it is fair to say that they rely on LCD IPS screens for their high-volume phones.
Learn more: LCD vs. OLED. Which is Best And Why?
The conclusion is: unless you dislike the Edge curve design of the Galaxy (some people do, and it is fine), the Galaxy S8 wins this.
Camera (slight advantage to S8)
Neither the Galaxy S8 or the LG G6 introduce major hardware changes from their respective predecessors. Samsung was already using a very advanced sensor with dual-pixel diode AF technology that gave it an amazing autofocus (AF) speed in the S7. The same camera is present in the Galaxy S8.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 totally dominated the phone camera landscape until the Google Pixel came long, and now there’s a tie (depending on preference, read our Google Pixel Review). As such, the Galaxy S8 will carry this fight, using mostly the same hardware. At the moment, we are going with the idea that it is at least as good as the S7, which is a safe bet.
"THE G6 WIDE SHOT IS A KILLER FEATURE"The LG G6 offers very decent speed and very good image quality, including in low-light, but the camera is not as responsive as the S8. What the G6 has, is a unique wide-photo capability that is unique in the industry. When you are talking about Single Camera vs. Dual Cameras phones, I think that the LG G6 has today’s best implementation of Dual Cameras: the one that you actually use – all the time.
It is fair to say that the LG G6 camera sensor is not as good as the Samsung Galaxy S8’s. However, LG engineers have done an excellent job at squeezing the last drop of quality out of it, and LG offers unique and extremely valuable photo capabilities that I hope Samsung will integrate too.
"FOR CONVENTIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY THE GALAXY S8 WINS"The Galaxy S8 camera experience remains better overall because of the single-camera performance (quality+speed), but we highly recommend looking at that wide photo capability, because it will capture moments that no other phones can. Bottom-line: LG’s wide photography may win you over. Until then the S8 wins in absolute terms.
If you looked at the camera from a “value” (or performance per dollar spent), LG can make a very good case since its image quality is very good (at a very small expense of pure speed) and it has this unique wide shot.
Audio quality (G6 Quad-DAC wins)
Audio quality is not often a proper topic in phone reviews, and the reason is simple: most phone come with generic digital to analog converter (DAC) that send signal to output devices such as headphones or (wired) speaker. These generic ones have a range in quality that is often not measured or not looked at in details because people can’t tell the difference, especially with the so-so earphones that come with many handsets. To enjoy Quad-DAC you need decent headphones or (wired) speakers. Quad-DAC doesn’t help when streaming audio over Bluetooth.
The LG G6 comes with an excellent Quad-DAC chip similar to the one which got praised in the LG V20. If you are curious, we have previously explained What a DAC is, and how the LG V20 Quad-DAC works. There are other high-quality DACs in various smartphones (HTC promotes high-quality audio too), but LG’s was particularly good recently. That said, be mindful that the LG G6 Quad-DAC availability varies from country to country, so please double-check that it is available if you want it. I know for sure that you can find it in Korea and Hong Kong. The US will not have it, neither does Europe.
The Galaxy S8 is currently the only phone using Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 chip, which is part of the overall Snapdragon Platform. We have looked at the numbers and the Qualcomm development devices are currently the best proxy for the Galaxy S8 performance (see the charts below). From a synthetic benchmark standpoint, Snapdragon 835 rules.
"SNAPDRAGON 835 RULES"The Galaxy S8 is today’s most powerful Android phone and has also the most advanced 4G LTE modem available to the market because it is the only Gigabit-class 4G LTE handset right now. Supporting networks have been rolled out in Australia, but you can expect more carriers to join quickly because this is the best way to increase overall network capacity.
That said, the LG G6 is no wimp. It uses the Snapdragon 821 SoC, which is also used in the Google Pixel (see scores in the charts below). Its modem is not as advanced, but until gigabit-class LTE networks are available, it is not yet a huge disadvantage. In the end, we suspect that most users will not push the hardware to its limits during normal use. Nevertheless, the Galaxy S8 is a clear winner.
There are even S8 vs. G6 side by side speed tests videos on the web already. These aren’t always great tests, because we’re not 100% sure that the conditions are exactly the same on both handsets, but they provide a pointer, and some entertainment value.
Both handsets are shipped with Android 7.0, and both come with a customization layer on top of Android (LG UX 6.0 and Samsung TouchWiz). Custom Android layers are common with OEMs, and most people do not mind that much. However, people who would rather have a “pure” Android experience can use Google’s default version with the Google Pixel phones, and some brands such as Motorola have decided to customize as little as possible. Lenovo is going there too as of late.
Every platform has their own pluses and minuses: LG has added excellent static screen capture tools, including with scrolling capture capabilities. Samsung has gone all out and can turn the Galaxy S8 into a desktop computer with DeX (watch our DeX demo on YouTube). The S8 also has a voice user interface called Bixby that can save previous taps, or get things done when your hands are wet or dirty (watch our Bixby demo on Youtube).
Samsung’s weak point may be that its customization layers are more complex and often lead to small UI performance decrease (which Pixel phones never suffer from). LG phones do not stay as responsive as Pixel phones, but are more so than Galaxy S phones, at least in our experience.
Because I do not hear that many (non-journalists) people complain from UI responsiveness issues with Samsung, I would say that the Galaxy S8 has a lead because of the potential of DeX and Bixby. Also, Samsung tends to fare better with IT department security policies and management.
Battery life: in the same class
When it comes to battery life, you should know that there isn’t a reliable way to predict it, simply because there are too many moving parts: brightness, network conditions, background apps, etc… The best proxy for your specific usage model is the battery capacity.
With a battery capacity of 3300 mAh, the LG G6 sits between the Galaxy S8 (3000 mAh) and the S8+ (3500 mAh). Because of different display technologies and size, and because the Snapdragon 835 platform is supposed to be much more power efficient, it is possible than the Galaxy S8/S8+ has comparable battery life to the LG G6.
In the end, it is likely that you will charge them all daily, so a small difference should not be a major sway factor.
If we look at the prices of the LG G6 (~$650), Galaxy S8 (~$750) and Galaxy S8+ (~$850), it is clear that value can play a decisive role in the final purchase decision. We expect these prices to change within the next three months, so we will update this article when it does change significantly. By how much is unclear since LG seems confident that its LG G6 phone is well positioned to compete in the overall market.
If your budget barely matches the LG G6 price, be assured that it brings a very good value and that you are getting a phone worth your money. If budget is not a major concern, the Galaxy S8 has better hardware and design overall, and the Galaxy S8+ offers a display size and quality that is unmatched at the moment.
Finally, keep an eye on the partnerships and aggressive promotions that either brand could do. In the U.S, LG had a campaign in which it was bundling a Google Home, and sometimes an LG TV with the purchase of a G6. Every market will have a different offering, but overall, LG is more aggressive with this approach.
If you ask us: Galaxy S8 vs. LG G6, which is best? This article should give you enough information to make an informed decision. Because every user has a unique set of needs, budget, and preferences, there is no “best phone,” there is only a “best phone for you.”
"THE GALAXY S8 IS STUNNING, FAST AND TAKES GREAT SHOTS. THE LG G6 IS BEAUTIFUL, TOUGHER AND GREATLY EXTENDS CAMERA FUNCTIONALITY" Overall, we would say that if budget if not an obstacle, the Galaxy S8 wins unless you are clumsy or like wide-angle photography (which is awesome). In reality, you should take into account the pros and cons of each design. Both handset are Titans in the large-screen smartphones world.
As we spend more time with the phones, we may update this article again, but we feel like we have enough real-world experience to provide useful feedback and give you the solid pro/cons arguments that you demand now. If you have additional questions, please leave a comment, and we will reply as soon as we can.