Consumer Reports picks Galaxy S8 over iPhone 7, everything else

Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ have been rated the best smartphones available by Consumer Reports.

Both devices outranked their rivals — including the iPhone 7 — in design, battery life, and camera performance. However, they aren’t considered perfect, with testers noting that they are difficult to operate with one hand, and their fingerprint scanners are awkwardly-placed.

Oh, how times have changed. Just a few years ago, Samsung was a company famous for making flimsy, unattractive smartphones packed with unnecessary features that still commanded premium price tags. Those price tags haven’t changed, but everything else has.

Since Samsung started taking design seriously, the South Korean company has produced some of the prettiest handsets money can buy. It has also focused its efforts on features people want over those they don’t, and fixed its bloated software.

That’s why the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are the best smartphones available today, according to Consumer Reports, which recommends them over rivals like the Google Pixel, LG’s new G6, and even the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Both handsets received praise for their unique designs and stunning edge-to-edge displays. “The look of the S8 and S8+ is minimalist, modern, and elegant—and the design allows for a bigger screen in the same-size device,” reads the report.

They’re comfortable to hold, though impossible to use with one hand, and they offer “some of the best smartphone battery life we’ve seen.” The larger Galaxy S8+ obviously lasts longer thanks to its bigger battery, but even the regular Galaxy S8 proved impressive.

The same can be said for their cameras: “Several phones in our ratings take absolutely stunning photos, but even in that group the Samsung S8 phones shoulder their way to the front rank.”

Consumer Reports gives a “shout-out” to Samsung for addressing over-sharpened images this year, and says the Galaxy S8 series produces photos with rich colors, great video, and even performs well in low light.

It adds that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ “don’t suffer” for using only one rear-facing camera as opposed to two like the iPhone 7 Plus and LG G6.

There’s room for improvement, however. Consumer Reports agrees that Bixby, Samsung’s new virtual assistant, “just isn’t there yet.” It also says that the positioning of the fingerprint scanner on the back of the Galaxy S8 is awkward to reach.

Nevertheless, “if you want a stunning camera, long battery life, and gorgeous display in a water-resistant package, one of these could be the right phone for you,” the report concludes.

iPhone fans will be keen to point out in the comments that Apple’s latest handsets are getting long in the tooth now, while the Galaxy S8 series is brand new, so is bound to be better. That’s fair — but Apple has a lot of catching up to do with iPhone 8.

The rumors suggest we will get a much-improved device that’s capable of competing, with its own edge-to-edge display, features like iris scanning, improved water-resistance, and a next-generation Touch ID scanner embedded beneath the iPhone’s OLED display.

We’ll have to wait until September to find out whether the iPhone 8 delivers.