A man and a dalmatian standing in front of an oversized Galaxy S8 featuring an image that blends perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Image source: Samsung.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) just unveiled the much-anticipated iPhone X (pronounced "iPhone 10"). It represents the next leap forward for Apple with its all-screen design, Face ID unlocking feature, and possibly the best camera in a smartphone yet.

But Apple still has plenty of competition. Its biggest competitor, Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF), released its flagship Galaxy S8 model in the spring. The Galaxy S8 presents the biggest challenger for the iPhone X with the same display size (5.8") and similar specs.

In fact, the Galaxy S8 has a few unique features you won't find in the new iPhone X. Here are seven of the biggest differences.

Phil Schiller standing in front of a display featuring an iPhone X with the words "From $999" above it.

Image source: Apple.

A much lower price tag

Apple is positioning the iPhone X as a premium model, and it comes with a premium price. Consumers will have to pony up $999 for the 64 GB model of the iPhone X.

Samsung's premium model is the Galaxy Note, which has just been released and comes with a price tag of $930. If you can do without the bigger screen, a stylus, and a few other premium features, you can get a Galaxy S8 for just $725. That's a pretty steep discount from the iPhone X.

The back of the Galaxy S8 at an angle.

Image source: Samsung.

Fingerprint sensor

Apple had to make a design compromise when it designed the all-screen iPhone X. Without a home button, there was no place to hide the fingerprint sensor to support Touch ID. It's rumored that the reason Apple's ship date has been delayed to Nov. 3 is that the company tried, and failed, to put a fingerprint sensor under the OLED display. Thus iPhone X relies entirely on Face ID -- Apple's new face-scanning technology -- for biometric security.

The Galaxy S8 also features a nearly all-screen design with home and navigation buttons built into the software layer. But Samsung opted to place a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device, enabling fingerprint scanning. Many have complained, however, that the location of the sensor -- right next to the camera lens -- is hard to reach and can lead users to accidentally smudge the camera.

A woman on the beach looking at the iPhone X.

Apple has Face ID but no iris scanner. Image source: Apple.

Iris scanner

As mentioned, Apple doesn't have a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone X, but it does provide a face scanner. And while Face ID appears extremely secure with its 3D scanning technology, it doesn't include iris scanning like the Galaxy S8.

The most secure way to lock and unlock the Galaxy S8 is with iris scanning. Samsung's face scanning technology uses 2D image recognition, so it's easily spoofed by photographs. Iris scanning is much more secure. That said, Samsung warns it might not work if you wear glasses or contacts, as they present a barrier to properly reading the iris. (Reports on the internet say it's usually not a problem.)

Meanwhile, Apple's Face ID scanner uses a neural network AI algorithm to recognize your face even if you put on eyewear or change your hairstyle, which is a nice solution to the problem while maintaining security.

The iPhone X, side angle.

Image source: Apple.


Aside from a place to plug in a lightning cable, there are no ports on the iPhone X. By contrast, the Galaxy S8 offers a headphone jack (because people still like using wired headphones) and a tray for a MicroSD card. The latter allows consumers to buy a device with less storage and expand it if necessary. Of course, Samsung is one of the companies that manufactures MicroSD cards, so it only makes sense that it offers S8 users the option to use one.

The front of the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Image source: Samsung.

Curved screen

While both the iPhone X and Galaxy S8 feature screens that take up nearly the entire front of the phone, they have some big differences. The iPhone X screen has rounded corners, and it curves around the notch at the top of the phone that contains the front-facing camera and sensors. The Galaxy S8 screen has much less pronounced rounding at the corners, and the display wraps around the side edges of the phone.

Samsung also integrated some gestures into the curved edge displays. Swiping allows users to bring up their most used apps and contacts and to use its Smart Select feature to easily grab and share virtually anything that's on the screen.

A woman holding the Galaxy S8 using Bixby.

Image source: Samsung.


Bixby is Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri, and it represents a major reboot from S Voice. Bixby is more than just a voice assistant. It's built into the Galaxy S8's camera, providing augmented-reality features like real-time translation. It can recognize objects and search for them or purchase them for you, and it can also identify landmarks and reads QR codes.

Bixby is also used as the analog to Apple's Home Kit, allowing users to control various smart devices. For example, it can use the phone's GPS to turn the air conditioning back on.

Samsung phone with Samsung Pay open.

Image source: Samsung.

Samsung Pay

Just as Apple has Apple Pay, Samsung has Samsung Pay. Similar to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay uses near field communications to transmit a secure token to payment terminals by keeping credit card information on the phone. Not every retailer is on board with NFC yet, so Samsung Pay can also use magnetic secure transmission to work on terminals that still rely on swiping credit cards.

Samsung Pay also comes with a rewards program. Users earn points for each purchase on top of their regular credit card rewards, providing an extra incentive to use Samsung Pay. Samsung also offers discounted gift cards through Samsung Pay, among other perks.

Water splashing around the iPhone X

Image source: Apple.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone X

The Samsung Galaxy S8 has several features that compare favorably to the Apple iPhone X. But Apple has packed a lot of unique features into its top-of-the-line smartphone as well. Consumers may have a tough time deciding which of these high-end phones will replace the current rectangle in their pocket.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.