The tall phone showdown we’ve all been waiting for.
LG was able to get its new G6 out the door before Samsung, but it launched into a world full of Galaxy S8 leaks and expectations. Now that we have the real deal in our hands, we can set the top-end phone from LG right up against its direct competition in the Galaxy S8 to see just how they compare — from overarching looks down to minute spec differences and feature distinctions.
Hardware, specs and features
After attempting a bunch of different design and material strategies, LG has settled on something with the G6 very similar to Samsung. The metal frame with a glass back is a formula that has worked for Samsung (and many others, it should be said), though LG puts its own twist on things with a much thicker metal frame and minimal curves. The Galaxy S8 in turn has much less exposed metal thanks to more dramatic curved glass on the back and a subtle curve to the screen as well, and even the metal that is there is polished up to look more like the glass that surrounds it.
Metal and glass is all the rage, and these phones do it well.
The Galaxy S8’s screen is imperceptibly larger at 5.8-inches to the LG G6’s 5.7-inch, and they both exhibit the same rounded edges on all four corners. The screens themselves are both great, but Samsung’s AMOLED panels really do lead the industry in terms of brightness and colors — LG’s LCD is just fine, though, and if you like more accurate colors you may even prefer it. The Galaxy S8’s curved screen edges, while smaller than previous “edge” phones, may still not be your thing — it’s worth touching one in a store before buying if you’re on the fence.
Thanks to its slightly taller 18.5:9 aspect ratio and curved screen edges the Galaxy S8 is actually just under 4 mm narrower than the G6, though they’re the same height and thickness. Narrower is better from a usability standpoint, but you also have to factor in that the hefty metal frame of the G6 is a bit easier to grasp than the smooth, rounded glassy exterior of the Galaxy S8. The LG G6’s thick metal should also make it less susceptible to scratches and cracks throughout its lifespan.
The hardware is remarkably similar between these two phones.
The big hardware specs and features are mostly shared between the two phones. You get 4GB of RAM, an SD card slot, waterproofing, fast charging, wireless charging, the aforementioned QHD+ displays, USB-C, a single speaker and a headphone jack. The newer Galaxy S8 has a newer processor, with the Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 powering it, and also has the leg up in terms of offering wireless charging and 64GB of base storage everywhere around the world — those features are exclusive to certain markets for LG.
LG takes a win with a 10% larger battery at 3300mAh to the Galaxy S8’s 3000mAh, but also in its fingerprint sensor placement being in a much easier-to-reach location. Samsung is hoping you’ll use its iris scanner technology, which the LG G6 doesn’t have, but right now fingerprint sensors are the way to go and LG’s is just downright easier to reach and use.
Software and experience
Samsung and LG have converged in software in the past generation as well. LG has gone cleaner and simpler with its interface, using primarily white and blue along with pops of colors for icons in particular. That’s been the style for Samsung with its latest updates to Marshmallow and Nougat on the Galaxy S7, and that’s still in play with the Galaxy S8. Both companies are all-in on squircle icons, too — including adding squircle frames and resizing your downloaded apps for consistency.
There are plenty of tiny differences in the way the default apps on both phones operate, but both sets are easy on the eyes and simple enough to figure out. You can, of course, install whatever default apps you want on either one, and most people will do so if they feel strongly enough about such things. The only real points of differentiation are the ecosystems for each — Samsung focuses more on its own Galaxy ecosystem of accessories and apps, whereas LG often defaults to Google’s or isn’t as pushy with its own features like LG Health.
Both phones get the basics done, and have features you’re more likely to ignore than anything.
The Galaxy S8 has a couple tricks up its sleeve with the Bixby voice interface and DeX desktop dock, though those have yet to prove to be big selling points at this moment. You can easily argue [that Google Assistant])(/google-assistant) — available on both phones — is more useful than Bixby helping you navigate through a handful of Samsung apps, and DeX is a great idea but is likely to only be a solution to a problem for a very niche set of users.
More important to the overall buying decision of a modern smartphone is its camera. LG has seriously impressed us with its camera performance, both in terms of its main camera setting a standard for all other flagships but also with its additional wide-angle lens for unique shooting opportunities. Samsung has stuck with the same 12MP f/1.7 setup from the Galaxy S7, and though it was coming from a position of strength we’ll have to see how well it improved its software and processing to challenge the G6’s excellent photo performance.
There are fewer points of differentiation between the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 than with the leading flagships from these companies in any year prior. In my view, that isn’t bad — it means no matter which you choose, you’re getting a base set of specs and features that everyone is looking for, and that’s good for everyone.
You’ll still find plenty between the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 to make an educated decision, though. The Galaxy S8 has a sleeker body and a far more recognizable Galaxy brand behind it, as well as the built-in benefit of Samsung’s vast ecosystem of services and accessory support. The LG G6 offers a larger battery, a known great (and unique) camera setup and is likely going to retail for a bit less than the GS8.
You’re going to get a great phone no matter which one you choose, so take a look at the fine points and find the specific features that appeal to you when making a phone buying decision.