For a brief while in the early years of Android, it was an annual clash that tech pundits and the geek crowd looked forward to eagerly. But in recent years, the LG vs. Samsung Android flagship clashes seem to have got a trifle one-sided, especially after Samsung upped the ante with the Galaxy S6 and LG seemed stuck in a bit of a rut after the G2 (and its modular gamble did not pay off with the G5). However, this year, the clash between the two Korean phone behemoths seems to have the spice of old, with both companies trying something new with their flagships and going back to the drawing boards to an extent. With results that are radically different, adding much more contrast to the confrontation.
As different as chalk and cheese.
Or wait, we have a better comparison:
As different as the two Bonds: Sean Connery and Roger Moore.
The Bond simile seems appropriate, as just as 007 was the best secret agent around, these two phones claim to be the best Android devices in town. And just like Connery and Moore brought different flavors to Ian Fleming’s immortal Spy, so too have Samsung, and LG brought their own touches to Google’s almost omnipresent mobile OS, Android.
For me, the Galaxy S8+ (that’s the device we are using in this comparison) inevitably brings memories of Sir Roger Moore’s bad – incredibly good looking, svelte and stylish – while the G6 harks more of Sir Sean Connery – ruggedly handsome rather than drop-dead gorgeous, and trying to score more on substance than style. Yes, we know some of the newbies would say that a comparison between the newer Bonds, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, would be just as appropriate, but we think the Connery vs. Moore comparison works much better, simply because that was seen as a competition (both actually played Bond in films released at around the same time), where Brosnan and Craig was more like a progression, with one actor taking over when the other stepped away.
So with the Galaxy S8 in Moore’s suit and the G6 in Connery’s, which phone comes off better? Let us take a look, shall we?
Appearance and design: For Your Eyes Only
We do not for a moment think that the G6 is a bad-looking phone (hey, Connery was a Mr. Universe contestant) – it cuts a very handsome figure with its bezels shaved off from the sides and its glass front and back and metal frame. It is just that it simply gets outclassed by the wall of glistening glass that is the Samsung Galaxy S8+. That Infinity Display and curved sides steal it for the S8+, not just from the G6, but from almost every handset out there.
Yes, we know that there are those who will point out that the G6 is a more “solid” device, as in spite of having a glass front and back as well, it does feel a whole lot more sturdy (and is less slippery as well). Yes, the S8+ is much larger than the G6, but it does bring a much bigger display to the battle as well, but we are going to be blunt – the S8+ is perhaps the most flaunt-worthy Android phone we have seen since the original HTC One. Yes, it does have more than a passing semblance to the S7 Edge, but there’s no doubting that in the battle of looks, there is just one winner here – yes, in spite of having the most awkwardly placed fingerprint sensor we have seen for a while. We really cannot but put our finger on what’s wrong, Mr. Moore.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8
Hardware: The Man With the Golden Gun
This is where it gets interesting. Had Samsung introduced the Snapdragon 835 variant of its Galaxy S8+, we think it would have won this round at a canter, with the G6 only having the (now) older Snapdragon 821. However, by bringing in the Exynos 8895 variant, we think Samsung has just opened the door for the G6 to get into contention – even though there seems to be no discernible lack of speed in either of the devices, the Snapdragon 821 actually outpoints the Exynos in the benchmarks.
It is a heck of a battle here, both phones sport quad HD displays, and while the S8+ has a larger (6.2-inch) Super AMOLED one, the G6’s more compact (5.7-inch) LCD display is very good too and gives it a higher pixel density. Both phones come with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage, which can be expanded to 256 GB, and in terms of connectivity, also cancel each other out with support for 4G, NFC, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. The S8+ comes with a slightly larger battery (3500 mAh) as compared to the G6 (3300 mAh), but the G6 comes with dual 13.0-megapixel shooters on the back with support for optical zoom, whereas the S8+ has a 12.0-megapixel shooter on the back. We are calling this one a tie, really. There’s not too much to choose between the two in spec sheet terms. A bit of an irony in Bond terms, for one, would have expected Connery to outmuscle Moore comprehensively. If it was not for that processor. Mr. Moore’s could have brought more chips to the table. Mr. Connery is not complaining.
Camera: With a View to Kill
The LG G6 scores here on the basis of its sheer versatility. While the G6 comes with dual cameras (13.0-megapixel each) on its back, the S8+ has a single 12.0-megapixel shooter. Mind you, regarding performance that single shooter more than holds its own against the twin shooters on the G6, with its f/1.7 aperture giving it a slight edge even in low light conditions as compared to the f/1.8 and f/2.4 on the G6. Both phones also come with a number of shooting options and tweaks for those who like that sort of thing. If one looks at results from the point of “pleasant” appearance, then we can see many tilting towards the S8+, but bring in realism, and the G6 holds sway. You will get slightly oversaturated shots with the S8+, but with richer colors, while some of the shots on the G6 might look a tad washed out, but are more likely to be closer to what you saw with your eyes.
But what we think sways us towards the G6 is the optical zoom that the dual camera set up gives us. 2X might not sound like a lot, but it is loads better than none (ask anyone who uses the iPhone 7 Plus). Yes, we think the S8+ has the better selfie camera as compared to the middling 5.0-megapixel selfie snapper on the G6, but all said and done, we are going to let our puritan streak call this one for the G6’s rear shooters – you simply can do more with them. Mr. Connery would appreciate versatility, we suspect, even as Mr. Moore would fawn over form and colors.
Winner: LG G6
Software and UI: Goldfinger
A couple of years ago, this would have been akin to choosing between the Devil and the Blue Sea (or between Blofeld and Jaws, to use a Bond simile). But both LG and Samsung have spruced up their UIs and cleaned them up to a large extent in recent times. Both the G6 and the S8+ run on Android Nougat, but while both companies have tried to pack in as many features as possible in as unobtrusive a manner (given critics’ penchant for screaming “bloatware” and yearnings for stock Android), we think Samsung has done much the better job here.
Yes, both phones can get a little complex to handle once you get past the basically simple surface UI, but we think Samsung’s is the sleeker interface of the two, in terms of overall presentation and “feel.” The presence of “Edge apps” (which you can access by sliding in from the edge of the phone) and assistant Bixby help its cause. LG’s UI too has some deft touches, but we are voting this one to Samsung. You can smile, Mr. Moore. You were always the sleeker looking of the two Bonds. Mind you, THAT fingerprint scanner location does mess up the UI.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8+
Gaming and multimedia: Thunderball
This is a titanic tussle when you consider that both devices had nearly finished even-steven in the hardware stakes. We did not notice any discernible difference when it came to gameplay speeds and smoothness when it came to high definition titles on both devices. The S8+’s larger and more “edgy” display does provide a better visual experience as compared to the more conventional one on the G6, but on headphones, we felt that the G6 had much the better sound quality. Both phones are a treat for watching videos and playing games, although the G6 has a slight edge thanks to its audio recording muscle.
We are going to be calling this a tie – in terms of pure visual impact, we think the S8+ with its lovely AMOLED display holds the edge, but get into the sound side of matters, and we believe that the G6 holds sway. And of course, with both possessing hardware that pretty much is evenly matched, this is yet another tie. Shake hands, Messrs Moore and Connery.
Battery life: You Only Live Twice
On paper, you would have thought that the Force would be with the S8+ with its larger 3500 mAh battery, as compared to the 3300 mAh one on the LG G6, but on the flip side, the G6 has a much smaller display – 5.7-inches as compared to the 6.2-inch one on the S8+. And we suspect this is the main reason why we saw the G6 outlasting the S8+ rather comfortably in our daily use. It is not as if the S8+ did badly – it easily lasted out a day – but the G6 often saw us well into the second day. Yes, switching the S8+ to full HD rather than quad HD resolution (it is set by default on full HD) did make the battery situation better but we are not huge fans of running a phone’s display at a lower resolution. Mr. Connery lasts longer, Mr. Moore.
Winner: LG G6
Bang for buck: Casino Royale
Just as there could be only one winner in the design and appearance stakes, there can be just one winner here. The LG G6 is much the more affordable of the two devices, launched at Rs 51,990 as compared to the Rs 64,900 price tag of the Samsung Galaxy S8+. In fact, as we go to print, the price of the G6 has further slipped to Rs 41,990, making it almost fifty percent more affordable than the S8+. Yes, there are those who will stand up for the fact that the S8 is more affordable than the S8+, but even that costs Rs 57,900, which is significantly more than the G6’s current price. You want a phone to flaunt; you gotta pay a fair bit for it. You want something that will focus on sheer performance; you gotta pay a fair bit… lesser. You may be easier on the eye, Mr. Moore, but Mr. Connery is so much easier on the trouser… pockets.
Winner: LG G6
So which of the two gets a Licence to Kill…or Bill?
Which brings us to the end of the great Android Bond duel. In terms of pure statistics, we would say that the golden oldie, Sean Connery (the LG G6) has pulled off an upset, winning three rounds, tying two and losing two. But as a British Premier said, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and ah, statistics. That might be a little extreme, but there’s no denying that Roger Moore (the Samsung Galaxy S8+) scores over his counterpart in two areas that are very important when it comes to premium level flagships – appearance and software. And of the three rounds the S8+ does lose out on – camera, battery and bang for the buck – we think only the last of the third comes into the deal breaker zone.
It really depends on who decides to play M (Bond’s boss!). If it is a mission where looking good is important as is a feature rich and sleek interface, then we think, the Galaxy S8+ will get the nod, giving Mr. Moore reason to smile. If budgets are tight, and performance cannot be compromised, we have a sneaky feeling that the muscle of Mr. Connery will be preferred. It is a classic clash of style against substance, with the additional benefit of the competitors having both qualities, only in different proportions.
We will summarize:
Want looks and great performance, with the budget not being an issue?
The Galaxy S8+.
Want great performance and a more versatile camera, at a lower price, albeit in a slightly plainer garb?
The LG G6.
Which is better?
In different circumstances.
Just like Sean Connery and Roger Moore.
On the one hand, it is a heck of a choice to make.
On the other, it is one with which you cannot go wrong, no matter whom you pick.