Fall 2017 may go down as the season of the phone. Samsung, Apple and Google have new models on the market that significantly up the ante, with a swath of features that will forever change the way we interact with our technology.
There’s so much to consider.
How fast and easy do you want to charge?
One major new stride for Samsung and Apple models is the ability to charge wirelessly — though the “wireless” pads still have to be plugged into an outlet. Once you pick a spot for your charger, you can forget about cords on a daily basis: just place your phone on top of the charger and watch it zing back to life.
Does size matter?
If you want the biggest screen, go with the Note 8 — Samsung’s model comes in at almost a half inch taller than the competitors. The Note 8 also stands out for its infinity edge-to-edge screen.
What about pictures?
Are selfies what make you smile? All of the new phones take excellent pictures, with high marks for megapixels and speed. Reviewers seem to be going especially gaga for Google’s camera, with a CNET reporter recently touting its ability to handle “all sorts of tricky environments like low light, shadows and brightly lit backgrounds.”
Pictures bring us to the question of memory. You’ve taken all these great selfies, but where do you store them? Or maybe you have a healthy appetite for apps? All come with a standard 64 GB of storage space on the phone. Google and iPhone allow you to upgrade to 128 and 256 GBs, respectively. Google also offers a handy solution for heavy photo and video users. Through 2020, it will store, in original quality, all your photos and videos on its cloud.
Every phone also has its standout features, detailed in our handy chart.
One last thing to think about: Who do you talk to? Google and Samsung operate on Android, with access to the Google app store and the Google Assistant. Apple runs the iPhone on iOS, with the Apple app store, iTunes and Siri. While the two operating systems are compatible for the most part, it’s worth considering what OS your friends and family are using — video chat, messaging apps and photo sharing through the cloud can work more seamlessly when you’re on the same system.
We’ve rounded up the specs here with an at-a-glance guide. Which one has your number? You make the call.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Price: from $929.99
Wireless charging option: Yes
Weight: 6.88 ounces
Screen size: 6.4 x 2.94 x .34 inches (the biggest!)
Camera: 12 MP, f1.7
Memory: 64 GB
Standout features: The S-pen stylus gives new functionality to the classic touch screen. You can draw or write on pictures easier than you can on the other smartphone models where you use only your finger.
Other notable features: Facial recognition, an edge-to-edge screen and an excellent camera. Its app pairing feature is also a game-changer, allowing you to operate two apps at once using a split screen. Now you don’t have to pause your YouTube video while you carry on a text conversation.
Google Pixel 2
Price: from $649
Wireless charging option: No
Weight: 6.2 ounces
Screen size: 6.06 x 2.97 x .28 inches (XL model)
Camera: 12.2 MP, f1.8
Memory: 64 or 128 GB (but unlimited storage for photos and videos!)
Standout features: The Pixel 2 allows you to tap into Google’s excellent network of applications, like Google Play, YouTube and Gmail, among others. With its incredible camera and Google Lens, you can instantly get info about what’s in your photo. For example, if you snap a shot of a flower you can’t ID, just let your phone tell you what you’re looking at. Another new standout feature comes with its song identification capabilities—no need for specialty apps when your phone will identify the background music at any point in the day. Also new: No headphone jack.
Apple iPhone X
Price: from $999
Wireless charging option: Yes
Weight: 6.14 ounces
Screen size: 6.06 x 2.97 x .28 inches
Camera: 12 MP, f1.8 wide angle, f2.4 telephoto
Memory: 64 or 256 GB
Standout features: Apple still gets top marks for its ease of use—its functions are intuitive and user-friendly. The X (pronounced “ten”) offers facial recognition (unlock your phone by looking at it) and an edge-to-edge screen (no home button). It maintains the iPhone 7’s no-headphone jack policy, and it significantly upgrades the camera and screen. The X is the only iPhone to feature optical image stabilization on both the wide-angle and telephoto lenses for blur-free photos. Portrait Lighting helps faces light up in photos, and the camera’s slow-motion video capability has been enhanced.
Bailey Shiffler Larson is a freelance writer grateful to live in the age of smart phones for one reason: the maps app.