Holding the S8, We’re struck by the fact that nothing about it feels especially surprising, and not just because damn near everything about it has been leaking for the past few months. The boldest feature is every phone’s more important feature: the screen. On the S8, it extends up and down to cover nearly the entire front of the phone. It also curves around the left and right, something Samsung is calling the “infinity display,” which gives it the look of not having any bezels at all. And speaking of curves, the four corners of the screen are also slightly curved instead of squared-off, which adds some elegance and perhaps some screen durability.
The aluminum frame remains sandwiched between edge-to-edge glass. The latest glass used is Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which will add more safety to the phone. While the issue of back glass getting cracked after dropping of the phone will remain. But, phone will be now be better protected against common drops. The curved front glass in the galaxy s8 makes the phones easier to pick up and more comfortable to hold just as they did for the S7 and S7 edge, while the curved front glass—now standard on both S8 models—adds some visual flair. Overall design of Galaxy S8 is very promising and definetely comes under tag of premium phones.
As you’d expect, the S8 has the best specs you can get on an Android phone. Depending on the region, you’ll either get Qualcomm’s newest (and slightly rarer) Snapdragon 835 or Samsung’s own Exynos (for Indian Region). In both cases, Samsung is touting that they’re built on a 10nm chip, which should theoretically help with power consumption. In our brief time with it, everything was super-fast. Hopefully it will stay that way over time.
The standard S8 has a 570ppi 5.8-inch screen, with a resolution of 2960 x 1440. The S8 Plus has the exact same resolution on its 6.2-inch screen, which works out to 529ppi. For our money, the standard S8 is the way to go. It still feels like a massive screen and the body is significantly smaller. The height of the screen is interesting, too: the aspect ratio is a super-tall 18.5:9, which adds a bunch of screen real estate to scroll through. In terms of other specs, it’s pretty standard stuff: 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of onboard storage, and an expandable SD card slot.
After the blasts from Note 7(which would have been perfect phone for this Diwali). Galaxy S8 is a huge bet for Samsung.
So on the S8, Samsung did not push the envelope when it comes to capacity. The S8 has a 3,000mAh battery and the S8 Plus has a larger 3,500mAh battery — the same capacity that the Note 7 had. But neither is especially large when you consider the fact that they need to power smaller screens than Note 7. Samsung claims it has tweaked the battery chemistry to help the batteries last longer after a year or two of use.
To make up for it, Samsung is offering the usual suite of power options: Qualcomm Quick Charge and support for both major wireless charging standards. But We still have reservations about how long the batteries will last on these phones. In fact, it may be a reason to seriously consider getting the larger S8 Plus.
Camera and optics
Another place where Samsung hasn’t really pushed the envelope is the camera. The S8 uses the exact same rear camera as the Galaxy S7, a 12-megapixel sensor with OIS. Samsung says it’s done work on the software side to improve picture quality, and in our short time with it We found it to be significantly faster than the camera on the Galaxy S7 Edge.
It is notable that the S8 Plus doesn’t get a better camera or a dual-camera setup. Excepting screen and battery size, both phones are identical.
We suspect it’s using the “take pictures all the time in the background and just save them when you hit the shutter button” trick we’ve seen on other phones. It also borrows another trick from other Android phones: the shortcut to launch it is double-pressing the power button now (since the home button is virtual).
The front-facing camera (aka the one you selfie lovers care about) has gotten an upgrade. It’s an 8-megapixel sensor now, but more importantly it has autofocus. Switching between cameras is fast and easy. Especially the GIF mode of the camera is good, though we do wish it was just automatic like you can do with Apple’s Live Photos and the Motion Stills app.
In any case, the competition for the “best smartphone camera” is way more interesting now than it was a year ago, when just Samsung and Apple were at the top. Now, Apple and LG are sticking multiple cameras in their phones while Google’s Pixel has jumped to the top of the Android camera quality game. It’s too early to say that Samsung is resting on its photography laurels with the S8, but it is fair to say that there’s probably nothing here that will give other companies reason to worry.
That Samsung is capable of making great hardware should come as no surprise to anybody. It’s the software where we have reason to be skeptical. Running all the way back to the bad old days of TouchWiz, Samsung has a well-earned reputation for taking Android and mucking it up with bad ideas.
For the past few years, though, the common refrain has been restraint, and we’re going to repeat it again today. Samsung has done a pretty good job keeping its worst instincts in check. There are a ton of weird features to find in the dark recesses of the settings menu, but out of the box the basic look, feel, and functionality of Samsung’s Android skinning is pretty good.
And there are some genuinely great parts, too. The iris scanning that lived all-too-briefly on the Note 7 is back, if you’d like to unlock your phone that way. But the best way to unlock the phone is Samsung’s new face detect system.
It takes about 20 seconds to set up and once you do, it works really well. It’s not the same, bad face unlock that was introduced in Android years ago, it’s an entirely new system Samsung made.
In our limited time or so of playing with it, it didn’t fail to unlock a single time. But, it can even unlock your phone from a picture. Samsung admits the face-detect system is less secure than the other ways of unlocking, so you will still need to set up the iris or fingerprint scanners to make payments.
There is one gimmick that in theory we should be excited about but in practice I’m just not: DeX. It’s a feature where, after buying a specialized dock, you can plug your Galaxy S8 into a monitor, keyboard, and mouse and get a full desktop mode. Unlike solutions we’ve seen in the past , the desktop mode here simply offers Android apps instead of a full desktop browser. It looks well-designed for what it is, offering full access to your notifications and resizable windows. But it can’t escape the fact that outside a few apps like Samsung’s own browser, Microsoft Office, and Adobe’s creative suite, Android apps are bad on big screens.