Samsung Galaxy S8+ – Over Hyped or Awesome?
Today we are going to be talking about the Galaxy S8+, Samsung new flagship smartphone. Now before we move on, I need to quickly mention that this is by no means a full dedicated review, because I’m sure you have watched countless of them online. I will be focusing this review on the things I liked about this device and the things I didn’t like about it. I spent nearly a month using the S8+ as my daily driver, so here are my thoughts about it.
Let’s address something that anyone would think of when taking a glance at S8+: It’s just beautiful. Samsung has definitely brought their A game to the table after the Note 7 recall, and although they have played it safe this time they are still pushing the limits of modern smartphone design. I have the Midnight Black variant here and I have to admit everything from the curved edges to the smooth metal unibody construction screams quality. It’s a marvelous piece of engineering that one would have dreamed about years ago. That being said, one of the drawbacks to this design is the implementation of Gorilla Glass 5 at the back as it quickly picks up grease and fingerprints, which makes it almost uncomfortable to use at times. It also gets slippery. Thankfully I haven’t dropped it yet because that would have been quite the disaster. Obviously a quick fix to this would be to apply a skin of some sort, but like I mentioned in my LG G6 review I would appreciate it if companies move towards textured matte finishes in the future to help improve grip.
The screen covers 80% of the body, yielding thinner bezels at the top and bottom, while the curved edges in the sides make it impossible to distinguish the screen from the body alone. Above you can see a shot of the S8+ sitting next to the Nexus 6P, and I really can’t go back to that phone because I’m so used to the Samsung’s beautiful Infinity Edge display. Its thin bezels have won me over. In one way you have a lot of vertical real estate to work with for multitasking, plus watching native 16:9 content looks amazing.
The S8+ model sports a whopping 6.2-inch QHD+ AMOLED display, and given this panel’s technology colours are super vibrant, there contrast ratio is excellent, and there are deeper blacks which I’m always a fan of. Samsung does include options for different colour profiles, but I ended up using the basic mode as the colours seemed more neutral to my eyes. Like I mentioned earlier, watching content on the screen was a pleasing experience, except for one annoying factor: The curved edges. Now I’m completely aware that I’m contradicting myself here, because I just mentioned how beautiful this phone looks with these curved edges. This is especially true when you are swiping things from left to right, it’s a seamless transition and works great. However, when you are watching content the edges get reflective and the content starts to distort a little bit, and I didn’t like that. The LG G6 has a flatter display without any curves, so distortion was non-existent and I prefer that over the S8+ screen. Sorry, Samsung.
My Two Gripes
Let’s also not forget to talk about Bixby, because is Samsung’s rip-off version of Google Now, and it didn’t turn out that great. I’m heavily invested into the Google ecosystem and I do use Google Now on Android phones to check weather and updates, but Bixby is just so annoying. It certainly needs a lot of improvement and it’s nowhere close to Google Now at the moment. But you know what is even worse? Assigning a physical button to activate the damn thing, there is no way to reassign that button to launch another app and you can’t disable it through the settings. It’s also at an odd location right beside the volume rockers, so you can imagine the amount of times that I have accidentally triggered Bixby. There are third-party paid apps that can disable this feature, but implementing this physical button was a big mistake from Samsung in the first place.
My second biggest gripe about the S8+ is the location of the fingerprint reader. It is right beside the camera and that made it difficult for my fingers to reach. It is also not that accurate compared to the Nexus 6P and the LG G6. There were a lot of times where the phone wouldn’t recognize my finger unless I placed it at a certain position. It was really a frustrating experience, and I’m aware of other biometric authentications like face recognition that are hit or miss and iris scanner that kind of works when I have my glasses on. I appreciate Samsung for including these features, but I’m not sold on them completely. You know what else I do like about S8+? It’s waterproof! To be more specific, it is certified with the IP68 water and dust resistant rating, and I have taken advantage of that feature a lot when traveling by washing my phone in order to avoid germs.
Software & UI
I’m not going to go in-depth into software experience, because there is a lot of Samsung-related features that I honestly didn’t care about. You know me, I love a cleaner and simpler user experience, so just like any other Android phones I installed the Nova launcher and my preferred icon pack and called it a day. That is the beauty of Android, the user has full control of the software and they can customize the UI to fit their style.
Battery life on the S8+ was great. Samsung has packed a 3,500mAh battery in this device, and that gets me roughly around 6 hours of screen-on time. The phone charges via USB Type-C and it supports Quick Charge 2.0. My usage normally consisted of checking Twitter, Instagram, taking photos, browsing the web, and catching up on a few TV shows. I completely binge watched the entire fifth season of House of Cards on my flight back to Toronto, and what’s interesting is that I had 50% remaining when I landed. The phone was on airplane mode, but still very impressive. Remember that turning the Always-On Display option will shorten the screen-on usage, so be aware of that.
The last thing to cover here is the camera, and it is nothing short of spectacular. It’s a 12MP sensor with an aperture stop of F1.7. Pictures look fabulous on this thing, and the samples you are seeing above were shot in auto mode without any adjustments to ISO, white balance, et cetera. The autofocus on this camera is ridiculously fast too. In fact, it is one of the fastest that I have come across on an Android device after the S7.
In conclusion, I actually have mixed feelings about the Galaxy S8+. This is the best Android smartphone that Samsung has ever created, it’s beautiful, especially with these curved edges and the design is a testament to modern smartphone engineering, the performance is great, the battery life is stellar, and the camera is outstanding. However, it’s not a perfect device, at least for me because the fingerprint reader is at an odd location, the curved screen can get a little distracting when you are watching content, the bottom facing speakers are not that great, and I honestly also don’t get the point or the motive behind Bixby. Assigning a physical button to activate that feature is pointless in my opinion, and even infuriating if you imagine the R&D that went into creating it.
You also can’t forget the fact that this is a Samsung device and their software is known for slowing down over time. I guess I will have to update you on that later on. Well those are my thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S8+. What do you all think about this device? Is this the dream smartphone that you have been looking forward to? If there are any S8+ owners out there, how are you liking it so far?
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