Samsung Galaxy S8 Review

KEY FEATURES

  • 5.8-inch quad-HD Infinity Display (AMOLED)
  • Samsung Exynos 8895 (Europe and Asia) or Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (USA)
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (microSD up to 256GB)
  • 3000mAh battery with wireless and fast charging
  • Rear camera: 12 megapixels, f/1.7 aperture and Dual Pixel sensor
  • Front camera: 8 megapixels, f/1.7 and autofocus
  • Iris and fingerprint scanner
  • Samsung Bixby personal assistant
  • Android 7 Nougat with Google Assistant
  • Front camera: 8 megapixels, f/1.7 and autofocus
  • Iris and fingerprint scanner
  • Samsung Bixby personal assistant
  • Android 7 Nougat with Google Assistant
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Price: Rs. 57,900

SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 – DESIGN

Nothing comes close to the Galaxy S8 design-wise. It’s the best-looking phone I’ve ever seen, leaving every other handset trailing in its wake.

The curved rear, as seen on the Galaxy S7, nestles perfectly in your palm, while the glass shimmers as the light hits it. The device is available in three colors – a dark black, bright silver and a grey with a bluish tinge – with no ugly white front plate in sight.

We were worried that the fingerprint sensor’s placement right next to the camera on the back of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ might be a problem. And it was, initially. Because the sensor is fairly narrow, it’s difficult to target it without looking. We got used to it after a couple of days, but we still wish it were below the lens.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 – SCREEN

The big reason the S8 looks so different from any other phone is its new screen, which Samsung has dubbed the “Infinity Display.” It features a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio that’s similar to the 18:9 screen on the LG G6, but taller and skinnier than the traditional 16:9 screens the vast majority of other smartphones have. On the Galaxy S8, it measures 5.8 inches diagonally from rounded corner to rounded corner; on the S8 Plus, it expands to 6.2 inches in the same dimension.

The screen on the S8 is 5.8 inches, versus 6.2 inches on the S8+. But other than the difference in display size, the S8 and S8+ have the same design. Overall, we prefer the bigger screen on the S8+, but if you have small hands, you’ll likely find yourself repositioning the phone in your hand to reach certain buttons, including the home button, which is now a virtual button instead of a physical key. The button worked well in our testing, providing solid haptic feedback. It’s flanked by the Recent Apps and Back buttons.

That screen is pushed to the outer edges of the phone’s frame, taking up 83 percent of the front panel and leaving very little bezel above and below it. In addition, the sides are curved, finishing off the infinity pool effect and making it feel like you’re holding just a display. Samsung is going all-in on curved screens this year — it’s the company’s big differentiator — and you can’t buy a “flat” version of the S8 at all.

Many apps and videos won’t natively use the Galaxy S8’s 19.5:9 aspect ratio, but you can force them to do so in settings

Pros: A class-leading display, jaw-droppingly bright and sharp
Cons: Resolution downgraded by default to boost battery life, aspect ratio can cause display problems in apps and video

SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 – PERFORMANCE

Under the stunning body, there is a serious amount of power, although where you live in the world will determine the SoC (system-on-chip) at the heart of the device. Those in Europe and Asia will get Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 chipset, while who is in the USA will get a device with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835.

That processor is paired with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot for expansion, and a radio capable of both gigabit LTE and gigabit Wi-Fi. The S8 is the first gigabit LTE smartphone you can buy, but until we have actual gigabit networks to use it on, that doesn’t matter all that much. (US carriers are expected to deploy their first gigabit networks before the end of this year.) The S8 is also the first phone to come with Bluetooth 5.0, which promises better range and the ability to deliver audio to two different Bluetooth devices at the same time. I was able to get the same song from YouTube to simultaneously play out of two sets of Bluetooth headphones, though you could also use it to have two Bluetooth speakers play the same audio.

Both are the fastest CPUs out there, built using a 10nm production process for improved efficiency. There’s 4GB of RAM – any more is basically pointless for a phone at this stage – and it has a roomy 64GB of internal storage with support for up to 256GB microSD cards.

During my time with the Galaxy S8, I can’t say that it’s been noticeably faster than a Snapdragon 821 device such as the Pixel XL or LG G6. However, the latest processors do add in a few features that are aiming to future-proof devices such as this.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 – SOFTWARE

The software is where Samsung is known less for polish and more for clumsiness. In a refreshing change of pace, the software on the S8 is, dare I say, good. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t send me running to the Play Store for a new launcher and icon pack the instant I turn the phone on.

In fact, the software layer on top of Android 7.0 is good-looking and functional. Icons are more mature, and the on-screen buttons – a first for a Samsung S-series phone – are angular and edgy. I’m particularly a fan of the haptic feedback you get when you push the virtual home button, which can be accessed even when the display is off.

The stark white color scheme is clean and crisp, and all of Samsung’s native apps have adapted that look. Google Assistant is on board, although there’s no Daydream support, since that sort of clashes with the newly updated Gear VR and its snazzy motion controller.

Pushing the Bixby button twice will launch Bixby Home, a home screen panel that displays various cards and information based on your routines and interests. It can plug into third-party services such as Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, and Foursquare, and can tell you the weather, upcoming appointments, news updates, or reminders you’ve set. Unfortunately, none of this is hugely different from what we’ve seen from Google, HTC, and others doing on their home screens for years. Samsung says Bixby is designed to learn your habits and will adapt over time, but it’s likely that I haven’t been using the phones long enough for this to take measurable effect because I haven’t really seen much in the way of personalization.

BIXBY

The S8 is the first device to come with Samsung’s new smart assistant Bixby. It has its own dedicated button on the side and comes in three parts. The first is a Google Now-esque set of cards for displaying a few widgets, reminders, the weather, steps and the social news aggregator Upday. The second is object recognition like Google Goggles. The third is a voice assistant, which isn’t available yet but is set to be available in the US in the spring, with other countries including the UK at a later date.

The trouble is Bixby isn’t very good. Sure, it can point me in the direction of Amazon to buy more Nature Valley bars or capture text from an image, but Upday I found more annoying than useful and the Spotify widget is easier to activate from the notification shade.

At the moment Bixby is a poor duplication of Google Assistant’s feed, which is also built into the S8. Thankfully you can turn it off and safely ignore it, but you can’t use that extra button for anything else, yet. At least I haven’t activated Bixby by accident.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 – CAMERA

The S8 is a sizeable improvement over the S7 in almost every area, but the camera has received the fewest upgrades – on paper, at least. There’s no dual-sensor system here, no wide-angle lens or variable aperture. Instead, there’s a single 12-megapixel sensor behind a wide f/1.7 lens that uses the same Dual Pixel tech as the S7.

The only obvious addition is a new multi-frame image processor that takes three shots every single time you snap, reducing blur and leaving you with a sharper shot. But simply looking at the spec sheet reveals only half the story.

The Galaxy S8, like the Google Pixel, shows it’s as much about the optics and sensor as how the software and image signal processor (ISP) work together. The photos achieved by the Galaxy S8 are truly stunning, and it’s a huge jump from the already excellent Galaxy S7.

The first thing you’ll notice about the camera is just how fast it is. A double-tap on the power key opens the camera quicker than any other phone, and focusing is equally snappy. I’ve probably taken over 1000 photos with the Galaxy S8, and no more than two or three have had to be deleted because they were either out of focus or the sensor had focused on the wrong spot. That’s incredible for a phone – even Google’s Pixel.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 – BATTERY LIFE

The biggest concern I had about the Samsung Galaxy S8 was the battery life. Considering the fallout from trying to cram a big battery inside the slim Note 7, it’s probably no surprise that Samsung has been a little conservative with the cell inside the Galaxy S8.

But can a phone with a 5.8-inch quad-HD+ HDR-ready display really last the whole day on a 3000mAh battery? That’s the same size of battery that managed to make it through just a day on the 5.1-inch Galaxy S7.

The answer is yes – but it isn’t so straightforward. The fact is that, more than ever, how long the battery lasts will depend on how you use the phone. You can change the performance, the screen resolution, whether or not brightness is boosted when you’re watching videos, and each of these will affect the battery in different ways.

Out of the box, with the screen resolution bumped to quad-HD+ and the brightness at a very viewable 30%, I managed a comfortable day of use – 4hrs 30mins screen-on time – with about 10% left when I went to bed. That’s a busy day and quite an impressive result. Dropping the resolution to 1080p got me about an extra 5-6% at the end of the day; turning off the Always-on Display bought me another 3-4%.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 SPECIFICATIONS

General

Launch Date April 21, 2017 (Expected)
Brand Samsung
Model Galaxy S8
Operating System Android v7.0 (Nougat)
SIM Slot(s) Single SIM, GSM
SIM Size SIM1: Nano
Network 4G: Available (supports Indian bands)
3G: Available, 2G: Available
Fingerprint Sensor
Quick Charging

Design

Height 148.9 mm Compare Size
Width 68.1 mm
Thickness 8.0 mm

Very Good
Weight 155 grams

Average
Build Material Case: Metal
Back: Metal
Colours Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Coral Blue, Arctic Silver, Maple Gold
Waterproof Water resistant (up to 30 minutes in a depth of 1.5 meter), IP68
Ruggedness Dust proof

Display

Screen Size 5.8 inches (14.73 cm)
Screen Resolution 1440 x 2960 pixels
Pixel Density 568 ppi

Best in Class
Display Type Super AMOLED
Screen Protection Corning Gorilla Glass v5
Touch Screen Capacitive Touchscreen, Multi-touch
Screen to Body Ratio 84.57 %

Performance

Chipset Samsung Exynos 9 Octa 8895
Processor Octa core (2.3 GHz, Quad core, M2 Mongoose + 1.7 GHz, Quad core, Cortex A53)

Best in Class
Architecture 64 bit
Graphics Mali-G71 MP20
RAM 4 GB

Storage

Internal Memory 64 GB

Best in Class
Expandable Memory Up to 256 GB

Camera

MAIN CAMERA
Resolution 12 MP Primary Camera

Very Good
Sensor Exmor-RS CMOS Sensor
Autofocus Phase Detection autofocus, Dual Pixel autofocus
Aperture 1.7 F
Optical Image Stabilisation
Flash Dual-color LED Flash
Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 Pixels
Settings Exposure compensation, ISO control
Shooting Modes Continuos Shooting, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR)
Camera Features 8 x Digital Zoom, Auto Flash, Digital image stabilization, Face detection, Touch to focus
Video Recording 3840×2160 @ 30 fps, 1920×1080 @ 60 fps, 1280×720 @ 120 fps
FRONT CAMERA
Resolution 8 MP Front Camera
Autofocus
Aperture 1.7 F
Flash  No
Camera Features Wide Angle Selfie
Video Recording 1920×1080 @ 30 fps

Battery

Capacity 3000 mAh
Type Li-ion
User Replaceable  No
TalkTime Up to 20 Hours(3G)
Wireless Charging
Quick Charging Fast

Network & Connectivity

SIM Size SIM1: Nano
Network Support 4G (supports Indian bands), 3G, 2G
SIM 1
4G Bands:
TD-LTE 2300(band 40)
FD-LTE 2100(band 1) / 1800(band 3) / 2600(band 7) / 900(band 8) / 700(band 28) / 1900(band 2) / 1700(band 4) / 850(band 5) / 700(band 17) / 800(band 20)
3G Bands:
UMTS 1900 / 2100 / 850 / 900 MHz
2G Bands:
GSM 1800 / 1900 / 850 / 900 MHz
4G Speed:
150 Mbit/s ↑ 1024 Mbit/s ↓ (LTE category 16)
3G Speed:
HSDPA 42.2 Mbit/s ↓, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s ↑
GPRS:
Available
EDGE:
Available
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 802.11, a/ac/b/g/n/n 5GHz, MIMO
Wi-Fi Features Mobile Hotspot
Bluetooth v5.0
GPS with A-GPS, Glonass
NFC
USB Type-C (Doesn’t support micro-USB)

Multimedia

FM Radio  No
Loudspeaker
Audio Jack 3.5 mm

Special Features

Fingerprint Sensor
Heart Rate Monitor
IRIS Scanner
Other Sensors Light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Barometer, Compass, Gyroscope
9.2 Total Score

Performance (Octa core 4GB RAM)
9.8
Display (5.8 inches, 1440x2960 px, 568 PPI)
9.4
Camera (12 MP Primary, 8 MP Front Camera)
9.0
Battery (3000 mAh, USB Type C)
8.5
PROS
  • Awesome display
  • A phone that feels like the future
  • Stunning camera
  • It’s actually innovative
CONS
  • Lacks dual cameras for optical zoom
  • Awfully placed fingerprint sensor
  • Bixby is a bit of a dud
  • No FM Radio
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Last update was on: May 17, 2018 2:30 pm
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