Galaxy S8 Review: Samsung Spoils Perfection

Just demeanour during it.

Samsung has launched a Galaxy S8 and it competence be a many pleasing smartphone ever made. It appears to be something a hyper-intelligent visitor competition incidentally forsaken and we now get to investigate it. But underneath a microscope you’ll find it is clearly and frustratingly human, a soundness injured by array of weird and spasmodic facepalm-worthy flaws.

The Galaxy S8 is Samsung during a many Samsung-y. It’s a distressing work of towering genius…

Gordon Kelly

The Galaxy S8 changes smartphone design, forever

Design – Samsung Invents A Whole New Game

There is no other place to start a Galaxy S8 examination than on a outward since Samsung has combined a truly stunning, maybe even iconic, design. It feels like – and substantially is – a destiny of smartphones.

Only partial of this comes down to a arrangement – a large 5.8-inch row Samsung has somehow crowbarred into a device tiny incomparable or heavier than a 4.7-inch iPhone 7 – nonetheless I’ll get to this shortly. First it is critical to plead a altogether build since Samsung has pulled off something that’s some-more than usually another big-screen-small-bezels pretence like a LG G6 and Xiaomi MiMix.

Gordon Kelly

LG’s G6 set a bar usually a few months ago, nonetheless a Galaxy S8 takes smartphone pattern to another level

Whereas those dual are solid, bony and sincerely complicated devices, during 155g a Galaxy S8 is usually 3g (0.1 oz) heavier than a 5.1-inch Galaxy S7 and 17g (0.6oz) heavier than a iPhone 7. And since it’s roughly as slight as an iPhone 7 (68.1 mm vs 67.1 mm) it indeed feels tiny in hand. Pretty many anyone should be means to strech from side to side that creates typing a fun (note: switch to Gboard ASAP) and redefines what we consider of as a large phone.

  • Galaxy S8 – 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm ( 5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31-inch), 155g (5.36 oz)
  • Galaxy S7 – 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm (5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31-inch), 152g (5.36 oz)
  • LG G6 – 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm (5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31-inch), 163 g (5.75 oz)
  • iPhone 7 – 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28-inch), 138 g (4.87 oz)

Aiding this are a curves. Gorgeous slim edges make a Galaxy S8 feel thinner than a already spare 8mm abyss and a near-seamless finish between a framework and screen, ports and orator grills make it feel some-more like something combined in inlet – maybe a water-worn mill – than a tool finished of adult countless components.

Samsung’s pattern bravery hasn’t usually overtaken Apple, it has been lapped.

But a Galaxy S8 is not perfect. For me a phone is too tall. Reaching opposite a shade might be a doddle, nonetheless a tip corners are a large widen and we consider Samsung would’ve been softened putting in a 5.5-inch arrangement and creation something truly one-handed in all corners. It also has too many flaws secure in vanity.

Gordon Kelly

The position of a Galaxy S8 fingerprint sensor to a right of a camera is ridiculous

Samsung’s mania with a possess program means a volume buttons are positioned too high adult so a dedicated, non-remappable Bixby symbol (more later)can be congested in. Meanwhile a fingerprint sensor is in an absurd position subsequent to a behind camera that is tough to strech and will make we regularly blemish a camera lens. “Symmetry [with a LED flash]” was a reason given to me for this during a central launch, and while we conclude a pierce was substantially forced (an sensor integrated into a shade fell by final minute) prioritising “symmetry” over usability for such a core underline is self-centredness left mad.

And nonetheless elsewhere square abounds. There’s a headphone jack (hooray!) during a bottom (double hooray!), IP68 waterproofing, a microSD slot, a behind camera is roughly flush with a framework and we finally have USB Type-C after a Galaxy S7 stranded with microUSB final year. The singular mono outmost orator is still bang-average (Samsung should’ve stolen a iPhone 7 thought of amplifying a earpiece for stereo sound) nonetheless it’s louder than a balderdash one on a Galaxy S7.

Gordon Kelly

Samsung has defended a headphone jack, nonetheless also sadly usually a mono outmost speaker

So approbation a Galaxy S8 creates opposition smartphones demeanour like antiques, nonetheless Samsung also forgot a few basis along a way.

  • Pros: Jaw dropping looks, category heading build quality, compress and durable design, serviceable one-handed
  • Cons: Badly positioned volume controls, idiotically positioned fingerprint sensor, purposeless Bixby symbol and a modest mono orator

Display – A Real Crowd Pleaser

If a Galaxy S8 pattern walks a walk, afterwards a arrangement in a polyglot in articulate a talk. As is roughly an annual tradition, Samsung has once again combined a best arrangement ever seen in a smartphone.

The 5.8-inch OLED row is jaw droppingly bright, razor pointy and it has implausible contrast. Yes, a stretch helps to make it striking, nonetheless that usually piles on a vigour for it to broach and child does it ever.

Gordon Kelly

The Galaxy S8’s arrangement seamlessly moulds into a chassis

And yet, like so many of a Galaxy S8, it isn’t utterly perfect. For starters Samsung indeed downgrades a local QHD+ (2960 x 1440 pixels) to 1080p out a box. This should be excellent for many users, nonetheless you’ll need to pull it to a full 1440p (Settings Display Screen resolution) if we wish to see it’s comprehensive best. Why did Samsung do this? You’ll wish to review a battery life section.

Secondly a surprising 18.5:9 aspect ratio means many videos and apps don’t fit, withdrawal black bars during a sides. For apps a tweak (Settings Display Full shade apps) will residence this, nonetheless video is rebate forgiving. Samsung’s fortitude is a toggle symbol to wizz in, nonetheless this usually cuts off a tip and bottom of a picture. If other smartphones make a same pierce afterwards calm will adapt, nonetheless it’ll take time.

Gordon Kelly

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

  • Pros: A category heading display, jaw droppingly splendid and sharp
  • Cons: Resolution downgraded by default to boost battery life, aspect ratio can means arrangement problems in apps and video

Performance – The Fast Slow Phone

Galaxy S8 opening is a informed contraction.

Inside Samsung has granted a unequivocally latest and biggest slicing corner hardware (a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset in a US and a Samsung Exynos 8895 chipset in Europe and Asia, and 4GB RAM) and it breezes by any diversion you’ll find on a Play Store nonetheless violation a sweat. It’s also discerning to open apps and is generally unequivocally responsive.

But afterwards you’ll still find a same-old, same-old Samsung problems: moments of judder and forsaken frames of animation. This mostly happens during a many paltry of tasks, such as swiping left on a homescreen to entrance Bixby and scrolling it adult and down. You’ll also find stumble scrolling by some web pages.

In law a new Exynos and Snapdragon chips aren’t biggest generational leaps (10% faster CPU, 21% faster GPU) and a singular book with 6GB of RAM is an Asia-only release. But this isn’t a hardware issue, it’s a coding one and it stays notwithstanding some assertive memory government that discerning discards apps and web pages forcing them to mostly reload when we go back.

As such while, we will find a Galaxy S8 tops many fake benchmarks (and there’s gigabit LTE, WiGig and Bluetooth 5.0 thrown in), it isn’t remotely as silky as an iPhone 7 or even Google’s Pixel, that uses a Snapdragon 821 chip. And given Samsung phones are scandalous for negligence down over time (my wife’s Galaxy S7 behaves like an asthmatic bulldozer unless we bureau reset it each 3-6 months) I’m endangered there will be poignant decline.

All of that brings us to…

Software – ‘Improving’ Is Not Good Enough

TouchWiz has been a boundary of many jokes over a years and with good reason: it has been a bloated, inefficient, mess. Well a good news with a Galaxy S8 is that TouchWiz might still be magisterial and inefficient, nonetheless it’s no longer a mess.

Gordon Kelly

TouchWiz has never looked better, nonetheless it is still bloated

At prolonged final Samsung has found a unchanging pattern denunciation for TouchWiz. It might still use someone wanton colours and have no good reason to exist when Android’s batch Material Design is higher – nonetheless this unnecessary respray has never looked some-more cohesive. Unfortunately it has also never been some-more bloated.

Thanks to a important rebate in pre-installed Google apps like Calendar, Gboard, Keep, Clock and Calculator there are only about 40 pre-installed apps on a Galaxy S8 out a box (excluding carrier-specific bloat). Yes, “only” was a joke. You can’t uninstall them possibly – even a Microsoft ones like Skype, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneDrive. Microsoft paid for them to be on there so tough.

And Samsung unequivocally wants we to use a apps. Search for ‘browser’ in a app drawer and usually Samsung’s ‘Internet’ web browser will uncover up, not Chrome. Search for ‘pictures’ and usually a Samsung Gallery will uncover up, not Google Photos.

Gordon Kelly

TouchWiz is still full of Samsung apps, so get used to prioritised hunt formula and duplication

But are some Samsung apps value using? This generation’s title underline Bixby positively isn’t – during slightest in a stream form. This defective Google Now/Google Goggles counterpart doesn’t even have voice support out a box (this will change) and it does tiny other than pull some news headlines, total app calm and pull we towards Samsung program we substantially won’t use like Samsung Notes, Samsung Calendar and Samsung Reminder – that all have softened Google equivalents.

Gordon Kelly

Bixby is unequivocally singular (at launch) and is tiny some-more than a calm aggregator

Gordon Kelly

Bixby in a Google Goggles mode delivers churned results

At times we consternation if there is a pursuit some-more purposeless than being a Samsung app developer.

And nonetheless divided from apps there are some good tools. Smart shade constraint with a scrolling, annotatable and even gif captures is good (catch adult Android), multitasking was unequivocally useful until Android N did it and window-in-window video has beaten a doing in Android O to a punch.

Gordon Kelly

TouchWiz has unequivocally useful intelligent constraint tools

The cost of admission: 16 of your 64GB of local storage. For me a cost is too high (it’s about 9GB on a Google Pixel with a lot some-more useful Google apps pre-installed), nonetheless this is a Samsung way. The fee of regulating a latest and biggest hardware on Android.

Gordon Kelly

The Galaxy S8 is already using out of date Android software

To me it feels like shopping a world’s best laptop and being forced to run a sabotaged chronicle of Windows on it (Android 7.0 btw even nonetheless Android 7.1 is 6 months old) that takes divided some of a fun. There’s a choice here of course, and we will keep observant to yourself: “But this is a unequivocally beautiful square of hardware…”

  • Pros – TouchWiz has never looked better, Smart Capture is great, It’s discerning (for now)
  • Cons – Bloatware is removing worse, rebate well-spoken than a iPhone 7 and Google Pixel, Bixby is purposeless (for now), Android 7.0!

Camera – Better But Not The Best

I’ll cut to a chase: a Galaxy S8 does not retrieve a smartphone camera climax from a Google Pixel, nonetheless it does get so tighten we substantially won’t caring about a differences.

So what did Samsung do to tighten a gap? The advantages aren’t essentially in hardware. On a behind Samsung has used a somewhat upgraded procedure compared to a Galaxy S7 (Sony and Samsung chips change by region), nonetheless a ideally good 12 megapixel fortitude and f/1.7 orifice remain. Instead a large importance is on upgraded picture estimate – that is Google’s gift with a Pixel.

Gordon Kelly

The Galaxy S8 (left) has sealed a opening on a Google Pixel (right)

As you’ll see above a formula are unequivocally tighten in daylight. Samsung still has a bent to oversaturate (greens in particular) while a Pixel gets a grey of a mill some-more correct, nonetheless altogether shot restraint is intensely close. If I’m being picky (and that’s my job) there’s incompletely some-more fact to a brickwork in low light with a Pixel and it doesn’t over whet a residence during a finish of a shot (another Samsung trait), nonetheless these are probably uncelebrated photos.

Where there is somewhat some-more stretch between a Galaxy S8 and a Pixel is when sharpened into splendid light. In this shot of a tree, a object is usually off camera and a Pixel does a softened pursuit of capturing a light blue sky, while a Galaxy S8 has blown it out. But to uncover we how distant these phones are forward of a pack, LG’s ideally decent G6 can't hoop this perfectionist light during all.

Gordon Kelly

LG G6 (left), Galaxy S8 (centre) Google Pixel (right)

And Samsung has unequivocally sealed a opening when it comes to low light photography. In this travel shot a Galaxy S8 balances mixed light sources (streetlight, entrance light, moonlight) usually as good as a Pixel and aspects of a print like a bicycle are indeed sharper. Where it loses out is in a fact and colour of a brickwork and it struggles to collect adult how blue a sky was on this occasion, nonetheless that print is softened is a matter of personal taste.

Gordon Kelly

Galaxy S8 (left), Pixel (right)

As for video, I’d give Samsung a win. Both phones are well-developed in illumination with a Pixel’s gyroscope-based picture stabilisation gripping adult with and even outdoing a visual picture stabilisation in a Galaxy S8, nonetheless a Pixel’s video falters in unequivocally low light – quite if sharpened when walking. So for photographers a Pixel edges it, nonetheless for those some-more focused on video we should opt for a Galaxy S8.

Things also stay tighten when it comes to a front confronting camera. Here Samsung has finished some-more estimable hardware changes, ditching a 5MP procedure for an 8MP procedure on customary with a Pixel and sporting a faster aperture. The Pixel still edges this for me as it processes colours some-more accurately (the Galaxy S8 is oversaturated on a behind nonetheless a tiny cleared out on a front), nonetheless a Galaxy S7 wasn’t during a races with a front confronting camera this year so this is a large step up. You’ll also find what amounts to a blatant fraud of Snapchat filters, nonetheless we consider they’ll infer unequivocally popular.

Gordon Kelly

The Galaxy S8’s front confronting camera has softened and Snapchat-style effects will be a throng pleaser

And a front camera has one some-more pretence adult a sleeve: it also works as a confidence underline for iris and facial recognition. Skip a latter since we can dope it with a photo, nonetheless a latter is unequivocally secure and many of a time it is impossibly fast. The problem is it also struggles during times for no good reason, particularly if a object is behind we as shown below:

Gordon Kelly

The Galaxy S8 iris scanner is unequivocally fast, nonetheless erratic

As such a disaster rate is usually high adequate to make we silly when it works, nonetheless still reliant on (and therefore cursing) a badly positioned fingerprint sensor. This is generally loyal when it isn’t available to reason your phone adult for iris approval before unlocking it (such as oblique phone checking in meetings, swarming open transport, etc).

  • Pros – Very tighten to a Pixel’s bullion standard, many softened low light photography, category heading video
  • Cons – Tendency to blow out a sky in unequivocally splendid light, colours oversaturated on a behind and cleared out on a front, 2017 iPhone and Pixel 2 might make bigger generational leaps, fickle iris scanner

Battery Life – Self Inflicted Caution

You’ll be spotting a trend during this point. Where a Galaxy S8 excels it is since Samsung has truly damaged a cover and delivered overwhelming innovation. Where a Galaxy S8 suffers is where Samsung has finished something intentionally silly: a Bixby button, a fingerprint reader location, a bloatware. And this self inflicted wound is again during a heart of a Galaxy S8’s battery life.

You’ll mark a problem from a selection sheet: a 3,000 mAh battery. This is no incomparable than a Galaxy S7 battery notwithstanding a Galaxy S8’s many incomparable screen. Samsung has clearly played it protected after a Galaxy Note 7 debacle.

As such Galaxy S8 battery life is, well, okay. It’s softened than it should be in a circumstances, nonetheless you’ll find yourself removing shaken towards a finish of a day if you’re a complicated user. You’ll also find Samsung usually achieves this by a aforementioned assertive memory government and shade fortitude downgrade. Unlike a Galaxy S7, a Galaxy S8 can’t final a full day during a local resolution.

Gordon Kelly

Galaxy S8 battery life is unsatisfactory and a battery scale estimations are nonsense

But there are also upsides. The Galaxy S8 charges quickly, not indispensably any faster than a Galaxy S7, nonetheless 15 mins will give we circa 20% battery life, roughly 50% in around 30 mins and a full assign takes about 80 minutes. Wireless charging isn’t as quick, nonetheless it still charges distant faster than an iPhone.

And hopefully this battery will broach stamina in a opposite sense: Samsung claims each Galaxy S8 (and Galaxy S8 Plus) battery will reduce usually 5% on a initial year compared to 20% with a Galaxy S7. The association also says a new ‘8 Point Quality Check’ creates it a safest battery in a industry. It unequivocally had no other choice.

  • Pros: Better than it should be, discerning connected and wireless charging, promises of prolonged tenure reserve and performance
  • Cons: Disappointing battery capacity, reduced fortitude compulsory for all day stamina, generationally a retrograde step

Value – Beauty Doesn’t Come Cheap

Given a Galaxy S8 is such a conduct turner we won’t be astounded to find out Samsung has lifted a seeking cost by about $100 compared to a Galaxy S7:

  • Galaxy S8 – $750 / €799 / £689

There’s a serve $100 reward on a Galaxy S8 Plus, nonetheless we do get perks with both models: 64GB of local storage has transposed 32GB in a Galaxy S7 and Samsung bundles AKG headphones it values during $100. The latter is good if we need a decent span of headphones, a unnecessary responsibility if we don’t.

As an aside it frustrates me that Samsung continues to omit high ability inner storage options like Apple provides for a iPhones. MicroSD (hidden inside a sim label slot) is a reason why, nonetheless as Samsung is a storage manufacturer (and reserve Apple with 128GB and 256GB modules) this is a missed event to me.

Gordon Kelly

The Galaxy S8 looks and feels like a destiny of smartphones

Verdict – Beauty, Brains And Deliberate Flaws

When we consider of a ideal smartphone, a Galaxy S8 comes unequivocally close. Its pattern sets this phone detached from anything we have seen to date, it’s slicker than a LG G6 and some-more stylish and unsentimental and a Xiaomi MiMix. This is a destiny of phones.

Behind this beauty is also brains. It’s durable, H2O resistant, has expandable storage and a unequivocally good camera. It discerning charges, wireless charges, scans your iris and has both slicing corner chipsets and connectivity.

But afterwards there’s a things Samsung deliberately got wrong: a fingerprint sensor, a Bixby button, a bloatware and app duplication, a aged chronicle of Android, a parsimonious battery capacity. These things take a gleam off what would differently be a category redefining phone and it leaves me with a frustrating feeling Samsung has burst how to make a ideal smartphone, nonetheless self seductiveness will forestall it from ever doing so.

Make no mistake, a Galaxy S8 is probably a best smartphone on a marketplace (the tallness of a Galaxy S8 Plus will polarise opinion) nonetheless with looks like this it should’ve won by a mile…


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