Samsung was eager to release their S8 after the note 7 debacle and they did not disappoint. Released in April 2017, the Samsung S8 has become the phone of the future, the benchmark for smartphone technology. Let’s take an in depth look at Samsung’s latest flagship.
The very first thing you notice about the phone is the screen, it has a whopping 83.6% screen to body ratio, making the phone feel like what we dreamt the future would be like a couple years ago. The screen is an super AMOLED display with amazing colours and brightness, something the iphone 7 lacks. The form factor is very similar to the S7, however the S8 has the screen size of the S7 edge. The resolution is a little out of whack and unusual, however now third party apps have adjusted to this unusual screen resolution and video’s make use of the crop to fit functionality. The overall build quality of the S8 is class leading with its smooth curved screen, glass front and back that seamlessly integrate into the metal side panels. It feels natural to hold in the hand and is very comfortable to use, Samsung really knocked it out of the park with this build. The corning gorilla glass 5 gives the user a sense of ease when dropped, knowing each generation of smartphones become more and more durable. That being said, a case would be recommended to be worn to preserve the beauty of the phone. The phone is also ip68 rated, which is extremely useful in the wet weather as well as taking underwater videos or photos. When applied with force, the phone barely bends which is always a positive. One thing that Samsung didn’t get right with the build is the fingerprint button placement, it’s shocking. I’m not sure who told the engineers to place it on the far side, but the flashlight and scanner should definitely be swapped. The reason I say this is due to the awkward one hand use as the finger stretches over to the other side whilst smudging the back camera. This isn’t a deal breaker but it definitely is something that you need to take time to get use to it. However, it makes sense when you use the phone with two hands. A possible solution for this could be integrating the fingerprint scanner onto the screen in the future.
The Samsung S8 is filled with innovative features as well as some completely unnecessary features, I will touch on the ones I think are important. The curved edge for me is more for aesthetic however the edge panels are surprisingly helpful at time. You can customise the edge panels to display apps, people, reminders, weather, sport scores and finance. This can be helpful when you need to quickly check something. With the edge to edge display, Samsung had to introduce onscreen buttons. The buttons are remappable and now with the latest update, you can make the buttons disappear during applications which make the screen feel so much bigger. The S8 features Bluetooth version 5.0 which is leaps and bounds above version 4.0. The feature I personally enjoy the most is the ability to stream your music to two different Bluetooth speaker simultaneously to give a stereo experience. Click here to learn more about Bluetooth 5.0. Furthermore, the S8 has expandable memory and a headphone jack. Samsung has made the switch the USB type C ports, which is the current market trend and is really simple to plug in. A new feature Samsung has introduced is the Iris scanner which operates similar to windows hello where the infrared camera scans your eyes and surrounding face, if there is a match you unlock the phone. What is really useful is the ability to capture gifs, scroll captures screenshots and other clever bits with make the S8 more like what the note7 was meant to be. Also Bixby is shit.
The S8 is decked out with the latest specifications with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 for USA and China and the remaining countries with the Exynos 8895 Octa. Both are top of the line processors and the GPUs, Adreno 540, handle all the current smartphone applications like a walk in the part. The phone runs extremely smooth thanks to the inbuilt 4GB of ram as well as the 64GB internal storage. The phone has the same amount of ram as the everyday laptop. The phone performs extremely well, however it does get hot after an hour of strenuous use. The camera is relatively unchanged with its 12MP shooter at f/1.7. It easily can shoot 4K and has optical image stabilization for 1080p shooting. The secondary camera is an 8MP shooter that can shoot 1440p video. The samsung S8 camera is a slight improvement over the S7, however the google pixel and the HTC u11 reign ahead.
I consider the battery life to be the most important feature when buying a smartphone. With the increased screen size and resolution, the battery remains the same size as the S7. What? Yes, it’s the same size, but do not fret. From my usage of the phone, the battery life is better than the S7 but not the best. I am able to get a full day use out of the phone and just reach the 15% warning. There are two power saving modes that allow you to extend the battery life, however your notifications do get delayed and sometimes your messages do not get sent straight away. One thing that is positive is the quick charging and wireless charging. This allows you to charge the phone quickly and newer power banks are supporting quick charging both ways. In order to increase the battery life of the phone, remember to close all applications that are not being used, such as Facebook or Messenger and ensure to take your phone off the charger once it’s fully charged, which means avoiding overnight charging.
This is the section where I like to highlight everything that isn’t good with the phone, let’s begin with Bixby. There is a complete dedicated button towards something the world doesn’t need, another smart assistant. I personally like to avoid using smart assistants however this time I unfortunately cannot avoid accidentally pressing the button. It is in such a poor placement and I activate the button far too often. What needs to happen is Samsung should allow users to remap the button to something they would like to open, let’s say the camera or the phone application, something that is useful. If anything, I would rather use google now than to use Bixby. The speakers on the S8 need improvement, the down firing speaker is getting really old now with competitors introducing stereo speakers which make use of the earpiece like in the HTC 10 and 11. The screen resolution is also very annoying when watching videos in 1080p as there are thick black bars to the side. The crop to fit functionality does take away certain aspects and can be annoying with hardcoded subtitles. Another complaint has to be the pricing, well this goes towards the entire industry. I’ll save this for another article, also Bixby is shit. The fingerprint scanner really needs to be reevaluated and perhaps making the phone a little thicker to allow a larger battery. I’m sure many consumers would prefer a slightly thicker phone and have an amazing battery life!
Samsung really nailed this phone, they did nearly everything right and deserve to make huge profits from this phone to invest in future improvements. It takes time for the consumers to adapt to changes such as the loss of the headphone jack and Samsung has made the smart move to leave to port until the market is ready to move. There are many improvements that can be made with this phone, it isn’t perfect, but Samsung really are becoming the market leaders and giving us the phone of the future. I purchased my S8 on an $84 Optus plan using the family and friends 20% discount, bringing the monthly payment to around $67. Make sure to search around for a deal on this phone and you will not regret.
Overall score: 18/20 = 90%
- Google Pixel
- HTC U11
- Iphone 7
- LG G6