Samsung Galaxy S8 review
|Review: April 2017|
In a nutshell: The Samsung Galaxy S8 takes Samsung's infinity screen concept into new territory, with an enormous 5.8 inch quad-HD dual-curved display packed into a compact handset. Brimming with market-leading features, the Galaxy S8 is the best-looking and arguably the best-equipped phone on the market in 2017, but it has a price to match.
A new edge
For the past two years, Samsung buyers have been torn between their hearts and their heads: the Edge versions of their phones have captured their hearts, while the normal S6 and S7 models have offered better value. In 2017, Samsung has removed that problem by bringing the "infinity glass" design to the standard S8.
That's one way of looking at the change. The more cynical way is to say that Samsung has removed the lower-priced option, and made the more expensive Edge version the only model available, because the price of the S8 is far from cheap. If you want it free on upgrade, you'll be signing up to a two-year contract at around £45 - £50 per month, making it even more pricey than the iPhone 7. Eek!
Design & looks
Yes, it costs a lot of money, but it's arguably the best-looking phone you can buy in 2017. In fact, it is. That's a fact.
Superslim at 8mm thick, with a gorgeous curved edge-to-edge infinity glass screen, it makes the iPhone 7 look like a toy. The metal-and-glass design is simply stunning, and Samsung has seemingly delivered the impossible - an absolutely enormous 5.8 inch screen in a body that's actually narrower than last year's Galaxy S6. It's done this by removing the physical home button and making it virtual and part of the screen, together with back and recent apps buttons. The fingerprint sensor has necessarily been moved to the rear, but if you don't like that change, there's always the iris and facial recognition instead.
The always-on screen is nothing short of spectacular. Samsung's Super AMOLED technology is the best display tech around, delivering punchy saturated colours with the deepest blacks, and the S8 has an incredibly high Quad-HD resolution with a 570ppi pixel density. It's HDR compatible too, so you'll be able to watch HDR video on your phone.
The dual edge display gives you quick and convenient access to apps, contacts and other shortcuts. And of course it just looks amazing.
The phone is water resistant, and comes in a choice of Black, Grey or Silver.
Android Nougat & Bixby
The S8 launches with Android 7.1 Nougat, plus Samsung's TouchWiz user interface modifications. It also features the new Bixby virtual assistant, which replaces S Voice. This is a voice-activated personal assistant, similar to Siri. Unfortunately, Bixby isn't included in the phone at launch in the UK.
New Exynos processor
Samsung is sticking with its own Exynos 8-core processor for the European version of the Galaxy S8. The new Exynos 8895 is clocked at a slightly slower speed than last year's Exynos 8890, but uses new 10nm technology for improved performance and power efficiency. Samsung claims 10% faster performance, and a 20% boost in graphics performance, and certainly the phone responds almost instantly.
The phone comes with a massive 4GB of RAM too.
The flash memory of the S8 has been doubled up to 64GB, and you can also add a microSD card to give an additional 256GB of storage. That's a huge advantage over the iPhone 7, which comes with a non-expandable 32GB of memory in its basic version. It also puts the S8 at the leading edge of Android phones, matched only by the Huawei P10.
Samsung has been battling for the title of best camera phone for many years, and arguably achieved it with last year's Galaxy S7. The S8's camera hasn't changed much, retaining its 12 megapixel sensor, huge f/1.7 aperture, auto-HDR, optical image stabilisation and phase-detection autofocus. This array of tech delivers sharp, bright, well-balanced photos in all but the most challenging conditions.
The front camera has been uprated to 8 megapixels, and also features the same large aperture and auto-HDR as the rear camera, capturing well-lit selfies even in dingy bars.
Both front and back cameras can record 4K video.
There are a few changes when it comes to connectivity. As we mentioned, the fingerprint scanner has moved to the rear of the phone. The USB connector has been upgraded to the new Type-C. And positioning is now possible using the GPS, GLONASS, Beidou and Galileo satellite networks.
As before, you'll find 4G, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Strong battery life
No change here. 3,000mAh is the same as last year's model, and battery performance is likely to be very similar. Most users should easily get a day's use with power to spare, and the S8 supports fast charging, and wireless charging as well.
Conclusion - raising the bar (and the price)
The Galaxy S8 may seem to offer little more than last year's Galaxy S7 Edge, and in many ways, that's true. What it does is refine the product even further. In an extraordinary feat of design and engineering, the S8 squeezes the biggest-ever screen into a mainstream phone, but keeps the device dimensions to a manageable size. The phone is the sleekest ever, and of course if you're upgrading from a Galaxy S7 or S6, or some lesser phone, that infinity screen will simply blow you away.
Add in the doubling of memory, the USB Type-C connector, and Android 7, and there are several reasons to justify the cost of upgrading to the Galaxy S8. It's in every way a contender for "best phone ever", and if money's no object, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
Otherwise, you may want to consider last year's Galaxy S7 Edge, or wait for the price of the S8 to fall a little.
Samsung Galaxy S8 features include:
- Operating System: Android Nougat (7.1)
- 12 megapixel camera with LED flash, f/1.7, autofocus, optical image stabilisation, digital zoom, UHD 4K video recording
- 8 megapixel front camera, 1440p, auto-HDR
- Display: 5.8 inch Super AMOLED, Quad HD, 1440 x 2960 pixels
- IP68 water resistance
- Rear fingerprint sensor
- Processor: Exynos 8895 processor (4 x 2.3 GHz plus 4 x 1.7 GHz) with 4GB RAM
- Memory: 64GB, plus microSD card up to 256GB
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.1 Type-C, 3.5mm audio jack, NFC, ANT+
- Positioning: GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo
- Networks: LTE 4G, HSPA+, EDGE / GPRS
- Size: 149 x 68 x 8 mm
- Weight: 155g
- Battery: 3000mAh battery with Qi wireless charging
Got a question? This is the place to ask it!
Please don't ask a question that has already been asked. Duplicates will be removed.
What about the s8 plus?
Asked by kevin
on 20th Apr 2017
Reply by S21
on 20th Apr 2017
We'll be reviewing the S8+ next week.
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