In the past, we’ve reviewed tons of smartphones. At the time of our reviews, there have been times when one phone had the best display and the other had the best camera and then came the another with the best battery and the like. That way, we had different phones excelling in different aspects. But, can there be an Ultimate smartphone that proves itself to be best in every aspect? With this question in mind, I’ve been using the Samsung Galaxy S8 for quite some time. So, Is the Samsung Galaxy S8 the best smartphone you can pick right now? Let’s find out from this review.
Key Specs of Samsung Galaxy S8
- 5.8Inch (18.5:9 aspect ratio) QHD+ Super AMOLED Display
- Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection (both front and back)
- Octa Core Exynos 8895 Processor; Mali-G71 MP20 GPU
- 4 GB RAM With 64GB ROM (expandable)
- 12MP, f/1.7, 26mm Rear Camera with LED flash, OIS, dual pixel auto-focus; simultaneous 4k video and 9MP photo shoot, 4k@30fps, 1080p@60/30fps, 720p@240fps
- 8MP, f/1.7 Front Camera (dual pixel auto-focus); 1440p@30fps, 1080p@30fps
- Iris Scanner, heart rate + SpO2 sensor, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, and barometer
- Fingerprint Sensor (Rear-mounted)
- IP68 water and dust resistance
- 3000 mAh Battery with Samsung adaptive fast charging
- Dual SIM support
- Color Option: Midnight Black, Maple Gold
- Price: Rs. 88,900
Samsung Galaxy S8 is undoubtedly the best-designed phone of the year. Just a year back, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge shared a lot of design elements with its predecessor and other Samsung phones. But the same cannot be said about the S8 which looks much different than not just any Samsung phones but all other phones currently available in the market. The S8 won the title of “best design” not just because it’s different but because it’s lovable in every way. The phone with a narrower body and taller screen that is curved on the edges and has a shrunk down forehead and the chin is something you can’t wait to put your hands on, after the moment you see it. The device is slightly thicker at 8mm and a bit heavier at 155gm than its predecessor but still feels pretty good in the hand thanks to its ergonomics. The glass on the front and back and the aluminum rails along the edges blend seamlessly giving a feeling as if the phone is using single design element.
To get an impressive screen-to-body ratio of over 83%, Samsung had to do few trade-off like removable of the physical home button and newer placement of fingerprint sensor at the back alongside the camera. You can find more coverage on the fingerprint sensor and home button on the hardware section down below. Other than the power button on the right and the volume rocker on the left, we now have another new button below the volume rocker for Bixby. I’ll address more on the Bixby, down in the software part of the review.
The Samsung Galaxy S8’s 5.8inch Super AMOLED display with the resolution of 1440*2960 pixels is by far the best display on any smartphone. The Samsung calls it an Infinity Display since the display melds down to the edges with those curves on both sides. This display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio looks a bit narrower and taller than regular 16:9 displays. It is with this new display that Samsung has been able to pack-in 5.8inch display in a phone with a footprint comparable to last year’s S7 that had a 5.1inch display. The display is pretty sharp, has a great contrast and colors, and is much bright outdoors. The brightness can be set dim to a level that doesn’t burn eyes while using the phone before bed. Plus, the display also supports HDR contents.
Samsung Galaxy S8’s display comes with lots of tuning options. Those options include a Blue light filter, 4 different Screen mode, basic and advanced white balance tuning options and much more. The best of all is the option to switch screen resolution among HD+, FHD+, and WQHD+. The display has rounded corners matching those of the phone itself. However, while watching the video contents with 16:9 aspect ratio you’ve to opt for a cropped content or pillar boxing effect.
The Galaxy S8, powered by Exynos 8895 Octacore CPU and backed by Mali-G71 MP20 GPU that is coupled with 4GB RAM, is an exceptionally impressive performer. The phone is fast and responsive and smoothly handles whatever you throw at it. The phone has left no room for complaining when it comes to app loading and the app switching. Plus, it has noticeably shorter boot time. I tested its gaming performance by playing different heavy titles. And, I had a pretty amazing gaming experience without any glitches and without any dropped frame rates. However, the phone does get warmer after a prolonged gaming session or after stretched use of cameras.
The phone comes equipped with a fingerprint sensor that has been repositioned to the back since the phone no longer has the Samsung’s traditional Home button. Instead of the physical home button and capacitive buttons, the phone now has on-screen buttons that are customizable. Plus the virtual home button is a pressure sensitive one that senses hard pressures and gives strong haptic feedback. Plus, you can always wake the phone by pressing on the spot where virtual home button resides. The major problem with the device is this new positioning of the fingerprint sensor alongside the rear camera that made me smudge the camera glass everytime I tried to spot fingerprint sensor unseeingly. The loudspeaker still resides on the bottom and produces decent sound though not the loudest. It’s 2017 and just like we wanted, Samsung has still been showing love to the 3.5mm headphone jack that resides on the extreme left on the bottom.
When it comes to cameras, it has a 12Megapixel unit with an f1.7 aperture on the back and 8MP unit with an f1.7 aperture on the front. Both cameras using Dual Pixel autofocus technology are found reliable on any time of the day. The photos from rear camera come out sharp, vibrant and have good depth in them. Be it a portrait, landscape, macro, indoor or outdoor shots, the camera produces impressive results. The Auto HDR kicks in right when needed and the focusing is quick and hardly misses. I took 100 of photos and only deleted around 7-10 of them for missing out on focus.
The camera app has a bunch of features along with the pro mode. But, with the auto mode that works so well, you probably won’t bother going manual. Other mentionable features are the selective focus that produces fake blurring in the background and the slow motion that allows shooting 720p video at 240fps. The regular videos can be taken up to 4K from the Back and 2k from the front. However, only the primary camera has Optical Image Stabilization that aids well while taking handheld videos.
The phone takes social-media-ready selfies and the shooting speed is fast too. The photos are good indoors and much better outdoors. The autofocus is pretty fast. The selfies come detailed but come with a bit of fine tuning even when the beautification is turned off. The camera app has inbuilt augmented reality face filters if that’s your cup of tea. Judging from the photos and videos I took at the time of my review, these are arguably the best cameras that I’ve ever tested.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 runs on Samsung Experience 8.1 that’s based on Android 7.0 Nougat. Samsung has added a few flavors of its own and made the already good Android Nougat even better. Unlike TouchWiz, the UI now has shorter, sleek and smooth animations. Reaching the app drawer has now been made easier since you can reach the app drawer by swiping anywhere on the homescreen. The quick settings menu is far from what you find on stock Android and so is the settings menu. Like Samsung edge devices in the past, the edge panel functionality is still there that I used for first few days and now, I keep forgetting that it is there. However, you can reach people, task or app with a swipe from the edge when the edge panel is turned on. The icons on the S8 have rounded corners matching that of the display.
More to the Software is the Bixby which I was really excited about in the beginning. But after spending some time with it, I didn’t find it much useful. And, the Bixby vision is totally hit or miss. Since the Bixby is not fully functional as of now, so it’ll be too early to judge it. What annoyed me the most is the accidental presses on the Bixby button that keeps waking up the device when I didn’t want to. I just wish if there was an option to disable the button, if not remap.
When it comes to Battery, after Note 7 debacle, Samsung is playing safe this time around. Samsung Galaxy S8 gets its fuel from 3,000mAh battery that takes one and half hour to fully charge with few minutes give or take. During the time of my review, I got somewhere around 4 hours of screen on time in a 15hours of battery usage. But I tried using the phone by setting the display resolution down to HD+, expecting better screen on time but to my surprise, the result was no different. Hence, S8’s battery performance is something that left me totally unimpressed. However, the phone supports Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging that charges the phone from 0 to 100% in one and half hour with few minutes give or take. You can also charge the phone wirelessly but such wireless charging pad needs to be bought separately.
There are few extra features in Samsung Galaxy S8 that we don’t always find in many other smartphones. The first is the security unlock using the face or Iris. The face unlock is fast but is less secure and the Iris Scanner is exciting but feels slow in everyday use. The second is the Bluetooth 5.0 that offers faster pairing, better range and connects with two BT devices at once. The AKG earphones that come with the phone are of good quality as well. The breakage insurance and free Ncell data are also worth mentioning offers on Galaxy S8 in Nepal.
Finally, it brings us to the moment of truth. Is Samsung Galaxy S8 the ultimate smartphone that I always wanted? The answer is “almost”. The answer would have been a solid “yes” if it had front firing stereo speakers, fully functional Bixby, better battery and better-positioned fingerprint sensor or faster iris scanner or more secure Face Unlock. That said, Samsung Galaxy S8 with Bluetooth 5.0 and IP68 certification that comes with AKG headphones out of the box, is the best smartphone that you can buy right now. Since you won’t find the LG G6 in Nepal. I just don’t understand why Sony is not bringing Xperia XZ premium here. And, HTC will most likely bring U11 after six or 12 months from now. So, unless the iPhone 8 comes out, the Galaxy S8 is going to be the King of the mobile market in Nepal.
What I liked about the Galaxy S8?
- First thing is its design. It’s undoubtedly the best looking phone that I’ve ever used.
- Then comes its Infinity Display that is sharp, bright, produces good colors, has great contrast and has less or no color shifting even in extreme viewing angles.
- There is no question on the device performance. And, the gaming experience was top-notch.
- Galaxy S8 is without a doubt the best camera phone that I’ve ever reviewed.
What I disliked about the Galaxy S8?
- Honestly, the fingerprint sensor positioning on this device is the worst placement for the sensor. I thought I would get used to it but the fact is, I didn’t.
- There should have been an option to disable Bixby, if not remap.
- I was expecting more than just 4hours of screen on time from a flagship device like the Galaxy S8.
- Samsung should have avoided duplicate apps which just keep getting me confused on which one to use.
If you weren’t impressed by Samsung Galaxy S8 then here are some alternatives to consider:
iPhone 7Plus is an alternative to consider if you want better user experience. Since, unlike Android, IOS keeps things simple. Another reason to choose iPhone 7plus over the Galaxy S8 will be the timely updates. Since all the iPhones get worldwide updates the next day from it is announced but Samsung isn’t that known for timely updates. Other reasons for iPhone 7Plus to be a better buy than S8 is it’s slightly higher performance, better cameras with 2X optical zoom and better battery performance. But bear in mind, that iPhone 7plus costs a bit higher than the S8.
Huawei P10plus will be an another option to consider in the price range since the phone is launching within the month of June. It has whopping 6GB RAM and has a bigger battery of 3750mAh capacity. Plus, the flagship of Huawei wears Leica engineered dual lenses on the back that can be expected to perform better. Unlike Galaxy S8, it has stereo speakers and front mounted Fingerprint sensor. Though the phone’s pricing hasn’t been revealed, it can be expected to be priced near to the S8.
If you are after a flagship phone with good display and great cameras but think S8 doesn’t match your budget. Then you can still make a good deal buying the company’s last year flagships, the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge. Both these phones are now listed on “value for money smartphones” after their last price-cut.