Reviewing flagship smartphones is a guilty pleasure of mine. After the Huawei P10 which I unboxed and reviewed, I was eagerly waiting for the next one. Yesterday, I got the chance to use the Samsung Galaxy S8, which is the latest flagship by Samsung. Here’s what I think about it. Ranging in price from LKR 107,000/- to LKR 124,500/-, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is available in colors of Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue, Maple Gold (the Black being the cheapest and the Maple Gold being the most expensive of the colors).
My first look at the Samsung Galaxy S8
The packaging of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is nothing to laugh about. Consisting of the standard sliding out box format, the packaging has a black box with the word “S8” embossed in blue. Once you slide the inner box out, you can open the box via the lapel that opens to the side. inside, I found the Midnight Black version of the Galaxy S8. My initial reaction was “Wow, that’s a really good looking phone”. Keeping the phone aside, I delved into the depths of the packaging to see what else I could find.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 comes with an adaptive fast charger and USB Type-C cable, earphones by AKG and a USB Type-C to MicroUSB converter along with a USB Type-C to standard USB OTG adapter. These can be used to connect devices such as flash drives, external drives or even a keyboard/mouse. I found that pretty cool because usually you would have to buy these adapters separately if you wanted to use these features but Samsung has included them with the S8. It also enables you to use your already existing MicroUSB OTG cable if you have it so you don’t need to buy another one. Hats off to Samsung indeed.
I then moved on to the Samsung Galaxy S8 itself
Like I said, the Samsung Galaxy S8 I had was the midnight black version and it looks extremely good looking. Measuring 5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches and weighing in at 155g, you don’t really feel the weight of the phone in your hands.
Located at the bottom of the device are the USB Type-C port microphone, 3.5mm audio connector and also a speaker. Moving along to the right side of the device you will find the power/lock key and the left side houses the volume rocker along with the Bixby button (which I’ll talk about later on in the review). The SIM tray is located on the top of the device with the standard pinhole to eject the tray.
Moving to the back of the Samsung Galaxy S8, you will find the camera along with the LED flash that can also be used as a flashlight which is pretty standard). Samsung has also moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone just in line with the camera. This method does make unlocking the phone easier when compared to keeping it on the front of the phone.
Both the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are IP68 certified. Thus they are both dust/water proof over 1.5 meter and 30 minutes. So if your phone gets splashed from a puddle or some water falls onto it, you don’t need to have a panic attack.
More Hardware than you’ll ever need
As soon as you turn on the device, the first thing you notice, of course, is the display. Apart from being extremely vivid and clear, you’ll notice that it also extends to almost the entire body of the phone. This is what Samsung calls the “Infinity Display”. Apart from sounding like an expansion for Thanos’s Infinity Gauntlet from the Marvel Universe, the display of the Samsung Galaxy S8 literally stretches across the entirety of the phone. There’s virtually no bezel and sports an end-to-end screen that forms a smooth, continuous surface with no bumps or angles. So you’re left with a curved, essentially symmetrical display.
Boasting a 5.8” screen with a resolution of 1440*2960, the Super AMOLED touchscreen is capable of displaying 16M colors. An AMOLED display means that colors such as black truly do appear black and the pixels in the display will actually switch off when displaying dark colors, thereby saving power and battery life. It also means that everything from your movies, to photos to vides look crystal clear and crisp. The device is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to protect it from unwanted scratches and bumps from everyday use.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 also features single or dual nano SIM capability depending on the model and region with full LTE (4G) support. In terms of storage, you have 64GB of internal storage and a MicroSD card slot (a dedicated slot for the single SIM model and SIM slot 2 for the dual SIM model) with support for upto 2TB, although currently the largest capacity available is 256GB.
In terms of processing power, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is fast. How fast? Well read on and find out. Again, depending on the model, you will either have Samsung’s own flagship Exynos 8895 for Europe, the Middle East and Africa or the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 for USA and China. Either way, they’re both supposedly blazing fast and are backed up by 4GB of RAM.
Samsung’s own Bixby and The Software
The Samsung Galaxy S8 comes out of the box with Android 7.0 Nougat. Gone are the days of Samsung’s rather annoying TouchWiz. That has been given a facelift and a breath of new life and is now called Samsung Experience. Along with it comes Bixby. Think of it as Samsung’s reply to Google Assistant, Cortana and Siri.
Bixby is essentially a virtual assistant capable of recognizing your voice input and responds to commands you give it. Rather than understanding phrases and running a set of commands, Samsung’s goal for Bixby was to do everything touch can do. You’ll need to have compatible apps though. Bixby integration would also have to be implemented by developers into the apps themselves rather than running on top of existing apps. For example, Bixby can use the Galaxy S8’s camera to read business cards, scan QR codes and even recognize landmarks via an AR mode. This offers information for tourists who are sightseeing and also works as a live translation app able to translate 52 different languages.
Bixby is still a work in progress in terms of other apps but for in-phone features, it does its job quite nicely. It can be manually launched by the Bixby button located on the left side of the Samsung Galaxy S8. The OS itself has a number of customizations that can be done with regard to gestures and shortcuts. You also get a media player which is enhanced by the included AKG earphones. You can kick back and relax with your favorite tunes all in crystal clear clarity.
In terms of security, apart from the traditional pin or pattern unlock, you can also unlock your Samsung Galaxy S8 with the fingerprint sensor as well. If that wasn’t enough, it also has an inbuilt iris scanner that actually scans your eye and unlocks your phone. So you literally just look at your phone and it will unlock for you to use. Pretty cool, if you ask me.
Meet Samsung DeX
Samsung DeX lets you connect your Galaxy S8/S8+ to a monitor, keyboard and mouse for a desktop experience powered by your phone, essentially turning any place into a workplace.
The device which resembles a hockey puck, is sold separately. It connects to the Samsung Galaxy S8 via the USB Type-C port and also has ports for HDMI, two USB ports and an RJ-45 Ethernet port. Once connected to the DeX, you essentially have a desktop PC capable of running a number of Android apps in desktop mode. These are currently limited to Samsung’s own web browser, Microsoft Office and select Adobe applications. If an app is not DeX optimized, it will open in a phone shaped window rather than a full screen app.
Lights, Camera, Action
One of the features that made Samsung Galaxy devices stand out from the rest was the Camera and the Samsung Galaxy S8 does not disappoint. Packing a 12MP f/1.7 rear camera, it also has an 8 MP, f/1.7 secondary camera as well. The camera has a plethora of features such as a Pro mode with manual controls, optical image stabilization and phase detection. You also have modes such as HDR, slow motion video, Hyperlapse, selective focus with object tracking, Food and a virtual shot as well.
With an aperture of f/1.7, you can take night shots like a professional and not worry about it looking too dark. In addition, with the AMOLED display, you won’t have any issues capturing images in broad, bright sunlight. With regard to video, 2160p@30fps and 1080p@60fps with stereo sound are the settings you have.
For that extra kick, you can record a video in slow-mo and then choose from where you want the slow-mo effect to take place. Pretty cool if you want to record your friend doing a stunt. Video playback is quite clear but is dependent on the lighting condition so you may want to adjust the lighting of the scene before you shoot any videos. Worst case scenario; you can use the inbuilt flash.
Here are some sample photos I snapped:
Benching the Numbers of the Samsung Galaxy S8
From the time I got the phone into my hands, the one thing that was running through my mind was the benchmark. So I did what I usually do and installed Antutu Benchmark and GeekBench 4 and put the Samsung Galaxy S8 through its paces. With a Antutu score of a whopping 172,072, the Samsung Galaxy S8 comes in 3rd Place amongst all flagship smartphones, (the 1st and 2nd being the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7, respectively). It even surpassed Huawei’s flagship P10 which was supposedly faster.
I then switched to GeekBench 4 and the results were even better. Racking up a score of 2017 for Single-core performance and 6525 for multi-core performance, the Samsung Galaxy S8 was essentially the king of the hill of all Android flagships released to date. In terms of single core performance, it’s beaten by the iPhone 7 Plus but scores higher in multi-core performance.
Pulling an all-day-er with the Samsung Galaxy S8
In terms of battery, the Galaxy S8 packs a 3000mAh battery which is pretty standard at present. As always, constantly streaming videos while on LTE and doing a lot of multitasking will drain your battery faster. Samsung’s reply to that is fast charging. And we’re talking really fast charging. I was able to charge the device from 0-60% in just a little under 20 minutes which is essentially a lunch break.
If you find yourself scrabbling for the charger at mid-day, all you need to do is plug the phone to charge, head off for lunch and by the time you’re back, your phone is good to go. I did my usual Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Pokémon Go, SnapChat routine and was able to survive the entire day without a problem. Then again, like I always say, actual usage though depends on factors such as screen on time, network signal quality and how much you actually use the phone and its apps.
There’s no doubt about it, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is fast, blazingly, insanely fast. It also has a lot going for it with in terms of hardware features and also add-ons such as the DeX and Samsung’s own Gear VR headset coupled with their own motion controllers. If you want something slightly bigger, you can go for the Samsung Galaxy S8+. In addition to the larger screen (6.2” vs 5.8), you also get 128GB of internal storage and 6GB of RAM. This also means you’ll be paying around LKR 10-15,000 more.
If you’re on the lookout for the next flagship phone that has everything and the kitchen sink to offer, then go ahead and give the Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ a go. If you already own one, leave a comment on it below.