- Stunning design
- Great software experience
- Camera is reliable in any light
- The best screen on any phone
- Bixby remains useless
- Generally bad fingerprint scanner
If you’re yet to decide between the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the Galaxy S8+, then there’s only one thing you need consider: how big do you want your phone?
For most people, the smaller 5.5-inch S8 will be best. It’s more manageable in one hand, and will comfortably fit in your pocket. But if you’re accustomed to larger handsets such as the iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel XL or Nexus 6P then I’d suggest opting for the S8+.
Samsung Galaxy S8+ – Design
The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is stunning from every angle. It’s easily the slickest Android phone I’ve ever held, and makes the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus feel old-fashioned in comparison. It’s futuristic – but it doesn’t sacrifice usability for style.
The 6.2-inch screen size sounds huge, especially since the majority of larger handsets stick to screen sizes between 5.5 and 5.7 inches. The last flagship phone I can remember to sport a 6-inch display was the Motorola-built Nexus 6 – and that was a nightmare to use. But it’s a different story here. This is a big-screened phone that feels great, and credit has to be given to Samsung for crafting a phone that feels this good.
The curved front and back help it to nestle in your hand, and the narrow design means your palm isn’t stretched quite so much as it is when holding an iPhone 7 Plus. It’s actually about the size as an iPhone 7 Plus – although that has only a 5.5-inch display – and it’s shorter than the hulking Sony Xperia XZ Premium.
As a result of the tall screen, I’ve found myself struggling to move my thumb comfortably from the bottom to the top of the display in a single motion, leading to me gripping the device with two hands. However, the biggest issue with the size is the placement of the fingerprint scanner. In a move that screams of running out of time to embed it directly into the display, the S8+ sensor is tiny and crammed next to the camera. It’s hard enough to reach on the smaller S8, but here it’s virtually impossible without dislocating your thumb.
Along the sides of the device sit your typical volume rocker and standby buttons, but they’ve been joined by a dedicated Bixby key for quick access to Samsung’s new voice assistant. Considering how limited Bixby is, it seems a waste of space giving it its own button. Thankfully, you can easily disregard it – unless you accidentally hit it when you’re trying to lower the volume. There’s a SIM and microSD card slot along the top of the phone, and a headphone jack and mono-speaker flanking the USB Type-C port on the bottom.
Just like the S7, the S8+ is IP68 rated for water-resistance and can be submerged in 1m of water for about 30 minutes. Unlike the S7, however, Samsung has ditched those hardware buttons and gone virtual. The home button even features a haptic response and can be accessed from anywhere by just pushing down on the lower portion of the display.
My review unit is the ‘Midnight Black’ option, and it’s a deep black all over, with slightly shiny sides that blend into the display. The phone feels like one complete piece, with the glass, screen and metal all combining seamlessly.
The S8+ is available in an equally attractive ‘Orchid Grey’ option, too, which is light grey with a hint of blue and a black front. I’m glad to see Samsung ditch the white front completely, especially since it would have detracted from the “infinity” look it’s trying to achieve.
A word of warning: it would be wise to invest in a case for the Galaxy S8+. Even though there’s Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back, this is a delicate phone and I can’t imagine that things will end well if you drop it on a hard surface. I’ve been using the official Alcantara case and it’s suitably slim, plus it improves accessibility of the fingerprint sensor by separating it from the camera.
Samsung Galaxy S8+ – Screen
The display is arguably the most striking part of the Galaxy S8+, and it’s the feature that really sets this device apart from the competition. In my review of the Galaxy S8, I said the handset made me feel excited by phones again – and that’s mostly down to the display.
MPU 4 (Desktop / Tablet)
There’s no Edge variation this year, and that’s because both the S8 and S8+ sport those eye-catching curved sides. They’re not as steep as before, though, and as such are more of a design trait than a practical feature. If you were put off by the edges on the S7 Edge, don’t let that sway you here.
Samsung has also further optimised its software to do a better job at rejecting accidental touches along those edge portions of the handset, something that was needed.
Also striking is how the display is pushed to almost each corner of the device. There’s no chunky bezel and this results in a big change to the aspect ratio. Most phones use the typical 16:9 aspect ratio, but the S8+ pushes that to 18.5:9. This gives the screen a taller look, and a narrower feel.
If you’ve ever used a Samsung flagship before then you’ll know they always have excellent displays, and the S8+ is the best yet. It’s an AMOLED panel, with a resolution of 2960 x 1440, and it’s the only phone so far to have been ‘Mobile HDR Premium’ certified by the same UHD Alliance that will certify HDR TVs. HDR (high dynamic range) is a big step up for televisions, offering better contrast and a brighter picture – and while it’s great to see it trickle down to phones, neither Netflix or Amazon Prime have updated their apps to support it yet.
As with any AMOLED panel, the best attribute is the colour reproduction. It will display the deepest black and brighter shades such as red and green are gloriously vivid without being oversaturated. Like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the Galaxy S8 can display the entire DCI-P3 cinema-grade colour gamut – and, in certain cases, it will go beyond 1000-nits of brightness.
Interestingly, out of the box the phone defaults to 1080p rather than 1440p. I assume this is to save battery, but it looks good nonetheless. Although, if you’re happy spending £700+ on a phone then I’m going to assume that you’ll want to get the most out of it. You can hop into Settings to up that resolution.
The screen is a joy to use outdoors as a result of that impressive brightness, and even though the curved edges do reflect the sun a little more than would be the case with a flat screen, it certainly isn’t something I notice regularly.
Samsung Galaxy S8+ – Performance
Whether your Galaxy S8+ comes with an Exynos 8895 (Europe, Asia and Canada) or the Snapdragon 835 (USA), you’re getting one fast phone. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, though, since even the Moto G5 – a phone costing £150 – can handle the current version of Android with ease.
The S8+ is comfortably one of the fastest phones around, but I can’t say that it’s noticeably faster than the LG G6 or the Google Pixel, both of which run the slightly older Snapdragon 821. What this newer set of chips offers is a more efficient 10nm process, which does appear to improve battery life and support for gigabit LTE speeds. There are also benefits to additional features such as DeX, which I feel couldn’t run well on anything else.
4GB comes as standard – there’s a 6GB model floating about in Asia, but I doubt we’ll see it here – as does 64GB of internal storage, but that can always be boosted by a microSD card. Although 4GB of RAM isn’t the highest available, it’s difficult to tell apart a phone with 4GB and one with 6GB(China only).
Bluetooth 5.0 is another addition that feels like it’s there to future-proof the phone, but it fixes one of biggest annoyances I’ve had with Bluetooth. You can now connect two devices simultaneously and play the same source through them both, which is great for listening to the same song with two pairs of wireless headphones.
Games and apps all run without a hitch and the operating system is fluid throughout, something that can’t always be said for Samsung phones. When I reviewed the Pixel XL, I felt it was the smoothest Android experience ever – and the Galaxy manages to match it.
There’s a bigger gap in performance in terms of the synthetic benchmark tests, where the Galaxy S8+ scores 2034 in Geekbench 4’s single-core test and 6559 in the multi-core version. That’s on a par with results from a test Snapdragon 835, and slightly above phones running the Kirin 960, which scores 1935 and 6237 in the same tests.
The single-core scores are still slightly disappointing, since the majority of daily tasks utilise only this, but it never seems a priority on Android phones. The iPhone remains at the top in this category, with its 3434 single-core score. In the AnTuTu benchmark – which is far more general, testing everything from 3D games to RAM – the S8+’s 173,292 score is one of the best. Notably, its 70,546 score in the 3D gaming tests put it above the iPhone 7 Plus, which scored 60,000.
The S8+, like its smaller sibling, continues Samsung’s trend of including poor speakers on phones. This won’t be an issue for everyone – there are plenty of people in the TrustedReviews office that couldn’t care less about how a phone sounds – but if you like listening to podcasts or YouTube videos without connecting a Bluetooth speaker then don’t get too excited. Sound is pushed from the bottom, and it’s easily blocked by your hand when holding the phone in landscape.
On a more positive note, Samsung retains the headphone jack and bundles a rather decent pair of earphones in the box that have been tuned by AKG. Featuring a braided cord and a responsive remote, they also come with a number of in-ear tips.
Phone-call quality is fine, as is Wi-Fi performance, but neither is revolutionary or better than what you’d experience on much cheaper phones.
Samsung Galaxy S8+ – Software
For the first time, Samsung really impresses with its software. The Galaxy S7 improved a lot of things over the poor TouchWiz experience on the S6, but the new ‘Galaxy Experience’ on the S8 feels like the most cohesive and functional Android layer yet.
Samsung is known for packing as many features as possible into its versions of Android, and while this is still the case here, most are off by default and hidden away. So unless you have a particular need to scroll through web pages with your eyeballs, you won’t be bugged to every few minutes.
MPU 3 (Desktop / Tablet)
Icons have matured, replacing those cartoony ones from before, and all of Samsung’s native apps have been given a stark white makeover. The homescreen is joyously simple and, more importantly, it’s intuitive; swiping up or down from anywhere to access all your apps feels like something that should have been on Android from the start.
The majority of Android 7’s basic feature are present, too, like the Google Assistant and native split-screen multi-tasking, which is welcome on such a big screen. Although Samsung has canned any support for Daydream VR, probably because of its own competing Gear VR.
Not all the new software additions hit the mark, though, and on occasion it feels like Samsung is trying too hard. Bixby, a sort of Siri and Google Assistant rival, was announced to lofty claims of allowing you to control every part of the phone with your voice. But at launch it can’t do that; you can’t talk to it at all. Instead, it’s just a basic homescreen page that isn’t as useful as Google Now. There are cards from apps (it always pesters me to ring my Mum), some weather updates, and a boat-load of adverts for Samsung themes and wallpapers.
MPU 4 (Desktop / Tablet)
There are some Bixby elements in the camera, too, but again they feel unfinished. Like Google Goggles, you can point the camera at landmarks and it will throw up some similar pictures, plus there’s basic product scanning too. It’s rubbish, though – and, bizarrely, uses Pinterest from which to search.
Bixby is a dud, that’s all there is to say. The fact it has a dedicated button that can’t be officially remapped is bonkers, and it’s just repeating old Samsung mistakes. Google Assistant is fine – I don’t need two personal aides on my phones. Bixby can’t be completely turned off, but you can toggle off the homescreen page.
The other big addition is DeX, a combo of software and hardware that turns the Galaxy S8+ into something comparable to a basic desktop PC. You’ll need to buy a DeX dock to get started – plus a second power cable if you don’t want to use the one included with a phone, HDMI cable, keyboard and mouse – but once that’s set up, it’s all pretty straightforward.
Dock the phone in the cradle, turn on your monitor and the device transforms into pseudo-Android-Windows 10 mashup. There’s a desktop, you can resize apps, and in general it works well. Some apps don’t work at all – Spotify, being the biggest – and I’m not really sure who would use it for more than a few minutes. However, it’s an interesting look to the future nonetheless. I’ve found that after being unplugged from DeX, the Galaxy S8+ is noticeably slower until a complete restart is performed.
Even though Bixby is a dud and DeX is limited, neither of these really take anything away from the phone. The software experience on the whole is impressive, and it’s really Samsung’s best attempt yet.
There are a couple of other new software additions that help avoid any issues with the new aspect ratio. Most Android apps can natively rescale to fit the dimensions, but you can also manually stretch apps to fit that huge 6.2-inch display. If you’re watching a YouTube video – the majority of which are shot in 16:9 – a tiny icon pops to crop in, removing the black bars at either end. As with anything cropped, you’re likely to lose certain details – and it’s a real pain for subtitles – but it’s nice to really fill up that screen.
Samsung has been messing about with different methods of unlocking phones for a while now, but they finally all come together in the Galaxy S8+. As already mentioned in the Design section, the fingerprint sensor – which is placed frustratingly next to the camera – is difficult to use.
It’s a good job then that, on the whole, the other biometric unlocking methods are a success. From the three ways to unlock the Galaxy S8, the face recognition has become my go-to option. It isn’t as secure as the iris scanner or the fingerprint sensor, but it’s faster and reliable once your mug has been properly scanned. The iris scanner is implemented more effectively here than on the Note 7, and it works better in low light than the face recognition. However, it’s slower and more fiddly.
Samsung Galaxy S8+ – Camera
On paper, the Galaxy S8+’s camera – which appears to be the same as that in the smaller S8 – looks almost identical to last year’s Galaxy S7. It’s a 12-megapixel sensor with an f/1.7 aperture and Dual Pixels (Samsung’s wording for the bigger pixels).
However, there are a couple of important changes that lead to better photos on the whole. The sensor itself has been upgraded, there’s a new multi-frame image processor that takes three shots each time you snap one and, of course, you have that much speedier chipset.
As became obvious with the Google Pixel, the quality of pictures from the camera is now as much about the inner-workings of the phone as the actual specs.
This is particularly obvious with the speed of the camera, which is unmatched. A double-tap of the lock button sparks it into life, and focusing is reliable and near-instant constantly. Whether the light is good or poor, the autofocus system locks onto the target – and, importantly, the correct target – every time.
MPU 1 (Desktop / Tablet)
It’s a great camera for varying situations, whether you’re taking landscape shots or portraits in daytime or at night. The new auto-HDR mode is turned on by default, levelling out exposure and contrast in brighter conditions, and does a very good job of ensuring that every photo you take looks great.
As is the case with the S7, the Galaxy S8+ is prone to taking much brighter shots than you’d find on, say, an iPhone 7; greens and red pop a more, and colours in general are quite saturated. I much prefer this, especially when sharing snaps to Instagram.
Landscapes have plenty of depth
Low-light performance is great, just look at the detail in the petals
Again, the camera performs well in low light
The auto-HDR levels out contrast and exposure well
The Galaxy S8 matches the Google Pixel, and beats the rest of the competition, with its perception of depth. Landscape shots don’t feel flat, but multi-layered, with exceptional detail at even the furthest points. Even if you zoom in slightly on an already-taken picture, the detail is clear to see.
That wide f/1.7 aperture is also one of my favourite elements of the camera, letting you capture pictures that display that silky bokeh effect. This is where the subject is in focus, but the background melts away into a blur. Some phones – the iPhone 7 Plus and Huawei P10, for example – use software trickery and the aid of a second lens to achieve something similar, but it looks so much more natural on the Galaxy S8+.
That wide f/1.7 lens gives a lovely bokeh effect
That wide aperture helps with low-light shots, too. With more light getting into the sensor, night-time shots don’t lose detail and noise is kept to a minimum. On occasion there’s a touch too much brightness, giving photos an artificial look – but that’s my only quibble. The shutter and autofocus are still fast, while optical image stabilisation does give the S8+ the upper hand over the Pixel for pub and nightclub shots.
I think the camera here is better than the one featured in the iPhone 7; it’s just more reliable and gives a sharper picture. It’s tougher to say whether it’s better than the Google Pixel, though. Both are fantastic cameras and while I do think the Pixel can take better photos, the Galaxy S8+’s camera is faster and the camera app is superb.
The front-facing 8-megapixel camera is surprisingly good too. It too has a f/1.7 aperture and autofocus, which is still rare for a phone. I’ve also grown to like the Snapchat-like live filters, which are superior to Snapchat in many ways. They’re varied, the head-tracking and movement is on-point, and they can be shared in any app.
Video can be recorded up to UHD, but stick to 1080p and you’ll benefit from HDR and impressive tracking autofocus.
Samsung Galaxy S8+ – Battery Life
Aside from the overall size, and of course price, the biggest difference between the two Galaxy S8 flagships are their batteries. However, I’ve found they both last about the same amount of time, so don’t pick up the S8+ expecting it to last multiple days without needing a charge.
The 3500mAh cell inside the Galaxy S8+ is a nice upgrade over the 3000mAh cell in the regular S8, but considering it has that much bigger 6.2-inch display, you’ll still be reaching for that charger every night.
You might be able to stretch it beyond that, though, especially since Samsung offers many different ways of tuning the phone to your requirements. If you want to eke out more juice, you can reduce the resolution (it’s set to 1080p by default) or the performance. There are some beefy power-saving modes on offer as well and they make a real difference if you can live with the sacrifices.
There are also modes that drastically reduce the battery life, so it’s probably best to use these sparingly or when you’re near a plug. The Video Enhancer mode, for example, boosts the brightness of the display to create a faux-HDR effect when you’re in certain apps such as YouTube or Netflix. With this on, an hour of video watching depletes the cell by nearly 20%. Turn it off and you’ll get double that.
Like the S7, the S8+ uses Samsung’s own Adaptive Charging rather than Qualcomm’s Quick Charge. This is one of the slower proprietary forms of charging, but it doesn’t require that you use the exact charger that comes in the box – like Dash Charge on the OnePlus 3T. A full charge from 0% to 100% takes about 1hr 40mins, whereas I can fully juice a OnePlus 3 in just over an hour.
Samsung has switched to the reversible USB-C port – making it probably the biggest phone so far to switch – but wireless charging remains an option. As always, Samsung has its own Fast Wireless Charging available, but using this will add another 30 minutes to your charging time.
Considering the Galaxy Note 7 burst into flames due to issues with batteries, I don’t think it’s much of a surprise that Samsung has been somewhat unambitious when it comes to the cells here. This is a phone with a sizeable screen and I haven’t yet been able to fully kill it in a day of moderate use – which feels like a win to me.
Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy S8+?
Picking between the Galaxy S8+ or the S8 is simply a matter of deciding upon you preference of size. If you’re coming from a Plus-sized iPhone or any previous Android phablet and are happy with that size, then the S8+ is for you. It’s big, yes, but you’re getting the very best screen packed into an super-attractive body.
All the other features between the two handsets are the same, and that’s a real win for Samsung. Unlike the iPhone 7, you don’t have to sacrifice features if you opt for the smaller model.
I truly believe the S8+ and the S8 are the best Android phones out there. The screen is amazing, camera stunning and ergonomics unmatched. I also appreciate all the little extras that others often leave off: water-resistance, wireless charging, 64GB base storage and microSD, to name but a few.
TrustedReviews doesn’t give out 5-star ratings regularly, but I’m convinced the S8+ deserves that score. Although this doesn’t mean the handset is perfect – I’m truly not a fan of the position of the fingerprint sensor and the addition of Bixby – but the S8+ is comfortably better than the competition is a number of areas.
I pick up the iPhone 7 now, or even the excellent Google Pixel, and both handsets feel old-fashioned – and it isn’t often that I’m of that opinion when I review a phone.
The best big phone ever. Comfortable to use, stunning to look at and an all-round winner.
Score in detail
Battery Life 8
Calls & Sound 7
Screen Quality 10
Samsung Galaxy S8 for sale — Wholesale Galaxy S8 Plus price in China
|Samsung Galaxy S8 plus SM-G955 6GB RAM 128Gb||$299.00||Unlocked International Version||VIEW|
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