I have been using both the Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus as daily driver for many weeks now and I think it’s a good time to do a review on these latest Samsung smartphones.
The Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus are definitely must buys for those of you who want the best of the latest. In fact, I don’t think there’s any other smartphone that beats these if you didn’t include a price tag. If you absolutely wanted the best smartphone that came out in 2017 so far, you can stop watching this video and just go buy it.
With either 5.7-inch or 6.2-inch 2960x1440P AMOLED display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio, the Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus have the largest display size while it fits in your hands and pockets easily with super-skinny Inifinity display. This means you still get much large screen while it feels smaller in your hands versus other traditional smartphones with 16:9 aspect ratio. Here we have the LG V20 and the Galaxy S8. While both have 5.7-inch screens, the Galaxy S8 is much slimmer and provides you with extra long screen. Take a quick look at at the Mate 9 which has a whopping 5.9-inch screen yet the Galaxy S8 Plus trumps Mate 9 with much slimmer profile while its screen is still bigger!
Indeed, the Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus are long ass smartphones, probably the longest we have ever seen but how useful is 18.5:9 aspect ratio? For reading websites, documents, and productivity, the 18.5:9 indeed helps you read without having to scroll and can be great for those of you “readers”. Oh yeah, it helps also greatly in using multi-window mode and actually makes multi-window way more useful than before. As for watching videos like YouTube or Netflix, 18.5:9 aspect ratio isn’t a standard which means you will get some ugly borders while watching videos. However, this is easily solved by hitting the enlarge button, which will slightly crop in or zoom in your videos. While you lose a bit of top and bottom, this will allow you to fully utilize the Infinity display.
(Crop mode in YouTube)
Personally though, I am not a fan of 18.5:9 aspect ratio as it’s not a standard but it certainly doesn’t bother me all that much with the enlarge mode. I do wish Samsung actually went a bit further with it and made it like ultra-wide monitors at 21:9 aspect ratio, which will allow you to fully enjoy ultra-wide content without cropping and I have several ultra-wide videos on my YouTube channel(See 21:9 aspect ratio video here) which I enjoy fully on my ultra-wide LG monitor. With that said, I guess 18.5:9 aspect ratio isn’t bad and it probably will help you more since your phone fits in your hand better. What I really do love over last year’s Galaxy S7 Edge though is that the S8 & S8 Plus feature much less curvy design, allowing you to type without having your fingers at odd angles. Also, this prevents users from accidentally hitting the side of the phone, which was one of the biggest problems with the S7 Edge for users who didn’t use a case with it. For productivity, both phones are going to really satisfy your thirst to type long.
How does it feel though? Wow, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have the best premium feel of all smartphones I have tried in my whole life! It’s subtle curved edges on both front and back really make it ergonomical to hold the phone. Comparing it to any similar-size rectangular phone such as the LG G6, the S8 feel much slimmer even though they have same height. With glass back, it feels so buttery smooth. In fact, it may feel too good and you may end up using a case to protect it against scratches. I do love the naked feel but at the same time, it does make the phone more vulnerable to easily cracking when dropped so I use a case which still feels pretty good. (Also see Galaxy S8 Spigen Cases)
As far as brightness and clarity, you will find crispy, high-def high-resolution screen on its AMOLED screen, which is also industry’s leading energy-efficient smartphone screens. Samsung’s AMOLED screens are one of the main reasons why Samsung Galaxy smartphones have better battery life than its competition who use LCD screens.
For battery, the Galaxy S8 comes with 3000mAh while the S8 Plus comes with 3500mAh capacity. And yes, battery life is excellente, it is definitely the best on the market today for Android flagship smartphones. I should have an SOT(screen-on-time) battery test coming soon but if battery is your concern then the S8 or S8 Plus is going to be the best at it. No other smartphones are going to come anywhere close, nada, zip, kepich. (See HighOnAndroid SOT Test Page)
Performance is also the best on the market today as U.S. versions come with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 while the international models come with Exynos 8895. Both are the latest processors that came out this year. While LG G6 is still lagging behind with Snapdragon 821, you won’t have to worry about hardware performance with the Samsung phones. (See Galaxy S8 Exynos 8895 vs S8+ Qualcomm Antutu)
But what about real life performance? Performance is zippy as hell, apps run very fast, and UI is also very good. Now, I am not going to lie, there are some instances where Samsung UI does lag a bit, it doesn’t happen all the time but maybe like once a day, it will want to lag. I wouldn’t worry about it too much as otherwise these phones are beastly and will beat all other flagship smartphones all day long on benchmarks.
Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus both have more security options than any other smartphone in the world as it comes with fingerprint sensor, face recognition, and even IRIS scanner. Now, I am going to tell you that there are problems with all of them. First, face recognition works well but it fails to work if your face changes like you grow a bit of a beard or if you are wearing a hat and sunglasses. In fact, the face I registered when I first got the phone doesn’t work at all anymore. I have to re-register my face like once a week. As for IRIS scanner, it works quite well. In fact, it works well even in complete darkness. Now, I wear contacts most of the day and wear my glasses at night. IRIS scanner will still work with glasses but I am in California so I wear my sunglasses when I go outside and IRIS scanner will not work with sunglasses. Both face recognition and IRIS scanner are not 100% solutions to security as they don’t work 100% of the time and also you have to have your face in front of the phone. This is a problem when driving your car or doing anything where you cannot have your face in front of the phone. And of course, that is why you can use fingerprint scanner along with face recognition or IRIS in those times you cannot use them. But what ultimately happened to me is that I stopped using both face recognition and IRIS and nowadays I only use fingerprint sensor. While having multiple security options seemed like a good idea, in reality Samsung may have done better by sticking with just one good fingerprint sensor. And talking about fingerprint sensor, it is in an odd location by the camera. While I did smudge the camera for the first few weeks, I have gotten so used to the location it is second-hand nature to me now. I think if you use the phone for a few weeks, you will definitely not have a problem with it.
Now, let’s about the camera. While Samsung has upgraded the sensor a bit and its Snapdragon 835 is able to process the photos better, it hasn’t changed drastically from last year. This is still one of the best cameras on the market because Samsung killed it last year with the S7 & S7 Edge. The coolest feature actually is the manual mode as you can really dial in the ISO and shutter speed to get the perfect photo you want and maximize the camera. I was able to eliminate much of noise and also get a better photo than auto mode by using the manual mode along with its RAW captures, which you can also edit right on your phone. I will have another video on it but if you want the best camera on the market, you can’t go wrong with the Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus.
Of course, Samsung has always been the best for front camera for photos and especially videos. With a 1440P resolution capture on the front video camera, you simply won’t find any other smartphone better suited for smartphone vlogging. As for back camera performance, it is definitely my favorite 4K video camera on a smartphone as OIS works great, bokeh is excellente, and I do use it as my broll camera at times when I am not carrying my main camera with me. Samsung has also added in a bunch of Snapchat-like filters which isn’t much of camera performance but it is a great way to get your opposite-sex to take lots of selfies with you or troll on someone for many laughs later.
Speakers aren’t the best in the world but the S8 & S8 Plus ship with world’s first Bluetooth 5.0 technology which sports 4 times the wireless range and 2 times faster transmission speeds. This means you can use all your bluetooth devices from much longer distances and with much less audio lag. If you wanted the best virtual reality experience on your smartphone, Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus are the best way to experience it as its Gear VR has matured over the years with a ton of games and apps to choose from while its higher-resolution display and faster processor make it a seamless experience over its predecessors. I should have a full review on that also but it is simply amazing! (See Gear VR w/ Controller Unboxing)
S8 & S8 Plus both features IP68 rating, I’ve taken them swimming with me in a big lap pool no problem and I sink it daily in my 104-degree water while I enjoy my spa. (Also see Galaxy S8 Spa Test) There is no other better waterproof phone out there period. And this is a feature that carried over from the S7 & S7 Edge and it may save you the headache the next time you drop your phone in the toilet. And don’t forget about wireless charging, it makes it a perfect combo w/ its waterproof design as you can wireless charge even if your USB port is wet. Pair it with a fast wireless charger and you will be able to charge it fast also. Samsung has also added Bixby, an AI artificial intelligence. While it’s not fully functional for English users(for voice commands), it should be activated and you should be able to expect performance similar to Google Assistant, which also works fine on the device so you will have something while you wait. (Also watch S7 Edge Frozen in Freezer, S7 vs. LG Washer Test, Note 7 Waterproof test in HOT Spa)
Overall, do I recommend the phone? Is it the best smartphone in 2017 so far? Hell yes. While Samsung has some quirks with its too-many-to-count security features, the Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus makes up for it with its premium design, best-in-class display, excellent camera, long battery life and faster processor that simply can’t be beat. Is the price right? Well, price is pretty damn high but you know what they say, you get what you paid for and I would say every penny is worth paying for the S8 or S8 Plus. With that said, if you absolutely do not need the new infinity display and faster processor, last year’s S7 & S7 Edge still kick ass.