The Galaxy S8 looks and feels like it is from the Future where all the smartphones are going to follow and take this route of bezel-less awesomeness. All the minor annoyances with this smartphone can be fixed with a software update & we hope that Samsung does that and not ruin this otherwise features and power packed beauty.
Beautiful & Premium Design
Mediocre Battery Life
Poor Fingerprint Scanner placement
We all know how important the Galaxy S8 & the S8 Plus smartphones are for Samsung. The last Galaxy smartphone which they launched turned out to be quite an explosive one. And after all the bad publicity, this was the company’s only chance to regain the public’s trust. Samsung has a huge footprint in the market when it comes to smartphones as they are usually amongst the top ones on the list along with some other big names. And like it or not, the whole Note 7 fiasco made the brand more viral than ever, be it for good reasons or the other way around.
And after all this time, here we are today, a couple of months after the official launch of the smartphone with record breaking sales numbers from the company. Yes, now you decide if it was a bad publicity or not. But hey, not all credits goes to how popular the brand became in the last few months, but most of it truly goes the engineering and design team behind the Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus. Like it or not, the Galaxy S8 is the best-looking smartphone out there in the market right now. Yes, you heard it. And obviously the same goes to the big brother S8 Plus as well. But the question is, is buying a Galaxy S8 smartphone for the asking price of 57,900 INR actually worth it? Well, that’s exactly what we are going to discuss in this review today.
Note – This review is based on our experience with the Galaxy S8 and not the Plus variant. However, most of what we are going to discuss here apply for both the smartphones.
The Galaxy S8 is all about the display. Call it just the display or go for the company’s marketing terminology ‘The Infinity Display’, it is the only reason behind all this hype surrounding it. And that’s not a bad thing by any means. At least Samsung has that display to flaunt. We really appreciate the time and effort that Samsung has invested in bringing out such a marvelous piece of engineering. Who would have thought that an experiment which came out in the form of Galaxy Note Edge will evolve into something so surreal? We simply can’t stop praising this beautiful display that Samsung has come up with. A huge prop to them for that. And this display has a very unusual aspect ratio as well which makes the device narrower than other devices on the market right now. And the result? An ergonomically perfect smartphone to hold in your hands despite that huge display size.
The display is curved and it falls off the sides giving a really immersive experience. It is a 5.8” display and it has an aspect ratio of 18.5:9 which is slightly taller than the G6 as well. The edges of the display are also rounded, which cuts off a few pixels but it is well worth it, as the experience is downright impressive. Overall, this the best display on any smartphone right now. On the sides, we have metal all around which does a good job of giving your hand, something to hold onto while using this otherwise all glass smartphone. And even the glass at the back is curved which gives it a nice seamless experience. Yes, it does makes the phone overall a little bit slippery but you will be slapping a case anyway so it should not be an issue whatsoever. And yes, you might want to protect it with a case or a skin or else be ready to shed some serious bucks to get the glass changed once it shatters. And although it is Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides, it will shatter if dropped from a certain height.
One of the biggest design change which Samsung went with here is the removal of the home button on the front. We have seen that with each and every Galaxy smartphone from them since the beginning and this is the first one to lose it. It is a welcome move and they had to do it keep the front almost bezel-less. But that resulted in placing the fingerprint scanner at the back where we’d rather not have it at all. It is more than inconvenient, to a point where you hate it so much since it can make your pictures look bad when you accidentally tap that lens and smudge it. The buttons on the sides are nice and tactile and overall the build quality and the design screams PREMIUM. You will surely turn some heads when you use this smartphone outside.
Hardware & Performance
The Galaxy S8 functions as good as it looks as well. Samsung has not compromised with anything with this and it surely reflects in the performance which you can get out of this smartphone. It is packed with features and even the specs are top notch, just as you would expect from a premium top tier smartphone. In India, we will be getting the Exynos 8895 version which is as good as the Snapdragon 835 SoC, if not any better. It is coupled with Mali G71 MP20 GPU for graphics processing as well. We are looking at 4GB of RAM, which may not be too much for many as there are smartphones with 6GB RAM, but it doesn’t affect the overall user experience in any way. We also get 64GB of internal storage out of the box and it can be further expanded as well via a microSD card upto 256GB.
The Galaxy S8 is an absolute beast when it comes to performance. We haven’t experienced any hiccups or lags, etc. with any apps whatsoever. You can browse or also play any and all the available games on it without any issues. This smartphone is surely not going to disappoint you in any way. Even the software (which we will discuss later), is also on point this around. Overall, the user experience is on point with the Galaxy S8 and if you are planning to buy one, then you should not worry about anything with its performance. But this smartphone has a lot to offer than just internal specs when it comes to hardware. We have a bunch of sensors to just unlock the smartphone. On the front, we have an IRIS scanner which works as a great alternative to the fingerprint scanner. It even works in dark environments where you won’t expect it to typically work.
There is also a facial recognition method which uses your front camera to identify you. There are a lot of speculation surrounding this where many are reporting that it can be fooled with a picture of you. Well, if you are worried about it, then the IRIS scanner and the fingerprint scanner combo is the way to go. And remember we said that there is no home button on the front? Well, it is still on the front but instead of taking a separate place in the device, it sits right underneath the display. You can press with more pressure than usual to feel it and make it go off. And this can be used from any screen, be it inside an app of even when your phone is sleeping. It also has the 3.5mm headphone jack unlike you would see that most manufacturers are skipping it. The smartphone also supports fast wireless charging which is always a good thing to have.
If you notice to the sides there is an extra button right below the volume rockers. This button will trigger the company’s custom AI assistant called Bixby. Well, more on that later, but it is safe to say that it was the least used button on this smartphone throughout the time we used this smartphone. The speakers are also nice and loud but do make a note that it is quite easy to cover the speaker grill and mute the audio completely. But luckily Samsung is bundling the AKG earphones inside the package which can be used if you want better audio output.
The Galaxy S8 comes with Samsung Experience version 8.0 which is what the company is calling the TouchWiz UI now. It is running on top of Android 7.0 nougat. And as far as the software is concerned, a lot has changed than just the name. It is by far the best version of Samsung’s UI that we have experience. Do make a note that we said the best version of Samsung’s UI and not the best version of Android. That is because we still prefer stock Android any day of the week. But this is still good and Samsung has done a great job of cutting all the bloatware and heavy UI elements. It is much lighter than what it used to be but then again it adds a lot of functionality to the device allowing users to make the most out of their smartphone.
Talking about making the most out of your smartphone, the company also announced Bixby, which in a way is supposed to help you make the most out of your smartphone. But the only problem here is the fact that they haven’t finished developing it completely yet. Yes, it is kind of half-baked when it comes to what it can do. And as of now, it looks like a more skinned version of Google Now. We hope this will be upgraded over time and we will be seeing a lot more features in coming updates. But apart from that, the Edge panel feature also makes a comeback here since it has curved edge display. And surprisingly, this is much more comfortable to use and has turned out to be one of the most used features on this smartphone as all of your shortcuts are now just a swipe away from the edge.
There are a lot of other neat additions like the Secure folder which lets you secure any folder, media files, etc with your biometric passcodes. It also lets you use multiple versions of the apps for your work, etc. There is also a one-handed mode which can come really handy if you are using the S8 Plus. It is just a swipe away from the corner of the screen. Even the videos can be scaled to fit the screen. Yes, it results in the loss of some pixels but it is still a great feature to have to enjoy the experience of the ‘Infinity Display’.
The Galaxy S8 has a 3,000 mAh battery and the S8 Plus has a slightly bigger one coming in at 3,300 mAh. Well, the battery life is not all that great. First of all, the 3,000 mAh capacity is small for a display size like this. Add QHD+ resolution to that and we are looking at a screen-on-time (SOT) of just 3-3.5 hours on a single charge. In fact, there were days when we could barely make it till the end of the day with moderate usage. Switching the resolution to 1080p does help a bit but it is not a marginal difference and we think that this smartphone could really use Android 7.1 Nougat update. We tested it mostly on 4G LTE (both SIMs), with Wi-Fi pitching in occasionally. So if battery life is what you are looking for, then you might want to pitch in the extra money and get the Plus variant instead.
The camera on the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge were amongst the best last year and in fact, even if you compare it to most of the newer releases, they will give you better images in most cases. The same goes to the Galaxy S8 as well. The Galaxy S8 has a 12MP rear-facing camera with a f/1.7 aperture lens, Dual Pixel Technology, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), Multi-frame image processing, LED flash, etc. The list goes on. On the front, we have an 8MP front-facing selfie camera, again with a f/1.7 aperture, face detection, etc. Basically, to sum it up, both the cameras can capture simply stunning images. Be it a low-light image or your day-time selfies, you can always rely on this camera. The smartphone can also record videos on 4K and the OIS does help to smooth out the video. Most of the videos on our YouTube channel are now being shot with the Galaxy S8 and we certainly can tell that you can’t tell the difference between a professional camera and this one. With the Galaxy S8, the company has proved it yet again that a Galaxy is indeed hard to beat when it comes to the camera.
Below are some of the camera samples which we shot with the Galaxy S8. If these are not enough, then you can check out the Honor 8 Lite Review and Redmi 4 review as all the product shots were shot on Galaxy S8 smartphone. Check them out and let us know what do you think.
To conclude this review, it is safe to say that the Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus are the best smartphones that money can buy right now in the market. With a beautiful design which is hard to hate and a cutting edge technology, the Galaxy S8 emerges as an overall masterpiece. Yes, there are a few annoyances like mediocre battery life and half-baked Bixby AI Assistant, but the rest of the good or rather great features of this smartphone makes us forget all of that. Those negatives points are the last thing which you are going to think about while holding this beauty in your hands. With that said, we highly suggest you go to a Samsung Store and hold one in hand before picking it up. This is truly something that needs to be experienced and no matter how hard we try, it is going to be hard to explain how good it feels to experience this Galaxy which is full of surprising features. Hoping that Samsung keeps pushing faster updates to this and takes good care of it, we surely have a winner right here.