Samsung are known for pushing the boundaries of what people may expect from modern technology.
In 2014, they announced their first handset with a curved display. The galaxy note edge.
This innovative design proved to be quite popular among consumers and the following year we saw this screen brought to the Galaxy S6.
2 years later and this design has been perfected. This is the Galaxy S8.
When I was younger this is what I imagined a futuristic device to look like, it’s like holding a single, seamless slab of glass with a computer built in. The front features no buttons, no fingerprint sensor no borders, not even a Samsung logo. Just one bezel-less display Samsung are calling the infinity display, reminiscent of an infinity pool which tapers off into the horizon.
There is two models the S8 and the S8 Plus which come with 5.8" and 6.2" displays. Back in the day if you heard of a 6.2" screen you would have imagined a massive device but because these phones have virtually no bezels and now have a new aspect ratio Samsung have managed to fit these massive screens into the same footprint as my iPhone 6 Plus which only has a 5.5" display.
Rather than the standard 16:9 Samsung have gone with a new aspect ratio of 18.5:9. Which makes the display slightly taller while keeping the width at a great size to use one handed.
Even on the Plus model, navigating the UI was fine with one hand which up until now would have sounded crazy on a 6.2" screen.
The S8 is sleek, and very comfortable to use. As well as being big the displays are also clear, quad HD super AMOLED with an impressive pixel density. By default these phones are set to 1080p but in the settings you can bump this up to 1440p and they look stunning.
Another new feature is the home button now isn't a button at all. These are onscreen buttons and if you press down on the display you get a little vibration under your thumb similar to how the button on the iPhone 7 functioned. I like it, it feels satisfying and you can even use it when the display is turned off.
The back on the device is glass, we have a camera that’s flush with the housing and doesn't stick out, which is great. On the bottom we get a USB-type C connector, headphone jack and speaker grill and the sides feature a volume rocker power button and the new dedicated Bixby button.
Bixby is Samsung’s new virtual assistant which is currently still in beta, and some of the features aren't available globally yet, but this allows you to search for things with your voice or take a photo of an object and Bixby will let you know what it is and provide amazon links to US customers to buy the item. let’s just say it’s still got a way to go, I had trouble just getting the phone to recognize what it was looking at. So it will be interesting to see how this progresses in the next few months.
The front camera has had a bit of a bump in the specs, now 8MP with a f1.7 aperture. As for the rear camera it seems rather unchanged from last year’s model, not to say that’s a bad thing, the S7 had one of the best cameras you could buy in 2016, The S8 continues that and it capable of taking very good looking images in both good and poor lighting conditions.
The thing I was most impressed with was Samsung’s optical image stabilization. I took my iPhone, which also has image stabilization and ran across a field, and it was like night and day, The S8 did a much better job at removing the jitters, and produces video you would never guess was recorded on a mobile phone.
Photos were also very vibrant with sharp clear detail, it’s also capable of 8x Digital zoom, which does degrade image quality but can be a useful feature in certain situations. The camera app is simple to use yet loaded with powerful manual features if you want them, another new addition is the Snapchat like filters built into the app which can be pretty entertaining.
Samsung have really packed everything they can into this handset, along with all the geomagnetic and gyro sensors there’s also Iris scanners, facial recognition software as well as a fingerprint scanner. The placement on the fingerprint scanner is questionable, along with sitting right next to the camera it’s also quite small and sits off to one side, so you have to stretch your finger to the left and I found myself just smudging up the camera lens for the first couple of days. Apparently if you do it too much you can actually receive a popup notification telling you to clean your lens, although I tried to replicate this and never saw the message myself. The fingerprint scanner is still reliable and secure, which is more than can be said about the facial recognition. There is videos online of people tricking the phone into unlocking by just holding up a photo of the owners face.
I’d recommend just sticking to the fingerprint scanner, the classic pattern or pin passwords or the Iris scanner which works really well compared to the one we found on the Note 7. It’s very quick and can't be tricked by a photo.
Samsung have included real-time device monitoring and virus malware prevention which is powered by Intel security. Along with a secure folder that you can add a second layer of biometrics to, and keep any apps photos or movies securely locked away.
Swiping in from the side you get an edge panel which can be a quick way to access recent contacts, or apps and we even get the smart select features previously found on the note series.
Its IP68 certified, protecting it from drops and it is fine being submerged in water for a while. And as you would expect performance is great, no slowdowns at all when navigating around this device or using heaps of apps at once. It benchmarked very high compared to the other devices at this price point, and was able to smash through intensive 3D games, so no complaints at all with performance.
For a while there I was starting to think phones had become a little stale, all the flagships seemed to look and feel the same, but the Galaxy S8 has proved me wrong. When it comes down to it, this is definitely the best phone Samsung has ever produced, and the most eye catching on the market to date.
The screen is huge, clear and strong, the battery life is good and charges quickly, and the camera is something to rival modern point and shoot cameras. Its reasonably priced compared to other flagship phones and you will without a doubt be very happy with it if you're lucky enough to own one.