I’ve had the Galaxy S8, and Galaxy S8 Plus in-house since its launch and I’ve used it as my daily driver– And now it is time for my full thoughts on a pinnacle device for Samsung. This is the first flagship launch since the Galaxy Note 7, and neither device has had many issues or any at all.
Samsung had a lot to live up this year and innovation is hard to reach. I have reviewed well over 100 phones, and many of them are quite similar now, it is hard to see a difference. Samsung went differently this year, they created an “Infinity Display” which is super nice, and they built a sleek looking device.
While this isn’t the perfect smartphone, starting at $720 for the Galaxy S8 or $840 for the Galaxy S8 Plus, it gets pretty damn close.
The Infinity Display
So what exactly is an Infinity Display– By the looks of it would appear that there are no edges on the sides. It’s similar to the Edge-To-Edge displays we have seen with the OLED laptops. Truth be told it looks awesome and really gives the feeling of immersion. You might also notice that S8 Plus is a tall device and this does impact the screen as it has an 18.5:9 ration. Which is different from a typical 16:9 ratio and slightly different from the LG G6 which has a similar display. While this does take about an hour to get used too, more screen real estate is the outcome.
And Google has been embracing these new ratios which mean applications should eventually get updated for this new fit. Even though Samsung changed up the ratio of the display, it is still gorgeous– Coming in at 6.2-inch 2,960 X 1440 Super AMOLED display with 529 pixels per inch. Even though this is an AMOLED, it performs miraculously well even in direct sunlight. You can expect vibrant colors, pure whites, and dark blacks that offer contrast when needed.
The Design Ethos
Samsung didn’t go to different with actual design, but they did make a crucial mistake. And no it is not the device exploding, but rather an awkward location of the fingerprint sensor. Particularly on the larger Galaxy S8 Plus, the fingerprint sensor can be quite hard to reach as it is next to the camera on the back. Most users will eventually get used to this, but it is a weird design choice, to say the least.
Besides for this strange choice, the Galaxy S8 Plus has a sweet design, one that it modern but doesn’t change things up too much. For starters, there is no real home button, similar to what Google did with the Pixel, but they don’t include the wasted space on the bottom. In fact, all of the traditional buttons found below the display have been moved to software. They also have haptic integration without the vibration built into all the applications.
Those two are the biggest changes regarding design, but a good way to describe the device is that Samsung wanted to make the most of a small space. There is no camera bump so the device got thinner and it feels fantastic in hand.
The silver variant has a black front silver on slim sides, and a silver glass back. It looks really nice, but I will say there is a hint of blue in the silver. Samsung didn’t think it was courageous to remove the headphone jack and it is on the bottom of the device along with the USB-C port. Samsung’s speaker choice for the S8 Plus is found on the bottom as well. The top of the device has your SIM card and microSD card slot. Above the display, you have a LED notification light, a front facing camera, and some sensors.
Samsung made a very sleek looking device that is very thin weighs in at a proper amount, and feels comfortable in hand. Even though it has a 6.2-inch display it is smaller is space then the iPhone 7 Plus, but offers more real estate.
If you’re wondering if the Galaxy S8 Plus is a fast device, I will give you a resounding yes. The Galaxy S8 Plus is powered by a 2.35Ghz and 1.9Ghz Eight Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GBs of RAM– Put simply it is a beast and deserves to be called one. Not only did it beat out the Galaxy Note 7 and Galaxy S7 family on GeekBench, but it scored a 1829 Single-Core Score and a 6270 Multi-Core Score. This beats out almost all competitors, and it makes sense as Samsung bought up as many Snapdragon 835 processors as possible from Qualcomm.
While the device does perform well, so does the Google Pixel, the LG G6, and the iPhone 7. But with that being said, Samsung has paired with a very clean software experience. This most certainly plays a role and completing tasks was zippy fast. I didn’t experience any application crashes or too many bugs on the device.
The other side to this power is, of course, the batteries and Samsung didn’t go all out on this front for the S8 Plus. Which is to be expected as the battery situation with the Galaxy Note 7 was not fire, to say the least. Inside the Galaxy S8 Plus, you will find 3,500mAh battery which should get you through a full day of use, even for power users. It also has fast charging capabilities which means bringing along a charger is not a bad idea.
Camera Setup; Old in the Back and New in the Front
Let’s talk about what’s new first: The Galaxy S8 Plus has an 8-megapixel lens with auto focus built-in on the front. And you don’t really know what you’re missing until you get it–that about sums how nice the front camera is on the S8 Plus. It is ideal for selfies and video chatting, but autofocus is such a nice feature up front. Samsung has also added in several SnapChat like face filters that will provide some enjoyment.
While Samsung updated the front camera, the back camera only got some software improvements. You still have a 12-megapixel lens with an optically stabilized setup, along with a LED flash. But Samsung has taken a page from Google and upgrade the processing power of software. You will not really see a difference between the S7 or S7 Edge and the S8 Plus; rather it will continue performing at a very high level.
The camera application is still quite simple, with a simple swipe setup to change the mode or to even flip the camera from front to back. You can do the popular iPhone Portrait Mode effect and get more customization out of it. And the face effects, which work on the front or back camera, provide a solid amount of amusement.
The Samsung Android Experience And Bixby
One of the more surprising announcements alongside the Galaxy S8 Plus would have to be Bixby- Samsung’s personal assistant that they hope will take the world by storm. And while there is a dedicated button to access Bixby, the voice portion is not yet available in the United States, and there isn’t a captivating reason to use it. The market for voice assistants is one that has three main players– Apple, Google, and Amazon. I also cannot test the voice feature as it has not yet launched in the United States or much of the world but will have some thoughts on that once it does launch.
In the meantime double tapping, the “Bixby” button the left-hand side of the phone brings you to Bixby Home which is a collection of information. It can loop up with different services like social networks and music networks. It will show use news, favorite images, and even with all this, it doesn’t provide a crazy new experience. It is easy similar to HTC’s user interface, the Google Assistants panel, and doesn’t really do anything much better.
One neat trick is Bixby Vision, and this lets you scan images and find related information or buy the item. It doesn’t work all that well at first, but hopefully, in the future, it will improve.
The best thing about software on the Galaxy S8 Plus is that it doesn’t get in the way of itself like Samsung has been known to do in the past. For starters, it is very sleek and pairs well with the device itself. The app drawer can be reached by a swipe up from any of the home screens, which allows for easy access. And the “Edge’ features bring with it the ability to screen record, make GIFs, make use of Smart Select, access your favorite Apps, and more.
Since the fingerprint sensor doesn’t work all that well, there is an Iris Scanner like we first saw on the Note 7. It has since been improved but doesn’t work with glasses, but it is an impressive party trick even if it doesn’t always work.
For once, Samsung had a pleasant surprise when it comes to software.
The Verizon Network
The Galaxy S8 Plus is the first phone to support Gigabit LTE and while this won’t do anything for you now, it does give you some future proofing. The good news for Verizon customers is that the Galaxy S8 Plus can hit some very high speeds across their nationwide 4G LTE and XLTE network. Web browsing, music streaming, live streaming video, and watching 4K content all happened with ease. Text messages were sent quickly and I experienced no dropped calls. In some more congested cities, the network slowed a bit, but still provide a fast 4G LTE connection that customers should be expecting from Verizon.
So, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus rocks. It is by no means a perfect phone, but the unique features of the device will make it stand out from the crowd. The Galaxy S8 Plus and it’s smaller sibling the Galaxy S8 will let the company move past the Note 7. In fact, it might make some customers switch over, as it isn’t too different.
We have been foreshadowing the features of the S8 Plus for quite some time, edges kept getting smaller, and buttons have been going digital. If anything the S8 Plus has shown us a glimpse at the future without being too radical. They focused in on software and the display, those are the big features, while the performance and the rest of the hardware is not as in focus.
I can recommend the Galaxy S8 Plus, I can’t say that it is the perfect phone, but it is damn near close. And for most people, the Galaxy S8 Plus will make a great smartphone, but it has to prove itself in the long run.
On Verizon, the Galaxy S8 Plus is $840 at full retail or $35 a month for the 64GB variant. The carrier is offering the device in Black, Grey, and Silver as well. Plus Verizon is running some sweet deals that can let you get the S8 Plus at a cheaper monthly rate.