Samsung determines the pace of the power of smartphones in 2017 with the Galaxy S8 ($ 750 as tested). It is the best phone for virtually everything it does, whether it’s connecting to the internet, calling, playing games, taking photos or watching videos on the big screen. The S8 does not advance other big choices like the Google Pixel, but it is the best performing phone on the market and the choice of our editors.
Carriers and prices
This is a discussion of the smaller Galaxy S8. There is also a larger Galaxy S8 + model, with a 6.2-inch screen and a larger battery.
The Galaxy S8 is available at all major carriers in the United States and at various prepaid carriers. Although only available from carriers, an unlocked version follows in May or June.
In the US, prices vary from $ 659 for Total Wireless from Walmart to $ 750 for AT & T, Sprint and T-Mobile (I tested the phone on Sprint and T-Mobile). You can also get a promotional offer at stores with large boxes such as Best Buy or Target. We have a complete overview of the different prices and offers for the S8, and MobileSyrup has a good overview of the Canadian prices.
It should also be mentioned that this is an assessment of the US and Canadian telephone unit. Other countries have a different device with another Samsung Exynos processor that can work differently.
“The basic idea behind the Galaxy S8 … was to deliver the largest screen on the smallest possible device,” said Robert Kim, vice president of Samsung’s global product strategy team, at the headquarters of Samsung in Korea. “The contradiction is that [the customers] want a larger screen size, but a small form factor,” Kim added. By narrowing the edges and bending the edges, Samsung makes this possible.
The Galaxy S8 $ 750.00 at T-Mobile is relatively large and narrow. It is also very slippery, so you need a suitcase. It measures 5.86 by 2.68 by 0.31 centimeters and weighs 5.47 ounces. It’s bigger than the Galaxy S7 (5.61 by 2.74 by 0.31 inch), but smaller – and remember that the S7 only has a 5.1-inch screen on the 5.8-inch S8 panel.
The idea is that you will use it in one hand. It is easy to wrap your fingers around the S8, even if you have relatively small hands. But you’ll always keep it in your hand more often than with the S7 or iPhone 7 $ 649.99 on T-Mobile, to reach the full vertical part of the screen.
Almost all of the front panel is the Super-AMOLED screen of 2,960 x 1,440 inches, 5.98 inches, which Ray Soneira described on DisplayMate in a full report as the best on the market. It is clear and bright, with saturated colors and large blacks.
It is also a bit smaller than what Samsung says, because of the new 18.5: 9 format, most phones are in 16: 9, so the S8 is bigger and smaller than that. It is even narrower, proportionally, than the LG G6, which is 2: 1. The screen of the S8 is 13.23 square inches – I call this SQUID or square inch display.
On a standard 16: 9 aspect ratio phone you get the same property on a 5.6-inch screen. So, I think you should consider the screen of the S8 connected to the 5.5-inch, 16: 9 screens on the Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 7 Plus.
A notification LED flashes above the screen if you have unread notifications or a low battery. There is a new button on the left. He is here to activate Bixby, the voice assistant of Samsung. At the bottom there is a single speaker, with a USB-C port and a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. The loudspeaker seems richer and less metallic than the S7. It is also about 1 dB more than its maximum volume.
The phone is available in three colors: black, gray and silver. I have received black rating units and they are very boring on the back. This is especially a problem because the fingerprint sensor is located right behind the lens of the camera and even if there is a small ridge between them, it is almost imperceptible. This means that you will certainly mess with the camera lens when you use the fingerprint scanner.
The phone is waterproof, which will be a relief for many people. But the whole glass body seems a bit fragile. Samsung said that using Gorilla Glass 5 with a softer curve than on the Galaxy S7 Edge makes the phone more durable. At his production facility in Gumi, Korea, he showed me a four-foot drop test. Yet the rear glass is inherently more brittle than a metal, and Samsung’s curved glass is expensive to replace.
“Compared to the S7 components, the [durability] is an improvement of 40 percent,” Kim said. “In terms of devices, it is about 20%.”
Use the screen
The Galaxy S8 does not have a physical start button. Instead, tap the screen where you see a start button icon and feel a little haptic feedback. It works very well. The app drawer icon has also disappeared. To retrieve the app drawer, drag your finger from the link area. It takes some time to get used to it.
The aspect ratio is absolutely problematic with applications from third parties. For example, YouTube videos have black bars on the sides or are zoomed and cropped in full screen mode. Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh said that Facebook has already been updated for the new format and “all our main partners are working on it”.
On a settings screen called Full Screen apps, I found that a lot of textual information and social networking applications, such as Microsoft Office, TripAdvisor and Marvel Unlimited, are optimized for large screens, unlike most other games. Everything works, maybe it does not use the full screen. If you start a non-optimized game, such as Mini Metro, the game is displayed with black bars on both sides of the screen.
21: 9 widescreen movies look great, with fewer mailboxes than the Galaxy S7. On the other hand, 16: 9 television shows have hidden columns. If you start a 16: 9 video on YouTube, you can place video overlay or zoom and crop in Full Screen mode, but part of the image will be removed from the screen. This is similar to the experience on the LG G6 $ 650.00 at T-Mobile.
Phone calls, networking and storage
Yes, the Galaxy S8 makes phone calls. It has all the latest phone calling techniques from your carrier (like HD Voice, VoLTE and Wi-Fi calls) and calls are clear, with aggressive noise suppression in the microphone. I was particularly impressed by the volume of the speaker when the Extra Volume button is pressed – the voice coming out of the low-port speaker is easily accessible outside.
The rest of the network alphabet soup is also supported. There is the 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, which I found worked with both our Netgear router and the Galaxy S7 (that is, very well). The phone has NFC and MST, so you can make mobile payments even with old school magnetic credit card readers that do not support the tap to pay. ANT + is shipped for some smart home appliances.
It’s the first phone with Bluetooth 5, which can potentially transmit to devices up to 120 feet away, as well as two sets of headphones at a time. However, there are no other Bluetooth 5 devices to test the S8 yet.
The phone comes in a single size, 64GB with 4GB of RAM, and there is also a microSD card slot tucked into the SIM slot, which can handle 256GB cards. Samsung still does not support the Google’s Adoptable Storage mode. The card appears as a separate storage device. But you can move applications to the SD card from one of the settings pages. Approximately 10.7 GB of phone storage is supported by the system and non-erasable applications.
The life of the battery is much better in real world practice than in our benchmarks. With a battery of the same size as the S7 (3000mAh) for a bigger and brighter screen, I spent much less time on our LTE video streaming test: 5 hours and 45 minutes on S8 compared to the 9 hours of the S7 . It made me feel uncomfortable, so I tried other scenarios. The loss of 1080p screen resolution took 7 hours and 39 minutes. The fall at half lightness lasted twelve and a half hours.
In actual use over several days, with a screen whose brightness is generally of the order of half, the S8 had no problem all day. In general, I ended up with about 30% battery after a day of 12 hours before recharging again, with the shortest discharge time at about 16 hours and the longest time of more than 24 hours.
The $ 649.99 Google Pixel to Verizon Wireless has a 1080p screen, and if you set the screen of the S8 to the same resolution, you get about the same time of use. But the pixel is better not to drain the battery in standby. The iPhone 7 has a shorter screen life, but is more efficient in standby and audio playback.
The good news is that the fast charge function of the S8 is very fast. In about an hour and a half, the phone charges zero to 100 percent. I had to charge 15% in 15 minutes and 30% in half an hour.
Oh said to me, “I’ve focused on maintaining battery longevity over hundreds of charge cycles, for example, after about six months of normal use, the S8’s battery will outperform the battery. previous batteries Although most batteries normally contain about 80% of their charge after two years, this battery should be able to have 95% of its original capacity. ”
I am also convinced that this phone will not explode. I made a trip to the factory where the AT & T and Verizon devices were made, I saw the series of new tests from Samsung and I spoke to the company’s advisory board for batteries. Samsung takes battery safety seriously in a way that it did not do with the Galaxy Note 7, and these phones have been extensively tested. Using a smaller battery than she could regret is unfortunately also part of the new focus on security.
Snapdragon 835 from Qualcomm: Snappy?
The S8 is the first US phone equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. Qualcomm is making big deals to call its chipsets platforms instead of processors, and most of its enhancements occur in areas such as DSPs, graphics and modem capabilities, not individual processor cores.
You see that in the landmarks. First, the results of the performance test change depending on where you set the screen resolution. Looking only at the CPU, the single-kernel Geekbench score of 1.836 is no better than the Snapdragon 821 LG G6 at 1.811. The multi-core score of 5.960 exceeds the G6 (4.195), but only corresponds to the Huawei Mate 9 and Huawei P10.
But the 835 pumps a lot more graphics power than its competitors. On the most advanced GFXBenchmark Car Crash test, the Galaxy S8 pushed 12fps on the screen and 22fps off-screen on the WQHD resolution. That’s about twice the performance of the G6 or P10. With a resolution of 1080p, it is reduced to 43 fps on the screen, double the result of Google Pixel.
Between this and the progress of the modem (described below), the markers confirm Qualcomm’s claim that the device’s performance is more than just individual processor cores. This goes naturally in both directions. Although our S8 tests are fast and fluid, Samsung devices have the reputation of being abandoned after a year or two (that’s what happens with my S7). Because this delay is often solved by a factory reset, it is clear that the problem is in the software, not in the hardware.
Samsung has sworn up and down that the S8 does not have the rampant slowdown issues that previous models have done. Of course, he has already sworn the same thing before. You can not say it during the first week of use.
The modem: the secret weapon of the S8
Smartphones are not very useful if they do not connect. The invisible and secret weapon of the S8 is the first US phone with gigabit LTE and HPUE, combinations of four technologies that can improve performance on all four networks. I tested the phones on Sprint and T-Mobile and found several improvements over the Galaxy S7.
Samsung says that all versions of the phone network are identical in terms of frequency. This means that all American Galaxy S8 phones will work on all US and Canadian providers and roaming around the world. Foreign phones, however, may have a number of foreign LTE tapes that are not common in the US patent.
On Sprint, the S8 is the second phone (after the LG G6) with HPUE, which improves connectivity in low signal conditions, especially at download speeds. He delivers as promised. More than 34 tests in extremely weak signal conditions, only eight failed on the S8 while 24 failed on the S7. It’s a big difference. In 48 tests of slightly better conditions but still bad, I received downloads of 2.33 Mbps on the S8 and only 1.3 Mbps on the S7 (the downloads were almost the same between them).
As signal quality improves, the advantage of S8 fades. With a good signal, the S8 achieved a speed of 9.83 Mbps and a speed of 4.69 Mbps, while the S7 showed a drop of 7.41 Mbps and 4.79 Mbps. In our strongest signal test, both phones had no problem reaching speeds of 120 Mbps on a Sprint cell site. HPUE does not lift the roof – it lifts the floor.
The result for Sprint users: If you’re frustrated with Sprint connectivity to a place where Sprint LTE should have, getting a Galaxy S8 will go a long way towards healing your dead zone problem.
The advantage of the S8 on T-Mobile is different. It combines different technologies to enable dual download speeds. In the case of T-Mobile, the difference should become more dramatic as speeds become better and faster, as opposed to the Sprint situation.
I did only ten tests on T-Mobile due to data limitations, but I still saw the difference: 15.36 Mbps and 11 Mbps on the S8 versus 8.65 Mbps Down and 10 Mbps Up on the S7. In busy areas, the S8 is the third phone (after the LG V20 and G6) that uses its new LTE 66 network, which should prevent speeds from becoming too low.
The phone should also improve performance on AT & T and Verizon. AT & T has called the S8 the first “5G Evolution” phone, which means it has the same three technologies that T-Mobile calls “gigabit LTE”. AT & T’s deployment is slightly slower than T-Mobile’s, with Austin and Indianapolis the first to get the network.
Verizon remained irritating and reluctant to its Gigabit technology projects, but the same three elements should also work on its network. At the end of 2016, Verizon said it has a 3x carrier aggregation and 256 QAM and has implemented 4×4 MIMO more than a year ago. However, Verizon would not confirm if MIMO 4×4 was enabled on the phone version.
The S8 is also the first phone with LTE-U, a new form of LTE that improves capacity in overcrowded areas via Wi-Fi Ethernet waves. I have not seen much in the form of LTE-U-Build outs, but AT & T, T-Mobile For Sprint Result Users: If you’re getting frustrated Sprint to a connectivity where Sprint LTE Location should have, obtaining a Galaxy S8 will go a long way to healing your dead zone problem.
The advantage of the S8 in T-Mobile is different. Combined technologies for authorizations for the health of doubles. Dance the case of T-Mobile, the difference should become more dramatic to measure that the speed are better and faster, the opposite of the Sprint situation.
I did it on Que test T-ten mobiles and the reason for the DATA, LIMITS BUT I saw the still DIFFERENCE 15.36 Mbps 11 Mbps and on the counter S8 8.65 Mbps 10 Mbps Up Down and on the S7. In busy areas, the S8 is the third phone (V20 and after the LG G6) which uses new 66 LTE network, which should prevent the speeds becoming too low.
The phone has also improved performance on AT & T and Verizon. AT & T has called the S8 the first phone “5G Evolution”, which means that the same three technologies that T-Mobile call “gigabit LTE”. T-Mobile, Austin and Indianapolis being the first to get the network.
Verizon has remained irritating and reluctant to its Gigabit technology projects, but the same three elements must also work on its network. At the end of 2016, a Verizon Declared One and had 3x Carrier Aggregation 256 QAM and put in a 4×4 MIMO work there is more than a year. However, Verizon confirms to switch MIMO 4×4 on summer activated on the version of the phone.
The first S8 is also with LTE phone U, a new form of LTE-enhanced capacity in areas that overpopulated via WiFi Ethernet waves. I have not seen big-chosen build-ups LTE-U, AT & T Corn, T-Mobile and Verizon are all working on it.
Software: Drag Android Cool Edge
Samsung does not let Android pass alone. You must be OK with that to enjoy Samsung phones. The Galaxy S8 runs Android 7.0 Nougat, corn with icons the Samsung, a home screen and apps that have been added to Google. And not only from Samsung: our Sprint unit came with six Amazon apps, six “recommended” apps and eight Sprint apps for a total of twenty pounds for carriers. Fortunately, they can not be deleted.
Samsung also retains its custom camera, gallery, music and phone applications, although the music app is a downloadable option. The phone application now incorporates a function the sticker and GIF message associated with your Samsung account, which can be used if your friends also have Samsung accounts.
The “always on” front screen design is more appealing than on the S7, with a colorful beam of stars across the screen. All about the S7, time and date or calendar are posters, as well as notification icons. Double-tap on an icon
Also useful, but permanently hidden in the stacks of settings screens, are all Samsung’s custom settings. Do you want to change the color range of the screen? The order of the virtual buttons at the bottom? Do you want to change what is shown on the always-time display? Samsung phones are still very customizable unless you talk about losing Samsung’s stuff completely.
Three ways to prove yourself
Because Samsung seems to realize that placing the fingerprint reader on the spot next to the camera is not the best idea, it offers a buffet with other ways to authenticate yourself. The two most exotic are facial and iris recognition.
Facial recognition is fast and easy. In our tests, it worked without problems and almost immediately. But it’s not safe, warns Samsung. I could not unlock it with a picture of my face, but others could have done it. This means he will defeat the nonchalant attempts to unlock him, but not a determined opponent who knows who you are.
Iris recognition is safer. It is also much more difficult. Samsung advises users to turn off their glasses to unlock their phones, which I would like to say is not necessary. But iris recognition has worked only eight times out of ten, it is slower than other methods, and I have often been bombarded with directions to move the phone further and further.
Compile things, you can use your iris or fingerprint for Samsung Pay, but not your face.
I started by not using the fingerprint scanner, but after a few days, I used it regularly. The change occurred when I placed the S8 in the case of Caseology Legion, with an inclined recess for the fingerprint reader and the camera. Cutting the case gave me the tangible clues I needed to touch the fingerprint reader without polluting the camera.
Samsung’s new flagship service, Bixby, cannot be tested yet. It will not be launched until May. The idea behind Bixby is that you press a special button on the side of the phone and you can use it with a voice, for example, to send a picture you just took to someone in your contact list.
According to Injong Rhee, Samsung Mobile’s CTO, Bixby initially works with ten built-in apps, including camera, contacts, gallery, phone, reminders, and settings, but not the browser, calendar, or e-mail. -mail in particular. Rhee said they will come in the second batch of 10, and the company has 32 targeted applications.
“At the moment, we are focusing on the device interface and application control,” Rhee said. “As the Bixby ecosystem develops, there is clearly an overlap between what Bixby can pursue and what Google Assistant can do, and we are working with Google … so that we can actually benefit from both. For recording, “OK Google” works fine on this phone.
If you now press the Bixby button, you go to ‘Hello Bixby’, Samsung’s answer to Google Now’s personalized card stack. By default, your most recent photos, reminders, weather, and news feeds are displayed, although over time you are expected to ask for apps and information that you could use: uber push if you take an uber at the same time time every day, for example.
Other acclaimed new software remains elusive in the same way. Samsung Connect needs to bring together all your (new) Samsung devices and the SmartThings Hub feature. It does not work yet, so I can not judge it. Samsung Dex, a system to turn your phone into a desktop PC, is not ready yet. See our extensive review of DeX for more details.
Best camera ever
The Galaxy S8 has a 12-megapixel camera, just like the S7. But it’s better. I made images with the S7 and S8 in different modes side by side, and the S8 photos are brighter and brighter, with more details and fewer artifacts. Although the S8 does not have a dual main camera, there is a selective focus mode for making bokeh and a reasonably good pro mode that includes raw recording and manual shutter speed.
Low-light performance has also increased. Compared to the S7, images with very little light clearly show more details about the S8. The S8 also exceeds the pixel in low light, with sharper details, fewer artifacts and slightly better colors. I like to say that the S8 has the best phone camera I have ever seen, although I will also send the phone to our camera analyst for a longer look.
The front camera was upgraded from 5MP to 8MP and received autofocus. In practice, this means a sharper focus on the faces, where the background becomes a little blurry. This makes the pictures look great, but that means that if you are used to taking pictures of yourself for famous things, for example, you have to make sure that you focus on the distant object focus if you are used to it.
When the light goes down, the front camera gets a bit soft, but the skin tones stay warm. I prefer this approach to what Pixel does, making my face pale and dirty while trying to significantly lighten my duties. The actual exposure is not necessarily better than the S7, but you have more pixels, so things are not so sweet.
Both cameras also record video in real 4K with the main camera and 2560 x 1440 with the front camera, both with 30 fps in all conditions. There is also a 1080p (just) slow-mo option of 60 fps. The main camera does not have OIS and front camera, but in general, both are excellent video cameras, just like the S7.
A new gadget, Bixby Vision, is not a big differentiator. It is a mode in the camera that allows you to buy products or translate text based on a photo you take. But it’s not better than Google Translate or Microsoft Word Lens (in fact, the translator uses Google Translate). It’s not a minus, it’s not a big advantage.
Comparisons and conclusions
Phones are connected devices. It’s also what they do: connect to each other, and to the Internet. We make things, whether words or photos, and we share them. The Galaxy S8 is the best phone available to do things you want to share, share and experience things shared by others. It is the most connected device possible.
That said, Google Pixel is cheaper than most S8 career models for $ 649. Although the S8 in many ways is a little better, the pixel has a cleaner interface, frequent Android updates and the longevity of the backup battery. For AT & T and Verizon users, the unlocked ZTE Axon 7 and OnePlus 3T provide all the power most people are looking for $ 400.
The S8 safely kills the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in our eyes. Although the $ 399.99 SE iPhone on T-Mobile is still an excellent price, blocking the platform is pretty much the only reason to get an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus via this device – the idea that you have spent so much time and money learning Apple’s apps and using iMessage that it would be too much of a bear to leave.
But the phone is pretty expensive as I hesitate to switch from an S7, unless you think the best modem will help connect where you were not before. The S8 is better than the S7, with the exception of battery life, but it’s a lot of money for incremental improvements in every respect.
I prefer the S8 of his big brother or sister the S8 +. It’s purely a problem of taste, because I think it’s great to know how the S8 is comfortable in one hand, even with a blanket on it. The S8 + adds a little more battery life and a bigger screen for $ 100 more, but does not add any other functionality, and I do not think the interaction in terms of usability is worth it. People with big hands do not agree.
The Galaxy S8 is the most luxurious and powerful phone on the market today. He is on fire and I do not think so literally. Maybe it’s more phone than most people need. But it’s almost certainly better than the phone you have.