The biggest concern I had about the Samsung Galaxy S8 was the battery life. Considering the fallout from trying to cram a big battery inside the slim Note 7, it’s probably no surprise that Samsung has been a little conservative with the cell inside the Galaxy S8.
But can a phone with a 5.8-inch quad-HD+ HDR-ready display really last the whole day on a 3000mAh battery? That’s the same size of battery that managed to make it through just a day on the 5.1-inch Galaxy S7.
The answer is yes – but it isn’t so straightforward. The fact is that, more than ever, how long the battery lasts will depend on how you use the phone. You can change the performance, the screen resolution, whether or not brightness is boosted when you’re watching videos, and each of these will affect the battery in different ways.
Out of the box, with the screen resolution bumped to quad-HD+ and the brightness at a very viewable 30%, I managed a comfortable day of use – 4hrs 30mins screen-on time – with about 10% left when I went to bed. That’s a busy day, and quite an impressive result. Dropping the resolution to 1080p got me about an extra 5-6% at the end of the day; turning off the Always-on Display bought me another 3-4%.
Watching a video stored on the device with the Video Enhancer on? Well, that will eat through the battery pretty darned quickly. An hour of downloaded Google Play Movies content took it down about 20%. It’s a similar story with Netflix.
This isn’t an amazing battery, and my conclusion is that you’ll need to charge it every night. But the deep customisation and battery-saving modes all work well, and by using them I have yet to have a dead device come evening.
Like the S7, the S8 uses Samsung’s own Adaptive Charging rather than Qualcomm’s Quick Charge. It isn’t the quickest charger either, taking about 1hr 40mins to fully charge from dead. Samsung has switched to the reversible USB-C port – making it probably the biggest phone so far to switch – but wireless charging remains an option.
Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy S8?
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a new beginning for flagship phones. It’s a gorgeous sliver of tech that utilises its power for extending the experience beyond the 5.8-inch display, but manages to still be a phone that’s easy to use.
It crams a huge screen into a compact body, without sacrificing features such as water-resistance and expandable storage, and takes phone design to the next level. Once you’ve picked up a Samsung Galaxy S8, all other phones will somehow feel less interesting.
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The screen, the camera, the design are all top-notch; there really isn’t anything missing here. Slightly small battery aside, there isn’t an obvious compromise.
Not everything hits the mark, but considering there’s so much here and Samsung is trying all these different things, that’s not surprising. I could live without the iris scanner and I could live without Bixby, but they don’t really diminish anything by being included.
The only true negative is the awful fingerprint sensor, but I’m sure after a few months even that might become second nature.
In the end, however, whether you need to spend £600/$700+ on a phone is really the biggest barrier here. You can have a perfectly serviceable phone for £160 with the Moto G5, or for £200 with the Lenovo P2, or for £400 with the OnePlus 3T.
But, the Galaxy S8 genuinely feels like an upgrade from any other phone I’ve used in a long time. And for me, that makes it worth splashing out.
Unless Apple finally innovates again with the iPhone 8, right now the Samsung Galaxy S8 is the best phone you can buy this year.