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Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

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Samsung Galaxy S8 hands on
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Summary

Hands-on with the new Samsung Galaxy S8+

UPDATE: Check out our full review Samsung Galaxy S8 review while you wait for our S8+ verdict

It's official, there is no Galaxy S8 Edge – instead there’s the regular Galaxy S8 flagship and the S8+ phablet, which features a huge 6.2-inch screen. Though it sounds huge, having had some hands-on time with the S8+ I can't help but be impressed and feel it could be the phablet to own this year.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ release date and price

The Galaxy S8+ goes on sale globally on April 28 for £779.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ specs

  • 6.2-inch quad-HD Infinity Display (AMOLED)
  • Samsung Exynos 8895 (Europe and Asia) or Qualcomm Snapdragon (USA)
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (microSD up to 256GB)
  • 3500mAh battery with wireless and fast charging
  • Rear camera: 12 megapixels, f/1.7 aperture and dual-pixel sensor
  • Front camera: 8 megapixels, f/1.7 and autofocus
  • Iris and fingerprint scanner
  • Samsung Bixby personal assistant
  • Android 7 Nougat with Google Assistant
  • Headphone jack, NFC and IP68 water-resistance

The S8+ corners are curved, just like the LG G6, to maximise the amount of space the screen covers and make the phone almost bezel-less. Not having a distracting screen surround makes everything so much more immersive, and that feeling is only exaggerated by the sloping curves that help the screen blend into the metal body.

The display itself is absolutely stunning. The S8+ has an AMOLED panel with a quad-HD+ 2660 x 1440 resolution that looks super-sharp. For me, it’s Mobile HDR (high dynamic range) that could really be the killer addition, however. Samsung says this is the first ever phone with the Mobile HDR Premium stamp. While it wouldn’t go into details about exact specifications, Samsung has had the S8 approved by the UHD Alliance, which bodes well.

Related: Best Android phones

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HDR gives you richer colours, inkier blacks and better contrast, and generally makes things look more realistic on-screen. There were some HDR demos on my device and they looked amazing, but you’ll also be able to stream HDR shows from Amazon Prime and Netflix with an app update. I don’t think I'll be ditching my 4K television to watch everything on a phone, but these new features seriously improve the media bingeing experience.

One side effect of the stretched 18.5:9 display is that there’s no longer space for physical keys on the phone's front. The fingerprint sensor's been switched to a rather awkward position on the back, next to the camera sensor, and the others are now virtual buttons.

Apparently Samsung couldn’t finalise a patent for embedding the sensor inside the actual display, and it certainly shows. Bunging it next to the camera feels rushed, but I'm sure it’s something you’ll get used to.

Related: Snapdragon 835 benchmarked

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The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is a gorgeous phone and comfortably one of the slickest I've ever used, but I still prefer the smaller S8. The S8+ isn't hard to hold, but the various curves and a slightly slippery glass back make it feel ever so slightly precarious in the hand. That said, if you like big phones then you'll love the S8+.

Inside, the 8+ is almost identical to the regular S8, and that’s a good thing. Power comes from either an Exynos 8895 or Snapdragon 835 SoC, and there’s 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It’s a speedy setup, but for me it'll be the power-efficiency upgrades Samsung's promised that will be most important.

The S8+ has a fairly small 3500mAh battery – typical phablets seem to range from 3720mAh to 4000mAh. As a result the S8+ CPU is going to have to be much more efficient for the phone to last a full day.

Though the Samsung Galaxy S8+ offers impressive improvements over the S7 and S7 Edge in almost every area, the rear camera is pretty much the same.

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The S8+ doesn't have a dual-sensor system. Instead there’s a single 12-megapixel sensor on its back with a wide f/1.7 lens that uses the same dual-pixel tech as the S7. A new multi-frame image processor takes three shots every time you snap, reducing blur and leaving you with a sharper single photo.

The front camera has seen a bigger upgrade. The new 8-megapixel sensor has an f/1.7 aperture and there’s autofocus too, which is still a rarity on selfie cameras.

While a bigger improvement would've been welcome, the S7 still has a fantastic camera and will meet most people's needs. I’ll have to use the S8+ for longer to see if it’s now as good as my current favourite camera-phone, the Google Pixel.

Two of the biggest new additions to the S8 are software-related: Bixby and DeX. The first is Samsung’s new Siri rival, which was actually unveiled a few weeks ago.

Bixby is dotted throughout the OS, in the camera and its own dedicated homescreen. Like Siri, you can ask it questions and it’ll carry out basic tasks, and you don’t have to utter an awkward ‘wake word’, as there’s a button solely to open Bixby under the volume rocker. The UK won’t get the full use of Bixby’s features until later in the year, when the service is optimised for British English. At launch it will only support Korean and US English.

UK: Pre-register for Galaxy S8+ deals at Mobiles.co.uk

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DeX is a stranger addition. On paper it's basically a clone of Microsoft’s Continuum that lets you convert the device into a desktop Android PC using a sold-separately dock. The dock lets you plug the S8+ into an HDMI-equipped monitor.

It sounds odd, but I was impressed with DeX during my demo.The way apps jump between phone and tablet versions on the big screen depending on how you resize them is really slick, as is the system's integration with the actual phone features, such as SMS messaging. I loaded up about 10 browser tabs, opened a load of Android apps and the full Office suite, and the docked S8+ continued to run like a charm.

Fans in the dock help it stay cool, and there are two USB sockets and an Ethernet port on the back for peripherals and the like.

Samsung Connect is another new addition. It works like Apple’s Home, and lets you connect the S8+ to a SmartThings hub and control your entire smart home from one screen. It’s cool, but you’ll need to be heavily invested in the SmartThings ecosystem to make full use of it.

Related: Best smartphones

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First impressions

Samsung could have the phone of the year right here – and it’s only March. The S8+ is a stunning piece of tech that redefines what a phone should look like. It also ticks all the right boxes when it comes to hardware, coming with a gorgeous display, refined water-resistant design, expandable storage and a great camera setup.The size might put some off, but others will adore the huge canvas.

These are our first impressions based on initial hands-on time with the new Samsung Galaxy S8+. We'll be publishing a full review of the phone close to the Galaxy S8+ release date on April 28.

Lakgong

March 29, 2017, 9:36 pm

It dosen't have anything special for the consumers like me. I want more fresh things such as 4D movie or VR no need of goggle.should I wait for such a this phone! I won't change my phone to any brand.

Ewok

March 31, 2017, 8:21 am

"with a quad-HD+ 2660 x 1440 resolution that looks super-sharp" That may be, but their battery life indications are based on it running at the "default" 1080p not 1440, so that they can fudge the battery life stats to make it look similar to the S7 when it's not (the S7 battery numbers were based on it running its full 1440p resolution because the ability to change resolutions only came with Nougat, so they are not comparing like with like). So running it at the full resolution might well kill the tiny battery even faster than the quoted life (tests required to see what effect it actually has, I hope it is almost nothing but there can only be one reason they have restricted the default to the lower res....).

Gamod

March 31, 2017, 2:39 pm

Samsung is trying to sell us a TV in the shape of a phone... yes, the screens are nice to look at and the designs seems ok if I forget about that finger scan, but I expected more essence out of this smartphone. A good selling point would be the most advanced rear camera, maybe a dual screen, a dual camera, an upgrade in ram, great video and camera features, maybe a 360 VR camera feature using the selfie and rear camera in the device itself instead of selling another camera for VR only... A decent battery... so many possibilities to please the consumer and they go for bixby (meh), screen with edges (meh), and that's it... I own the s7 edge and I started to hate those edges for so many reasons...

toboev

March 31, 2017, 3:12 pm

Funny thing is, since it was doubtless running at the default resolution whilst in the reviewers hand, all their blather about the "supersharp" quad HD+ resolution is testament to the inability of the eye to actually discern any difference above FHD on that size of screen. Basically, they thought it looked sharper because that is what they believed.

toboev

March 31, 2017, 3:21 pm

Could you elaborate on the reasons to hate the edges? I have a theory that such features sell the phone because they have great appeal initially, but that over time as people use the phone long term they become a liability. I put the whole bezel-less thing in the same category.
Curious as to your experience.

Ewok

March 31, 2017, 3:29 pm

The reviews I have seen all mention changing the resolution and I got the impression they had changed it and were running the higher res. I've seen plenty of people say on the S7 that they can see the difference with the lower res, and with the S8 being so much bigger it would be even more visible.

Either way I am now hearing of things like locked bootloaders which would affect rooting and having good custom roms and if that is the case then I am simply no longer interested in it. One of the things that has kept my S5 serving me so well has been the custom roms I have used to keep it clean and efficient and the ability to customise it and add things like xposed to it. If they have locked it down so I cannot do that on the S8 then I am going to look at something else instead (but at this point I don't know what).

Gamod

April 1, 2017, 8:28 am

My wife has S7 and I have S7 edge... I used both ...S7 is definitively better. The image is flat, its a perfect screen, the movie control bars dont get hidden in the edges. Second, you dont miss-click while you take a selfie or watch a clip, 3rd everything I do with the edges she can do with her S7... it gives a more clean look. 4th It doesnt create a border reflection that provides a bad video experience as you are unable to see some areas at sunlight... it's a pointless and useless feature. It was just made to look cool... it's not useful at all. The sad part, It wont make me look cool when I my friends see its flaws. I regret not picking S7 instead.

toboev

April 1, 2017, 8:38 am

That is everything I suspected. I've never had an edge screen, and whilst I can see the in-store eye-candy appeal, it always seemed a bad idea for all the reasons you give. Thanks for the feedback.

kempsterx5

April 2, 2017, 4:20 pm

You got to realize Samsung is not going to give you everything in one shot because if it did then what will they add next year, you'll only get bits and pieces.

Jeff T.

April 6, 2017, 1:04 pm

You will have a long, long wait for 4d. LOL I'd be happy with a long-life battery (lasting days, not hours), additional storage (128 should be the standard for flagship device), improved camera and some ergonomic features (like flexing without cracking, fingerprint reader in a convenient location).

Mavrik

April 6, 2017, 8:32 pm

The Edge crap is the new 3D for movies. It's edgy for the sake of being edgy, but it provides nothing of substance to the experience, and has numerous drawbacks for its handful of minor positives, while costing you extra. It's neither logical nor economical in the real world. Unfortunately unlike 3D movies, Samsung sales will not suffer gradual declines due to there being no alternatives to the flagship model from the same supplier.

vijay kumar

April 7, 2017, 8:49 am

The new s8's have much better palm/touch rejection on their edges. But the 'reflectance' point you mentioned is thought provoking.

Maybe samsung could apply some sort of anti-reflective coating to the side screens. I remember seeing pics of reflections on some s8,s8+ phones edges even in well lit rooms.

Another point but not related to edge screens but which enhances the 'usability' of these big phones....i wish they include a 'one-hand' operating mode in next year's flagships. With regard to software. Kind of like what LG did a few years ago with their flagship. Except that it needs to be much better this time and more comprehensive (or atleast for some important apps).

Paul Johnson

April 21, 2017, 8:09 pm

Coming from a Note 4, I dislike the S8+. The keyboard is too small. Taking mine back, it's an expensive toy waiting to be dropped.

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