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Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review

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S8 vs S8+: What's the difference?
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Summary

Our Score:

10

Pros

  • Stunning design
  • Great software experience
  • Camera is reliable in any light
  • The best screen on any phone

Cons

  • Bixby remains useless
  • Generally bad fingerprint scanner

Key Features

  • 6.2-inch Infiniy Display, AMOLED, quad-HD+
  • Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8895
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB storage
  • microSD, Qi wireless charging, IP68
  • Android 7.0
  • 3500mAh battery
  • USB-C, Adaptive Fast Charging
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £779.00

What is the Samsung Galaxy S8+?

If you’re yet to decide between the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the Galaxy S8+, then there’s only one thing you need consider: how big do you want your phone?

For most people, the smaller 5.5-inch S8 will be best. It’s more manageable in one hand, and will comfortably fit in your pocket. But if you’re accustomed to larger handsets such as the iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel XL or Nexus 6P then I'd suggest opting for the S8+.

Buy Now: Samsung Galaxy S8+ on EE (7GB) – £140 upfront, £45.99/month

It’s a masterclass in engineering and performance, and comfortably the finest big smartphone you can buy right now.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ – Design

The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is stunning from every angle. It’s easily the slickest Android phone I've ever held, and makes the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus feel old-fashioned in comparison. It’s futuristic – but it doesn’t sacrifice usability for style.

The 6.2-inch screen size sounds huge, especially since the majority of larger handsets stick to screen sizes between 5.5 and 5.7 inches. The last flagship phone I can remember to sport a 6-inch display was the Motorola-built Nexus 6 – and that was a nightmare to use. But it’s a different story here. This is a big-screened phone that feels great, and credit has to be given to Samsung for crafting a phone that feels this good.

The curved front and back help it to nestle in your hand, and the narrow design means your palm isn’t stretched quite so much as it is when holding an iPhone 7 Plus. It’s actually about the size as an iPhone 7 Plus – although that has only a 5.5-inch display – and it’s shorter than the hulking Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

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As a result of the tall screen, I've found myself struggling to move my thumb comfortably from the bottom to the top of the display in a single motion, leading to me gripping the device with two hands. However, the biggest issue with the size is the placement of the fingerprint scanner. In a move that screams of running out of time to embed it directly into the display, the S8+ sensor is tiny and crammed next to the camera. It’s hard enough to reach on the smaller S8, but here it’s virtually impossible without dislocating your thumb.

Along the sides of the device sit your typical volume rocker and standby buttons, but they’ve been joined by a dedicated Bixby key for quick access to Samsung's new voice assistant. Considering how limited Bixby is, it seems a waste of space giving it its own button. Thankfully, you can easily disregard it – unless you accidentally hit it when you’re trying to lower the volume. There’s a SIM and microSD card slot along the top of the phone, and a headphone jack and mono-speaker flanking the USB Type-C port on the bottom.

Just like the S7, the S8+ is IP68 rated for water-resistance and can be submerged in 1m of water for about 30 minutes. Unlike the S7, however, Samsung has ditched those hardware buttons and gone virtual. The home button even features a haptic response and can be accessed from anywhere by just pushing down on the lower portion of the display.

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My review unit is the ‘Midnight Black’ option, and it’s a deep black all over, with slightly shiny sides that blend into the display. The phone feels like one complete piece, with the glass, screen and metal all combining seamlessly.

The S8+ is available in an equally attractive ‘Orchid Grey’ option, too, which is light grey with a hint of blue and a black front. I'm glad to see Samsung ditch the white front completely, especially since it would have detracted from the "infinity" look it's trying to achieve.

Related: Best Galaxy S8 cases

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A word of warning: it would be wise to invest in a case for the Galaxy S8+. Even though there’s Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back, this is a delicate phone and I can’t imagine that things will end well if you drop it on a hard surface. I’ve been using the official Alcantara case and it’s suitably slim, plus it improves accessibility of the fingerprint sensor by separating it from the camera.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ – Screen

The display is arguably the most striking part of the Galaxy S8+, and it’s the feature that really sets this device apart from the competition. In my review of the Galaxy S8, I said the handset made me feel excited by phones again – and that’s mostly down to the display.

There’s no Edge variation this year, and that’s because both the S8 and S8+ sport those eye-catching curved sides. They’re not as steep as before, though, and as such are more of a design trait than a practical feature. If you were put off by the edges on the S7 Edge, don’t let that sway you here.

Samsung has also further optimised its software to do a better job at rejecting accidental touches along those edge portions of the handset, something that was needed.

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Also striking is how the display is pushed to almost each corner of the device. There’s no chunky bezel and this results in a big change to the aspect ratio. Most phones use the typical 16:9 aspect ratio, but the S8+ pushes that to 18.5:9. This gives the screen a taller look, and a narrower feel.

If you’ve ever used a Samsung flagship before then you’ll know they always have excellent displays, and the S8+ is the best yet. It’s an AMOLED panel, with a resolution of 2960 x 1440, and it’s the only phone so far to have been ‘Mobile HDR Premium’ certified by the same UHD Alliance that will certify HDR TVs. HDR (high dynamic range) is a big step up for televisions, offering better contrast and a brighter picture – and while it’s great to see it trickle down to phones, neither Netflix or Amazon Prime have updated their apps to support it yet.

As with any AMOLED panel, the best attribute is the colour reproduction. It will display the deepest black and brighter shades such as red and green are gloriously vivid without being oversaturated. Like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the Galaxy S8 can display the entire DCI-P3 cinema-grade colour gamut – and, in certain cases, it will go beyond 1000-nits of brightness.

Interestingly, out of the box the phone defaults to 1080p rather than 1440p. I assume this is to save battery, but it looks good nonetheless. Although, if you’re happy spending £700+ on a phone then I'm going to assume that you’ll want to get the most out of it. You can hop into Settings to up that resolution.

The screen is a joy to use outdoors as a result of that impressive brightness, and even though the curved edges do reflect the sun a little more than would be the case with a flat screen, it certainly isn't something I notice regularly.

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.

Bruyork

April 29, 2017, 7:42 pm

I mean I love basically everything that they did with this phone but still very upset that the USA isn't getting the Exynos which is clearly having better battery life.

Phil

May 10, 2017, 10:45 pm

The thing to remember is the comparison between IPS and OLED screens. Certainly on an IPS screen you're totally correct but the pentile array used on Samsung OLED screens means that at this screen size there is a perceptable difference in sharpness between 1440 and 1080 - it's usually seen in the rendering of text rather than moving images. This is a peculiarity unique to OLED using a pentile array and can also result in greens looking weak as well.

toboev

May 11, 2017, 6:12 am

I'd love to see this demonstrated.

jimmy

May 11, 2017, 8:26 am

"the smaller 5.5-inch S8 will be best" - erm? Fact fail. it's 5.8 inches.
Proof Read, Proof Read, Proof Read. you look like amateurs compared to other sites.

Phil

May 11, 2017, 10:16 am

I can tell you it was demonstrated pretty well on an anandtech article which was some kind of deep dive into Samsung's OLED screens. I did have a look but their site seems to be playing up. Their conclusion was basically that for IPS screens 1080p was the maximum sensible in a phone and 1440p was the max in OLED until they move onto a different kind of matrix. I must say I am making the assumption about them still using a pentile array on the grounds that I haven't heard they've moved on from it, which would be big news.

Kevin Denham

May 14, 2017, 3:17 pm

I have a samsung galaxy s7 edge and it's the worse phone I've ever owned. I have had all the Samsung's from the ace to the s7 but can say that I will not be getting the s8 unless samsung do something about all the issues I am having with it. First I get a pink line down the screen on the right hand side and guess what my friend has a s7 edge aswell and she has the same pink line as me. Then the camera lens cracks on its own and guess what there is loads of complaints on here of people Who's lens has cracked!!!!!!! Then there was the software update and ever since the phone calls cut out and sound like it's under water. So after just 6 months of use the camera dosent work. The screen has a pink line down it and I can't take phone calls. I still have 1 year 6 months left on my contract but don't have a phone that works. I can not believe that this phone is so bad after being very happy with all the other samsung phones I've had. I've been told that I will have to pay to get all these things fixed myself even though none of it was my fault. It's been in a military grade case and also had a screen protector on for the hole time I've had the phone. I am disgusted with the service I've received and if it doesn't get sorted I will be converting to the iPhone from my next upgrade

Asma Harshi

May 18, 2017, 11:13 am

Lovers of big phones won't find a prettier device with a larger screen anywhere else than Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Charles

May 20, 2017, 6:55 am

Be very careful if you use Bluetooth devices as the S8 and S8+ do not work with them all (in fact only half of my devices were connectable, and some that were sounded horrible).

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