Home / Mobile / Mobile Phone / Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8 review

By

Updated:

Awards

  • Editors choice

1 of 24

Samsung Galaxy S8 review
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 review
  • galaxys8 5
  • galaxys8 27
  • galaxys8 7
  • galaxys8 9
  • galaxys8 11
  • galaxys8 13
  • galaxys8 15
  • galaxys8 17
  • galaxys8 19
  • galaxys8 21
  • galaxys8 23
  • galaxys8 25
  • galaxys8 29
  • galaxys8 31
  • galaxys8 33
  • dexs8dontuseembargo
  • pic
  • pic2
  • pic3
  • pic3
  • pic4
  • pic6
  • pic7

Summary

Our Score:

10

Pros

  • Awesome display
  • A phone that feels like the future
  • Stunning camera
  • It’s actually innovative

Cons

  • Awfully placed fingerprint sensor
  • Bixby is a bit of a dud

Key Features

  • 5.8-inch quad-HD Infinity Display (AMOLED)
  • Samsung Exynos 8895 (Europe and Asia) or Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (USA)
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (microSD up to 256GB)
  • 3000mAh 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
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £689.00

What is the Samsung Galaxy S8?

Phones have become a little stale. Whether it's an iPhone 7, Huawei P10, Sony Xperia XZ Premium or any other flagship phone, they all look and feel the same. But just when I thought a phone couldn't surprise and delight me any more, the Samsung Galaxy S8 has proved me wrong.

From the moment I picked up the S8 – and its larger, 6.2-inch sibling the Galaxy S8+ – I realised it was even more special than I expected. This is a phone that feels innovative, a phone that I can’t help but recommend – even if it will set you back £689/$720.

Samsung Galaxy S8 release date and price

The Galaxy S8 goes on sale globally on April 28 and is priced at £689 in the UK or $720 in the US if you want to buy it outright.

Samsung Galaxy S8 – Design

Nothing comes close to the Galaxy S8 design-wise. It's the best-looking phone I've ever seen, leaving every other handset trailing in its wake.

The curved rear, as seen on the Galaxy S7, nestles perfectly in your palm, while the glass shimmers as the light hits it. The device is available in three colours – a dark black, bright silver and a grey with a blueish tinge – with no ugly white front plate in sight.

My review unit is the black option, and it’s properly black all over, with shiny sides that blend into the display. It feels like one complete piece, with the glass, screen and metal combining all together.

Related: Best Android phones

galaxys8 17

The volume rocker and standby switch are joined by a new button on the side. This is a dedicated Bixby button – which I'll cover in more detail in the Software section – and while it shows Samsung is taking its new virtual assistant seriously, it feels too much for Bixby to have its own button.

The S8 is thin and incredibly light at 155g, but it feels sturdy and precisely made. The last time Samsung opted for a huge change of direction with its flagship, many of the basic features were lost in the transition. Thankfully, this isn’t the case here. A microSD slot continues to sit tucked away with the nano-SIM, the criminally underrated Qi wireless charging is also present, and the device is IP68 water- and dust-resistant too, so it will survive a dunk in water for 30 minutes to depths of 1.5 metres.

Samsung has also retained the headphone jack; I'd be very surprised to hear that anyone thinks that’s a bad idea. Apple’s decision to remove a physical headphone connection looked like it might signal the demise of the 3.5mm jack, but Samsung has gone in the other direction, by including a pair of very good AKG wired buds in the box.

Like the recently launched LG G6, the front of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is almost all screen – and it's this that really makes the S8 stand out. Unlike with the G6, though, the display here melts into the sturdy metal rim.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review

galaxys8 31

It’s a much subtler curve than on the Galaxy S7 Edge; far more like the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 in fact, which makes it a lot easier to use. Accidental touches were common on older Edge phones, with your hand hitting the screen when you were just holding the device, but I haven't experienced this with the S8. There’s still a bit of extra reflection on this portion of the screen, but it’s a small trade-off for such an eye-catching look.

As with any phone, though, not everything is perfect. Having such a big display and tiny bezel means there’s no room for the fingerprint-sensing Home button to sit on the front.

Instead, it’s on the back, next to the camera, and I hate it more every time I use it. First, it’s tiny, meaning those times I actually hit it, it doesn’t recognise my finger. But its real issue is the positioning; it’s so unintuitive. You have to wiggle your finger around the camera – which, incidentally, throws up a message on opening the app to remind you to clean dirty smudges of the lens – and guess where the scanner is?

I don’t understand why it isn't at the centre, as it is every other phone that has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. I suspect Samsung wanted to build it into the display, but just ran out of time.

I’m also not convinced about how well this phone will hold up after months and years of use. The addition of Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back should offer a little more protection, but I've ended up with both a cracked Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7 after drops onto carpet from barely 2ft high. Hopefully, things will be different with the Galaxy S8 – but it feels like a delicate phone.

galaxys8 5

The strange position of the fingerprint scanner

The phone is also prone to showing fingerprints, but that's par for the course with this amount of glass and shiny metal. I'd go with the Midnight Grey colour option if you’re really averse to smudges.

Samsung Galaxy S8 – Screen

Not only has Samsung crafted what is, in my opinion, the best-looking phone out there, but it's slapped on the finest display too. Although, when you consider that Samsung has demonstrated the best screen tech for a number of years, this isn't really a surprise.

There’s more to the display than just the curves. First, it has a new aspect ratio of 18.5:9, rather than 16:9. This means it’s taller, essentially giving you more space in a body that isn’t that much bigger than that of the S7. While the Galaxy S7 had a 5.1-inch display, the S8 bumps that to 5.8.

It sounds huge, but the phone itself is compact and Samsung is keen to point out that it can still be used comfortably in one hand. I wouldn’t say that you can do quite 'everything' with one hand – especially reaching to pull down the notification tray – but this is far from a phablet.

The 5.8-inch display size is in some ways deceiving, however. Don’t pick up this phone thinking it will have the same size of screen as the Nexus 6P or HTC U Ultra in a much smaller body. This is a tall screen and it’s bigger than the S7, but it’s much narrower than proper phablets. Width-wise, it’s barely wider than an iPhone 7 and noticeably narrower than the Pixel XL.

Related: What is HDR?

galaxys8 25

Like the majority of Samsung phones, the panel is AMOLED and has a slightly odd quad-HD+ 2960 x 1440 resolution. It’s also ‘Mobile HDR Premium’ certified, so you’ll be able to stream HDR (high dynamic range) shows from Amazon Prime and Netflix when those apps are updated. Arguably, HDR is the most important evolution in TV tech is recent years, offering better contrast and a brighter picture.

Colours are gloriously vivid, but it manages to avoid oversaturating brighter shades while still displaying the deepest black. Like the iPhone 7, it covers the DCI-P3 cinema-grade colour gamut for a much wider spectrum of colours, and in certain situations, the brightness can break the 1000-nit barrier. Considering most phones, including the LG G6, only go up to about 650 nits, this is seriously impressive stuff. In fact, this screen is so bright that I can keep it on 25% brightness and it’s perfectly visible indoors.

In a move that’s surely to try to stretch out the fairly small 3000mAh battery, when you unbox your Galaxy S8 it will be set to display at 1080p rather than quad-HD. Most people probably won’t notice the difference – and that’s fine. But I'd suggest hopping into Settings and switching things up. Downscaling can leave some apps with oddly big fonts and a softer look on texts and icons; considering you’re spending £600/$700+ on a phone, you'll probably want it to look its best.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the best phone out there for media binging, and I've started picking it up instead of my iPad when I want to watch something on the go. There’s a clever mode called ‘Video Enhancer’, which boosts the contrast and brightness in certain apps – Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and so on – to give a pseudo-HDR effect. I wouldn’t recommend keeping it on all the time, due to the increased battery drain, but it does make a fantastic display even better.

Marcio Viveiros

March 29, 2017, 5:43 pm

Why do you say its a new beginning, there is nothing new about that phone, xiaomi mi mix as more to offer than samsung s8, feels like more of the same to me!!!

fourthstooge

March 29, 2017, 5:48 pm

There is one major problem that STILL exists with Samsung's way of thinking about audio from a mobile device. Here is a recent snip before the official launch of the Galaxy S8 taken from a video from China that among other things shows off a dummy unit of the Galaxy S8 next to the Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone. Have a look at the picture. I have to laugh at it.
https://uploads.disquscdn.c...
....Why are Samsung engineers forcing this upon users of their mobile devices? Why don't they just do the right thing, and provide two good front-facing stereo speakers on their device? Because they could, if they really wanted to. Till they do so, I recommend that you don't buy their mobile devices, and this includes their tablets that conform to the same stupid engineering principles.

Sheldon75

March 29, 2017, 5:58 pm

I don't care about stereo, front facing etc. And many more are like me. I want loud and good sounding, I'll just turn on my big sound system or put on headphones. Btw, my S7 speaker is really loud.

fourthstooge

March 29, 2017, 6:05 pm

Just like your black and white tv..

Dong Manuel

March 29, 2017, 6:20 pm

Some of us don't want to listen to tinny sounding built-in speakers. I have not heard a single mobile phone speaker that does not sound horrible to my ears. Having 2 of them just makes it twice as loud, and also twice as annoying.

fourthstooge

March 29, 2017, 6:27 pm

Have you listened to the Sony Xperia XZ Premium?

Dong Manuel

March 29, 2017, 6:51 pm

I have, as a matter of fact. It might be slightly better than other phones, though the S7 has a bit more 'thump' to my ears. But it's still tinny.

There's only so much those small speakers can put out in terms of audio quality. They are certainly super crappy when compared to quality headphones.

Sheldon75

March 29, 2017, 11:52 pm

I just don't enjoy music on a tiny speaker phone. Stereo or not. But plenty loud and clear even from the side, I'm sure.
Oh, btw, my sound system has 96kW! No tiny speakers here, hehe

Sheldon75

March 29, 2017, 11:53 pm

Riiight. Care to name a few?

Suraj Padamsali

March 30, 2017, 8:01 am

Looks were fantastic but I was expecting lot more from this s8 series but there's nothing new in it besides only Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and Rom, it disappointed me very much.

Word Merchant

March 30, 2017, 12:15 pm

Will it burn me?

toboev

March 30, 2017, 4:18 pm

You are correct that the energy consumption of a given screen is the same regardless of the resolution it is driven at since, as you say, it is lighting the same number of pixels to the same brightness. However a higher resolution will demand more energy to compute the image - simply because there are more pixels to compute. So the extra power draw is not from the surface of the display itself, but from the processors that push the image to the screen.

Since you will be physically unable to discern the difference above full HD anyway, why waste the battery pushing out stupidly high resolutions. It is available when it does make a difference, such as when it is strapped into a VR headset.

You do seem to have grasped that the lowering of the resolution is done in order to reduce battery consumption. What I don't understand is why you see saving the battery as a bad thing, to be urgently concerned about.

But what I totally fail to understand is your suggestion that Samsung is lying about battery endurance. There are always things you can do to reduce battery life. But if they are inappropriate then why do them. You could push the screen brightness to 100%, but most of the time that also is not appropriate, so measuring battery endurance at max brightness likewise would not be appropriate either.

toboev

March 30, 2017, 4:43 pm

Um, people might not share your view that front facing stereo speakers are a deal breaker. Personally I never listen to music on a phone at all. I do listen to podcasts of radio programmes. A single speaker is quite adequate, and since I lay my phone face down on the table whilst listening, front facing speakers would not excite me much.

But quite honestly, if you are hoping the speakers on a mobile device can ever reproduce the sound that comes out of a musical instrument - well, you just have to wonder why they don't make the musical instruments pocket sized in the first place.

toboev

March 30, 2017, 6:43 pm

So as you say, the S8 has battery saving technology not available on the S7. What I don't get is why you say that allowing the S8 to benefit from this technology means that Samsung are lying and it's a scandal and the world must be told. The whole point is to reduce battery consumption - that is why the tech is there, and it is something the previous model did not have, so it's progress. To say it is dishonest to use it is plain daft.

toboev

March 30, 2017, 8:48 pm

Believe me, I get it. The S7 is like a car with a fixed roofrack. The S8 has a removable roofrack. Obviously a roofrack harms fuel economy; you get better mileage by removing the roofrack. So the S8 runs with the roofrack removed (because it can), and the S7 runs with the roofrack attached because, well, its a fixed part of the structure, too bad. So the S8 has an advantage not available on the S7. The S8 goes further on a tank, because it exploits an advantage not available on the S7. Yes, I get it.
You believe they should both run with the roofrack attached to make it 'fair'. But it is not about 'fair', it's about fact.

You would have a valid point if running at 1440 made things look better. But it does not. Just like the roofrack, most of the time you will never notice it. It is there for occasional use. But the S7 must suffer it all the time regardless, to absolutely no benefit whatsoever, yet paying the cost. The S8 is not so hamstrung. Is that fair? Absolutely not - the S8 is a better, newer design able to exploit features not available to the S7. Of course it is not a fair comparison. But it represents the truth of the situation - you get better mileage with the S8.

toboev

March 30, 2017, 8:57 pm

What else were you expecting?

KLB999

March 30, 2017, 9:12 pm

I would never use a phone speaker for listening to anything other than a phone call or message. There are a billion Bluetooth speakers in the world and I have more than I can even remember and including my car and a quality pair of Sony headphones (not ear buds) - why would anyone ever need to use the speakers for music? It just seems like a complete non-issue.

toboev

March 30, 2017, 9:42 pm

By the way, the battery stats are almost certainly at the default resolution, which is FHD+. See:
http://www.samsung.com/glob...

And if you want what seems like an informed post about the effects of resolution on battery life you could read LILMOE's post on Sammobile as below. I suspect you already have read that post, since the OE in that thread reads very much like your own hand.
https://www.sammobile.com/2...

Michaels_28

March 31, 2017, 5:19 am

For real. These people say "I was expecting something more/different" yet cannot seem to identify what they want. Perhaps they were hoping the new phone will wipe their behind after a bowel movement?

Michaels_28

March 31, 2017, 5:20 am

Which phone has two good front-facing stereo speakers? Please refrain from bringing up phones from 2013.

toboev

March 31, 2017, 6:08 am

Well, this is the problem. It is impossible for phone manufacturers to predict what will fly when even most buyers dont truly know what will open their wallet. So we tend to get iterative improvements, and are expected to go gaga for trivial changes like a millimetre difference here and there to the sameold design.

Solar Cycles

March 31, 2017, 8:49 am

Lovely design and fantastic screen resolution but like all previous Galaxies it's a case of all fur coats amd no knickers as 12 months down the line their phones become slow and unresponsive. Now I'll admit I'm tied into the Apple ecosystem and have the iPhone 7 ( but had the Galaxy 6 ) but if I was going down the Android road again the Pixel would be my number one choice having played around with both that and the Galaxy.

Still can't knock the Samsung for good looks and having the best screens on the market.

Mario Sánchez Armas

March 31, 2017, 2:05 pm

Did they move from PenTile to RGB subpixel arrangement?? Everybody is talking about the display yet no one mentions this...

Lorett

March 31, 2017, 3:23 pm

My Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is almost 2 and no slowing down.

Paul

March 31, 2017, 3:53 pm

cant wait for apple to own all later in the year!

comments powered by Disqus