Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

Design

This year there’s not a huge di erence between Samsung’s two agship phones. As they both have an edge screen display, the handsets are simply di erent sizes when it comes to design – hence the Galaxy S8 and S8+ naming system with no ‘edge’ element.

The Plus model isn’t vastly bigger than the regular Galaxy S8. It’s around 10mm taller and 5mm wider, which isn’t much to jump from a 5.8- to 6.2in screen (see below). It’s astonishing how normal these phones feel in the hand considering those gures. Bear in mind that the S8+ is heavier at 173g compared to 155g.

You’ll notice that a big di erence in this year’s Galaxy phone is the impressive screen-to-bezel ratio and the rounded corners of the display which match the metal frame. To make this happen, Samsung has ditched the traditional section below the screen for home button.

The ngerprint scanner has been moved to the back – slightly awkwardly next to the camera rather than below it – and there’s a pressure sensitive home button built into the display.

You get all the same design features as the smaller model including a headphone jack, Gorilla Glass 5 rear cover and IP68 rated waterproo ng. A new button sits on the left for launching Bixby – more on this in the software section.

In the UK, Samsung is o ering the Galaxy S8+ in three colours: Midnight Black, Orchid Grey and Arctic Silver. The blue and gold options will launch in other markets such as China but may come to the UK at a later date. We like all the colours, but be warned that the Arctic Silver option is very shiny, almost mirrored like the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. Samsung has said this colour will be available ‘in due course’, so the black and grey options will be the choices to start with.

Features

Samsung likes packing as much tech into its phones as humanly possible and the S8+ ticks almost every box you could think of for a agship phone.

Display

As you’ve gathered already, the screen size is the big di erence between the S8 and S8+. Both phones now have Samsung’s edge screen technology so there’s no longer the need to buy the larger option to get this.

The rm has tweaked the edge display though, so it’s not as exaggerated this time. You still get the edge panels, but you can’t use the edge to show
the clock at night and show other information like previously. Your decision, then, is whether to go for the smaller 5.8in model or the 6.2in version. These sizes sound a bit ridiculous, but the S8+ is only really a little bit taller than the Galaxy S7 edge thanks to the tiny bezels.

It’s best to try both in the hand before you commit, but we feel the regular Galaxy S8 will be enough for most consumers. The 0.4in doesn’t make a huge di erence in use, although the ‘+’ model does bene t from a larger battery – see below.

In terms of speci cations the Galaxy S8+ uses the same Super AMOLED technology as the smaller model and has the same Quad HD (2960×1440) resolution. This means a lower but insigni cant drop in pixel density from 570- to 529ppi.

Similar to the LG G6, the S8+ has an unusual aspect ratio. Instead of the typical 16:9, it’s 18.5:9, so the screen is very tall. This makes watching video a much better experience as you don’t get annoying black bars. When a video is displayed full screen, you’ll need the pressure-sensitive home button.

Processor

Like the regular model, the Galaxy S8+ will come with two di erent processors for di erent markets.

We believe that the UK model will come with Samsung’s Exynos Series 9 8895 chip based on the clock speeds we have been given – 4x 2.3GHz and 4x 1.7GHz. Those don’t match up with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 that Samsung co-produced so we expect this to be the platform for other markets.

We’ll benchmark the Galaxy S8+ when we get a nal sample but we were impressed during our couple of hours of hands-on time.

Memory and storage

Samsung has kept things simple this year, so the Galaxy S8+ matches the smaller model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. As usual, there’s expandable storage, so it’s easy to add a further 256GB with the microSD card slot. It’s a bit of a surprise to hear nothing about a larger storage capacity, but we wouldn’t bet against a 128GB option coming at a later date. For now, though, there’s no head scratching to be done on the subject

– it’s 64GB or nothing.

Connectivity

Want top-notch connectivity? Well how does dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0 and LTE Cat 16 sound for starters? Furthermore, the Galaxy S8+ comes with a reversible USB-C port and the usual heart rate monitor. It’s all the same as the S8.

Fingerprint and Iris scanners

As you can see in the image on page 20, the ngerprint scanner has been moved to the back of the phone in order to have such a large screen with small bezels.

This isn’t something new, but most rivals place the scanner below the camera. Instead, it has been put to the side meaning right-handed users will have to reach across the lens to use it. Smudging the glass isn’t ideal but Samsung thinks users won’t use it as much. That’s because the Iris scanner introduced on the Note 7 has been improved, so you can look at the phone to unlock it. We haven’t tried it ourselves, but in demonstrations

it appears to be pretty fast. Not everyone wants to hold a phone up to their face to unlock it though, so we’d rather Samsung had opted for ergonomics over design symmetry for the ngerprint scanner.

Cameras

Phone photography is important to almost every user and Samsung has upgraded the front camera to 8Mp (from 5Mp) for sel e fans. It still has an f/1.7 aperture and after a quick play with it, things look promising.

The Galaxy S7 range has an awesome camera and Samsung hasn’t felt the need to make any changes.

It’s a 12Mp Dual Pixel camera with an f/1.7 aperture, optical image stabilisation (OIS), 4K video recording
and an LED ash. We’ll test this out for our full review, but going by the S7, the S8 is likely to be one of the best phones on the market for cameras. With such a large screen, the camera app has been tweaked to make it easier to use with one hand. You can do things such as zoom, switch between cameras and modes easily.

Battery life

Apart from the larger screen, there’s another reason
to opt for the Galaxy S8+ over the smaller model. It still has USB-C, fast charging and wireless charging but since the device is bigger there’s more room for a battery. While the S8 has a 3000mAh battery, the S8+ is larger at 3500mAh.

Software

Phone software isn’t particularly exciting these days, especially considering the hardware on o er. However, Samsung has a few interesting bits and pieces going on when it comes to the Galaxy S8+.

Android 7.0 Nougat

It’s no surprise that the Galaxy S8+ runs on the lasted version of Android, 7.0 Nougat, and Samsung kept things mostly simple and intuitive. There are a large number of preinstalled apps, but not the kind of ones most will want to delete including the Google ones you’re used to on Android, Microsoft apps and Samsung’s own. One of the big Nougat tweaks you’ll have to get used to is swiping upwards to access app draw, rather than tapping an icon.

Snap Window

A new feature to help you deal with, and make use of, the larger screen is Snap Window which is a new element to Multi Window. Using a new icon when viewing recent apps, you can select a portion of an app to pin at the top of the display while you carry on using the remainder like normal.

Bixby

Bixby is a new digital assistant along the lines of Siri and Google Assistant you can instantly access with the dedicated button on the side. Samsung says you don’t need to know what phrases you can and can’t say, and the software will understand the context of what you’re doing in order to help better. It can also do cool things with the camera such as recognize and provide information for landmarks and products. We’re not totally convinced yet as Samsung, of course, only demonstrated things it could de nitely do and much of the functionality has already been available via rivals. Google Assistant is on the Galaxy S8 and you’ll need to use this for a while anyway as Samsung is only making Korean language available for Bixby at launch followed by US English in May.

Until UK English arrives, hitting the button or swiping right from the home screen will launch Bixby Home which is similar to Google Now.

DeX

Along with the latest Gear VR headset and the Gear 360 2 camera is an interesting docking station for the Galaxy S8 called DeX. The dock allows you to use a desktop-style interface on a monitor with a keyboard and mouse just by plugging the phone in. You can use apps in di erent windows and Samsung’s browser will request desktop versions of websites so you get the full experience.

The dock itself features USB-C to connect the phone and then o ers two USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI and a cooling fan. You can also use a wireless keyboard and mouse if you like.

Verdict

As with the regular Galaxy S8, we’re impressed by the S8+. Samsung has done a great job of making last year’s models even better. However, our initial thought is that, with both o ering the in nity edge screen, there’s not much reason to spend an extra £90 unless you want a slightly bigger screen and larger battery.

Specifications

6.2in Quad HD display (2960×1440), 529ppi n Android 7.0 Nougat
Exynos 8895 octa-core processor
4GB RAM

64GB internal storage
MicroSD card slot (up to 256GB) n 12Mp rear-facing camera with OIS n 8Mp front camera
Fingerprint scanner
11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX
NFC
4G LTE Cat 16
Headphone jack
USB-C
3500mAh non-removable battery n Wireless charging
IP68 dust and waterproof rating
159.5×73.4×8.1mm
173g

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