Galaxy S8 – One-month review

Overview

Samsung is always known for commercially exploiting innovative designs (with a bit of success). They constantly maintain their market position by exhibiting that ‘more’ is always better.

  • ‘Note’ series – larger phones and stylus
  • ‘Galaxy’ series – Water & dust resistance and edge screens

Samsung hit their lows in 2016 due to ‘Note 7’ fiasco. Hence, something highly innovative, safe and secure was essential in 2017. In this backdrop, Samsung launched Galaxy S8 and S8+ on 29th March 2017.

However, it is not that time of the year that I upgrade. At times, something extraordinary induces one to break the tradition that has been followed over the years. One such moment made me shift from 8-month-old iPhone 7 Plus to Galaxy S8.

Let’s explore whether it was worth breaking the tradition…

Unboxing

The pack comes with a compact black box that tightly holds the phone inside. After some effort, one will be able to unveil the black box to unearth the phone. Apart from the phone, the box contains AKG earbuds, adaptive fast charging unit with USB Type C port. Considering the inconvenience that could cause due to USB Type C charger, they have also packed one adapter for A to C male port and two adapters for C to A and C to USB 2.0.

Display

One thing that strongly forced me for a change was this display. The infinity display resulted in a screen-to-body ratio of 83.6% and is an improved version of LG G6 with 78.6%. What makes S8 unique is its edgeless display. The display seamlessly flows around to even remove the ‘Home’ button. The display retains only the sensors / camera at the top and a base just for the sake of holding the display.

The display of 5.8 inch comes with a resolution of 1440 X 2960 and pixel density of 570 ppi. The odd aspect ratio of 2.06:1 is again slightly improved from LG G6’s 2:1. Thus makes the visuals look stunning and live.

The video mode can be played in ‘Crop to fit’ and full screen mode. ‘Crop to fit’ will flow through the edges and may not be suitable when text / captions run at the bottom.

Design and Hardware

S8 design has been overhauled and has come a long way from S series phones. No more flat design or optional edge screens. The design seamlessly flows through with a mix of aluminium and glass. The screen and the back is curved to hold onto one’s hand. Not just that, the ‘Home’ button is gone. Yes! We are talking about the physical ‘Home’ button that takes one to the home screen from anywhere and anytime.

The phone till has an onscreen ‘Home’ button with a 3D touch and reacts to the force and sensitiveness. It also responds with haptic feedback. This is an improved version of iPhone 7’s ‘Home’ button. Now that’s not all, there is something more to this. Yes! We are talking about the one where we lay our finger to unlock the phone / pay.

Samsung has awkwardly placed the fingerprint sensor next to the rear camera. Am sure that Samsung would have stuck to this due to failure in trying to place fingerprint reader under the display. Maybe it would take some time for someone to develop the technology. Luckily choosing S8 instead of S8+ helped me atleast that I could reach out to it.

Thankfully S8 has provided iris scanner and face recognition to unlock. Iris scanner sometimes unlock with just my eyebrows visible. Though the term is ‘Iris’ scanner, it’s more of partial face recognition. Whatever, I’m very disappointed with the time lag when it is being used. It’s comparatively slow to unlock and its damn slow when you need to use one of the security to process the edge screen widgets.

The display comes with the same Gorilla Glass 5 that comes with G6. This provides better shatter and scratch resistance. S8 carries an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance. One thing with this design is an extra effort is required to maintain this edgeless screen.

The phone has a 3.5 mm headphone jack and USB Type C charging port at the bottom.  Galaxy S8 comes in ‘Orchid Grey’, ‘Maple Gold’ and ‘Midnight Black’. The bezels in the front is only black and with it’s always on mode it looks breezeless.

Performance

The phone comes with a 4GB RAM, Exynos 8895 Octa-core chip (in India) and an internal storage of 64GB (Expandable upto 256GB). The SD card slot can be used as the slot for second sim making it dual sim capable handset.

The phone comes with a non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery. Initially, I used the phone with two sim’s and ended up clocking maximum of 10 hours to drain from full. After shifting to single sim, the battery started adapting to my usage and now clocks 15 to 16 hours per day on an average with data and ‘always on’ mode.

Samsung provides two power saving mode – min and max. Min restricts background usage and decreases brightness. Max brings in black display and restrict user to use eight apps. Not all apps can be used during max mode. With the max power saving mode, the battery hardly drains. With portable chargers and charging points available all over, battery capacity would not cause much of a trouble.

Interface

The S8 comes with Android Nougat but with its own style. Samsung provides various options to customise the way one uses the device. All the apps are now available by just a swipe on the home screen.

The old age multi-window is available in the way Samsung has been doing over the years. Edge panels are no more for feeds, it is for shortcuts such as people, task, calendar, news, weather, apps, screenshot etc. Samsung also provides ‘Device Maintenance’ to optimise the usage of the phone by restricting use of background apps and frees up storage. The phone can also be used under various modes such as optimised, game, entertainment and high performance.

Not just these, Samsung provides ‘Game launcher’ to keep all games under one app. S8 is one of the best gaming device. Typically, games like ‘Asphalt’, ‘FIFA’ are truly amazing in this device. It has a mode where you are not disturbed with notification during game play.

S8 has speakers at the bottom. Moving on from four speakers in iPhone, I’m truly disappointed with the effect that the Samsung has been producing over the years.

Camera

S8 comes with a 12MP Dual Pixel at the rear and 8MP at the front. The rear has f/1.7 aperture, autofocus and single LED flash. The camera is more or less from S7 but what has changed is the processing mode – ‘Multi Frame Imaging Process’.

The camera UI is plain and simple. On right swipe, it provides various filters, monograms with multiple text options and animated effects. To the left, you have modes such as Auto, Pro, Panorama, Selective focus, Food, Slow Motion, Hyperlapse and Virtual Shot.

Selective focus is similar to iPhone’s depth effect with just that it could also be used in front camera and also change focus after capturing the picture. Food mode is focuses the centre of the plate and blurs the other areas. It also has the option of capturing live photos. Pro mode is all yours and could also provide the RAW image. The image quality in 4023X3024 Pixels is quite impressive in broad daylight. However, in low light the image stabilisation wasn’t that great distorting the whole picture.

Video is captured at 4K @ 30fps and is borrowed without any improvements from S7.

Samsung Pay

One thing that I wanted to have hands on was this ‘Samsung Pay’. I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience and was glad that it was being accepted in all stores / outlets. Being in nascent stage, many are neither reluctant to allow it being used nor the reader is not portable. However though difficult to trust its truly an amazing experience.

Bixby

Bixby is the new AI assistant from Samsung. It has a dedicated button for immediate access. It supports voice and vision. Bixby helps getting things done by voice or type, based on the captured image it can assist in recognising the object, place or text, displays customised cards and provides contextual reminders.

Whatever it does, not sure of its the purpose in Android devices. May be its too early to comment on Bixby.

Verdict

But for its elegant design and hardware, S8 is just one another smartphone that does the same as many others. If infinity display is not the major reason for update, one can also look at other alternatives surrounding S8 – LG G6, iPhone 7, Huawei P10 and OnePlus 5.

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