Samsung Galaxy S8 Review: Redemption In Glass

Samsung Galaxy S8 Review: Redemption In Glass

– [Narrator] This is the Samsung Galaxy S8 and from a couple differentangles, it's one of the most importantsmartphones of the year.

To Samsung, it's a chanceto regain the public trust.

To gadget nerds, it'sa chance to go hands on with more cutting edgefeatures than you'll find in any other mobile.

And to normals, it's thephone they're gonna see plastered across every billboardfrom here to the holidays.

I'm Michael Fisher, andI've spent a week with the Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus.

Let's see if they deserve your dollars.

We're getting closer andcloser to a world where phones are all screen,and everyone's taking a different route to that future.

The S8 takes a little bitfrom every approach out there.

Rounded corners, a stretched aspect ratio, and a curved fall off on the sides.

Combine that with Samsung'snew display technology, which adds HDR support tothe best AMOLED panel around, top it off with the sameGorilla Glass 5 as on the back and you've got, basically,the perfect smartphone screen.

I'm sorry if it sounds likeI'm fawning, but really whether you're gaming orreading or hitting subscribe on that YouTube channelyou just fell in love with, your eyes are gonna be very happy and your hands will be, too.

Even at 5.

8 and 6.

2 inches, these are still manageable phones thanksto their narrow chassis.

Allocating that muchacreage to the display left no room for the usual home key, but you almost wouldn't knowit thanks to clicky haptics that simulate a physical switch.

The only real downsideis kind of a big one.

The fingerprint sensorhas moved to the back and not in a sensiblecenter line location, but higher up in a smallcrater that's hard to feel out and easy to confuse with the camera lens.

Even after a week, it's awkward and clumsy and probably the worst thing on the phone.

Fortunately, Samsung offersfive other ways to unlock including the iris scanner.

I've been pleased with how well it works, even in very dark rooms,and even through sunglasses.

But bright sunlight stillconfounds it, and in any case it's not as quick as a well-placed fingerprint scanner would be.

Beneath the unlock screen sits the most heavily customized Androidversion you're likely to see.

A couple years ago that would have been a stinging criticism, butSamsung has put a lot of work into making its new interface look good.

It's much more cohesivethan its ever been, and it feels earned now.

There's a pleasant melding of conveniences from stock Android and Samsung.

Swiping the fingerprint scanner drops down the notification shade,flicking the home screen deploys the app drawer, andan edge screen gives you one-thumb shortcuts toalmost anything you want.

Oddly, the S8's biggestnew software feature is only half finished at release.

Bixby is a virtual assistantthat's supposed to let you control your entire phoneby voice, and Samsung is so serious about it thatit gave it it's own button.

But the voice part doesn'twork yet, so for now it's mostly just this, astack of info and app cards on your home screen much like Google Now.

I found Bixby Vision to be more handy.

It lives in your gallery andtries to recognize images to make it easier to buyproducts you photograph.

It can also scan QR codesand stuff like that.

Sometimes it works, andsometimes it doesn't.

I'll revisit Bixby whenit's actually finished.

For now, I mainly know it as the button I accidentally press when I'mtrying to lower the volume.

Hop across the phone, doubleclick the power button, and you launch the camera.

Both cameras are new on theS8, and the most notable improvements are up front.

The selfie camera brings auto focus, automatic wide angle, and masks.

When you're ready toshoot some real photos, the main camera is once again excellent.

I took some side-by-sideswith a Google Pixel, whose camera I like a lot,and four times out of five I preferred the S8's shots.

Partly that's due to Samsung'stendency to oversaturate.

My inner two-year-old never got over his love of bright colors.

Also, the phone is waterand dust resistant.

Even if you're not the typeto film fully under water, it's nice to know you can get right down in there without worrying.

And nestled away in thecamera options are bonuses like slow motion video,always nice when you're curious about combustion,and Virtual Shot, a kind of faux 3D photography.

I've only just scratched the surface of what you can do with this camera.

I'll show you a few more samples here, and keep in mind that AndroidCentral's Galaxy S8 review offers more photos and video.

(jazzy techno music) The more time I spent with the S8, the more features I found, or remembered from my brief time with the Note 7.

Game center lets youtune the phone for either performance or battery savingwhen you're playing a game.

Shortcuts to photo and videoeditors are built right in so you don't have to hunt for them.

And you control sound quality with the easiest equalizer I've seen.

All those add-ons do take their toll.

While the software isreasonably responsive, it's not what I'd call super speedy.

Even the world's most complete spec sheet loses some luster when your software has a tendency to stammer,and some of this stuff is just vintage Samsung.

The swipe over to Bixby hasthe same momentary delay that the swipe over to Flipboardhas had for generations.

Hopefully the 7.

1 updatewill help with some of this, but who knows? I spent most of my reviewperiod with the larger S8 Plus, whose bigger batteryusually saw me to the end of a 14-hour day withat least 20% to spare.

Samsung's optimizationsdeserve some credit for that.

The phone routinely putsunused apps to sleep and it ships with the display resolution set lower than the hardware is capable of.

I think this is good.

In my view most folkswould rather have the extra bit of battery thanan extra bit of sharpness.

Fortunately, with both versions of the S8, you have no shortage of optionsfor topping up the tank.

Dual-mode wireless charging,fast wireless charging, and Quick Charge 2.

0 via USB-C.

Stick with me folks, we'redown to the loose ends.

It's sad not to see Samsungadopt dual cameras this year.

Many of the shots I tookwould have benefited from the wide angle lens of the LG G6.

Voice calls are great though.

The phone is comfy to talkon and noise canceling works well, even throughstiff Gloucester gusts.

The speaker phone is in theexact wrong place for gaming because you're always gonnabe blocking it by accident but at least it's loud.

The S8 is compatible with thenew Samsung Gear VR headset, now with a cute hand controller,and don't forget about DeX.

That's the dock that turns itinto a faux desktop computer which I'll review separatelywhen I get my hands on one.

Then there's some nice future-proofing.

Bluetooth 5.

0 and moreacronyms than you can shake an antenna at, to give yougigabit speeds where available.

Finally, the phone comeswith $99 AKG earbuds that are apparently super fancy, but to my admittedlyuntrained ear, they sound like most earbuds out there.

So, is all this worththe price of admission? Well, not if you're pinching pennies.

$720 is the lowest priceyou're gonna see for the S8, and it tops out at $850 for the Plus.

If you're shoppingunlocked, you can get 75% of these features for 50% of the price, with something like theMoto Z Play or OnePlus 3T.

But if you're buying from your carrier, as most Americans still do,then you're only talking 25 or 30 bucks extra amonth and in exchange, you'll be getting something special.

Samsung used to sell alot of phones because it marketed the most,not necessarily because they were the best you could get.

With the Galaxy S8, themarketing will still do the bulk of the work, butcustomers will also be getting one of the sleekest, mostcapable smartphones ever made.

So yeah, buy it.

Just keep in mind that yourneighbors probably will, too.

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Til next time, thanks for watching, and stay mobile, my friends.

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