– Would it be too muchto say that the Galaxy S8 is the best Android phone of the year? What about the bestAndroid phone ever made? OK, what about the best,pretty big but feels small with really good software thatcan't take a bad photo phone? I'd say that's about right.
My name is Daniel Bader, and this is the Android Central review of the Samsung Galaxy S8.
I'll start off by saying this.
I've used both the 5.
8 inch Galaxy S8 and the 6.
2 inch Galaxy S8 Plus.
In this review, we're goingto focus on the S8 Plus because there's reallynot that much difference between them.
The S8 Plus has a slightlybigger battery, about 16%, and it's got that bigger screen, which gives it a wider footprint, but this is a really kind ofnarrow and very small phone for a 6.
2 inch display.
So this is the onewe're going to focus on, but everything I say applies to both.
By now, you may have heard ofSamsung's Infinity Display, this beautiful, tall,18.
5 by nine aspect ratio AMOLED display that is theextension of what the company has been doing for the last few years.
This is by far the best screenon the market right now.
It's sharp, it's beautifuland bright in sunlight, and it's really got no downside.
Perfect blacks, amazing colours, it's accurate, and you canadjust the colours if you want.
What's really amazingabout this phone, though, is that it does awaywith all of the bezels.
You have a phone that'sessentially all screen.
Because both phoneshave that edge display, you don't have to worrythat the lack of bezels at the top and bottom look strange, because it just kind ofall flows into each other.
It even makes the LG G6,which has a similar design, look kind of bezel-tastic as a result.
So there has to be a compromise, right? You make the screen as big as the phone, you have to remove thephysical home button, and that's exactly what Samsung did.
There is no physical homebutton on this screen, and as a result, this fingerprint sensor moved to the back.
We'll get to that later, but this is one of the biggest changes.
In order to accommodate that change, Samsung had to make the homebutton feel like a home button.
That's why there's an actual haptic engine inside the home button.
When you tap on it, you feel it.
It feels like a physical button.
But even better, you turn off the screen, you can press it andit turns on the screen.
More than that, you can activate the biometric facialrecognition or iris scanner in one fell swoop.
It's a really cool effect.
So both phones have thecurved edge display, and it still has thoseedge display features, but what's really great isthat Samsung learned its lesson from the S7 and made thecurves slightly less severe, so it makes it easier toswipe in from the left side of the screen.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this is a tall display.
It's taller than most appscan currently support, so Samsung has includedthis override feature, which makes any app align tothe 18.
5 by nine aspect ratio.
You may have to tweak it in the settings, but it's a way to makesure that every app works out of the box just fine, until the developers update it.
One thing to keep in mindhere is that when you look at this phone, this is a 6.
2 inch phone.
And it's smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus or the Google Pixel XL.
It's a little taller, but it's narrower and therefore easier to use in one hand.
This is a huge shift through the industry and you'll see everycompany, probably Google and Apple included, move to this design.
OK, so let's go back to the home button.
There's this haptic engine underneath that gives you pressuresensitive feedback, but that also means thatthere are now onscreen back and multitasking buttons,just like every other phone, just like we've wantedSamsung to do for so long.
Except that by default, theorientation is still the way that Samsung does its capacitive keys, with the multitaskingbutton on the left side and the back button on the right.
Here's the thing, you can reverse them.
You can do whatever you want with them.
This is finally the mostcustomizable Samsung phone you can imagine, and italso makes it a lot easier if you have muscle memory like I do, where going between, say,a Pixel and a Galaxy S7 makes your mind go crazyand you have to relearn how to use the phone all over again.
This just makes everythingso much simpler.
There are two new biometricauthentication methods, face recognition and iris scanning.
Iris scanning comes from the Note 7, but face recognition,well, it's kind of new-old.
It's been in Android since 2011, but Samsung has made somany improvements to this that it's basically likestarting from scratch.
But that also means that you may not use the fingerprint sensoras much, and that's OK, because it's on the back ina really awkward position.
It's right next to the camera, and especially on thebigger Galaxy S8 Plus, it's pretty hard to reach, especially if you're holdingthe phone like this down here.
You physically have to move your hand up, activate the fingerprint sensor.
That's OK, you'll get used to it, but the fact that the facerecognition is as fast as it is, I found myself usingthe fingerprint sensor about a quarter as much asI use it on other phones.
You have two ways to unlockyour phone with your face.
You have facial recognition,which is really fast, as I said, but not as accurate, and then you have iris scanning.
And that takes thetechnology from the Note 7, the one that debuted last year, and improves it in every way.
The iris scanner is nowfaster, it's more reliable, and it's better in low light.
It doesn't mean that it'sas fast as face recognition, but if you want somethingthat's unimpeachable, something that's justas, if not more secure, than the fingerprint sensor, you're going to wantto do the iris scanner.
Either way though, being able to go from a completely blackscreen to unlocking your phone to looking at it and gettingthrough to the software, that's an amazing feeling, especially when you don'thave to hike your hand up to find that fingerprint sensor.
Let's talk about the rest of the software.
This is running Android 7.
1 as was rumoured.
But there's really not awhole lot to complain about.
Samsung has done a greatjob finding a balance between its tendency to meddlewith the way Android looks and the way that Googleintended Nougat to look.
Let's take the launcher for example.
There's this really nicesort of simple launcher and you swipe up or downto get into the app drawer.
But the app drawer itselfis still horizontal, and it's still custom, which means that you actually have togo in and alphabetize it and make it look the waythat I want it to look.
There's really not a wholelot else to complain about.
There is still app duplication, so you have two internet browsers.
You have two galleries,you have two app stores.
But there's kind of a reasonfor all three of them.
I actually like thebrowser better than Chrome, and I use the gallery because there's some reallycool features in there.
So there are a lot ofpeople complaining about it, but I don't care.
I like it.
The camera, as I said earlier,is one of those things that people look out for asan improvement year over year.
And Samsung has done an amazing job keeping up with the competition, but there was concern thatbecause it has the same specs, there wasn't a lot of improvement.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you're not going to bedisappointed in this camera.
This is one of, if not the bestcameras on the market today.
It's got an updated sensor.
It's still 12 megapixelswith an F1.
But inside here is something special and something that the GalaxyS7 or even the Google Pixel, which is our current reigningcamera champ doesn't have.
That's a Snapdragon 835,or Exynos 8895 chip.
That does two things.
It makes image singleprocessing way faster and it adds something calledmulti-frame processing, which means when you take a photo, it actually takes three or fourand combines them together.
This isn't the same as HDR.
This is something completely new, but you're not gonnanotice a lot of difference between it and the GalaxyS7, at least in daylight.
The real differences comeout in low light photos.
If you look at the differencebetween this Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 shot, takenwith the same shutter speed in the exact same environment, you'll notice much more clarity on the S8.
What it means is that theprocessing is happening behind the scenes.
even the sensor withthe same specifications is making sure that youhave better results.
One major differencebetween the S8 and the S7 is the new front facing camera.
This is an eightmegapixel autofocus camera which means that finally,your selfies are not gonna be blurry or out offocus if you rush to take them.
It also means that youhave a bit more control over what you look likecompared to the background, and combined with the newfilters that are built into Samsung's camera app,you have a pretty robust set of Snapchat-like experiencesthat don't really need any external apps to work.
You can just upload them toany social network you want.
At the end of the day, though,when it comes down to it, the cameras on theGalaxy S8 are two things.
They're fast and they're reliable.
Every time I open the app,I know that I'm gonna get a great photo, regardless of the scenario.
I knew that with the S7 andI know that with the S8.
The difference is that Iknow that even in low light, I'm gonna get a great photo on the S8.
Samsung's software piece de resistance, its major announcement inaddition to the Infinity Display, is Bixby, its AI poweredpersonal assistant.
At its core, Bixby is abouthelping you do things better, helping give you contextwhen you didn't know you needed it.
Right now, Bixby is only half-done, and that's why we can't really review it until later this year.
But let's talk about whatyou can do right now.
Bixby is activated with aphysical button on the left side of the Galaxy S8.
And you press that to launch Bixby Home, which is a feed of thingsthat the phone thinks you need right now.
Your schedule, yourreminders, any news updates from Flipboard, things like that.
The rest of it isinterspersed around the phone.
You have Bixby Vision, whichis part of the camera app.
You use it to identifythings like wine bottles.
You can find a great bottleof wine if you're at a store.
Or you can get similarphotos to the things that you're taking.
The other part is BixbyReminders, which is part of the home experience,and you can essentially do what you would do on Google Assistant.
You ask it to tell youto pick up milk or eggs on the way home, and once youget near the grocery store, it'll remind you to do that.
That's not new.
What is new is BixbyVoice, and that's the thing that we can't show you,because it's only launching later this spring.
At its core, Bixby Voice isabout helping you do things on your phone using your voice.
You're gonna hold down that Bixby button as a walkie talkie and ask it to navigate to this web page or crop this photo or find that photo of meand my niece from 2015.
Those are the kind ofthings that Google Assistant or Google Photos can do today,but this is not just about connecting to the internet.
Bixby Voice is going to beabout connecting locally and helping you do things on your phone that you would with your finger.
OK, last bit.
Let's talk battery life and specs.
So in North America, thishas a Snapdragon 835 platform with four gigs of RAM and64 gigs of storage standard.
There is a six gig versionout there somewhere and it may come to North America, but don't hold out much hope.
The Snapdragon 835 is really fast.
It's about 20% faster in most ways than the 821 on phoneslike the OnePlus 3T, the Google Pixel, and the LG G6.
But it's really much faster in games, and that's where you'regonna notice a difference.
The performance is outstanding, especially when youenable performance mode, which is another tweak that allows you to set the screenresolution to its maximum on the Galaxy S8 and givesyour gaming that extra oomph that it needs.
Aside from that, the835, or the Exynos 8895 in some markets, is builton a 10 nanometer process.
That's a lot of technicaljargon, but what it means is that it's a lot more efficient, much more efficient than the 821.
These are much more efficient chips, and the way that you can getthose extra three, four hours a day, even with five, sixhours of screen on time, that's gonna be the biggestdifference between the S8 and its predecessor.
And then there are the other goodies.
There's a USB type C port on the bottom.
That's new from theGalaxy S7 and it debuted on the Note 7, but we all knowwhat happened to that phone.
There's still IP68 waterand dust resistance, which is great.
There's wireless charging, as it has been for the last couple of years.
So what can we take away from this? The Galaxy S8 is probablythe best Android phone you can buy today, andmaybe even the best phone you can buy today.
Whether you want the smaller Galaxy S8 or the larger Galaxy S8 Plus, you can't go wrong.
This is a fast, beautiful,and reliable phone with excellent battery lifeand really great cameras.
Yes, it's launchingwith Android 7.
0 Nougat at a time where we're lookingforward to Android 8.
0, and yes, the Google Pixeldoes get faster updates, and it may have slightlybetter video stabilisation or may have a few more features, but at the end of theday, this is probably the most well rounded phone you can buy.
That's all you can really ask for.
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