I can’t overstate how gorgeous the S8 and S8+ are. The former packs one of Samsung’s beautiful 5.8-inch “infinity displays” — that’s a Super AMOLED screen that wraps around the phone’s curved front to the point where it almost touches the metal band running around the device. [..]
That even these non-final phones were oozing with polish and poise is a testament to how important Samsung believes they are. After all, these are Samsung’s attempts at redemption: It couldn’t afford to build anything less than excellent. This much seems clear: While memories of burning Notes still linger, Samsung seems to be right back on track.
Running all the way back to the bad old days of TouchWiz, Samsung has a well-earned reputation for taking Android and mucking it up with bad ideas.
For the past few years, though, the common refrain has been restraint, and I’m going to repeat it again today. Samsung has done a pretty good job keeping its worst instincts in check. There are a ton of weird features to find in the dark recesses of the settings menu, but out of the box the basic look, feel, and functionality of Samsung’s Android skinning is pretty good.
Even if you (understandably) aren’t entirely sold on Bixby’s abilities or the idea of using DeX to replace your desktop computer, you can absolutely look past those features to see a fantastic overall phone. Fringe features aside, Samsung is still absolutely nailing the basics with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, providing the features and performance you expect out of a high-end phone while also giving you a great hardware that’s wonderful to both see and hold. As always you’re going to pay handsomely for Samsung’s top-of-the-line experience, but as was the case last year you’re going to get your money’s worth here.
A few titbits from my end:
1) Even though all phones will slowly conform to all-screen bodies (starting with flagships), Samsung’s physical design is impressive; most of the screen estate is utilised on the height, keeping the width manageable. The 6.2″ S8 Plus is narrower than the 5.5″ Google Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus. The 5.8″ S8 is just an mm wider than the 4.7″ iPhone 7. Also, the screen curvature matches up well with the physical outline.
2) My biggest gripe with Samsung phones is the software experience. Samsung re-invents the wheel with every major software release; there’s no telling whether they’ve reached any acceptable quality and it’s hard to match up to Google’s and Apple’s update cycles. We’ll have to wait for the comprehensive reviews. That being said, they’ve surprised me with their navigation interface – it’s implemented better than stock Android.
3) That is a terrible location for a fingerprint scanner for the sake of symmetry. Not only is it hard to locate, you’ll end up touching the camera lens all the time. If their eye-scanner is good enough, they should have done without it.
4) The S7 camera was really good but it remains to be seen whether it’ll hurt their chances that the S8 sensor is unchanged (despite software improvements). Camera quality is a big factor in the decision making of phones.
5) Having a separate physical button for their AI assistant Bixby is a bold move. If Bixby is useful, it will work well for convenience and those with visual disabilities.
6) Samsung logo removed from the front face. Finally.