|+ Amazing screen||- Small battery|
|+ Great design||- Camera isn't much of an upgrade|
|+ Feature packed||- Bixby needs works|
"The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the first essential flagship of 2017 and an improvement in almost every way on the Galaxy S7."
It’s here, the most highly anticipated Android flagship of 2017. Hopes and expectations for the Samsung Galaxy S8 were through the roof, and after the Galaxy Note 7 debacle Samsung needs a win more than ever.
So can the Samsung Galaxy S8 live up to the hype and put Samsung back on track as one of the world’s best smartphone makers?
With its huge screen and almost bezel-free design the Samsung Galaxy S8 certainly makes a strong first impression. Read on to see whether that impression holds up.
At 5.8 inches the Samsung Galaxy S8 has an even bigger screen than the Galaxy Note 7, and it’s sharper too, at 1440 x 2960, for a pixel density of 570 pixels per inch.
That’s incredibly crisp, and with an unusual 18.5:9 aspect ratio the Galaxy S8 is also more widescreen than most phones, which, combined with the size, makes it ideal for running two apps side by side.
Like other Samsung phones it uses Super AMOLED, for richer visuals than most handsets, and it supports mobile HDR. At the moment there isn’t much HDR content, but once there is the Galaxy S8 will have an advantage over most other phones.
Its screen is also curved, giving it a striking look and enabling the edge screen functions, which let you swipe in from the edge to access shortcuts to apps and features. And it’s an always-on display, meaning you can have the time and notifications permanently displayed, with minimal impact on the battery.
Big, bright, sharp and feature packed, this is perhaps the best screen that’s ever graced a smartphone.
You might expect this to be a huge phone given the huge screen, but in fact it’s a fairly manageable size, as there is hardly any bezel above and below the display. To achieve this Samsung has removed the usual home button and placed the fingerprint scanner on the back. It gives the phone an almost all-screen look when viewed front-on, which is undeniably striking.
There’s also gently curved glass at the back and a metal frame, for a premium design that’s slim at just 8mm thick.
And the Samsung Galaxy S8 is also dust proof and water resistant to a depth of 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes.
It’s not a tiny phone, despite the lack of bezel this is still a handset you’ll probably want to use two hands with, but it’s a great look that’s a refinement of everything Samsung did with the Galaxy S7 Edge.
There’s a whole lot of power here, with Samsung packing in its home-grown Exynos 8895 octa-core chipset. That’s a brand new, top end chip, with four cores clocked at 2.3GHz and four running at 1.7GHz.
It’s also back up by 4GB of RAM, combining to make the Galaxy S8 one of the most powerful phones around, so you can expect smooth performance whatever you’re using the phone for, even when using two apps at the same time in split screen.
Of course, the Galaxy S8 is also on the latest version of Android as you’d expect, meaning you get Android 7.0 Nougat, along with the Samsung Experience UI, which is a rebranding of TouchWiz and the best it’s ever been.
Surprisingly, little has been changed on the camera front, with the Galaxy S8 sporting a single-lens 12MP snapper just like the Samsung Galaxy S7, but it’s a great quality camera that’s fast to focus and fire, has optical image stabilisation to keep your shots smooth, performs well in low light and is aided by an 8MP front-facing snapper.
There’s also a wide selection of modes and options available, but results are usually strong even when you just point and shoot, as most people will usually be doing.
And video quality is every bit as good, with the Galaxy S8 able to shoot in up to 2160p at 30fps, or 1080p at 60fps.
The big new feature this year is Bixby. This is Samsung’s AI assistant and essentially an alternative to Siri or Google Assistant (the latter of which is also available on the Galaxy S8).
The idea is that as well as being able to answer questions and search the web like those assistants, it will give you full hands-free control of your phone and its apps.
It’s not there yet, with only limited app support, but Samsung plans to develop it over time and it’s a strong first step, especially as it also has a Bixby Vision mode, which can be used to identify real world objects and provide information on them. It’s easy to launch as well, with either a voice command or a press of the dedicated Bixby hardware button.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 also has an iris scanner and facial recognition, in addition to a fingerprint scanner, so you have a variety of high-tech ways to secure your phone.
Another feature of the Galaxy S8 only comes into play if you buy the DeX dock, but this allows you to connect your Galaxy S8 to an external monitor and use it like a desktop computer. It works well, but the dock itself is a pricey extra.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 has a 3,000mAh battery, which is small for a phone of this size. In fact it’s the same size as the juice pack in the Galaxy S7 – a phone with just a 5.1-inch screen.
However, Samsung’s chipset is more efficient here, so each mAh goes further. This is still a phone you’re likely to want to charge every day, but you should at least be able to see the day through before plugging it in.
It supports both fast and wireless charging and connects via USB Type-C, so your old cables won’t work.
There’s 64GB of built in storage, along with a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 256GB, so space shouldn’t be an issue.
Connectivity options include 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC. The Bluetooth is worth special mention as 5.0 is the latest version, providing faster speeds and longer range, and the S8 is the first mainstream phone to support it.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a brilliant successor to the still-great Galaxy S7. It’s got a bigger, sharper screen with new features and a new aspect ratio, it’s got a bold new look, a power boost, loads of storage and a great camera.
Not everything is a home run though. The camera, as good as it is, isn’t much of an upgrade, while the battery could be bigger and Bixby currently feels a bit half baked – though the potential is there.
But really, there’s little to complain about. Almost all the basics are better here than on rivals and the Galaxy S8 is packed full of extras, some of which are more useful than others, but none of which get in the way. It’s not a perfect phone, but it’s sure to still be one of the best by the end of the year.
Dimensions (mm): 148.9 x 68.1 x 8
Weight (g): 155
Battery capacity (mAh): 3000
Colours: Midnight Black, Orchid Grey
Screen size (inches): 5.8
Resolution: 1440 x 2960
Pixels per inch (PPI): 570
Processor: Octa-core 2.3GHz
Processor make: Exynos 8895
Internal storage: 64GB
Expandable storage up to (GB): 256GB
Camera: 12MP (8MP front-facing)
Operating System: Android 7.0