Samsung's 2017 flagship phone is a step up in beauty and technology.
After the disaster that was the Note 7, Samsung really needed to impress with the S8 & S8+ and they didn’t disappoint. Firstly, it’s a beautiful looking phone and sits comfortably in your hand which is surprising as the S8 has a 5.8” screen and the S8+ 6.2”. What’s different is that they pack that size into a slimmer bezel, so effectively the phone is slimmer and longer, which feels ok. Also, every corner has been rounded to improve the tactile nature of the phone.
The main feature of this phone has to be the Infinity Display. The 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display is clear, bright and colorful, with a QHD resolution making it a truly HDR screen. While it's not all screen, it's as close as a phone can be. As stated, the wraparound design element helps these big-screened phones feel smaller than their size might suggest. It’s by far the lowest bezel-to-screen ratio we've seen on a flagship phone so far. Using Corning Gorilla glass 5 makes it pretty robust, although the price tag will mean you’ll be hiding its beauty behind a protective case or paying a lot for insurance.
The large screen size means the home button has disappeared. A finger print scanner is on the back to engage the phone, although there are two other ways of setting up your security. You can use iris scanning or facial recognition to unlock the phone just by holding it up slightly. It is miles faster than the finger print scanner and better at noticing who you are, although you do still need to hold the phone at a very precise angle.
The phone has kept some of the S7 features such as wireless charging with a quick charge facility taking minimal time to top up your phones battery. The phone also has an IP68 rating, meaning it is dust and water resistant. Not water proof – so please don’t be leaving your phone sitting in water for any more than half an hour or it will lose its ingress protection and you’ll be left with a hefty repair bill.
Announced earlier, Samsung has created its own take on an intelligent assistant, called Bixby. The frictionless assistant can follow you through voice, the camera or touch, learning what you want it to do, and not requiring you to know a specific set of phrases to make it work. Bixby also lets you identify or buy things you point the camera at, using Amazon’s book database and Vivino’s virtual wine cellars. The same camera-driven features can translate signs and provide info about real-world landmarks. That said it’s a bit clunky, so for those of you heavily into using your intelligent assistant, Google Assistant, which runs on the Android Nougat OS platform, is still available on the Galaxy S8, and is arguably far more useful.
Another new feature is a function, called Samsung DeX, which works like this: You place an S8 in a separately sold dock, connect that dock to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and get a desktop OS interface, so all your apps etc are displayed and function through your desktop. Making you phone into a desktop will certainly help the business user move seamlessly from phone to desktop.
The camera on the phone remains pretty much unchanged from the S7, 12mp rear facing and an 8MP front facing selfie camera. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing, as the S7 camera is superb, it does leave it somewhat behind its rivals, especially the Huawei P10 which uses Leica dual focus technology for a superior experience. That said it still takes great pictures.
The battery also remains at 3000mAh. Samsung have been at pains to tell us that the battery has gone through an 8 point testing regime to ensure none of the Note 7 issues will occur. Battery life will be helped by 4GB of RAM which sits alongside Samsung's own Exynos 8895 processor. The first phone to use 10nm fabrication process, which means everything can be made more efficient at the heart of the phone. Samsung says the phones squeeze even more life out of the processors cells. This will hopefully mean that battery life, despite the extra technology packed into the phone, shouldn’t be a problem.
Overall, this is a beautiful and technology packed phone and a definite ‘must have’ for those looking for a new phone. It will be pricey but what flagship phone isn’t? There’s certainly enough of a step change for anyone with an S7 downwards to make the shift to this latest device. I’ve no doubt it will be a huge seller for Samsung.
Review: Gary Berney – Marketing Mgr. April 2017.