Design, display, performance, battery life
Mono speaker, mediocre face detection, fingerprint scanner placement
THE GALAXY S8+ has three key objectives. One, be better than the iPhone 7 Plus. Two, be better than all the other big Android phones around. And three, make people, once and for all, forget about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
Samsung seems to have gone about things the right way on paper: a giant 6.2in screen, the tiniest bezels this side of the Chinese border and killer specs. But with a smaller capacity battery than the S7 Edge and a camera that is, for the most part, identical to its predecessor, was this big flagship always destined to fall short?
We knew the Samsung Galaxy S8+ was going to be a fantastic looking smartphone. In leaks, renders and hands-on photos and videos, it looked fantastic. Now we have it in for review, we can confirm, it still looks fantastic.
The sleek, long form ditches the traditional 16:9 smartphone screen aspect ratio in favour of unique, 18.5:9 dimensions. With LG fighting the tall phone fight since way back in 2009 - remember the LG Chocolate BL40? And picking up the mantle once again this year with its flagship LG G6, Samsung's S8 and S8+ aren't the first super-widescreen phones we've seen, but they are the biggest.
The Galaxy S8+ comes in at 6.2in, dwarfing the 5.7in LG G6. In fact, based purely on numbers, this is the biggest smartphone screen on the market right now here in the UK. Get it in your hand though and you'll soon realise, it's actually not that big. About on-par with the 5.5in iPhone 7 Plus when it comes to in-hand comfort. Yep, you heard right. Samsung has made the 0.7in difference in screen size between this and an iPhone 7 Plus feel negligible and it's a beautiful thing.
By removing the home button and fingerprint scanner combination and including a curved screen, the Galaxy S8 series has better screen to bezel ratios than any other mainstream device at 84 per cent.
At 8.1mm thin, with curved Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back, combined with a metal frame, the Galaxy S8+ also feels sleek and expensive. Couple the design with IP68 water and dust resistance as well as the usual array of ports, including a USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack, and it's clear Samsung hasn't had to make any major sacrifices to achieve this ground-breaking design, except one.
The fingerprint scanner placement is now to the right of the camera surround. With both scanner and camera feeling virtually identical to a clumsy finger sliding over the smooth glass back, unlocking the Samsung Galaxy S8+ with a fingerprint is now a categorically bad user experience. Given how integral biometric security is to phones today, poor fingerprint scanner placement could be a deal breaker for many, and as responsive as it is, thanks to the illogical position, using it is a bit rubbish.
As a result, the Samsung Galaxy S8+'s design is second to none in terms of fit and finish, but this one design shortcoming is also the phone's Achilles heel.
The 18.5:9 screen measures 6.2in, making it instantly striking. This is one very big, very long display. Adding to the impact is the AMOLED technology inside paired with the Wide Quad HD resolution of 1440x2960. The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is punchy, deep and very sharp, all at the same time, showing off everything from the user interface through to apps, games and movies to perfection.
With a curved display, it has much of the same wow-factor as the S7 Edge, only this time, adding rounded corners to the mix too.
The S8+ supports advanced screen features such as a blue light filter for eye protection and colour balance controls, ensuring you can fine-tune the look and feel to suit you. In addition, the Gorilla Glass 5 display feels rich to the touch when thumbing over it and the glass is also sufficiently fingerprint repellant, though opt for a lighter colour if you want your S8+ to look free of any grubby marks.
It isn't all plain sailing screen-side: the curves, while very cool, do add slight colour vignetting to the left and right sides of the display. And while viewing angles are excellent, there's slight colour shifting when the S8+ is viewed at extreme angles owing to the AMOLED tech at play here. While these factors might irk some, the overall quality and impact of phone's deceptively big screen supersede these idiosyncrasies of curved AMOLED tech, making the S8+ one of the best smartphone displays ever.
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