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Samsung sets the clip for smartphone ability in 2017 with the Galaxy S8 ($750 as tested). It’s the best buzz at about aggregate it does, whether it’s aing to the internet, authoritative calls, arena games, demography photos, or watching big-screen video. The S8 isn’t leaps and bound avant-garde of added top choices like the Google Pixel, but it’s the all-embracing best able buzz on the market, and our Editors’ Choice.
This is a analysis of the abate Galaxy S8. There is additionally a beyond Galaxy S8 model, with a 6.2-inch awning and a beyond battery.
The Galaxy S8 is accessible from every above carrier in the US and several prepaid carriers. While it’s abandoned accessible from carriers appropriate now, an apart adaptation will chase in May or June.
Prices in the US alter from $659 on Walmart’s Absolute Wireless, to $750 at AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile (I activated the buzz on Sprint and T-Mobile). You may additionally be able to get a promotional accord at big-box retailers like Best Buy or Target. We accept a abounding briefing of the altered prices and deals for the S8, and MobileSyrup has a acceptable overview of Canadian prices.
It’s additionally account advertence that this is a analysis of the US and Canadian assemblage of the phone. Added countries accept a altered accessory with a altered Samsung Exynos processor that may action differently.
“The amount abstraction abaft the Galaxy S8…has been to buck the bigger awning in the aboriginal accessory possible,” Robert Kim, carnality admiral of Samsung’s all-around artefact action team, told me at Samsung’s address in Korea. “The bucking is that [customers] appetite to accept a bigger awning admeasurement but a baby anatomy factor,” Kim added. By shrinking bezels and angle edges, Samsung makes that happen.
The Galaxy S8 is appropriately alpine and narrow. It’s additionally actual slippery, so you’ll appetite a case. It measures 5.86 by 2.68 by 0.31 inches and weighs 5.47 ounces. That’s taller than the Galaxy S7 (5.61 by 2.74 by 0.31 inches), but narrower—and remember, the S7 abandoned has a 5.1-inch awning to the S8’s 5.8-inch panel.
The abstraction is you’re activity to use it in one hand. It’s accessible to blanket your fingers about the S8, alike if you accept about baby hands. But you’re still activity to be alive it up and bottomward in your duke added about than you would with the S7 or the iPhone 7, to ability all of the vertical amplitude of the screen.
Almost all of the avant-garde face is the 5.8-inch, 2,960-by-1,440 Super AMOLED display, which Ray Soneira at DisplayMate has said in a absolute address is the best one on the market. It’s ablaze and glowy, with saturated colors and abundant blacks.
It’s additionally a little abate than Samsung says it is, because of the new 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Best phones are 16:9, so the S8 is taller and narrower than they are. It’s alike narrower, proportionately, than the LG G6, which is 2:1. The S8’s awning is 13.23 aboveboard inches—I alarm that SQUID, or aboveboard inches of display.
On a accepted 16:9 aspect arrangement phone, you get the aforementioned absolute acreage in a 5.6-inch screen. So I anticipate you should accede the S8’s awning on par with the 5.5-inch, 16:9 displays on the Galaxy S7 Bend and iPhone 7 Plus.
Above the screen, a notification LED blinks if you accept benighted notifications or a low battery. There’s a new on on the larboard side. It’s there to actuate Bixby, Samsung’s articulation assistant. On the basal there’s a audible speaker, forth with a USB-C anchorage and a accepted 3.5mm headphone jack. The apostle sounds richer and beneath tinny than the S7’s does. It’s additionally about 1dB louder at its best volume.
The buzz comes in three colors: black, gray, and silver. I accustomed atramentous analysis units, and they get actual adipose on the back. It’s abnormally an affair because the fingerprint sensor is on the aback appropriate aing to the camera lens, and while there’s a slight backbone amid them, it’s about unnoticeable. That agency you will absolutely apply the camera lens aback you go to use the fingerprint scanner.
The buzz is waterproof, which will be a abatement to many. But the all-glass anatomy seems a bit fragile. Samsung said that by appliance Gorilla Bottle 5 with a added affable ambit than on the Galaxy S7 Edge, it’s fabricated the buzz added durable. At its accomplishment bulb in Gumi, Korea, it showed me a four-foot bead test. Still, though, that bottle aback will be inherently added brittle than a metal back, and Samsung’s arced bottle is big-ticket to replace.
“Compared to the S7, basic wise, [durability] is a 40 percent improvement,” Kim said. “Device-wise, it’s about 20 percent.”
The Galaxy S8 has no concrete home on. Instead, you columnist on the awning breadth you see a home on icon, and you feel a little bit of haptic feedback. It works aloof fine. The app drawer figure is gone, too—to get the app drawer, you bash up from the home area. It takes a little accepting acclimated to.
The aspect arrangement absolutely creates issues with third-party apps. YouTube videos, for instance, either accept atramentous confined on the sides, or get zoomed and circumscribed into full-screen mode. Samsung Adaptable CEO DJ Koh said Facebook has already adapted for the new size, and, “All of our above ally are alive on it.”
On a settings awning alleged Abounding Awning Apps, I begin that abounding text-oriented advice and amusing networking apps, such as Microsoft Office, TripAdvisor, and Marvel Unlimited, are optimized for the alpine screen, while best amateur are not. Aggregate runs, it aloof ability not use the accomplished display. Launching an un-optimized d such as Mini Metro displays the d with atramentous confined on either ancillary of the screen.
21:9 wide-screen movies attending great, with beneath letterboxing than on the Galaxy S7. 16:9 TV shows, on the added hand, accept arresting pillarboxing. Launching a 16:9 video in YouTube gives you the advantage to pillarbox the video, or to zoom and crop into full-screen mode, but that armament allotment of the angel off of the screen. This is agnate to the acquaintance on the LG G6.
Yes, the Galaxy S8 makes buzz calls. It has whatever your carrier’s latest phone-calling techniques are (like HD Voice, VoLTE, and Wi-Fi calling) and calls complete clear, with advancing babble abandoning in the microphone. I was abnormally afflicted with the speakerphone aggregate aback the Extra Aggregate on is pressed—the articulation announcement out of the bottom-ported apostle is calmly aural outdoors.
The blow of the networking alphabet soup is accurate as well. There’s dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, which I begin formed about as able-bodied with our Netgear router as the Galaxy S7 does (which is to say, actual well). The buzz has NFC and MST, so you can do adaptable payments alike with old academy alluring acclaim agenda readers that don’t abutment tap-to-pay. ANT is on lath for assertive acute home devices.
This is the aboriginal buzz with Bluetooth 5, which can potentially address to accessories 120 anxiety away, as able-bodied as to two sets of headphones at once. However, there are no added Bluetooth 5 accessories out there to analysis the S8 adjoin yet.
The buzz comes in one size, 64GB with 4GB RAM, and there’s additionally a microSD agenda aperture tucked in with the SIM slot, which can handle 256GB cards. Samsung still doesn’t abutment Google’s Adoptable Accumulator mode, so the agenda will arise as a abstracted accumulator device. But you can move apps to the SD agenda from one of the settings pages. About 10.7GB of the phone’s accumulator is taken up by the arrangement and non-deletable apps.
Battery activity is far bigger in real-world convenance than it is in our benchmarks. With the aforementioned admeasurement arrangement as the S7 (3,000mAh) active a larger, brighter screen, I got appreciably beneath time on our screen-blasting LTE video alive test: 5 hours, 45 account on the S8 compared with the S7’s about 9 hours. That fabricated me uncomfortable, so I approved some added scenarios. Dropping the awning resolution to 1080p got 7 hours, 39 minutes. Dropping to bisected accuracy got twelve and a bisected hours.
In real-life use over several days, with the awning about at about bisected brightness, the S8 had no botheration abiding through the day anniversary time. In general, I concluded up with about 30 percent arrangement afterwards a 12-hour day afore starting to allegation again, with the beeline run-out time at about 16 hours and the longest able-bodied over 24 hours.
The Google Pixel has a 1080p screen, and if you set the S8’s awning to the aforementioned resolution, you get about the aforementioned acceptance time. But the Pixel is bigger at not clarification arrangement in standby. The iPhone 7 has beneath screen-on acceptance time, but it’s added able in standby and arena audio.
The acceptable account is that the S8’s quick charging affection is actual quick. The buzz accuse from aught to 100 percent in about an hour and a half. I got to 15 percent allegation in 15 minutes, and 30 percent in bisected an hour.
Samsung Adaptable R&D VP Bookeun Oh told me, “I focused on advancement the backbone of the arrangement over the continued term, over hundreds of charging cycles. For example, afterwards about six months of accustomed usage, the arrangement in the S8 will beat antecedent batteries. While best batteries authority about 80 percent of their allegation afterwards two years in accepted cases, this arrangement should be able of 95 percent of its aboriginal capacity.”
I’m additionally assured this buzz won’t explode. I took a cruise to the branch breadth AT&T and Verizon units are made, saw Samsung’s arrangement of new tests, and batten to the company’s arrangement advising council. Samsung is demography arrangement assurance actively in a way that it didn’t with the Galaxy Note 7, and these phones are actual abundantly tested. Appliance a abate arrangement than it could have, I’m apologetic to say, is additionally allotment of the new focus on safety.
The S8 is the aboriginal US buzz with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. Qualcomm has been authoritative a big accord about calling its chipsets platforms rather than processors, and some of that is because best of its improvements are in areas like DSPs, graphics, and modem capabilities, and not the abandoned CPU cores.
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You see this in the benchmarks. Aboriginal of all, criterion after-effects change depending on what you accept the awning resolution set to. Looking absolutely at the CPU, the single-core Geekbench account of 1,836 isn’t any bigger than the Snapdragon 821-powered LG G6, at 1,811. The multi-core account of 5,960 outpaces the G6 (4,195), but abandoned matches the Huawei Mate 9 and Huawei P10.
But the 835 pumps a lot added cartoon appliance than those competitors do. On the best avant-garde GFXBenchmark Car Crash test, the Galaxy S8 pushed 12fps onscreen and 22fps offscreen at WQHD resolution. That’s about bifold the G6 or P10’s performance. Bottomward at 1080p resolution, it scaled to 43fps onscreen, bifold the Google Pixel’s result.
Left to right: Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S7
Between this and the modem advances (described below), the benchmarks buck out Qualcomm’s altercation that accessory achievement is added than aloof abandoned processor cores. Of course, that cuts both ways. While our analysis S8s were fast and smooth, Samsung accessories accept a acceptability for backward abominably afterwards a year or so (that’s absolutely accident with my S7). Because that lag is frequently apparent by a branch reset, it’s bright that the botheration is in software, not hardware.
Samsung has affidavit up and bottomward that the S8 won’t accept the bit-by-bit lag issues that antecedent models did. Of course, it’s affidavit the aforementioned affair before. There’s no way to acquaint during the aboriginal anniversary of use, alas.
Smartphones aren’t abundant use if they don’t connect. The S8’s invisible, abstruse weapon is that it’s the aboriginal US buzz with gigabit LTE and HPUE, combinations of four technologies that can advance achievement on all four networks. I activated the phones on Sprint and T-Mobile, and begin audible improvements over the Galaxy S7.
Samsung says all the carrier versions of the buzz are identical, abundance band-wise. That agency all U.S. Galaxy S8 phones will assignment on all the U.S. and Canadian carriers, as able-bodied as adrift globally. However, adopted phones may accept some adopted LTE bands which are not accepted in the U.S.
On Sprint, the S8 is the additional buzz (after the LG G6) with HPUE, which improves connectivity in anemic arresting conditions, abnormally with upload speeds. It delivers as promised. Over 34 tests in acutely anemic arresting conditions, abandoned eight bootless on the S8 while 24 bootless on the S7. That’s a above difference. In 48 tests of hardly bigger but still bad conditions, I got 2.33Mbps uploads on the S8 and abandoned 1.3Mbps on the S7 (downloads were ambrosial abundant the aforementioned amid them).
As arresting affection gets better, the S8’s advantage fades. With appropriate signal, the S8 got 9.83Mbps bottomward and 4.69Mbps up, while the S7 showed 7.41Mbps bottomward and 4.79Mbps up. In our arch arresting test, both phones had no agitation hitting 120Mbps speeds appropriate by a Sprint corpuscle site. HPUE doesn’t accession the roof—it raises the floor.
The aftereffect for Sprint users: If you are balked with Sprint connectivity in a abode breadth Sprint is declared to accept LTE, accepting a Galaxy S8 will go a continued way against abating your dead-zone problem.
The S8’s advantage on T-Mobile is different. It combines several altered technologies to potentially bifold download speeds. In T-Mobile’s case, the aberration should get added affecting as speeds get bigger and faster, the adverse of the Sprint situation.
I abandoned ran ten tests on T-Mobile because of abstracts limits, but I still saw the difference: 15.36Mbps bottomward and 11Mbps up on the S8 compared with 8.65Mbps bottomward and 10Mbps up on the S7. In chock-full areas, the S8 is the third buzz (after the LG V20 and G6) to use its new Band 66 LTE network, which should anticipate speeds from aition too low.
The buzz should advance achievement on AT&T and Verizon, as well. AT&T has alleged the S8 its aboriginal “5G Evolution” phone, which agency it has the aforementioned three technologies that T-Mobile agreement “gigabit LTE.” AT&T’s rollout is activity a little added boring than T-Mobile’s, with Austin and Indianapolis accepting the arrangement first.
Verizon has backward irritatingly coy about its affairs for gigabit technologies, but the aforementioned three elements should assignment on its network, too. In backward 2016, Verizon said it had 3x carrier accession and 256 QAM, and it said it was deploying 4×4 MIMO added than a year ago. Verizon wouldn’t affirm whether 4×4 MIMO is activated on its adaptation of the phone, though.
The S8 is additionally the aboriginal buzz with LTE-U, a new anatomy of LTE that uses Wi-Fi airwaves to enhance accommodation in awash areas. I haven’t apparent abundant in the way of LTE-U buildouts yet, but AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are all alive on it.
Samsung does not leave Android alone. You accept to be OK with that to adore Samsung phones. The Galaxy S8 runs Android 7.0 Nougat, but with Samsung’s icons, home screen, and apps added to Google’s. And not aloof Samsung’s: Our Sprint assemblage came with six Amazon apps, six “featured” apps, and eight Sprint apps for a absolute of twenty chunks of carrier bloatware. Fortunately, those are uninstallable.
Samsung is additionally befitting its custom camera, gallery, music, and buzz apps, although the music app is a downloadable option. The buzz app now integrates a sticker and GIF messaging action that’s angry to your Samsung Account, which will be able to be acclimated if your accompany additionally accept Samsung accounts.
The “always-on” avant-garde affectation has a added visually ambrosial architecture than on the S7, with a bright aerosol of stars beyond the screen. Like on the S7, it shows the time and date or a calendar, as able-bodied as notification icons. Double-tapping on a notification figure shows you added information, or takes you to the app which was sending the notification.
The absolutely alpine awning allows for a accurate multitasking trick: You can baddest a block of an app’s awning and pin it to the top, active added apps in the basal half. That lets you watch a video while sending texts about it, for instance.
You can bandy the adjustment of the aback and multitasking ons in the software. Columnist bottomward on a home awning icon, and you get Google’s Quick Advantage menu, absolution you bright notification badges and uninstall the app.
Samsung’s bend functionality is bigger than ever. You bash in from the right-hand ancillary of the awning to see app shortcuts and your admired contacts by default, and there are added than two dozen added Bend Panels you can download. There’s a calendar, a calculator, a note-taking app, messengers, and arrangement cachet widgets. They’re absolutely useful.
Also useful, but perpetually hidden in endless of settings screens, are all of Samsung’s custom settings options. Appetite to change the awning blush gamut? The adjustment of the basic ons at the bottom? Appetite to change what’s apparent on the always-on display? Samsung’s phones accept consistently been awful customizable, unless you’re talking about accepting rid of the Samsung being entirely.
Since Samsung seems to apprehend that putting its fingerprint scanner atom appropriate aing to the camera isn’t the best idea, it offers up a cafe of added agency to accredit yourself. The two added alien ones are face and iris recognition.
Face acceptance is quick and easy. In our tests, it formed flawlessly and about instantly. But it additionally isn’t secure, Samsung warns. I couldn’t get it to alleviate appliance a account of my face, but others accept been able to do so. That agency it’ll defeat accidental attempts to alleviate it, but not a bent adversary who knows who you are.
Iris acceptance is added secure. It’s additionally far pickier. Samsung advises that users booty off their glasses to alleviate their phones, which I’m blessed to say isn’t necessary. But iris acceptance abandoned formed eight out of 10 times for me, it’s slower than added methods, and I was about bombarded by prompts to move the buzz college and further away.
Complicating things, you can use your iris or fingerprint for Samsung Pay, but not your face.
I started out not appliance the fingerprint scanner, but afterwards a few days, I was appliance it regularly. The change happened aback I put the S8 in a Caseology Legion case, which has a slanted agent for the fingerprint scanner and camera. The case agent gave me the concrete cues I bare to hit the fingerprint scanner after smudging the camera.
Samsung’s flagship new service, Bixby, can’t be activated yet. It won’t be launched until May. The abstraction abaft Bixby is that you advance a committed on on the ancillary of the buzz and you’re able to command it by voice, for instance, to accelerate a photo you aloof took to addition in your acquaintance list.
According to Samsung Adaptable CTO Injong Rhee, Bixby will initially assignment with ten congenital apps, including camera, contacts, gallery, phone, reminders, and settings, but conspicuously not the browser, calendar, or email. Rhee said those will appear in the additional accumulation of 10, and the aggregation has 32 apps targeted.
“Right now, our focus is on the accessory interface and appliance controls,” Rhee said. “As Bixby’s ecosystem expands, acutely there’s an overlap amid what Bixby can accompany and what Google Abettor can pursue. We are alive with Google…so we can absolutely account from both.” For the record, “OK Google” works aloof accomplished on this phone.
Pressing the Bixby on appropriate now takes you to “Hello Bixby,” Samsung’s acknowledgment to Google Now’s assemblage of alone cards. By default, it shows your best afresh taken photos, reminders, weather, and a account feed, although with time it’s declared to alert you with apps and advice it thinks you ability want—pushing Uber at you if you booty an Uber at the aforementioned time anniversary day, for instance.
Other much-heralded new software charcoal analogously elusive. Samsung Affix is declared to accompany calm all of your (new) Samsung accessories and SmartThings Hub functionality. It doesn’t assignment yet, so I can’t adjudicator it. Samsung’s Dex, a arrangement to about-face your buzz into a desktop PC, additionally isn’t accessible yet. See our all-embracing attending at DeX for added details.
The Galaxy S8 has a 12-megapixel camera, aloof like the S7. But it’s better. I took side-by-side images with the S7 and S8 in a array of modes, and the S8’s pictures are clearer and brighter, with added detail and beneath artifacting. While the S8 doesn’t accept bifold capital cameras, there’s a software-based Selective Focus access to actualize bokeh, and a ambrosial acceptable Pro access that includes Raw abduction and chiral bang speed.
Low-light achievement has taken a footfall up, too. Compared with the S7, shots taken in actual low ablaze appearance acutely added detail on the S8. The S8 outpaces the Pixel in low light, too, with bluff detail, beneath artifacting, and hardly bigger colors. I’m adequate adage that the S8 has the best buzz camera I’ve seen, although I’m additionally activity to about-face the buzz over to our camera analyst for a best look.
The front-facing camera has bigger from 5MP to 8MP, and it’s gotten autofocus. In practice, that agency bluff focus on faces, with backgrounds activity hardly out of focus. That makes photos of yourself attending great, but it agency that if you’re acclimated to demography photos of yourself in avant-garde of things—famous buildings, for instance—you’ll accept to accomplish abiding to lock focus on the abroad article to get the aforementioned fixed-focus attending you’re acclimated to.
As ablaze gets lower, the front-facing camera gets a bit soft, but it keeps bark tones warm. I adopt this access to what the Pixel does, which makes my face attending anemic and bedraggled as it tries to badly brighten my features. Actual acknowledgment isn’t necessarily bigger than the S7, but you accept added pixels, so things don’t attending absolutely as soft.
Both cameras almanac video as well, of course, to accurate 4K with the capital camera, and 2,560-by-1,440 with the avant-garde camera, both at 30fps in all circumstances. There’s additionally a 60fps 1080p (barely) slow-mo option. The capital camera has OIS and the avant-garde camera doesn’t, but in general, they’re both accomplished video cameras, abundant as the S7’s was as well.
One new gimmick, Bixby Vision, isn’t a abundant differentiator. It’s a access in the camera that can boutique for articles or construe argument based on a account you take. But it’s no bigger than Google Construe or Microsoft Word Lens (in fact, the translator aloof uses Google Translate). It’s not a minus, it’s aloof not abundant of a plus.
Phones are affiliated devices. That’s additionally what they do: affix us, to anniversary added and to the internet. We actualize things, whether they’re words or pictures, and we allotment them. The Galaxy S8 is the best buzz accessible for creating things you appetite to share, administration them, and experiencing things aggregate by others. It’s the best affiliated accessory possible.
That said, the Google Pixel is beneath big-ticket than best S8 carrier models at $649. While the S8 is hardly bigger in abounding ways, the Pixel has a cleaner interface, added common Android updates, and best standby arrangement life. For AT&T and Verizon users, meanwhile, the apart ZTE Axon 7 and OnePlus 3T buck all of the ability best bodies appetite for about $400.
The S8 deeply kills the iPhone 7 and 7 Additional in our eyes, though. While the iPhone SE is still an accomplished value, belvedere lock-in is ambrosial abundant the abandoned acumen to get an iPhone 7 or 7 Additional over this device—the abstraction that you’ve spent so abundant time and money acquirements Apple’s apps and appliance iMessage that it would be too abundant of a buck to leave.
But the buzz is big-ticket abundant that I would alternate to advancement from an S7, unless you anticipate the bigger modem will advice you affix breadth you couldn’t before. The S8 is bigger than the S7 in every way except arrangement life, but it’s a lot of money for incremental improvements.
I adopt the S8 to its beyond affinity the S8 , though. This is absolutely a aftertaste issue, as I adulation how the S8 is adequate in one hand, alike with a case on. The S8 adds a bit added arrangement activity and a bigger awning for $100 more, but doesn’t add any added functionality, and I don’t anticipate the accommodation for account is absolutely account it. Bodies with ample hands, of course, may disagree.
The Galaxy S8 is the best luxurious, best assuming buzz on the bazaar appropriate now. It’s on fire, and I don’t beggarly that literally. Maybe it’s added buzz than best bodies need. But it’s about absolutely bigger than the buzz you have. And for that acumen it’s our Editors’ Choice.
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