Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+
After the Note 7 debacle last year. Samsung had got a huge task to do. It was the task of winning back the trust of its consumers, and retaining their own goodwill. And then in mid- April 2017, Samsung launched the Galaxy S8. Its latest Flagship and the successor to the highly praised Galaxy S7, and the Harbinger to a new Smartphone design revolution. The S8 and its larger sibling, the S8 Plus, are without doubt the best looking Smartphones ever made. It has taken the market by storm, and as of now no other Company seems to be near its level of Hype and Popularity. So is it the really the best Smartphone ever? Or has Samsung missed some vital points on other key factors while perfecting the design? Let’s find out!
First, let’s put the numbers and the specs down here. The Samsung Galaxy S8 models selling in India feature the Exynos 8895 2.3GHz Octa-Core Processor, while countries like the US have their models equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. Its unfortunate to not have the Snapdragon variant at present, but the Exynos is still a very powerful processor provided by Samsung.
It has 4GB of RAM, the screen size of the S8 is 5.8 inches while the S8 Plus features a 6.2 inch screen. The Super AMOLED Quad HD+ Display(2960X1440) is touted by Samsung as an “Infinity Display”. The screen, and in fact the whole Phone, is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and the back. It has a Mali G71(20 Core) GPU. 64GB of Internal Storage with a Dual Sim Hybrid Slot, which means that you can use a micro-sd card with the Phone when using a Single SIM.
The Specs of the Rear Camera do not have much changes compared to the Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge+, as it is the same 12MP Camera with f1.7 aperture. The front camera, however has a little change, and features an 8MP Camera with f1.7 aperture compared to the 5MP Camera in the previous generation models. Along with that, it is also equipped with a Fingerprint Scanner, NFC, and an Iris Scanner.
Also, the S8 and the S8 Plus are the first ever Smartphones to be released with Bluetooth 5.0, which has a lot of improvements in speed and range. Both the models support fast and wireless charging. The other basic features which are boring to be written every time include a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a USB-Charging port, a Mono speaker at the Bottom, 4G with VoLTE support, Wi-Fi and yes, it can also make Phone Calls. By the way, the only differences between the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus are the battery capacities of 3000mAh and 3500mAh in the latter, and the screen sizes as stated before.
Design, Display & Audio
The design has already been talked about so much across the world that there is really nothing left to say. Back in 2016, Xiaomi had launched an almost completely bezel-less Smartphone, the Mi Mix. It looked awesome, but at the same time, it wasn’t really a completely stable and functional device, it had some issues, and was actually supposed to be sold in limited quantities in the first Place. However, the design of Mi Mix gave us a glimpse of what could be expected in the Future.
Now Samsung, in 2017, has implemented a safer implementation of the design, still managing to keep the screen-to-body ratio as little as possible, and made the S8 look so spectacular, that one might feel it would be worth its price just for its looks! Not only that, it has managed to make a complex design, without compromising on safety features such as water & dust resistance.
Huge Screen Size
Another amazing element of design is the fact that despite the huge screen sizes of both the models, the S8 is still comfortable to hold in one hand. The reason being that Phone is actually wide, and more tall, as a result of which it has an unusual aspect ratio of 18.5:9, compared to the regular 16:9 in traditional smartphones. As this ratio is not yet implemented on most of the applications, accessing some of the Games and Videos on YouTube results in Black borders being visible at the sides, its not really a problem though, as the view is still good anyway.
Another interesting thing is that the Phone by default, does not work at the Quad HD Resolution, instead it works at 1080p Full HD, though that can be easily changed in the settings. The purpose of this might be to improve battery life, which is reasonable. The S8 also has the feature of an Always-on display, which serves its purpose well, and does not even waste battery life. You ask how? Well, that’s because of the AMOLED Panel. These actually don’t use any power to display black color, as a result of which only some of the pixels for the White color are used in the Always-on display, the rest remaining black.
As the S8’s front is almost completely occupied by the screen, Samsung had to find another place for the Fingerprint Scanner, and they ended up finding a weird place for it. Placed right beside the Camera, using the finger for reaching the Scanner behind is a bit unusual work, and might take a lot of time getting used to. Every time one tries to reach the Scanner, the fingers almost always get placed on the Camera instead, which creates a little bit of Confusion. This problem gets far more frustrating in the S8 Plus.
Because of its tall design, a person might have to actually use two hands in order to reach out and unlock the phone via the Fingerprint Scanner. This problem is not faced with the S8, as it is not as tall as the S8 Plus. There is an alternative form of locking with the use of Iris Scanner. It works pretty well actually, as one does not really have to keep their Phone at the level of the head to unlock it anymore.
Now coming to the audio front, the S8 sadly has just a mono speaker at the bottom, but is still loud enough for normal usage. However, there’s something interesting packed in the Smartphone box itself by Samsung, just for the earphone lovers. The S8 and the S8 Plus come with a pair of AKG earphones, worth $99 US Dollars in-the-box! It is uncommon for companies to ever pack in a decent pair of earphones with the Smartphone. So in this case, such an effort from Samsung should be appreciated.
The camera in the Galaxy S8 has the hardware mostly similar to its predecessor, but with little software improvements. To be honest, there isn’t really a significant improvement in the rear camera, though it can still be comparable to its rivals, namely the Google Pixel and the Apple iPhone 7 in most shots, but being launched at a later time period, the camera was expected to outshine the competition. Anyway, there is a decent amount of improvement in the Front Camera, which can probably be termed as one of the best in the Flagship segment.
This is a factor where Samsung might have intentionally tried to play safe this time, probably because of the Note 7 incidents last year. Among the two Smartphones, the S8 Plus holds 500mAh more capacity than the S8 which gives it a marginally better battery life, despite not having really high capacity batteries, both the phones are said to be able to give a fairly decent battery life.
However, the charging speed of the Smartphone more or less makes up for its weaknesses in battery. Both the S8 models have fast-charging support, which can get them fully charged in about an hour.
This is where Samsung has done some heavy changes compared to the previous models. The S8 and the S8 Plus come with Android 7.1 Nougat, on top of which exists Samsung’s redesigned Touchwiz UI, now called the Samsung Experience. The UI is visually better than ever, and now has more options for customisation. With the S8, Samsung has also launched its own personal Assistant service called Bixby, similar to Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant.
Well, it seems like Samsung really wants its users to use and love Bixby, so much that Bixby has a dedicated button on the S8, and added to that, the button is completely and only meant for loving Bixby, and cannot be re-mapped to use any other app instead. And here’s where things get a little rough, the Bixby assistant, as of now, is capable of showing cards to the user with relevant information, which actually works really well, it also has integration with the Samsung applications, a move aimed at attracting consumers to its Software platform, but other than that, it has nothing much at present.
Voice control and assist, among some other features would be introduced later in an update, but until then, Bixby is pretty much a half- baked cake. Samsung not allowing its users to re- map the Bixby button seems a little unfair in this scenario.
You don’t really have to doubt the quality of the S8 in the first place. It is undoubtedly the best looking smartphone ever, and probably the best smartphone made by Samsung till now. It has done well enough in the market to make people forget about the Note 7, and has resurrected the company back from the shadows. Most importantly, the S8 has created a great example with its unique design, which while being different, does not make any compromises in features at the same time.
At a price of Rs. 57,900 for the S8, and 64,900 for the S8 Plus, it is expensive, after all it is a Flagship device. This is in no way a perfect Smartphone, it does have its share of Pros and Cons. But from an overall perspective, this is a great Smartphone that needs to be felt at hand and experienced.
Image Source: www.samsung.com