Review: Samsung's S8 ticks almost every box

We take a hands-on look at the new flagship phone from Samsung

It can be difficult to find new ways to describe a smartphone. Many of the big manufacturers host multiple launch events across the calendar year, leaving many people wondering what else can they do the smartphone to make it different to the previous models. Samsung sought to re-imagine the phone with their S8 device. 

Out of the box, there is no denying that the S8 is a beautiful phone and looks different to every Samsung Galaxy device that went before it. The key difference is the 'infinity display'. There is no physical home button anymore, which is a departure for Samsung. 

The 5.8-inch screen uses up almost every piece of space on the front of the device. 

Setting up the phone as a pure joy. While it took longer than usual, each step helped customise the phone for me and enabled features such as the biometric security. Security options include a fingerprint scanner - now located on the back of the phone - an iris scanner and the traditional password. 

Some have been giving out about the placement of the fingerprint scanner, but having used the phone for the last number of days, I can say it has not been an issue for me. 

So much about this phone can be personalised to look and feel how the user wants. This includes the functionality of the three virtual buttons at the bottom of the display.

 

Performance

I could write for hours about how much I like the interface of the S8. Everything from the look of the icons to the gestures needed to make things happen are just perfect. But we must move onto performance. 

Inside the Samsung Galaxy S8 is an Octa-core (2.3GHz Quad + 1.7GHz Quad), 64 bit, 10 nm processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which can be increased with the use of a microSD card. There's also a 3,000mAh battery.

I openly admit to being a heavy user, so when a phone crosses my desk, it will get put through its paces.

The S8 didn't even struggle a little bit. There is no lag or delay when moving from app to app. As a former S7, S6, S5, S4 and S3 user, the the virtual home keys took a bit of getting used to, but that's to be expected.

I was delighted to see that Samsung opted to keep the traditional headphone port on their phone. They didn't go down the Apple route just yet, but that may happen in the future. The company has changed the charger port from micro USB to USB-C. Converters for accessories are included in the box, meaning any speakers or cables you currently have that are micro USB will still work.

Camera 

On paper, it seems there's not much change in terms of the camera on the Galaxy S8 in comparison to the Galaxy S7. Both devices have 12MP with an f/1.7 aperture, 26mm focal length lens with optical image stabilisation. While you may wonder if they have just placed the same camera in a new body, using the two device side by side will illustrates that the S8 has a new sensor, which improves the software optimisation. 

 

What does this mean?

It takes beautiful photos. It can capture excellent quality video with good sound. It's possible to add filters and to edit on the device, but all of that feels slightly gimmicky. 

Bixby

Samsung unveiled Bixby, the company's answer to Siri on this phone. What was the most exciting feature on the launch day, transpired to be the biggest let down for me during the review. 

The feature is not ready to be launched in Ireland, meaning users excited to try it out will have to wait.

Certain aspects work, such as the personal assistant - Bixby can tell you when you have meetings and so on. Nothing too exciting there. I want to be able to point Bixby at an item and find out where I can buy it. I want Bixby to be able to tell me where I am by looking at a landmark. I want Bixby to work.

It's currently only available in certain markets. It will be rolled out to users in Europe 'at a later date'.

Bottom line

I enjoyed using this phone an awful lot. Everything from the initial set up to binge watching 'Line of Duty' on Netflix was enjoyable. The simple act of removing the physical home button has changed the entire make-up of the phone. 

I have been using an iPhone 7 recently as my main device and found the Samsung Galaxy S8 to have the edge on it. The S8 has a nice interface, better battery and can keep up with what I want to do.

It will be in-store from April 28th and will cost you a pretty penny. Networks will offer a wide range of deals, but buying the S8 on pre-pay will set you back €799.99.