Samsung S8 and S8 Plus Launched in India: Last year Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge were great phones, and so was the Galaxy Note 7 until it started bursting into flames. Others were trying to build a phone that would make people move on. Meet the new Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is a slam dunk. It’s brilliantly designed, brimming with horsepower and has a beautiful screen. They’re beautiful. From their rounded edges to their precisely formed metal-and-glass bodies. The S8 and S8 Plus’s rounded Infinity displays — which are 5.8 and 6.2 inches big. Both devices are IP68 dust and water-resistant, which meant they could lounge for up to 30 minutes in the ridiculous wine bath we poured.
Both US models pack Qualcomm’s new octa-core Snapdragon 835 chipsets, along with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and Adreno 540 GPUs. That horsepower is paired with 64GB of internal storage, and you can add up to 256GB of additional space with a microSD card. In addition to the usual array of LTE and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac radios, the S8 and S8 Plus also pack support for Bluetooth 5.0, an updated version of the standard that promises faster data speeds and longer range. The S8 and S8 Plus are more alike than they are different. The biggest difference aside from the screens is the devices’ batteries — the S8 packs a 3,000mAh cell while the Plus contains a 3,500mAh battery. The Super AMOLED panels here are indeed excellent. Color reproduction on both is excellent and, as always, there are different screen modes in case your tastes are more specific. The screens get bright enough to combat the warm spring sun, and viewing angles are excellent. The S8 and S8 Plus screens are longer than most. While many other smartphone screens stick to the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, Samsung built the S8 screens with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
Above the screens are improved, 8-megapixel cameras, and a Note 7-style iris scanner for hands-free unlocking. Most of the time the scanner is fast and frictionless. Often it didn’t even show the guide to align your eyes with. Other times I had to open my eyes wide and move the phone around until I either nailed the alignment or got frustrated and just punched in my PIN. If PIN codes aren’t your thing, there’s also the fingerprint sensor on S8 line’s back, next to the camera. In prior models, it lived below the screen. I didn’t mind the change conceptually, but the placement needs work. The sensor is off center, and a little too easy to miss — I usually smeared fingerprints all over the camera before finding it. It’s gone — your new home button is a pressure-sensitive spot on the screen that vibrates when you push it.
A small button below the volume keys on the phones’ left sides. This is what you’ll use to invoke Bixby, Samsung’s homebrew virtual assistant. The button doesn’t do much yet — you’ll eventually be able to long-press it to speak directly to Bixby, but for now, it just brings up a screen with upcoming appointments, news and such. Even worse, Samsung has blocked attempts to remap the Bixby key for other functions, which has only pissed off potential power users.
Samsung calls these screens “Infinity Displays,” and they run at resolutions as high as 2960×1440 — a little longer than the usual Quad HD. The phones are set to run at “Full HD+” — meaning 2220×1080 — by default. There’s also an option to dial down the screen’s resolution to “HD+,” or 1480×720, in case you need to squeeze as much life out of the battery as possible. The display will set itself to this resolution when you turn on the most aggressive power saving mode, and it’s not too bad, either. Icon edges and text look slightly fuzzier, but it’s not ugly.
The always-on display is back too, but with a twist. You can customize it further with images in addition to the usual clocks and calendars. Always-on widgets are available now too if you want to see your calendar appointments or media controls without unlocking the S8. The impact on battery life is negligible, and the sheer amount of customization options can help make your device feel well. Each device has one speaker wedged into its bottom edge, and they pump out loud — if thin — audio. They’re good enough for podcasts and YouTube videos, but getting the most out of your tunes requires headphones. Good thing, then, that Samsung included a set of AKG earbuds with each S8.
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus both ship with Android 7.0 Nougat. It’s full of garish icons and brightly colored circles. The S8’s, in contrast, is subtle and thoughtful in its design choices.
The app launcher button is gone — now you just swipe up or down on a home screen to see everything you’ve installed. Even better, there’s a search bar at the top of the launcher. Managing apps is also easier. Long-pressing an app icon launches a pop-up window with options to add a shortcut to the home screen, select multiple apps and uninstall or disable the ones you’ve chosen.
The S8 and S8 Plus are effortlessly fast machines. This is mostly due to the shiny new Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM onboard. Bixby is often a little slow to launch, but swiping through Samsung’s improved interface and jumping between running apps was painless. Workday multitasking, games like Hearthstone and Dead Trigger 2, even playing emulated GameCube games — it all ran fabulously. The smaller S8 routinely lasts between a day and a half and two days of consistent use. The S8 Plus’s bigger battery gets me closer to two full days of use on a single charge. The screen set to its maximum resolution, to expect even better battery life.
They also fare well in our standard video rundown test, where we loop an HD video at 50 percent screen brightness while the phones are connected to Wi-Fi. The S8 and its 3,000mAh battery stuck around for 13 hours and 27 minutes .S8 Plus and its 3,500mAh battery clocked in at 15 hours and 8 minutes, longer than the Pixel XL, Note 7 and Moto Z Force.