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Samsung Galaxy S8 64GB LTE 4G Black 4GB RAM. Samsung Galaxy s8 64gb

Samsung Galaxy s8 64gb

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Biometric issues aside, the Galaxy S8 is a brilliant phone

TechRadar Verdict

The large, bezel-less display is truly iconic and beautiful, and the screen quality excellent. The fingerprint scanner being placed on the back is a poor decision from Samsung, as well as the iris scanner / facial recognition not working well enough to be a real consideration. However, these aren’t deal breakers, and the improved battery life and tweaked camera will be among the best you’ll find.

Cons

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The Samsung Galaxy S8 was something quite special when it launched. It was a phone that was unlike anything we’d seen on the market. And even now, almost two years on, it’s still stunning, especially for today’s lower price point.

The screen is brilliant. clear, sharp and offers lovely color reproduction to make movie watching a dream, and that’s before you’ve even got to the fact it has a screen larger than the iPhone 8 Plus in a chassis that feels more like the iPhone 8.

Though this is slightly less remarkable now that Apple has fully switched to the all-screen design with all its latest handsets, such as the iPhone XS.

The Galaxy S8 isn’t perfect. in the search to squeeze the screen in so completely, other factors were overlooked: namely, the placement of the fingerprint reader. If you want this phone, you’ll need to answer this question: are you OK using an iris scanner, one that doesn’t always work when you want it to?

And if you’re looking for something even bigger, and with a much-improved battery life to boot, then the Galaxy S8 Plus is the way to go. although both have now been replaced by the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus.

These are iterative upgrades over the S8, so if you want to save some money the now-cheaper S8 is still a great shout, but if you want the very best Samsung has to offer then it’s the S9 duo (or the Samsung Galaxy Note 9) that you need to be paying attention to.

Or at this point you might even want to wait for the Samsung Galaxy S10.

Samsung Galaxy S8 price

Weight: 155g Dimensions: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm OS: Android 8.0 Screen size: 5.8-inch Resolution: 1440 x 2960 CPU: Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8895 RAM: 4GB Storage: 64GB Battery: 3,000mAh Rear camera: 12MP Front camera: 8MP

The Samsung Galaxy S8 carried a hefty price tag when it arrived in April 2017, but close to two years on the cost has reduced significantly, making the phone an attractive proposition for those who find the S9 a little on the steep side.

At launch, the SIM-free Samsung Galaxy S8 price was £639 (724.99, AU 1,200), but now it can be found for just around £360 (460, AU720). In the US, Amazon has it for 462 unlocked – a 265 price drop in under two years.

In the UK, the contract price has dropped. Some deals offer the phone for less than £25 per month with a substantial amount of internet included. To find the best deal for you, check out our selection of the best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals in the UK.

We spent a week thoroughly testing the Samsung Galaxy S8 when it first came out. watch our video below to see how we got on.

Not seeing eye to eye

Right, let’s get down to business – and we’ll start with the thing that’s concerning us most about the Galaxy S8.

The main issue we have with this phone centers around how you’ll get into it – most smartphones users now expect to use a fingerprint to unlock their device, making it secure and meaning you don’t have to peck in your PIN a billion times a day.

It’s a good idea, it’s safe enough for most people, and it just works – we’re all in agreement there.

With the Galaxy S6, Samsung got biometric unlocking right, but annoyingly with the Galaxy S8 things have become difficult and confusing.

You can unlock this phone with your face, a fingerprint or an iris scan, in increasing order of security level, making the S8 one of the most secure phones around (assuming nobody knows your PIN, of course, which is the backup method of entry).

However, in creating the massive screen on the front of the Galaxy S8, Samsung has moved the fingerprint scanner to the rear of the phone – and placed it out of the reach of most fingers when holding your phone naturally.

As a result, you’ll need to shift the handset to an unnatural position in your palm to reach the scanner with your digit, and thanks to the elongated lozenge-like shape of the fingerprint sensor it can take a couple of attempts to register.

It also makes it less stable in the hand and prone to being dropped. And in terms of it being uncomfortable in the hand, the Galaxy S8 Plus takes it to the next level, with an even harder time of reaching the scanner at the top.

You will find over a few months’ use that you’ll get used to this. we’ve found after intensive testing it’s not terrible. but it’s certainly not optimal.

The fingerprint scanner, then, is too far away to use naturally. So how about iris scanning? Well, it’s the best implementation we’ve seen from Samsung (far better than we’ve seen on the flammable Note 7) but it’s still not perfect.

There are times when it’s flawless, where you’ll just turn the phone on and be instantly unlocked as the S8 has spotted your eyes and confirmed your identity. (Or just thinks you’ve got lovely irises and wants to impress you… either way, it’s Rapid).

On the occasions when it works like this you’ll experience a genuine sense of living in the future.

Other times, when you’re walking or in lower light, the iris scanner just failed time and again (although weirdly it works fine in the pitch-dark).

This meant we sometimes ended up gurning (by the way, we urge you to search YouTube for the gurning world championships) at the S8, trying to force the issue by opening our eyes really wide and moving the phone around in order to unlock it.

On the train, this is not acceptable behavior – and after a couple of days, it actually made our eyes hurt, pushing them out on stalks so often.

There were also times when the iris scanner wouldn’t work even in optimal conditions (sitting still in bright light), and only a restart sorted this issue out.

Not Smart, Samsung. If you’re going to make people switch to an iris scanner by putting the fingerprint sensor out of reach, then make it flawless, not brilliant-most-of-the-time-but-sometimes-not.

Over a week or so we did get used to the nuances of the iris scanner; it’s fine – it’s just mildly irritating to have to hold your phone in a certain way, and it’s useless while walking or wearing sunglasses (although it did work through regular glasses).

Facial recognition – despite being the default out of the box – is a non-starter for us. The phone fails to recognise your face far too often, it doesn’t work in low light, and it can be spoofed by a photo. Nope, not happening.

There’s nothing more infuriating about this feature than the fact you can’t see if you’re ‘positioning’ your face correctly. There’s definitely an angle to hold it at that’s optimal. but you have no idea what it is, or why.

This issue has been increased now that Apple has invested seemingly billions in creating invisible dots that fire into your face to verify your identity the same way. the iPhone X is big competition to the Galaxy S8 as a result.

What users now expect from flagship phones – and what Samsung had done perfectly before – is a simple, muscle memory action that opens your phone. No extra pressing, no having to interact with the phone to open it up – just one single press to be securely into your handset.

The workaround we ended up with (as we’re not leaving our phones unlocked, which is what some might be tempted to do) is to use Smart Lock, where you can set up trusted places or connected devices to confirm your identity.

This means that if you leave your phone lying around at work or at home someone can jump right into it though, so you’re basically just preventing a thief from being able to access data if you lose the Galaxy S8 on the train.

In short, Samsung appears to have screwed this one up. We’d heard rumors that the brand was trying to add in a new feature where the fingerprint was in the same place as on the S7 (at the base of the phone) but actually under the screen.

That would have been perfect, as it’s the way most people fire up the screen anyway. It’s a feature that we’re now seeing on other phones such as the OnePlus 6T, and which is rumored for the Samsung Galaxy S10.

But clearly Samsung couldn’t make this work effectively on the S8, so decided to shove the fingerprint scanner way up the back of the S8, as that was the only place left to put it that didn’t require some last-minute retooling of the phone.

That’s the only logical explanation, as otherwise why wouldn’t the fingerprint scanner be above the Samsung logo, which would be a perfect place for it?

A sluggish start for Bixby

The other big feature that’s launched with the Samsung Galaxy S8 is Bixby, the brand’s voice assistant rival to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s less-interestingly-named Assistant.

Those who’ve used the Galaxy S3 and S4 will remember that Samsung already tried to match Siri with S Voice, but it was a bit pointless, especially when Google’s voice chops got so gosh-darn good.

Well, Bixby is Samsung’s big play in its bid to compete in the arena of artificially intelligent assistants, and it clearly thinks it can succeed despite being so late to the game.

The aim here is to make Bixby an indispensable accompaniment to your daily life, reminding you of things when you need them, letting you know what you’re looking at, and being a single-button one-stop shop for all the information you need.

In fact Samsung is so confident that Bixby is going to be brilliant that it’s popped a button dedicated solely to this function on the side of the phone.

Yep, a phone that’s so tightly designed that it can’t even have the fingerprint scanner in an accessible place has a whole key dedicated to Bixby… and it’s very hard to see why right now.

Bixby is pretty mundane though, despite having voice functionality added in now, especially as it’s inherently inaccurate for voice.

We tested for a while, but as it can’t support many third party apps or properly understand what’s being said it seems a bit futile. It will probably get better over time, but most people won’t care about that.

So what does Bixby mean to you, the new phone buyer? Well, nothing. It’s average at best, and pretty much useless at worst.

Bixby Vision, a little icon that lives in the corner of the camera, will be able to analyze what’s being shown through the camera’s viewfinder (both live and from a taken pic) and let you know whether you can buy it, recognize the image and given information or let you know about a place you’re checking out.

Except the results of image recognition just show you things on. the shopping element seems to recognize almost nothing at launch and the places option is pretty patchy. It’s slow to work out what it’s looking at and, overall, it’s just a waste of screen right now.

Bixby Home, the screen that lives to the side of the home screen, is much better.

It’s contextual and interesting, and you can pin your favorite elements (like Spotify, for instance) to the top for easy access from anywhere in the phone.

It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s pretty neat – although there is a maddening pause every time you open it for the first time, as if Bixby is trying to remember where it left its home page.

The good news is you can disable the Bixby button from opening the Home screen, which is great as so many times we hit it instead of the volume key. It’s a poor placement.

And then there’s Bixby Reminders, where you’ll be alerted to things you’ve made a note of in the past. You can set a location trigger to remind you to buy fruit when you pass a location, or ping you at a certain time to remind you to call someone.

None of this is exactly new though, and there’s absolutely no reason why you’d buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 for Bixby.

Samsung is pretty jazzed about Bixby, and the fact that it’ll be able to understand things contextually in the future. Right now it only can work with a handful of native apps (not even all of them. ) and there’s no interaction with third-party options. But from this acorn, Samsung insists, a mighty oak will grow.

Imagine not just being able to set a location to buy fruit, but being pinged when somewhere nearby sells it. Or taking a picture of something and finding it far cheaper online straight away, or being able to ask your phone to do things contextually (for instance: ‘Bixby, can you turn on the heating when I’m twenty minutes from home?’ ‘Bixby, upload those pictures from my run today to with the caption ‘#blessed #squadgoals #ImsorryforwhoI’vebecome).

That’s the world Samsung is promising, and if you purchase the S8 you’ll be buying into that promise. However, right now, that’s all it is. and there’s no way we can recommend a phone based on a promise, as Samsung could just pull the plug on a feature like Bixby if it really can’t get it to work properly, and a few months on we’ve seen nothing that suggests it’s going to conquer the world of AI.

This beautiful smartphone marks a return to form for Samsung Tested at £690

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The world’s most beautiful smartphone is also one of the best. The S8 is Samsung’s comeback king

Pros

  • Stunning build and design
  • Large, bright screen
  • Snappy performance
  • Great camera

Cons

  • – Full Bixby not yet available
  • – Fingerprint scanner poorly positioned
  • – Colour palette could be better
  • – Sound could be more transparent

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi?

Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

After the issues with last year’s Note 7, Samsung desperately needs the Galaxy S8 to be special. than just a smartphone, it also has to be a statement.

And we think it has succeeded. The Galaxy S8 is one of the best phones we’ve seen, displaying style, power and performance in equal abundance. Could it be a contender for phone of the year? You bet.

Screen

Samsung is not the only manufacturer to stretch its aspect ratios in 2017. LG also did so with the G6. Samsung, however, has done it with a lot more pizzazz.

Not only does the 18.5:9 setup mean the 5.8in screen stretches almost the entire length of the phone, it’s also taken what it’s learned from its Edge family to ensure there are no discernible bezels to the left and right.

The result is a bright display in a much slimmer body than a traditional 16:9 screen could fit into. This means it’s comfortable to use one-handed too – the top of the screen might be just out of reach, but left to right is easily covered with a thumb-swipe.

To suit its offbeat dimensions, the S8 has a slightly unusual 2960 x 1440 resolution, but comes with Full HD out of the box. The idea here is to save battery life but, for the best experience, you’re going to want to go into settings and up it to its maximum.

Not least because videos will zoom in and scale to the screen (you can turn this off if you prefer black bars), which makes the 1080p images look a little softer on detail than we’ve noticed on previous Samsung phones. This scaling also seems to have an impact on motion too, which isn’t as smooth as we’re used to.

The AMOLED panel does a great job with contrast though, offering up the deepest blacks going. with bright, punchy highlights as a counterpoint.

As we’ve found with other Samsung phones in recent years, the colour palette is still somewhat hit-and-miss. The ‘Basic’ colour mode is probably the most natural-looking of the selection, but can look a little dull, while the ‘AMOLED Cinema’ mode gets whites looking brighter but can look a touch overdone with bolder colours.

We opt to use ‘Basic’ for the most part, but it is worth hopping into the menus to see which suits your preferences.

Alongside its bigger sibling, the Galaxy S8 Plus, the Galaxy S8 is the first phone to receive the Mobile HDR Premium certification, meaning it’ll be ready and waiting to take on HDR video as soon as the likes of Amazon and Netflix start streaming it to mobile.

From a previous mobile HDR demo, the tech certainly made a difference to the smaller viewing experience, widening the colour gamut and introducing more detail to highlights. We’ll be sure to update this review once there’s some content for us to test out.

Finally, Samsung’s ‘always-on’ display makes a return to the Galaxy S8, offering details like time, date and important notifications on the home screen without you having to wake it every time.

Samsung claims this drains less than one per cent of your battery every hour, significantly less than opening your phone up all the time. You can also set the times you want it to be on, so your phone isn’t a flashing beacon of light and beeping notifications when you’re trying to sleep.

Features

While the S8’s look-at-me screen is a huge part of its design, there’s plenty more here that helps make this one of the best-looking phones we’ve ever seen.

Flip the phone over and the back panel is covered in the same Gorilla Glass 5 as the front, with both sides curving round to meet a slim aluminium frame at its middle. This is polished up, so the whole thing feels almost seamless when you move it around in your hand.

This might all sound pretty slippery, but the combination of its slim profile and narrower body makes holding it feel secure enough for one-handed use.

Samsung has had to step away from some of its design comfort zones to make the S8. For a start, the home key and soft buttons are now gone and replaced by on-screen versions, and the fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back, next to the camera.

On the LG G6 this back placement works, as it’s fairly low down and positioned exactly where your index finger would fall when you hold it.

But on the S8, it’s much higher and a little bit awkward. You end up having to shift your grip upwards in order to hit it, and we find it’s not always as reliable as we’ve known Samsung’s scanners to be.

It’s also annoyingly close to the camera, which means there’s a high probability you’ll have smeary misplaced fingerprints on the lens when you come to take a photo.

There are other options for unlocking the phone though (aside from the regular PIN or password). These include facial recognition, which isn’t the most secure or reliable from our tests, and iris scanning.

Iris scanning was first introduced on the ill-fated Note 7, but has been vastly improved here. You don’t have to be quite so particular with how you hold the phone to get a match, and it works fine with people who wear glasses too.

It’s not a foolproof method by any means. Both low light and bright light can catch the scanner out and, overall, we’d prefer a well-placed fingerprint scanner. But it’s a small hiccup in what is otherwise a really impressive design.

Far from just a pretty face, it’s also IP68 waterproof to 1.5m for 30 minutes, with its USB-C and headphone ports fully protected without the need for unsightly rubber covers.

The microSD card slot makes a return, too, so you can boost the 64GB of built-in storage by up to another 256GB.

Camera

On paper, the Galaxy S8’s main 12MP camera looks almost identical to the one in the S7 and S7 Edge, but a few clever software tweaks ensure it’s even better.

This includes the multi-frame image processing, which takes three pictures and combines them for the best result. You’d never know the camera was so busy though – the S8 can fire shot after shot in good light without hesitation.

Pictures look great. Outside shots are clean, sharp, and full of detail, with a bold but believable colour palette. Optical image stabilisation and dual-pixel autofocus work together to keep things looking crisp, but even in low-light situations, the S8’s images look clean and Instagram-able.

Darker shots are slightly smoother than you might find on the iPhone 7 Plus, which lets in more noise. However, the S8’s bright f/1.7 aperture does well to lighten up the shot more convincingly than the iPhone.

The selfie-cam gets an upgrade to 8MP and comes with autofocus – a rarity in front-facing snappers. Samsung’s selfie images have always tended to look a little too processed and smoothed for our tastes, but there’s at least a touch more detail now.

The camera app is easy to use. All the main controls sit on the main screen, including flash and HDR, plus a shortcut to settings for image quality options. Swiping left brings up a choice of filters, while right reveals a handful of modes including ‘Pro’, ‘Panorama’, ‘Selective FOCUS’ and ‘Slow motion’.

Video is available all the way up to 4K resolution at 30fps, though you’ll get the most stable footage with the electronical stabilisation available at 1080p/30fps.

The S8 performs well under pressure, and we don’t notice any slowdowns at all during use. That’s down to the S8’s Exynos 8895 processor, with 4GB of RAM, offering enough grunt to keep the S8 chomping through task after task.

MORE: Best smartphones 2017

Battery life is one area that doesn’t seem to have moved on though. Last year we found the S7 Edge dropped 13 per cent during a 90-minute movie at full brightness.

Using a one-hour movie at half brightness this time, the S8 drops 10 per cent in that time. Take the screen’s resolution down to 1080p and it fares slightly better, but it’s something worth remembering if you’re a power user.

With fast charging included, it doesn’t take long to get a boost should you be caught short. In an hour of charging, the phone went from flat to 73 per cent. There’s also wireless charging here too (though this will be slower).

Samsung deserves a pat on the back for its user interface here. It has taken a real step back from the pre-installed bloatware it had a reputation for.

It’s hardly a vanilla Android experience – the UI still looks every bit a Samsung one and there are still a few add-ons – but it doesn’t double up on the apps Google does better, like Chrome web browser or Gmail.

It even leaves things like a music player up to the user to download, in case you’re more of a streaming fan. You can play any stored music via the pre-installed My Files app, but it’s not hugely music-friendly and only plays one track at a time.

Voice assistant

It’s also worth mentioning Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant that’s looking to take on the likes of Alexa and Siri. It launches on the S8 but stays relatively dormant for now, because the all-important voice support isn’t actually ready yet.

For now, you’ll find Bixby Home sitting to the left of the homescreen, which is a location-aware information aggregator a bit like Google Now. It pulls together useful tidbits like your calendar, reminders and weather information into a range of scrollable cards, alongside customisable news stories plucked from Upday.

You’ll also spot a Bixby Vision feature built into the camera app too. This is still pretty limited for now, but the idea is that you can take a photo of an object and shop for it on Amazon, search for information on your surroundings using a photo of a local landmark or take a snap of some text to either translate or transcribe it.

We try most of them with varying levels of success, but expect we’ll see improvements here once Bixby launches properly. Samsung certainly seems to be banking on Bixby being a success, because the assistant even gets its own dedicated launch button on the S8.

It’s on the left side underneath the volume rocker. We’ll leave it to you to guess how many times we’ve hit it by accident.

Sound

Samsung’s audio has been quietly improving for a few years now, and the S8 shows off its work in this area by including better quality earbuds in the box.

Headphone manufacturer AKG supplies the included in-ears, which offer a braided cable for better durability, and a selection of different tips for best fit. That already makes them better than most in-box freebies.

They’re a little bass-heavy for our tastes though, with not much detail to speak of in the lower frequencies either. The midrange fares better in this respect, sounding clear and expressive, with a good amount of get-up-and-go to boot.

Even the treble stays in control. The buds don’t tell us lots about the goings-on in the higher register, but at least they steer clear of sounding harsh.

The midrange clarity alone means they’re better than the buds you usually find bundled with your phone, but they still lack some of the refinement and dynamics of better headphones. If your budget can stretch to a £40 upgrade to the SoundMagic E10S, or over-ears like the AKG Y50s, your music will thank you.

As source, the S8 is still beaten by the likes of the iPhone 7 Plus. However, things continue to get closer between the two, and the S8 shows promising levels of detail resolution and space, particularly with better quality music.

On that note, the Galaxy S8 supports hi-res audio files up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM and DSD128. That’s something we’d like to see from Apple.

Verdict

The Galaxy S8 is just the response Samsung was looking to deliver to its critics. A stunning phone inside and out, it takes all that was good about the S7 family and builds on it, with superb results.

It’s not perfect – battery life doesn’t take the leap forward we’d have liked, and there’s still some work to be done on getting the colour palette looking as natural as the iPhone – but the rest of the experience means these feel like niggles rather than dealbreakers.

At almost £700, it’s one of the most expensive phones you can buy. But if you’re on the lookout for an upgrade in 2017, the S8 demands to be on your consideration list.

See all our Samsung reviews

Samsung Galaxy S8 Review

I’m that 5G guy. I’ve actually been here for every “G.” I’ve reviewed well over a thousand products during 18 years working full-time at PCMag.com, including every generation of the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S. I also write a weekly newsletter, Fully Mobilized, where I obsess about phones and networks.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a gorgeous big-screen phone with a comfortable single-handed feel, and it’s packed with top-notch components and promising new software.

PCMag editors select and review products independently. If you buy through affiliate links, we may earn commissions, which help support our testing.

Cons

Samsung sets the pace for smartphone power in 2017 with the Galaxy S8 (750 as tested). It’s the best phone at nearly everything it does, whether it’s connecting to the internet, making calls, playing games, taking photos, or watching big-screen video. The S8 isn’t leaps and bounds ahead of other top choices like the Google Pixel, but it’s the overall most capable phone on the market, and our Editors’ Choice.

Carriers and Pricing

This is a review of the smaller Galaxy S8. There is also a larger Galaxy S8 model, with a 6.2-inch screen and a larger battery.

The Galaxy S8 is available from every major carrier in the US and several prepaid carriers. While it’s only available from carriers right now, an unlocked version will follow in May or June.

in the US vary from 659 on Walmart’s Total Wireless, to 750 at ATT, Sprint, and T-Mobile (I tested the phone on Sprint and T-Mobile). You may also be able to get a promotional deal at big-box retailers like Best Buy or Target. We have a full rundown of the different and deals for the S8, and MobileSyrup has a good overview of Canadian (Opens in a new window).

Google Pixel

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Motorola Moto Z

Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. See how we test. (Opens in a new window)

It’s also worth mentioning that this is a review of the US and Canadian unit of the phone. Other countries have a different device with a different Samsung Exynos processor that may function differently.

Physical Design

“The core idea behind the Galaxy S8. has been to deliver the biggest screen in the smallest device possible,” Robert Kim, vice president of Samsung’s global product strategy team, told me at Samsung’s headquarters in Korea. “The contradiction is that [customers] want to have a bigger screen size but a small form factor,” Kim added. By shrinking bezels and bending edges, Samsung makes that happen.

The Galaxy S8 (720.00 at Verizon) (Opens in a new window) is proportionately tall and narrow. It’s also very slippery, so you’ll want 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 only has a 5.1-inch screen to the S8’s 5.8-inch panel.

The idea is you’re going to use it in one hand. It’s easy to wrap your fingers around the S8, even if you have relatively small hands. But you’re still going to be shifting it up and down in your hand more often than you would with the S7 or the iPhone 7 (288.00 at Visible) (Opens in a new window). to reach all of the vertical stretch of the screen.

Almost all of the front face is the 5.8-inch, 2,960-by-1,440 Super AMOLED display, which Ray Soneira at DisplayMate has said in a comprehensive report is the best one on the market (Opens in a new window). It’s bright and glowy, with saturated colors and great blacks.

It’s also a little smaller than Samsung says it is, because of the new 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Most phones are 16:9, so the S8 is taller and narrower than they are. It’s even narrower, proportionately, than the LG G6, which is 2:1. The S8’s screen is 13.23 square inches — I call that SQUID, or square inches of display.

On a standard 16:9 aspect ratio phone, you get the same real estate in a 5.6-inch screen. So I think you should consider the S8’s screen on par with the 5.5-inch, 16:9 displays on the Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 7 Plus.

Above the screen, a notification LED blinks if you have unread notifications or a low battery. There’s a new button on the left side. It’s there to activate Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant. On the bottom there’s a single speaker, along with a USB-C port and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The speaker sounds richer and less tinny than the S7’s does. It’s also about 1dB louder at its maximum volume.

The phone comes in three colors: black, gray, and silver. I received black review units, and they get very smeary on the back. It’s especially an issue because the fingerprint sensor is on the back right next to the camera lens, and while there’s a slight ridge between them, it’s almost unnoticeable. That means you will definitely smear the camera lens when you go to use the fingerprint scanner.

The phone is waterproof, which will be a relief to many. But the all-glass body seems a bit fragile. Samsung said that by using Gorilla Glass 5 with a more gentle curve than on the Galaxy S7 Edge, it’s made the phone more durable. At its manufacturing plant in Gumi, Korea, it showed me a four-foot drop test. Still, though, that glass back will be inherently more breakable than a metal back, and Samsung’s curved glass is expensive to replace.

“Compared to the S7, component wise, [durability] is a 40 percent improvement,” Kim said. “Device-wise, it’s around 20 percent.”

Using the Screen

The Galaxy S8 has no physical home button. Instead, you press on the screen where you see a home button icon, and you feel a little bit of haptic feedback. It works just fine. The app drawer icon is gone, too —t o get the app drawer, you swipe up from the home area. It takes a little getting used to.

The aspect ratio definitely creates issues with third-party apps. YouTube videos, for instance, either have black bars on the sides, or get zoomed and cropped into full-screen mode. Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh said has already updated for the new size, and, “All of our major partners are working on it.”

On a settings screen called Full Screen Apps, I found that many text-oriented information and social networking apps, such as Microsoft Office, TripAdvisor, and Marvel Unlimited, are optimized for the tall screen, while most games are not. Everything runs, it just might not use the whole display. Launching an un-optimized game such as Mini Metro displays the game with black bars on either side of the screen.

21:9 wide-screen movies look great, with less letterboxing than on the Galaxy S7. 16:9 TV shows, on the other hand, have visible pillarboxing. Launching a 16:9 video in YouTube gives you the option to pillarbox the video, or to zoom and crop into full-screen mode, but that forces part of the image off of the screen. This is similar to the experience on the LG G6 (650.00 For the latest plan and device pricing: 844-235-3939 at T-Mobile) (Opens in a new window).

Phone Calls, Networking, and Storage

Yes, the Galaxy S8 makes phone calls. It has whatever your carrier’s latest phone-calling techniques are (like HD Voice, VoLTE, and Wi-Fi calling) and calls sound clear, with aggressive noise cancellation in the microphone. I was especially impressed with the speakerphone volume when the Extra Volume button is pressed — the voice blasting out of the bottom-ported speaker is easily hearable outdoors.

The rest of the networking alphabet soup is supported as well. There’s dual-Band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, which I found worked about as well with our Netgear router as the Galaxy S7 does (which is to say, very well). The phone has NFC and MST, so you can do mobile payments even with old school magnetic credit card readers that don’t support tap-to-pay. ANT is on board for certain Smart home devices.

This is the first phone with Bluetooth 5, which can potentially transmit to devices 120 feet away, as well as to two sets of headphones at once. However, there are no other Bluetooth 5 devices out there to test the S8 against yet.

The phone comes in one size, 64GB with 4GB RAM, and there’s also a microSD card slot tucked in with the SIM slot, which can handle 256GB cards. Samsung still doesn’t support Google’s Adoptable Storage mode, so the card will appear as a separate storage device. But you can move apps to the SD card from one of the settings pages. About 10.7GB of the phone’s storage is taken up by the system and non-deletable apps.

Battery Life

Battery life is far better in real-world practice than it is in our benchmarks. With the same size battery as the S7 (3,000mAh) driving a larger, brighter screen, I got considerably shorter time on our screen-blasting LTE video streaming test: 5 hours, 45 minutes on the S8 compared with the S7’s nearly 9 hours. That made me uncomfortable, so I tried some other scenarios. Dropping the screen resolution to 1080p got 7 hours, 39 minutes. Dropping to half brightness got twelve and a half hours.

In real-life use over several days, with the screen generally at around half brightness, the S8 had no problem lasting through the day each time. In general, I ended up with about 30 percent battery after a 12-hour day before starting to charge again, with the shortest run-out time at about 16 hours and the longest well over 24 hours.

The Google Pixel (649.99 at Verizon) (Opens in a new window) has a 1080p screen, and if you set the S8’s screen to the same resolution, you get about the same usage time. But the Pixel is better at not draining battery in standby. The iPhone 7 has shorter screen-on usage time, but it’s more efficient in standby and playing audio.

The good news is that the S8’s quick charging feature is very quick. The phone charges from zero to 100 percent in about an hour and a half. I got to 15 percent charge in 15 minutes, and 30 percent in half an hour.

Samsung Mobile RD VP Bookeun Oh told me, “I focused on maintaining the durability of the battery over the long term, over hundreds of charging cycles. For example, after approximately six months of normal usage, the battery in the S8 will outperform previous batteries. While most batteries hold about 80 percent of their charge after two years in usual cases, this battery should be capable of 95 percent of its original capacity.”

I’m also confident this phone won’t explode. I took a trip to the factory where ATT and Verizon units are made, saw Samsung’s array of new tests, and spoke to the company’s battery advisory council. Samsung is taking battery safety seriously in a way that it didn’t with the Galaxy Note 7, and these phones are very extensively tested. Using a smaller battery than it could have, I’m sorry to say, is also part of the new FOCUS on safety.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835: Snappy?

The S8 is the first US phone with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. Qualcomm has been making a big deal about calling its chipsets platforms rather than processors, and some of that is because most of its improvements are in areas like DSPs, graphics, and modem capabilities, and not the individual CPU cores.

You see this in the benchmarks. First of all, benchmark results change depending on what you have the screen resolution set to. Looking purely at the CPU, the single-core Geekbench score of 1,836 isn’t any better than the Snapdragon 821-powered LG G6, at 1,811. The multi-core score of 5,960 outpaces the G6 (4,195), but only matches the Huawei Mate 9 and Huawei P10.

But the 835 pumps a lot more graphics horsepower than those competitors do. On the most advanced GFXBenchmark Car Crash test, the Galaxy S8 pushed 12fps onscreen and 22fps offscreen at WQHD resolution. That’s around double the G6 or P10’s performance. Down at 1080p resolution, it scaled to 43fps onscreen, double the Google Pixel’s result.

Left to right: Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S7

Using the Snapdragon 835-optimized Samsung web browser gives the S8 superior JavaScript and web performance, too. It scored 71 on the JetStream Javascript benchmark, to the LG G6’s 54 and the Google Pixel’s 55. On the Browsermark web test, the Pixel scored 118 while the S8 made it to 145. That means snappier web page performance overall.

Between this and the modem advances (described below), the benchmarks bear out Qualcomm’s contention that device performance is more than just individual processor cores. Of course, that cuts both ways. While our test S8s were fast and smooth, Samsung devices have a reputation for lagging badly after a year or so (that’s certainly happening with my S7). Because that lag is frequently solved by a factory reset, it’s clear that the problem is in software, not hardware.

Samsung has sworn up and down that the S8 won’t have the creeping lag issues that previous models did. Of course, it’s sworn the same thing before. There’s no way to tell during the first week of use, alas.

The Modem: The S8’s Secret Weapon

Smartphones aren’t much use if they don’t connect. The S8’s invisible, secret weapon is that it’s the first US phone with gigabit LTE and HPUE, combinations of four technologies that can improve performance on all four networks. I tested the phones on Sprint and T-Mobile, and found distinct improvements over the Galaxy S7.

Samsung says all the carrier versions of the phone are identical, frequency Band-wise. That means all U.S. Galaxy S8 phones will work on all the U.S. and Canadian carriers, as well as roaming globally. However, foreign phones may have some foreign LTE bands which are not common in the U.S.

On Sprint, the S8 is the second phone (after the LG G6) with HPUE, which improves connectivity in weak signal conditions, especially with upload speeds. It delivers as promised. Over 34 tests in extremely weak signal conditions, only eight failed on the S8 while 24 failed on the S7. That’s a major difference. In 48 tests of slightly better but still bad conditions, I got 2.33Mbps uploads on the S8 and only 1.3Mbps on the S7 (downloads were pretty much the same between them).

As signal quality gets better, the S8’s advantage fades. With decent signal, the S8 got 9.83Mbps down and 4.69Mbps up, while the S7 showed 7.41Mbps down and 4.79Mbps up. In our strongest signal test, both phones had no trouble hitting 120Mbps speeds right by a Sprint cell site. HPUE doesn’t raise the roof — it raises the floor.

The outcome for Sprint users: If you are frustrated with Sprint connectivity in a place where Sprint is supposed to have LTE, getting a Galaxy S8 will go a long way toward curing your dead-zone problem.

The S8’s advantage on T-Mobile is different. It combines several different technologies to potentially double download speeds. In T-Mobile’s case, the difference should get more dramatic as speeds get better and faster, the opposite of the Sprint situation.

I only ran ten tests on T-Mobile because of data limits, but I still saw the difference: 15.36Mbps down and 11Mbps up on the S8 compared with 8.65Mbps down and 10Mbps up on the S7. In congested areas, the S8 is the third phone (after the LG V20 and G6) to use its new Band 66 LTE network, which should prevent speeds from crashing too low.

The phone should improve performance on ATT and Verizon, as well. ATT has called the S8 its first “5G Evolution (Opens in a new window) ” phone, which means it has the same three technologies that T-Mobile terms “gigabit LTE.” ATT’s rollout is going a little more slowly than T-Mobile’s, with Austin and Indianapolis getting the network first.

Verizon has stayed irritatingly coy about its plans for gigabit technologies, but the same three elements should work on its network, too. In late 2016, Verizon said it had 3x carrier aggregation and 256 QAM, and it said it was deploying 4×4 MIMO more than a year ago. Verizon wouldn’t confirm whether 4×4 MIMO is activated on its version of the phone, though.

The S8 is also the first phone with LTE-U, a new form of LTE that uses Wi-Fi airwaves to enhance capacity in crowded areas. I haven’t seen much in the way of LTE-U buildouts yet, but ATT, T-Mobile, and Verizon are all working on it.

Software: Taking Android to the Edge

Samsung does not leave Android alone. You have to be OK with that to enjoy 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 just Samsung’s: Our Sprint unit came with six Amazon apps, six “featured” apps, and eight Sprint apps for a total of twenty chunks of carrier bloatware. Fortunately, those are uninstallable.

Samsung is also keeping its custom camera, gallery, music, and phone apps, although the music app is a downloadable option. The phone app now integrates a sticker and GIF messaging function that’s tied to your Samsung Account, which will be able to be used if your friends also have Samsung accounts.

The “always-on” front display has a more visually appealing design than on the S7, with a colorful spray of stars across the screen. Like on the S7, it shows the time and date or a calendar, as well as notification icons. Double-tapping on a notification icon shows you more information, or takes you to the app which was sending the notification.

The really tall screen allows for a neat multitasking trick: You can select a chunk of an app’s screen and pin it to the top, running other apps in the bottom half. That lets you watch a video while sending texts about it, for instance.

You can swap the order of the back and multitasking buttons in the software. Press down on a home screen icon, and you get Google’s Quick Option menu, letting you clear notification badges and uninstall the app.

Samsung’s edge functionality is better than ever. You swipe in from the right-hand side of the screen to see app shortcuts and your favorite contacts by default, and there are more than two dozen other Edge Panels you can download. There’s a calendar, a calculator, a note-taking app, messengers, and system status widgets. They’re genuinely useful.

Also useful, but perpetually hidden in stacks of settings screens, are all of Samsung’s custom settings options. Want to change the screen color gamut? The order of the virtual buttons at the bottom? Want to change what’s shown on the always-on display? Samsung’s phones have always been highly customizable, unless you’re talking about getting rid of the Samsung stuff entirely.

Three Ways To Prove Yourself

Since Samsung seems to realize that putting its fingerprint scanner spot right next to the camera isn’t the best idea, it offers up a buffet of other ways to authenticate yourself. The two more exotic ones are face and iris recognition.

Face recognition is quick and easy. In our tests, it worked flawlessly and nearly instantly. But it also isn’t secure (Opens in a new window). Samsung warns. I couldn’t get it to unlock using a picture of my face, but others have been able to do so. That means it’ll defeat casual attempts to unlock it, but not a determined antagonist who knows who you are.

Iris recognition is more secure. It’s also far pickier. Samsung advises that users take off their glasses to unlock their phones, which I’m happy to say isn’t necessary. But iris recognition only worked eight out of 10 times for me, it’s slower than other methods, and I was often bombarded by prompts to move the phone higher and farther away.

Complicating things, you can use your iris or fingerprint for Samsung Pay, but not your face.

I started out not using the fingerprint scanner, but after a few days, I was using it regularly. The change happened when I put the S8 in a Caseology Legion case, which has a slanted cutout for the fingerprint scanner and camera. The case cutout gave me the tactile cues I needed to hit the fingerprint scanner without smudging the camera.

Bye Bye Bixby

Samsung’s flagship new service, Bixby, can’t be tested yet. It won’t be launched until May. The idea behind Bixby is that you push a dedicated button on the side of the phone and you’re able to command it by voice, for instance, to send a photo you just took to someone in your contact list.

According to Samsung Mobile CTO Injong Rhee, Bixby will initially work with ten built-in apps, including camera, contacts, gallery, phone, reminders, and settings, but notably not the browser, calendar, or email. Rhee said those will come in the second batch of 10, and the company has 32 apps targeted.

“Right now, our FOCUS is on the device interface and application controls,” Rhee said. “As Bixby’s ecosystem expands, clearly there’s an overlap between what Bixby can pursue and what Google Assistant can pursue. We are working with Google. so we can actually benefit from both.” For the record, “OK Google” works just fine on this phone.

Pressing the Bixby button right now takes you to “Hello Bixby,” Samsung‘s answer to Google Now’s stack of personalized cards. By default, it shows your most recently taken photos, reminders, weather, and a news feed, although with time it’s supposed to prompt you with apps and information it thinks you might want — pushing Uber at you if you take an Uber at the same time each day, for instance.

Other much-heralded new software remains similarly elusive. Samsung Connect is supposed to bring together all of your (new) Samsung appliances and SmartThings Hub functionality. It doesn’t work yet, so I can’t judge it. Samsung’s Dex, a system to turn your phone into a desktop PC, also isn’t ready yet. See our in-depth look at DeX for more details.

Best Camera Ever

The Galaxy S8 has a 12-megapixel camera, just like the S7. But it’s better. I took side-by-side images with the S7 and S8 in a variety of modes, and the S8’s pictures are clearer and brighter, with more detail and less artifacting. While the S8 doesn’t have dual main cameras, there’s a software-based Selective Focus mode to create bokeh, and a pretty good Pro mode that includes Raw capture and manual shutter speed.

Low-light performance has taken a step up, too. Compared with the S7, shots taken in very low light show noticeably more detail on the S8. The S8 outpaces the Pixel in low light, too, with sharper detail, less artifacting, and slightly better colors. I’m comfortable saying that the S8 has the best phone camera I’ve seen, although I’m also going to turn the phone over to our camera analyst for a longer look.

The front-facing camera has improved from 5MP to 8MP, and it’s gotten autofocus. In practice, that means sharper FOCUS on faces, with backgrounds going slightly out of FOCUS. That makes photos of yourself look great, but it means that if you’re used to taking photos of yourself in front of things — famous buildings, for instance — you’ll have to make sure to lock FOCUS on the distant object to get the same fixed-FOCUS look you’re used to.

As light gets lower, the front-facing camera gets a bit soft, but it keeps skin tones warm. I prefer this approach to what the Pixel does, which makes my face look pale and dirty as it tries to dramatically brighten my features. Actual exposure isn’t necessarily better than the S7, but you have more pixels, so things don’t look quite as soft.

Both cameras record video as well, of course, to true 4K with the main camera, and 2,560-by-1,440 with the front camera, both at 30fps in all circumstances. There’s also a 60fps 1080p (barely) slow-mo option. The main camera has OIS and the front camera doesn’t, but in general, they’re both excellent video cameras, much as the S7’s was as well.

One new gimmick, Bixby Vision, isn’t a great differentiator. It’s a mode in the camera that can shop for products or translate text based on a picture you take. But it’s no better than Google Translate or Microsoft Word Lens (in fact, the translator just uses Google Translate). It’s not a minus, it’s just not much of a plus.

Comparisons and Conclusions

Phones are connected devices. That’s also what they do: connect us, to each other and to the internet. We create things, whether they’re words or pictures, and we share them. The Galaxy S8 is the best phone available for creating things you want to share, sharing them, and experiencing things shared by others. It’s the most connected device possible.

That said, the Google Pixel is less expensive than most S8 carrier models at 649. While the S8 is slightly better in many ways, the Pixel has a cleaner interface, more frequent Android updates, and longer standby battery life. For ATT and Verizon users, meanwhile, the unlocked ZTE Axon 7 and OnePlus 3T deliver all of the power most people want for around 400.

The S8 securely kills the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in our eyes, though. While the iPhone SE ( at Amazon) (Opens in a new window) is still an excellent value, platform lock-in is pretty much the only reason to get an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus over this device—the idea that you’ve spent so much time and money learning Apple’s apps and using iMessage that it would be too much of a bear to leave.

But the phone is expensive enough that I would hesitate to upgrade from an S7, unless you think the better modem will help you connect where you couldn’t before. The S8 is better than the S7 in every way except battery life, but it’s a lot of money for incremental improvements.

I prefer the S8 to its larger sibling the S8, though. This is purely a taste issue, as I love how the S8 is comfortable in one hand, even with a case on. The S8 adds a bit more battery life and a bigger screen for 100 more, but doesn’t add any other functionality, and I don’t think the trade-off for usability is quite worth it. People with large hands, of course, may disagree.

The Galaxy S8 is the most luxurious, best performing phone on the market right now. It’s on fire, and I don’t mean that literally. Maybe it’s more phone than most people need. But it’s almost certainly better than the phone you have. And for that reason it’s our Editors’ Choice.

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