For the last month I have been testing the new Samsung Galaxy S8+ mobile phone. This was on loan to me courtesy of Three.co.uk . As you will see, all the opinions are my own. Samsung have aimed to set a new benchmark with this phone which is the biggest android launch of 2017.
Samsung Has Come So Far
I last bought a new mobile phone two and a half years ago. When I was browsing phones in shops, I had a good look at the Samsungs and they felt quite flimsy in my hand. I wasn’t sure that the edges were firmly fixed on. The display phones had collected dust in these corners and reviewers complained about Samsung filling their phones memories with “bloatware”(i.e. Samsung’s own apps which you have no choice about using). No surprise that I didn’t buy one.
Scroll forward to 2017 and I find myself reviewing the new Samsung S8+. I can hardly believe it’s a Samsung. It’s a lovely thing to hold with it’s no-edges design. When I first use it, it allows me to choose NOT to install all the bloatware. It’s blisteringly fast and unlike my daughter’s little old Motorolla, it has a strong connection to the ThreeUK network. The screen resolution and visual quality actually makes me think that screen resolution matters. The screen is so good, I now know what I am missing. For Instagram addicts, I think nothing could be better.
Edgeless Screen on the Samsung S8+
The S8+ is a big phone but not huge. Its proportions are a little long and thin so it feels narrower than the iPhone 7 and the various large android phones we have in the family. The no-edges design throws up the first problem for me which is reflections. The edge of the screen curves round the side of the phone and when I’m near a window there’s a bright stripe of light obscuring the edge of the screen so that I can’t read it. Because it’s curved, I can’t simply angle the phone away from the light. One of the places where I sit and work for an hour every week has windows on both sides. I simply cannot use the phone easily there. Of course most people don’t actually work on their phones but stare at it mainly for leisure so this might not bother everyone.
Apps and Desirability
This brings me to the next dilemma, which is what do you actually do on your phone? I use 70 apps on mine, mainly for blogging, travel and photography although candy crush cannot be ignored. Every single one of those apps runs on any android phone. So why buy an expensive one?
Samsung, and every phone manufacturer, is up against this problem which is that the apps are king. They run on all phones which levels the playing field. Producing a phone for the market at a high price point means taking a big risk that most customers will think it’s just not worth the extra dosh. It’s clearly possible to sell expensive phones because Apple have persuaded so many shoppers to part with large sums for a phone that does everything a cheaper one will do. Samsung are seeking to achieve the same level of desirability and the S8+ firmly aims for this.
The User Experience
The S8+ has very smooth functionality, it’s blisteringly fast, it links everything quickly and the interface is user friendly. Everything is obvious. Like most androids it has an expansion slot for an sd memory card, making the capacity huge. The only grumble I have is the fiddly keyboard which requires extra taps to get to the punctuation screen. Perhaps that bothers me more than some people because I’m a writer, but I hope people don’t give up using punctuation in the future!
The phone’s performance in the charging and batteries department is hardly stellar. It performs well when in use but its run-down time when idle is too fast. It doesn’t take a standard android charging wire but instead a slightly larger one. You may have to put your glasses on to see the difference! There’s a tiny adapter but it’s the size of a micro sim card and losing it means a dead phone. For me the adapter is just a non-starter. I can’t take the stress of wondering if I put it safely away or have knocked it though the air-vent on top of the microwave (this actually nearly happened!)
Samsung S8+ Camera
The camera is a key selling point of the S8+. There’s no denying its brilliance and you can shoot jpeg and RAW (if you have enough memory). A little niggle is the saturation which seems ridiculously high. Also, having imported my shots into Lightroom I can see on the histogram that there is an excess of black pixels and frequent under-exposure. I actually prefer that as I post-process all my shots and I’ve said before that digital images are safest slightly under-exposed in high contrast situations. However all the test photos in this blog post are shot on auto and are SOOC (straight out of camera), not edited.
Yes, you can shoot in HDR but I couldn’t get that setting to work. It just kept clicking off. Aaargh! You can do all kinds of things in the camera settings but I know that most people will shoot plain and simple auto. It’s certainly worth testing that way.
I haven’t cropped these photos. For a long, thin phone they are very close to being 5×7 size. The S8+ display doesn’t show you the whole image which you export.
As with all phones, the lens is wide angle. The S8+ phone screen is so good that it’s hard to remember that other people looking at your photo will not see it in the same quality on their phones. But again, this phone wins for visual users so youtubers and Instagrammers will be kept very happy indeed. Except not this Instagrammer. I always take an engineer’s view of gadgets and for me, even though this phone represents a seminal leap forward in android design, the compromises are too much of an irritation.
All credit to Samsung for how far they have come in recent years. I think probably I am an android fan-girl, and I do want to see great choices in the android phone market. This phone has delighted me mainly because of the promise it shows for the future of android. I may be easily put off by niggles but the S8+ going to have an awful lot of satisfied customers.
What do you think of these photos? Comment below.