Samsung is back in the reckoning with a smartphone flagship after a few months spent dousing the flames of what can be described at the Note 7 fiasco. Given what happened with its last flagship, the Korean tech giant has no margin for error. So it seems to have played safe and given the world a phone which could not do anything wrong, at least not so far.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 wants to be the phone that ticks all the boxes, does everything you expect it to and push the envelope when it comes to dependability. That is how Samsung plays it safe.
Day 5: So, should you buy?
Before we get to the all important question, let me address things you need to know about the device.
1. I get the feeling the infinite display of the Samsung Galaxy S8+ with its curved edges makes it a bit of a risky device to own. Unless you have a tempered glass like screen guard that protects the edges of this phone, one fall could end up destroying the screen. Also, because of glass on the edge the phone does not offer a great grip, and this is where Samsung has played smart by making the device thinner from edge to edge. So, this is a device you have to guard with your life.
2. Another issue I faced what that the phone tends to dial an emergency number on its own when stowed inside a bag of even a jeans pocket. And this happens on the lock screen which is even stranger.
But at the end of the day none of these as are issues big enough to keep you away from the device, not even the slight pink edge on top of the screen.
If you are looking to get hold of the best Android device in the market then this is right up there with the Google Pixel. This phone might not have one killer feature like a dual camera, but this is a near perfect phone like no other in the market now. Only word of caution: don’t become a early bird while buying this phone and just wait for the first user reviews to come in, especially those who have used it for a few weeks.
Day 4: No issues with performance
I have used the Samsung Galaxy S8+ for well over a week and there has been absolutely no issues with performance. There is absolutely nothing this phone can’t do and that is no exaggeration. It handles everything from multi-tab browsing to 4K video recording without any issues. It’s great for gaming too and try this phone to see how a benchmark test should actually be run. However, for those who look at these scores seriously, it is still below the iPhone when it comes to Antutu rankings. But that is immaterial as long as your experience as a user is unaffected.
The battery on the phone easily lasts a full working day. I tried the phone on Jio 4G with a whole lot of surfing and very few calls. The phone had no issues surviving from 9 am to 9 pm with this kind of a schedule.
Also, thankfully, the phone does not heat up at all and is as cool as a cucumber despite some heavy duty tasks. This is a real achievement for any Android flagship.
Day 3: Now, that is one camera
Samsung has clearly played safe with the camera. I’m saying this because it’s decided to go ahead with a no-nonsense camera at a time when most of its rivals, especially Apple, has at least one camera with a dual lens at the rear. But the Samsung Galaxy S8+ camera is no push over. In fact, I want to say this is the best Android camera at the moment.
Take a look at the picture above, shot at a dimly lit Noida restaurant the day I got hold of this phone. While the details and the rich colours on this one awed me, what I have seen in the week since has only reiterated my belief that this is one great camera. It is there when you need it and manages a good shot as long as there is some light in the frame.
The camera is also very quick with absolutely no lag between shots. This means you need to be careful about when to click too. And this is a very robust camera even when you are shooting 4K content. The adaptive focus and light sensitivity work really well even while shooting these high definition videos. And best of all, the phone is able to stay very cool during the entire process.
There are some really fun add-ons for the camera like the live, MSQRD-like, animations for selfies as well as the rear camera. There are multiple camera modes, including a full manual one, as well as preset modes for those who like an Instagramish feel for their images.
Bixby camera:Every time you switch on the camera app on the phone, a strange icons shows on the left corner. This is the Bixby camera app. Click this and then snap an image of any object or monument for the intelligent Bixby assistant to figure out what it is. But don’t expect it to give you exactly what the object is. With most of the things I tried, the results were close but not exact.
Day 2: Things you have to get used to
Yes, there are some things you have to get used to on this phone. For starters, there is no home button. Good or bad, there is a lot of muscle memory searching for a button under the screen every time you want to exit an app or return to the homepage. It is not that Samsung has killed the home button, it has just made it virtual.
So, the home button comes to life when you press at the bottom end of the display. The virtual button even has haptic feedback and gives you a jiggle of approval every time you push it. So, the virtual button mimics a physical home button to a large extent and you start getting used to it over time.
But the lack of a physical home button has resulted in other design problems for Samsung, like where to put the fingerprint scanner. Of course, the obvious solution was to put it at the back. However, this is where Samsung has goofed up a bit if you ask me.
There is a perfect position to keep a fingerprint scanner on the back panel, like LG has shown with its phones over the years. But every other spot is a bit out of place, as the S8+ shows. With the scanner a bit to the right of the camera, you place your finger and sort of have to send it on a search mission to find the right spot.
Thankfully, the S8+ comes with multiple options to unlock the phone. I preferred the face detection mode, as I am not a big fan of the Iris scanner and the close up of my own eyes it throws up at me from time to time. But, the iris scanner, as well as the face detection, have small issues of their own.
They are both quite helpless when the light is low and the phone can’t clearly recognise the features of your face or the uniqueness of your iris. So it is our dear old PIN to the rescue once again.
Day 1: What’s with the display
Samsung Galaxy S8+ is a phone that ticks all the boxes. However, when the phone launched in New York, watching the late night livestream, I felt there was that one big bang feature missing. Samsung, it seems, was clearly not banking on one feature, but the power of many good things to make this phone a success.
The first feature that really hits you in the face, quite literally is the Infinity Screen. Having perfected the curved screen, Samsung seems to have decided to push this new format, which make it feel like the display just flows out. This also gives Samsung the ability to pack a larger screen into a smaller build. In fact, it’s hard to believe that the S8+ has a 6.2-inch display when the phone is not larger than the iPhone 7 plus, which has a smaller 5.5-inch screen. I would say this is where Samsung has shown some real innovation.
This display quality is great, but that is not a big deal coming from Samsung, who are experts in this space. But the concept itself is brilliant and you will experience it best in a dimly lit room watching some high-resolution video file. Soon you will focus just on the screen, and feel like you are watching a large screen in a small room. The ‘Infinity display’ is clearly the best screen on any phone at the moment.
However, one small issue with experience above is that the audio quality could have been a lot better, especially when you consider where some of Samsung’s rivals are pushing this. This is not a big issue, but these days all flagships have started offering top notch audio experiences.
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