One year ago, Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ significantly refining its design and improving its features over the previous model. With the Galaxy S9 right around the corner, we thought we’d revisit the S8+ and see how it has held up over the past 12 months or so.
Samsung has always been known for their mobile displays but that was particularly true with the Galaxy S8. It brought in an 18:9 aspect ratio Super AMOLED QHD resolution display with radically improved brightness. You can actually take this phone outdoors and view content in direct sunlight. The newer Note 8 has improved the brightness even more. But overall, the Galaxy S8’s display is still fantastic. It was one of the first smartphones to start the trend of 18:9 displays with extremely minimal bezels. It looks so clean.
The S8 was also the first Samsung flagship to remove the capacitive touch navigation buttons. As a result of this design changes, the fingerprint scanner was moved to the rear because of the display and it’s in a really awkward spot to reach. I still haven’t quite conformed to it. But you do get various security options in addition to the fingerprint scanner so if you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. There is an iris scanner that actually works pretty well.
But with the massive display on the front and all-glass rear, the S8 is one of the most fragile smartphones in Samsung’s arsenal. It could cost you well over $200 to fix a cracked display so it is recommended to apply a skin or throw on a case.
It seems like every year, Samsung’s skin on top of Android gets lighter and more responsive. And that was particularly true with the Galaxy S8 but it still wasn’t really clear enough to convince the Nexus and Pixel lovers to switch. At the end of the day, Samsung’s combination of hardware and software does tend to slow down more than my stock Google devices. But for someone who has owned every Galaxy smartphone (I originally had the Galaxy S Fascinate on Verizon), the S8 has held up in the performance department better than any other S device. I think the key is just to make sure that you don’t use up most of your storage. If you max your phone out with apps and various other media, you’re going to notice it starts to slow down. When Android Oreo rolls out to the Galaxy S8 at the end of the month, it should give a new life to this one-year-old device.
When the S8 first launched, the camera was on a level of its own. It’s able to capture sharp, vibrant images; almost a little bit too saturated at times. There’s only one sensor here but Samsung has some neat software features to allow you to artificially blur the background of your photos and basically accomplish everything that the devices with two sensors can accomplish.
The iPhone X and Pixel 2 have definitely one up the performance of the S8. But at the time, the S8 was the camera king so I’m looking forward to seeing what Samsung does in this department with the S9.
I really do not like the speakers because there’s only one bottom-facing speaker and it gets covered up by my hand way too easily. Bixby is another feature that I just quite simply never use. The fact that there’s a hardware button to activate it is just beyond me.
Overall, the two main things I don’t really like about the S8 are the speakers and location of the fingerprint reader. Those two things are expected to get fixed though and/or get updated with the S9. So if you want a rundown on what to expect, here’s our Galaxy S9: What to Expect video.