It's been a week since the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ were released. You've read the reviews, watched the videos and no doubt had some thoughts of your own by now. Chances are you came away from it all thinking that this is a pretty great phone.
A week later, and everyone has time to settle down and take a breath or two after the madness that is a Samsung Galaxy launch. A week isn't enough time to know every little thing about a phone, but it's perfect for extended first impressions. Have a read and see what we think after using the Galaxy S8 for a week.
There's nothing like being genuinely surprised by a phone. I thought I knew what it would be like to use the Galaxy S8 after spending some time with it in New York during the announcement, but actually having it in hand, in pocket and in use is a completely different story.
First, I put a case on it. Yes, I know, hiding the beautiful design, except that it doesn't, at least not from my perspective. I use a thin, minimal case that only covers the back, but does the job of accentuating the enormous, vivid display. And what a display. This is not a small phone, but I constantly find myself being able to accomplish things in one hand, through a combination of swipe typing and enabling Samsung's excellent one-handed mode, which is accessible through a simple triple-tap of the home button.
The Galaxy S8 was genuinely surprising in the right ways.
Not only have I found the phone to be free of slowdown after I got over the uselessness of Bixby (and the annoying placement of the Bixby button, which I always mistake for the down volume key) I've settled into a great routine with the phone. Battery life has been exemplary for a device with a 3,000mAh battery, and I can only say good things about the camera, even if it isn't substantially better than last year's Galaxy S7 edge. Even the placement of the fingerprint sensor, which I considered during my review to be a major point of frustration, has been easily overcome with the use of face unlock and Google's own Smart Lock.
Finally, I got rid of TouchWIZ Home for Nova Launcher and haven't looked back. In fact, I think that this has easily become the best Android experience I've had since the Pixel, which is a serious compliment if you ask me. The phone has its faults, and more than a few quirks, but let's not forget that it's early days, and even the Pixel had its problems at the beginning.
After almost two months on the LG G6, stepping up to the Galaxy S8+ has been a pretty major adjustment. Between, its smaller size, more angular corners and thicker frame, the G6 was easy to one-hand. The S8+? Not so much. I've manhandled similar Samsung phablets like the Galaxy S6 edge+ in the past, so it's not a wholly new experience for me, but I am just a little bit paranoid of dropping or damaging it, as is to be expected when you're just a week or so into a new phone.
I'm a big fan of Samsung's new software design and its elegant and minimal touches.
Nevertheless, the S8 is the best-looking phone on the market right now by a significant margin. Say what you like about its potential fragility — a trait of many glass-clad smartphones — Samsung has outdone everyone here, emerging as a champion of smartphone design.
I'm a big fan of Samsung's new software design, which takes everything that was great about the Galaxy S7 on Nougat and adds elegant, minimalist sci-fi touches.
My only real downers right now? The fingerprint sensor is awkward to the point of being borderline unusable on the larger S8+. (I'm using Smart Lock to bypass that whole mess.) Bixby is equally useless, for mostly obvious reasons. And I'm missing faster charging options that are available in some rivals phones from OnePlus and Huawei.
I'm using the smaller Galaxy S8, after using both for a couple of days. The S8+ is a little too tall for my liking, so I go back to gripping the bottom of the phone with my pinky finger when trying to use it with one hand. I'm currently using the Galaxy S8 without a case, because Samsung's 2Piece Cover is on backorder. Yes, I ordered one on purpose.
So far, I'm very happy with the experience. I haven't felt a compelling need to replace the launcher once I disabled those silly app badge counter things. I wasn't ever going to use the fingerprint or retina scanners outside of seeing how they work, so the placement next to the camera doesn't bother much. The display continues to blow me away, and the camera is exactly as good as I expect from a top-tier Samsung phone.
I'm digging the phone and the Gear VR enhancements.
There isn't much here to surprise or wow me, but that doesn't make this any less of an exceptional phone. I'm digging the enhancements made to the Gear VR and the new Controller, I forgot how much I enjoyed having wireless charging, and black is the only color I would ever buy this phone in. Which is a shame, because I usually love colorful phones.
My only real complaints with the Galaxy S8 so far are that Bixby isn't better, that Daydream isn't supported, and that I can't just long press or double tap on the pressure sensitive home button to access the camera. Bixby will probably get better quickly, Daydream was never going to, work easily on this phone, and hopefully Samsung considers doing more with the home button soon.
I went with the larger Galaxy S8+ for the extra battery capacity, and the tall display isn't as unwieldy as I initially thought it would be. The panel itself is stunning, with excellent contrast, brightness, and viewing angles. The battery life is great too — I'm easily getting a full day's worth of usage with some room to spare.
I love the full-day battery and there's even room to spare.
That said, the most frustrating part about the phone is the location of the fingerprint sensor. My hand doesn't reach all the way to where it is located, so I have to adjust my grip during one-handed use to unlock the phone. Thankfully, iris scanning works well enough that I don't have to rely on the fingerprint scanner as much.
For the most part, a week using the Galaxy S8 has reaffirmed what I first experienced in a brief period using the phone prior to its launch. The hardware is absolutely gorgeous to look at and excellent to hold, and the display is wonderful in every way. I don't have any issues reaching across the screen, but perhaps that's because I've been training up on tall phones with the LG G6.
Performance has been expectedly great, even when running the GS8 at its full screen resolution, and the battery has made it through the day each day I've had it. The camera is also really good, though I'm definitely missing the wide-angle camera on my LG G6.
The Galaxy S8 is a fantastic phone but it's not perfect.
I have to say the honeymoon period with Samsung's software has worn off, as it does with each flagship it releases. There's so much good stuff in here — I'm even using the stock launcher still! — but Samsung still has way too much happening throughout. Too many settings, too much bloatware and far too many duplicate apps and services. It's still a burden that makes me yearn for my Pixel XL every day.
Then, of course, there's this unlocking situation. Face unlock has been horrible for me, so I turned it off. Iris scanning is surprisingly fast and reliable (much better than the Note 7), but still struggles in weak lighting. Which leaves me with the fingerprint sensor … I've gotten more used to it, but it's still odd to find blindly and involves plenty of smudges on my camera. This calamitous combination has to be the biggest weakness of the Galaxy S8.
After a week I'm glad that the Galaxy S8 still holds up as a fantastic phone overall, but more time with it has also reinforced that it isn't perfect — there are still plenty of places Samsung can improve for the next generation.
My Galaxy S8 arrived at noon yesterday, and after 24 hours with the device, I can say that there's a lot I like, and a few things I still very, very very much despise. I believe the fingerprint sensor has been covered ad nauseum by now, but I'll say that a case does help you aim for it a little better. There's still no way to use it effortlessly unless you have a basketballer's hands or a pianist's fingers. This phone needs a double-tap to wake that works on the whole screen, not just the home button
I'm surprised how much i like the layout of a tall display.
I was worried using a phone this tall was going to be awkward, but apart from a few letterboxed apps, things have actually been pretty good. I'm actually kind of surprised how much I like laying out home screen themes on a tall display; I've got more rows on the home screen to play with and I can fit more widgets on the screen without things feeling cramped. Samsung Themes still make me wanna tear my hair out a little, but the theme store has come a long, long way in the last few years and things are quite usable.
An aspect of this phone I look forward to exploring and savoring in depth is the audio options. You can play audio to two different bluetooth devices at once, which excites a lot of people. You can also choose to play audio on your device instead of a connected Bluetooth device, which is very exciting for me since that functionality was stripped out of Google Play Music months ago.
Have you enjoyed time with the Galaxy S8? Or are you this close to pulling the trigger and picking one up? Take a minute and let us know what you're thinking in the comments below.
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