HANDS-ON: SAMSUNG GALAXY S8 PLUS REVIEW
The next Galaxy devices have finally arrived from Samsung and there’s a slightly different strategy for the 2017 flagship phones. Now in simply different sizes rather than offering varying tech, here we go hands-on with the Galaxy S8 Plus to see if you should buy the larger handset.
GALAXY S8 PLUS CHINA PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
There’s good news as after a long wait for the Galaxy S8, The phone can be pre-ordered from Saleholy.com.
It’s not a shock that the Galaxy S8 Plus is an expensive smartphone, although not as much as some feared. Its price in China only need: $319.00
You can pre-order the S8 Plus from Saleholy.com.
GALAXY S8 PLUS DESIGN AND BUILD
This year there’s not a huge difference between Samsung’s two flagship phones. As they both offer the edge screen display, the handsets are simply different sizes when it comes to design – hence the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus naming system with no ‘edge’ element.
The Plus model isn’t a vastly bigger than the regular Galaxy S8. It’s around 10mm taller and 5mm wider which isn’t much to jump from a 5.8- to 6.2in screen. It’s astonishing how normal these phones feel in the hand considering those figures.
Bear in mind that the Galaxy S8 Plus is heavier at 173g compared to 155g.
You’ll notice that a big difference in this year’s Galaxy phone is the impressive screen-to-bezel ratio and the rounded corners of the display which match the metal frame. To make this happen, Samsung has ditched the traditional section below the screen for home button.
The fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back – slightly awkwardly next to the camera rather than below it – and there’s a pressure sensitive home button built into the display.
You get all the same design features as the smaller model including a headphone jack, Gorilla Glass 5 rear cover and IP68 rated waterproofing. A new button sits on the left for launching Bixby – more on this in the software section.
In the UK, Samsung is offering the Galaxy S8 Plus in three colours: Midnight Black, Orchid Grey and Arctic Silver. The blue and gold options will launch in other markets such as China but may well come to Blighty at a later date.
We like all the colours but be warned that the Arctic Silver option is very shiny, almost mirrored like the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. Samsung has said this colour will be available ‘in due course’ so the black and grey options will be the choices to start with.
GALAXY S8 PLUS SPECS AND HARDWARE
Samsung likes packing as much tech into its phones as humanly possible and the Galaxy S8 Plus ticks almost every box you could think of for a flagship phone.
As you’ve gathered already, the screen size is the big difference between the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. Both phones now have Samsung’s edge screen technology so there’s no longer the need to buy the larger option to get this.
Samsung has tweaked the edge display though, so it’s not as exaggerated this time. You still get the edge panels but you can’t use the edge to show the clock at night and show other information like previously.
Your decision then, is whether to go for the smaller 5.8in model or the Galaxy S8 Plus’ 6.2in. These sizes sound a bit ridiculous but the S8 Plus is only really a little bit taller than the Galaxy S7 edge thanks to the tiny bezels.
It’s best to try both in the hand before you commit but we feel the regular Galaxy S8 will be enough for most consumers. The 0.4in doesn’t make a huge difference in use, although the Plus model does benefit from a larger battery – see below.
In terms of specs the Galaxy S8 Plus uses the same Super AMOLED technology as the smaller model and has the same Quad HD (2960×1440) resolution. This means a lower but insignificant drop in pixel density from 570- to 529ppi.
Similar to the LG G6, the Galaxy S8 Plus has an unusual aspect ratio. Instead of the typical 16:9, it’s 18.5:9 so the screen is very tall. This makes things like watching video much better as you don’t get annoying black bars. When things like video go full screen is when you’ll need the pressure sensitive home button.
Like the regular model, the Galaxy S8 Plus will come with two different processors for different markets.
We believe that the UK model will come with Samsung’s Exynos Series 9 8895 chip based on the clock speeds we have been given – 4x 2.3GHz and 4x 1.7GHz. Those don’t match up with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 that Samsung co-produced so we expect this to be the platform for other markets.
We’ll benchmark the Galaxy S8 Plus when we get a final sample but we were impressed during our couple of hours of hands-on time.
Memory and Storage
Samsung has kept things simple this year so the Galaxy S8 Plus matches the smaller model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. As usual, there’s expandable storage so it’s easy to add a further 256GB with the Micro-SD card slot.
It’s a bit of a surprise to hear nothing about a larger storage capacity but we wouldn’t bet against a 128GB option coming at a later date. For now, though, there’s no head scratching to be done on the subject – it’s 64GB or nothing.
Want top-notch connectivity? Well how does dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0 and LTE Cat 16 sound for starters? Furthermore, the Galaxy S8 Plus comes with a reversible USB-C port and the usual heart rate monitor.
It’s all the same as the Galaxy S8.
Fingerprint and Iris scanners
As you can see, Samsung has had to move the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone in order to have such a large screen with small bezels.
This isn’t something new, but most rivals place the scanner below the camera. Instead, Samsung has put it to the side meaning right-handed users will have to reach across the lens to use it. Smudging the glass is far from ideal but Samsung thinks users won’t use it as much this time.
That’s because the Iris scanner introduced on the Note 7 has been improved so you can just look at the phone to unlock it. We haven’t tried it ourselves but in demonstrations it appears to be pretty fast.
Not everyone wants to hold a phone up to their face to unlock it, though, so we’d rather Samsung had opted for ergonomics over design symmetry for the fingerprint scanner.
Phone photography is important to almost every user and Samsung has upgraded the front camera to 8Mp (from 5Mp) for selfie fans. It still has an f/1.7 aperture and after a quick play with it, things look promising.
The Galaxy S7 range has an awesome camera and Samsung hasn’t felt the need to make any changes. It’s a 12Mp Dual Pixel camera with an f/1.7 aperture, optical image stabilisation (OIS), 4k video recording and an LED flash.
We’ll test this out properly soon, but going by the S7, the Galaxy S8 is likely to be one of the best phones on the market for cameras.
With such a large screen, Samsung has tweaked the camera app to make it easier to use with one hand. You can do things like zoom, switch between cameras and modes easily.
Apart from the bigger screen, there’s another reason to opt for the Galaxy S8 Plus over the smaller model.
It still has USB-C, fast charging and wireless charging but since the device is bigger there’s more room for a battery. While the Galaxy S8 has a 3,000mAh battery, the S8 Plus is sixth larger at 3500mAh.
We’ll let you know as soon as we can how much extra battery life this gets you after testing.
GALAXY S8 PLUS SOFTWARE
Phone software isn’t particularly exciting these days, especially considering the hardware on offer. However, Samsung has a few interesting bits and pieces going on when it comes to the Galay S8 Plus.
ANDROID 7.0 NOUGAT
It’s no surprise that the Galaxy S8 Plus runs on the lasted version of Android, 7.0 Nougat, and Samsung kept things mostly simple and intuitive.
There are a large number of pre-installed apps but not the kind of ones most will want to delete including the Google ones you’re used to on Android, Microsoft apps and Samsung’s own.
One of the big Nougat tweaks you’ll have to get used to is swiping upwards to access app draw, rather than tapping an icon.
A new feature to help you deal with, and make use of, the larger screen is Snap Window which is a new element to Multi Window. Using a new icon when viewing recent apps, you can select a portion of an app to pin at the top of the display while you carry on using the remainder like normal.
The biggest new software feature by far is Bixby which might sound like a butler’s name and it sort of is. Bixby is a new digital assistant along the lines of Siri and Google Assistant you can instantly access with the dedicated button on the side. We answer ‘What is Bixby?’.
Samsung says it’s the kind of deal where you don’t need to know what phrases you can and can’t say and the software will know the context of what you’re doing in order to help better. It can also do cool things with the camera like recognise and provide information for landmarks and products.
We’re not totally convinced yet as Samsung, of course, only demonstrated things it could definitely do and much of the functionality has already been available via rivals. Google Assistant is on the Galaxy S8 and you’ll need to use this for a while anyway as Samsung is only making Korean language available for Bixby at launch followed by US English in May.
Until UK English arrives, hitting the button or swiping right from the home screen will launch Bixby Home which is similar to Google Now.
Along with the latest Gear VR headset and the Gear 360 2 camera is an interesting docking station for the Galaxy S8 called DeX. Read more about the Samsung DeX dock.
In a similar way to Windows Continuum, the dock allows you to use a desktop-style interface on a monitor with a keyboard and mouse just by plugging the phone in. You can use apps in different windows and Samsung’s browser will automatically request desktop versions of websites so you get the full experience.
The dock itself features USB-C to connect the phone and then offers two USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI and a cooling fan. You can also use a wireless keyboard and mouse if you like.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus: Specs
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- 6.2in Quad HD display (2960×1440), 529ppi
- Dual curved edge display
- Exynos 8895 octa-core processor
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB internal storage
- Micro-SD card slot (up to 256GB)
- 12Mp rear-facing camera with OIS
- 8Mp front camera
- Pressure sensitive home button
- Fingerprint scanner
- Heart rate monitor
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX
- 4G LTE Cat 16
- Headphone jack
- 3500mAh non-removable battery
- Wireless charging
- IP68 dust & waterproof rating
|Galaxy S8 Plus||Wholesale Price:$319|
As with the regular Galaxy S8, we’re really impressed by the Galaxy S8 Plus. Samsung has done a great job of making last year’s models even better. However our initial thought is that, with both offering the infinity edge screen,There is not much reason to spend extra money unless you really want a bigger screen and a bigger battery.