IS SAMSUNG’S S8+ THE BEST BIG ANDROID PHONE YOU CAN OWN?
[ MATT SWIDER & HARRY DOMANSKI ]
THE SAMSUNG GALAXY S8+ is, according to the marketing spiel, ‘the next big thing’ — and it’s hard to deny that it’s a device that takes that slogan very literally. This sister product to the excellent Galaxy S8 we reviewed last month has a ridiculously sized screen, top-of-the-line specs and an equally bloated price – dearer than its regular-sized sibling.
Thankfully, Samsung has really nailed the balance of having a big screen with a small handset, and that nearly bezel-less design is even more striking here than in the S8.
Its 6.2-inch Infinity Display takes up the vast majority of the front face, almost eliminating the left and right borders with a gently curved screen, and making the top and bottom bezels just thin strips. This highlights one of the handset’s strongest features: the Super AMOLED 1440p display is the best in the world at the moment.
The biggest shift for long-time Samsung users is the removal of the home button and capacitive ‘Recents’ and ‘Back’ keys. Samsung has finally switched to on-screen bottom buttons, including a pressure-sensitive Home button, and has moved the fingerprint scanner to the rear. Unfortunately, the scanner is — like on the regular S8 — off-centre, hard to reach and next to the camera, making it very easy to mistakenly press the lens instead of the sensor, smudging it in the process. The S8+’s bigger size makes that scanner even more of a stretch to find, and while you can also unlock your phone with passwords, pins, iris scanning and face unlocking, the latter two are unreliable enough to render them more frustrating than convenient.
Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface takes Google’s Android 7.0 Nougat operating system and makes it a little more fluffy and friendly; however, the Bixby AI assistant is still rather disappointing and doesn’t have voice capabilities, despite Samsung going to the effort of giving it a dedicated physical button.
Inside, 4GB of RAM coupled with the speedy Samsung Exynos 8895 chipset makes for excellent performance — this is a phone more than capable of powering the next generation of mobile VR games. It also comes with 64GB of internal space and expandable storage via microSD.
Although the camera technically has identical specs to last year’s S7 Edge, the chip and technology behind it offer better low-light photos and less motion blur in general.
A similar performance bump can be seen in
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the video-capturing, with the video coming out brighter and with smoother stabilization.
Despite a smallish 3,500mAh battery (at least given the screen size), the S8+ is power-efficient enough to offer a day-and-a-half of battery life, even with heavy photo and video use, and comes with fast-charging via the new USB-C port, while also retaining the wireless charging functionality of the predecessor.
In short, everything here looks and feels nicely futuristic except for the illogically located fingerprint sensor and the (so far) absent Bixby voice assistant, and being locked out of your phone when you’re paying this much money keeps the Galaxy S8+ from being flawless.
Still, you’re not going to find a bigger, better phone than this. Those couple of small gripes aside, the 6.2-inch display and big boost in power and efficiency make this an easy recommendation for anyone who is willing to invest a lot of money in their phone.
Android 7.0; 6.2-inch AMOLED screen
@ 1,440 x 2,960; octa-core Samsung
Exynos 8895 CPU; Mali-G71 MP20
GPU; 4GB RAM; 64GB onboard
storage; 3,500mAh non-removable
quick-charge battery; 12MP and 8MP
front and rear cameras; 16.0 x 7.3 x