TECHNOLOGY

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Samsung gets back on track with impressive Galaxy S8 smartphone Featured

Jun 09, 2017 Hit: 293 Written by 
The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones are a return to form for Samsung after a tough year.
The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones are a return to form for Samsung after a tough year.

It’s been a rough year for Samsung in the smartphone world. Sure, they’re still one of the biggest names in the business and sell plenty of product around the world, but controversy over their Galaxy Note 7 phones catching on fire due to poorly made batteries has had them on the world’s radar for the wrong reasons.


In a business as competitive as smartphones, that’s something you need to squash quickly and move on, or you’ll be left behind. Samsung made changes and worked to solve the issues and regain the public’s trust in their phones, and are now fully focused on their next offerings -- primarily the Galaxy S8 and its big brother the Galaxy S8 Plus (which, to clarify, are successors to the S7 line of phones, not the aforementioned Note 7).


I recently spent some time with an S8 Plus from AT&T, and I’m back what a report on how it’s been improved and who should consider upgrading.

 


MAXIMUM SCREEN

As people use their phones more and more for consuming entertainment (TV shows, movies, etc.), it’s inevitable that the trend of big screens will continue.

Your screen display size is 6.2-inches on the S8 Plus, and 5.8 inches on the standard S8. That’s a lot of phone, but it’s what most people have come to expect in recent years (dig up a phone from a 3-4 years back and compare to new ones; the change is more than you might remember.).

Samsung pushes the limits of its screen size by including the Infinity Screen, a curved edge design that includes screen real estate all the way to both edges.

This is a very nice look, and one I expect to see emulated on other smartphones in the future.

The S8 lineup features a Super AMOLED screen, with an extremely vivid resolution of 2960x1440 (Quad HD+). That’s a boost from the 2560x1440 resolution on the S7.

Despite the large size, the weight is still reasonable on the S8 lineup, with the standard S8 coming in at 5.36 ounces and the S8 Plus coming in at 6.1 ounces.

There have been reports by some that the curved design leads to more risk of damaging the edges of the screen, but it’s not too widespread due to the high-quality Gorilla Glass used. As always, I do recommend getting a case, or at minimum a screen protector, on your S8 or S8 Plus unit.

Also on the topic of durability, the S8 phones are built to be resistant to dust and water (though I don’t recommend going swimming with it).

A benefit of having a phone this large is that with a larger-sized keyboard; even those users with bigger fingers won’t have issues typing.

 

SPEED

One key component to a smartphone’s success is speed. How quickly can you get things done? How fast do videos load?, Can you multitask? etc.

No worries here: The processor is quite the cephalopod, specifically an “octa-core” (2.35 GHz Quad + 1.9 GHz Quad) processor. That means whatever you’re doing -- surfing the web, listening to music, watching videos or other media, etc. -- you’re not going to be waiting long. With each new phone we often wonder if we’ve reached the limits of speed on our phones, but it’s clear that we’re continuing to find ways to improve it. Of all the phones I’ve tested over the years, it’s probably the best I’ve seen so far, and the difference was clear when tested directly against a Galaxy S7.

In terms of storage, you You get 64 GB of onboard memory, which should be plenty for most people. Those who are space hogs can expand up to 256GB via microSD.


THE LATEST IN ANDROID
Being a flagship phone, you’re going to get the latest operating system. Since the Galaxy lineup is a heavy hitter in the Android world, you get Android 7.0 (code name Nougat) and are sure to get the latest upgrades once the O series comes around.

Having experienced Android as an operating system since it was first introduced roughly a decade ago, I’ve seen it grow tremendously in positive ways year by year.

The overall user interface is very responsive to commands, and while I often hear fans of some other phones say Android phones are more difficult to use, I have to disagree. The S8 Plus was about as straightforward as it gets in terms of learning your way around it. You don’t need to be a computer tech to understand the S8 models.


I did not find an extreme amount of bloatware taking up space on the S8, which was good to see.

In terms of overall app offerings, by now the Google Play store has basically anything you could want -- from fun and games to business apps and health apps and much more.

One thing on the S8 that’s new is the Bixby button. Besides being very British sounding, Bixby is a program that that’s cues from your routine and suggests apps you may want to check at certain times (i.e. weather or the fitness app in the morning). You can also ask Bixby questions, and it features something called Bixby Vision (built into the camera), which can be used by travelers to identify landmarks and translate foreign languages.


PHONE CALLS
While actual real life phone calls may be something forgotten by some phone users, I still consider them pretty important, so I can’t get through my phone review without mentioning performance in this area.

The S8 Plus I tested on AT&T’s network was crystal clear and gave me no issues worth mentioning. I was able to hear exactly what was being said, and my words came through loud and clear. So if you actually like to talk (and not do a 40-text conversation; a habit I really have never understood -- as it takes several times longer than talking), that’s good news for you.

 

BATTERY

You get some powerful batteries on the S8 lineup: 3,000mAh on the S8; 3,500mAh on the S8 Plus. During my time with the S8 Plus, it held up well, only needing a charge every couple days.

And the best part?: Charging is quick and versatile: The S8 phones feature very fast wired charging.via a new USB-C connector, as well as the option for wireless charging.

Official numbers for battery life are 34 hours talk time (though I hope you don’t talk THAT much), 58 hours of music play, 20 hours of video play, 14 to 16 hours of Internet use. Even if you don’t always quite live up to those numbers, even getting close is still pretty impressive.


CAMERA, VIDEO

Perhaps the most important part of the phone to some people, camera is key to success in this market. In a nutshell, the camera on the S8 is pretty awesome. Tons of options for setup are offered, including simple but helpful things like simply saying “Cheese” for a picture to be automatically taken.


Among the other features is HDR mode, helpful for when photos are taken in low-light conditions. There’s also plenty of other shooting modes and editing options for photos.

The resolution of the front camera (let’s be honest and call it the selfie cam, with a hint of video chat use) comes in at 8.0 megapixels; while the rear comes in at 12.0 megapixels (same as the S7 in rear, but front camera is boosted from 5.0 MP on the S7).

Videos are a strong point for the S8, with up to UHD 4K resolution available (3840 x 2160) @60fps.With the bigger screen (particularly on the S8 Plus), video is large and clear if you want to watch it on the phone.


In a camera related note, there are a few unique ways to open the S8: A fingerprint scan, an iris scan, and a face scan.

PRICE, BOTTOM LINE

The Galaxy S8 will cost you $750.00 from AT&T, go to the S8 Plus and the price is $850.00; This can be paid in monthly installments, and trading in your old phone can knock down the price.

Despite a rocky year, the Galaxy S8 Plus and Galaxy S8 are already a big hit for Samsung and I continue to believe they offer some of the best phones on the market. With fans of other operating systems may not agree, I’ve always had a pleasant experience with Android and Samsung in particular, and I would even argue that the S8 could bring some converts over to team Android.


Should you upgrade to the S8?: If you have an S7, it may be worth it, but isn’t a must. Unless you have to have the latest and greatest, you may be OK waiting for the next Galaxy offering. The price of these phones makes it prohibitive for most people to get one new every year.


But If you have an S6 or previous Galaxy phone (or are switching from another company), going to an S8 is definitely one of the best choices you can make from the smartphone offerings currently available. The strong design on the screen, upgraded processor and overall user-friendly experience will leave you little to regret in your decision.
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Matt Myftiu can be reached on Twitter @MattMyftiu; or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Last modified on Friday, 09 June 2017 06:25
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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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