I've been spending a lot of time with Samsung's new Galaxy S8 smartphone. In fact, I shot my review of the phone in Lisbon, Portugal, where I was recently on assignment for a tech conference. The phone makes a great travel companion.
For starters, the S8 is a beautiful mix of metal and glass with a screen like we’ve never seen before. For my review purposes, Samsung sent me two devices - the larger, S8+ with a 6.2-inch screen, and the smaller S8 with a 5.8-inch screen.
There's no debate Samsung created a drool-worthy device with every feature possible. The 12 megapixel back camera takes great shots without a lot of fuss, while the front facing camera is improved. It's now 8 megapixels instead of 5. You can definitely notice a difference in the quality of the selfies it is producing over previous models. Samsung also added autofocus to the front camera.
On the side, there's a new button which activates Bixby - Samsung's personal assistant. As you might have heard, the voice commands functionality is delayed so I couldn't test those out. However, there are other things Bixby can still do.
There's Bixby Hello, which is sort of like Google Now's Feed. It's a mix of recent pictures, events, reminders, app suggestions, news and more. It could be useful if you really customize it and use Bixby a lot.
I really like Bixby's image recognition. Basically, it's a built-in scanner to identify all kinds of stuff. I used it to identify wine for ratings, items to buy on Amazon and QR codes and more. Apps can recreate the same effect, but it's nice to have one place to scan everything - including text from business cards.
S8 has Samsung's most refined software yet. It provides some useful features above stock Android. The only issue I've noticed in the past is that Samsung phones have a tendency to slow down over time. Right now, this thing is a speed machine - we'll see what happens over time.
Both size phones are incredibly manageable for how big these screens are, but the fingerprint reader is the biggest issue here.
On the S8+, it’s impossible to reach without shifting your grip. It's better on the S8, but still not ideal.
The Iris scanner is a secure alternative, but you have to hold your phone in an unnatural position to unlock it. From what I've read, facial recognition is a non-starter since it is not as secure and could be fooled.
Overall, you’ll be happy with what Samsung has accomplished: one compromise in exchange for an otherwise dream Android device. And yes, it's is still water resistant.
Go with the S8+ if you want the biggest screen and the best battery life possible. Go with the standard S8 if you want a device that’s easier to fit in your hand and pocket.