Samsung Galaxy S8 Review Roundup: Achieving Redemption

BY Evan Selleck

Published 18 Apr 2017

Last year, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 7, which, despite what would eventually become of it, was hailed as simply one of the best smartphones you could buy before the end of 2016.

Unfortunately for Samsung the best phone you could buy last year eventually started exploding, which meant that recommendation evaporated in flames and smoke. But that meant Samsung had a lot more to work for this year, and, as such, all eyes were on the Galaxy S8. The company’s newest flagship had to capitalize on what it got right with the Galaxy Note 7 from last year, while maintaining the promise of a safe phone.

The reviews are in, and it sounds like Samsung has managed to nail down at least one half of that. (It’s impossible to tell right now if the Galaxy S8 will have the same fate as the Galaxy Note 7, so that answer can’t be reached just yet.) So, here’s a quick review roundup of the Samsung Galaxy S8 (and the Galaxy S8 Plus in most cases). It’s being hailed as the best smartphone you can buy right now, which has to ring with a positive tone for Samsung.

“Luckily for Samsung, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are excellent devices to begin the work of rehabilitating its image. They are the best Android phones you can buy right now, with stunning displays, beautiful design, and great performance.

They aren’t perfect, though. There are few things that might make you think twice about upgrading, such as that terribly placed fingerprint scanner and only average battery life. But the shortcomings, as notable as they are, are far outweighed by achievements like its toweringly large screen and reliably good camera. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these phones to anyone in the market for one.”

“The S8 was bound to be a tightrope walk for Samsung. At recent events, the company has tested out slogans like “reach higher,” while striking an apologetic tone for past issues. The S8 feels a bit like the real-world manifestation of that mental chess, with solid hardware and a software experience that points the way toward something better — the unified ecosystem the company has always striven for, but never fully executed.

At $725 for the S8 and $825 for the S8+, the device is, as ever, a premium product with a premium price tag. Indeed, with the Infinity display, next-gen processor and already solid camera experience, there’s plenty to like, keeping Samsung toward the front of the Android handset race.”

“The aptly named Infinity Display is a Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440, which Samsung calls Quad HD+ — essentially an elongated version of Quad HD — and a pixel density of 529 ppi on the S8+ (570 on the S8). The iPhone 7 Plus has an HD screen with 401 ppi.

And all that resolution shows; it’s just a beautiful screen to behold. Everything from the Android 7/Samsung TouchWiz interface (which gets cleaner and better with every iteration) to movies, TV, games, and websites look sharp, vibrant and colorful.”

“If you have $750 or so lying around (or enough for the installment plans) and like a big screen, the Galaxy S8 is a great choice. You’ll get a beautiful design, a wonderful feel in the hand, a fine camera, good battery life and a great display. Just don’t count on any revolutionary new features.”

“Not to be dramatic, but the Galaxy S8 really is a feast for the eyes. It adopts a new dimension — 18.5:9 (that’s almost 2:1 like the LG G6) — which means that it’s tall and narrow. That makes it easier to use one-handed. Extremely slim bezels mean there’s much more screen stuffed into the shape: 83 percent of the phone’s face is all yours for tapping and viewing. The S8 is almost the exact same height as the G6, but those curved sides make the S8 feel narrower, slimmer and, in truth, much more vulnerable.

I was extremely nervous I’d drop it. It almost seems more like a museum piece than a tool I’m going to use every day. I’ve had one close call so far, but it hasn’t smashed to the ground yet. When it inevitably does, because butterfingers, I have a feeling those rounded edges will be easier to crack than a device with straight sides. I can’t say for sure, but the bigger problem may be the glass back.”

“The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus aren’t perfect, but they’re as close as Samsung has ever gotten. That’s a hell of a rebound for a company whose phablets… well, you know. Beyond the gorgeous design and the boost in horsepower, they feel like devices built in response to our preferences and nitpicks. That’s not something you see everyday. Bixby’s limited functionality and lack of consistency is a real bummer, but it’s not a deal-breaker. (We’ll return to this review when Bixby Voice is finally up and running.) In most other areas, Samsung has outdone itself. The year is still young and we’ll certainly see strong responses from Google and Apple. But for now, if you’re looking for a new smartphone, the S8s should be at — or very close to — the top of your list.”

“The smartphones we’re going to start to see later this year and beyond will have screens that take over most of the front display, support for the next-generation of wireless networks that will begin rolling out this year, thinner designs than ever before and new biometric security features like iris scanners. Samsung is the first to bring all of these to market in a mass consumer device. I suspect Apple will follow with some of these features, including the advanced screen and the iris scanner.

If there’s one thing you should take away from this review, it’s that the Galaxy S8 is a fantastic smartphone that’s well worth the cost. Will it blow up? I hope not, but I also think that there’s enough here to draw Samsung fans back to the brand, and to help Samsung replant itself as one of the leaders in the smartphone market.”

“The Galaxy S8 is the kind of phone I’ve been dreaming of: a massive screen on a compact, well-designed body. It’s about as close to perfect as you can get. But because the software isn’t as refined as the hardware, I found myself pining for a phone like this either running the clean version of Android or even iOS. (My dream may come true with the next iPhone, according to the latest rumors.)

I have a feeling the software quirks I mentioned won’t bother most people. And those quirks can easily be hidden or ignored. The Galaxy S8 is a great phone and it sets a new standard for all premium smartphones.”

Samsung had to make a splash with the Galaxy S8 this year, and, based on these reviews, it appears the company has achieved that. While there are some blemishes, like the placement of the fingerprint reader on the back of the phone (and up there alongside the camera), it seems like this is a minor sticking point for most, and one that does not drag down the total experience.

So, do you think Apple’s oft-rumored iPhone 8 will step the game up later this year? Or will Samsung hold the crown through 2017?