July 11, 2017

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus Review – Has Samsung Improved Since 2013? (ARCHIVED)

We had some issues with our webhost and lost most of our old site, but this article was recovered.  We were unable to recover the images… sorry for any inconvenience.

 

 

I’ve been using the Galaxy S8 Plus for a little over three weeks. This is my first Samsung phone since the Galaxy Centura back in 2013. I didn’t have a good experience with it. Does the S8 Plus remind me of the Centura, or has Samsung improved?

 

 

The one thing that amazes me about the S8 Plus is that Samsung managed to fit a 6.2 inch screen into a smaller phone than the Nexus 6P, which has a 5.7 inch screen. They did this making the screen go the whole way to the side and almost all the way to the top and bottom of the phone. They had to take out the home button to do this, but they made the screen so it’s pressure sensitive where the home button used to be. The screen is a Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display. If you’ve ever seen a Samsung display, you know that they look amazing and this one is not any different. The only thing that the could be a problem is that you might have to move your hand up the phone to reach the top of the screen, or use two hands. Back to what I said about getting rid of the home button. You might be wondering about where they put the fingerprint sensor. It’s not in the screen like they might do with the iPhone 8. They moved it to the back, right in the center, the place where you normally rest your finger anyway.

 

Just kidding, that picture is a fake. It is on the back, but it’s right next to the camera, in the worst possible spot. When I have my finger on the fingerprint sensor, it covers half the camera. I don’t get why they couldn’t just put it below the camera like in the picture I made, or even just move the camera to the side like on the iPhone. This isn’t terrible, it’s just annoying. While we are on the back of the phone, I want to talk about something that I haven’t heard a lot about but I want to mention. It’s the heart rate sensor. The heart rate sensor is hidden right under the flash and I didn’t know about it until about a week after I got the phone. It’s something that’s not normally on a phone plus you can use it to measure your heart rate, oxygen saturation, and stress level.

The camera is the last thing on the back of the phone. It’s the same camera as last year’s S7 had, but that’s not a bad thing. The only difference is the software that the phone uses to capture photos and videos has changed that’s what makes it better that the S7’s camera. This is still one of the best smartphone cameras I’ve used. Here are a few pictures from the rear facing camera showing different situations, like low light and outdoor use. I have HDR on for all of these pictures.

Something else that’s nice is they actually have a headphone jack. Not only does Samsung give you a headphone jack, but they give you headphones too. Now these aren’t $30 headphones like Apple gives you… Yes, I read that twice too! I didn’t think Apple charges $30 dollars for those headphones that don’t even stay in your ear either. Anyway, Samsung gives you comfortable headphones that are tuned by AKG. They actually stay in your ear and retail for $99. I thought that was a nice touch.

The USB Type C port gives the phone fast charging on wired, and they also say that it has fast wireless charging but I couldn’t test that since I don’t have a wireless charger. The battery is really good. They didn’t try to fit a huge battery in the S8 or S8 Plus to make sure nothing like the Note 7 happened this time. The battery in the S8 is actually smaller than the one from the S7. I am still able to get about 15 hours of battery from the 3500 mAh battery. You can extend that battery life by using the power saving modes.

Time for Bixby. To me, Bixby is like the Note 7 of software. Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, and Cortana all use voice as the main way to communicate with them. Bixby doesn’t yet support voice interaction, and seems like Google Now with cards. There is also the Google Goggles like camera feature, Bixby vision. I don’t think Samsung should have released Bixby until the voice interaction was ready, but I really don’t think they should have dedicated a button to what their version of Google Now cards is. I always accidentally press it and there is even a case on Kickstarter that covers up the Bixby button. It doesn’t look like it will get funded, but the fact that this is a thing shows how much people dislike the Bixby button. Something more like double tapping the fingerprint sensor to open bixby would have been more appropriate in my opinion. Bixby seems like it was rushed to consumers in my opinion, like the Note 7, just less fires. (Watch this part of the video for a laugh!)

A good part of the S8 Plus is that it’s the first phone to have Bluetooth 5.0. There are some videos that explain what it does better, like this one. Leaving stock Android was something that I was afraid of. I liked having the developer previews of upcoming Android releases, being the first to get software updates, and having the Google Now experience. So far I don’t really miss the developer previews that much, and if I do I can put it on my old phone. The software updates haven’t been an issue yet, I just hope I don’t have to wait for months to get Android O after it’s released. And I was able to install the Google Now launcher on the S8 Plus because I had it on my 6P. Touchwiz is now referred to as the “Samsung Experience”, and doesn’t change as much stuff with Android as previous versions of Touchwiz. I can live with the Samsung Experience.

I used the S8 Plus for my review, but all of this applies to the S8. The only difference is that the Plus has a larger screen and a bigger battery. I would recommend the S8 or S8 Plus to anyone looking for a more premium Android experience, or someone switching to Android from an iPhone.