Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ review: Cutting the edge and doing it in style  

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The Galaxy S8 from Samsung is a heady concoction of style and cutting-edge technology. There’s little doubt, it’ll be hard — nay really hard — to take your eyes off of Samsung’s 2017 flagship phone once you’ve got a taste of it. There’s little doubt then you’ll want some more of it. And then some more. It’s that gorgeous. Not to mention, technologically sound down to the very core.

There’s so much to love about the Galaxy S8, it’ll make you want to forget everything about the infamous Galaxy Note 7. The fact that it’s got everything — straight out of the future looks and straight out of the future tech — makes it a complete package: a true value for money proposition even at a price as high as Rs 57,900.

It’s not perfect by all means, the Galaxy S8, but for the first time in a very long time, there’s very little to complain about a Samsung Galaxy S phone simply because there aren’t many visible kinks in its armor to really make a hue and cry about. Samsung somehow even got TouchWiz right this time for crying out loud. Hopefully, the Galaxy S8 will also stand the test of time, but, that’s something only time will tell. Wouldn’t it now?

The beauty

Calling the Galaxy S8 gorgeous will be an understatement. On a regular day, it would easily pass off as a limited edition device, the kind that only a high-profile fashion company could conjure. And charge you nothing short of a bomb for it. Apple and HTC are often credited for making the proverbial smartphone look good. Henceforth, Samsung will be credited for making them look even better. Curvier.

Fact is Samsung has been churning out gorgeous handsets since the days of the Galaxy S6. It was about the same time, it is said, that it started imagining the Galaxy S8 as well. The Galaxy S8 — code-named Dream — would be a long continuous sheet of glass with an edge-to-edge display and no physical buttons. Some it achieved, some it didn’t.

The Galaxy S8, on first look, appears to be a hybrid cross between the Galaxy S7 Edge and the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. It’s no surprise then, that it’s carved out of glass — Corning’s new Gorilla Glass 5 — and metal. Only in the case of the Galaxy S8, the metallic centerpiece that joins the front and back is virtually non-existent. And it’s polished in a way that it gives out the impression that the whole thing is one continuous sheet of glass, again, just the way Samsung had imagined on the drawing board. The Galaxy S8, especially when it’s powered down with an Always-on display, is a sight to behold. I would write songs about it if I could. If only I could. Sigh.

 Calling the Galaxy S8 gorgeous will be an understatement. On a regular day, it would easily pass off as a limited edition device, the kind that only a high-profile fashion company could conjure. And charge you nothing short of a bomb for it

The front, in the case of the Galaxy S8, is clean and without any physical buttons. Samsung, for the first time in what seems like forever, has moved the fingerprint scanner from the front on to the back. The home button, is meanwhile, software-based. It is also pressure-sensitive and gives you haptic feedback when you press it, kind of how it is in the case of Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. But, while the iPhone has a dedicated area — atop a chunky lower bezel — to serve the purpose, Samsung’s phone employs what you can call an invisible solution.

Samsung, for the first time in what seems like forever, has also incorporated software-based back and recent keys — in the case of the Galaxy S8 — which are also editable. Sigh. You can now place the back key where it was always meant to be. On the left, of course.

On-screen navigation keys are of course no taboo for the world of Android. What is, in fact, a taboo for Android phones are bezels (or rather the lack of them). Those wide unattractive strips (of plastic, glass or metal) that occupy the top, bottom and sides of most smartphones. The Galaxy S8 has almost no bezels. To be a little more precise, it is all screen and no bezels. To be a little more precise, the phone gives you almost 83 per cent of screen-to-body ratio. In a compact palm-sized form factor. The Galaxy S8, because it has almost no bezels, occupies a much smaller footprint — size as well as girth — in comparison to most 5.5-inch phones. The Galaxy S8, for your reference, has a 5.8-inch screen. The iPhone 7 Plus and the Google Pixel XL look like giants in comparison. Even intimidatingly so.

Being all-glass, however, has its downsides. The Galaxy S8 attracts fingerprints and smudge by the millisecond. It can also be super glossy for some. But, it surely isn’t slippery. An all glass (and metal) phone that isn’t slippery is hard to find. The Galaxy S8, without a doubt, has to be the most ergonomic all-glass phone in smartphone history. And very pocket-able.

Because, it isn’t slippery (enough) you can afford to play around with it without having to worry about accidentally dropping and breaking its glorious curved screen. Should you, however shatter it, you must know Samsung isn’t offering any accidental cover. What it is offering though is a choice of as many as nine different cover accessories that you can buy separately. But whatever you do, don’t drop it. Ever.

You’re allowed to drop it in the shower though because the Galaxy S8 is IP68-certified for dust and water resistance.

The main USP of the Galaxy S8, however, is its Infinity display. Samsung’s new phone has an unusual 18.5:9 aspect ratio instead of a more traditional 16:9. The idea is to offer more screen in a pint-sized phone and to make every inch of that screen count. The Galaxy S8 further has a 2960×1440 pixel (WQHD+) resolution and Samsung’s proprietary Super AMOLED panel. It is only the second smartphone in the world to support HDR 10 (after the LG G6). All this when put together should entail in a one-of-its-kind cinematographic experience. And it does.

As long as you have the content to conjure the Galaxy S8’s one-of-its-kind edge-to-edge display sorcery. By now, it’s pretty clear that Samsung makes the best displays. Its Super AMOLED panels, boasting of over-saturated colours with deep blacks, are a force to reckon with. Needless to say, the Galaxy S8 also doesn’t disappoint on this front.

The phone, by default, hovers around Full-HD to conserve battery life, according to Samsung. The WQHD+ mode has to be manually enabled from the settings. When enabled, and in sync with HDR 10, Samsung’s new phone apparently can “let you see the same vibrant colours and contrasts that filmmakers intended while watching content.” In order to make full use of it, however, you’ll need content that supports the Galaxy S8’s native 18.5:9 aspect ratio. That content, like 4K was at one point of time, is scarce at this point of time although you will find some on YouTube. Videos that don’t support the Galaxy S8’s native 18.5:9 aspect ratio will play fine, but, with letter-boxing (black bars on either side). Force to fit might result in frame rate issues and content chopping here and there. The same is true for games as well. While games like Asphalt 8: Airborne support the Galaxy S8’s native aspect ratio, others like Crossy Road don’t. Web pages work fine though.

In the engine of phone:

Samsung built its own virtual assistant for the Galaxy S8, because, well why not? Bixby is Samsung’s take on Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant. It responds to both touch and voice and has the ability to translate as many as 52 languages. Apple’s Siri, for your reference, maxes out at 30. “At launch, Bixby’s Voice function will integrate with several Samsung native apps and features including Camera, Contacts, Gallery, Messages and Settings, with the plan to expand its capabilities to include more Samsung and third-party apps in the near future,” Samsung says.

Language translation along with image recognition is said to be the main USP of Bixby. The Galaxy S8 will be able to take pictures, identify objects, and provide context to images using Bixby.

The Galaxy S8 also has a dedicated Bixby button — that you can’t re-map — that can be used to summon Samsung’s virtual assistant. Erstwhile it also rests as a separate home-screen that can be accessed by swiping from the left. It shows everything ranging from the recent photos you’ve clicked, to the latest news, to the latest weather, to your recent appointments, so on and so forth in a card-based fashion ala Google Now.

And oh, the phone does ship with Google Assistant should you be looking to ignore Bixby altogether. For now, Bixby doesn’t support voice commands. Also, English in the Indian dialect isn’t supported yet. Bixby vision, that gives you shopping and image recommendations, based on images you’ve clicked with the camera is fun to begin with. But, not for long. It’s more a hit or miss really. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

There’s little doubt that the Infinity display and Bixby impart a distinct character to the Galaxy S8, you can’t help but notice, it’s Dex that might just be the best thing to have happened to it.Dex offers “a unique solution that transforms the Galaxy S8 into a desktop by providing a secure desktop-like experience,” according to Samsung. Now, Samsung itself isn’t new to the concept of a smartphone-as-desktop. But back in the day, Samsung’s Smart Dock, was more about catching up with Apple — AirPlay — than about anything else.

Samsung’s new dock — called Dex — takes a different route altogether, a route quite recently taken by Microsoft and its ill-fated Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft called it Continuum. Unlike Continuum that was intended to let users connect their Windows 10 phone to a monitor — and additionally to a keyboard and mouse — and transform it into a full-blown PC using a Microsoft Display Dock or a Miracast dongle, Samsung’s Dex has relatively humbler aspirations. The only downside is, it requires the Galaxy S8 (or Galaxy S8+), to work because apparently Dex breeds on raw power that only Samsung’s next-generation mobile phones with Qualcomm’s next-generation mobile processor aka the Snapdragon 835 can conjure. Also, the Dex dock will cost you Rs 8,999. If that wasn’t enough you’ll also have to invest separately in a monitor, keyboard and mouse for the whole thing to work. Unlike Continuum that let users use their Windows 10 Mobile phone as a trackpad, Dex would make your Galaxy S8 stand there like a dumb dodo.

Once everything is in order, you’ll get a PC-like desktop screen on your monitor replete with a Windows-like system tray containing all your functional and non-functional controls, including signal bars and a battery indicator. All your currently running apps will be docked at the bottom of the screen. You can access your entire Android app drawer and also add shortcuts to your desktop at will for quick access.

Because Dex uses core Android apps — both smartphone and tablet-compatible — and not Windows 10 Mobile-based ones the entire Google Play store is accessible via Dex when in desktop mode. Which means every app on the Play Store is available for download and install although usability could vary depending on whether the app is touch-based or otherwise. While smartphone-only apps open in smartphone-sized windows, Android apps that support both smartphone and tablet modes open in full-scale windows that can also be resized. But the biggest advantage comes through multi-tasking. You can run more than one app simultaneously, and the experience is seamless across all apps.

Under the HOOD:

At the heart of the Galaxy S8 is a 2.3GHz octa-core Exynos 8895 processor clubbed with Mali-G71 MP20 GPU and 4 gigs of RAM along with 64GB of internal memory. The dual-SIM phones runs Android 7.0 Nougat-based TouchWiz UI — Samsung Experience UX — and support 4G LTE connectivity. Expandable storage is supported via a hybrid micro-SD card slot. So is NFC and OTG.

While Samsung’s top-tier flagship phones have always had the best in-class hardware, improper software optimisation meant, these phones were simply unable to utilise their full potential. Samsung’s Galaxy S phones up to last year’s Galaxy S7 were marred by lags and delays (not to mention bloat or unwanted apps) because TouchWiz was just sad back in the day. With the Note 7, it showed the first signs of revival, but unfortunately the phone backfired for Samsung. But, Samsung made a comeback with the Galaxy S8. So did TouchWiz, or Samsung UX, as the company calls it now.

 It’s a match made in heaven — UX and the Galaxy S8 — a phrase you wouldn’t normally associate with a top-tier Samsung phone. But, look how the tables have turned

A lot of things inside Samsung’s UX have been lifted as it is from the Note 7’s Grace UX and yet it’s a whole new ball game altogether. You can tell the Galaxy S8 was built from scratch after the whole Note 7 fiasco. Samsung’s UX was also part of the whole moving on, starting a-fresh phase it seems. For good.

It’s a match made in heaven — UX and the Galaxy S8 — a phrase you wouldn’t normally associate with a top-tier Samsung phone. But, look how the tables have turned. Not only is the UX properly optimised for the Galaxy S8, Samsung has also reduced the count of unwanted apps. The Galaxy S8 although it is still jam-packed with duplicate apps feels faster and smoother than all Samsung Galaxy S phones put together. And it looks good, which is surprisingly the biggest change in Samsung’s in-house software.I really like how it handles incoming notifications and suggests things that I would want to search while I am inside the settings menu. I really like how it lets me chose between having a traditional app drawer or a spring-board of apps menu on the home-screen. I really like how it lets me pull the app drawer out by swiping up or down anywhere on the screen, a lot like how it is in the Pixel phones. I really like how it implements split screen multitasking allowing me to resize the windows to just about any ratio and even have pop-up apps on top. I really like the Edge panels and Edge lighting even though it would be a gimmick for most users. I really like Samsung’s Secure Folder which lets me keep my files, memos and apps away from prying eyes. Heck, it even lets me run two instances of the same app simultaneously. Clearly, there’s a lot to love about Samsung’s new UX. The fact that it works seamlessly on the Galaxy S8 is more than just an icing on the cake.

In other news, the Galaxy S8 (and Galaxy S8+) is also the world’s first smartphone to support Bluetooth 5. Bluetooth 5 is successor to Bluetooth 4.2 and guarantees up to four times wider range than its predecessor. At the same time, the new wireless standard allows twice the data transfer speed and offers the ability to simultaneously connect two sets of wireless devices. In addition, the Galaxy S8 supports USB Type-C port for charging and data syncing and comes with a bottom facing mono-speaker which can get loud, but, at its price point stereo speakers would have been nice. Phone calls with the Galaxy S8, meanwhile, are of excellent quality and I did not witness any odd call drop issues on my review unit.

On the camera front, the Galaxy S8 comes with a 12-megapixel ‘dual-pixel’ rear (with f/1.7 aperture and optical image stabilisation) and an 8-megapixel front shooter combo. While the rear camera is largely the same as the one in last year’s Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, Samsung has made software tweaks to enhance post-processing that result in slightly better results., especially in low light. The Galaxy S8, in the grand scheme of things, betters the Pixel which was until now the best Android camera phone in the market. The Galaxy S8 also beats the iPhone 7, provided you have the knack for slightly over-processed — over-saturated — photos.

The front camera, meanwhile, now comes with autofocus in addition to the bumped up resolution (5-megapixel in last year’s Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge). It clicks amazing selfies — even in low light — with good detail and also far less-blur.

 

 

Source of information :Indiatoday Group

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Author: nikhilendrapns19

A Book lover,Tech savvy and a Blogger.

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