Samsung is back with a smartphone flagship which it hopes will douse the flames ignited by the Galaxy Note 7. With the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ the Korean tech giant has every reason to play safe, or at least stay clear of features that could result in issues. Launched in New York, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ will start selling in India this week. Here’s our review.
What is good?
The phone has one very unique feature in the infinity screen which kills the bezel and offers a display with unmatched dimensions. Hold the phone in your hand and you will not guess this is actually a 6.2-inch display. In a dimly lit room, this screen can gradually make you forget the surrounding and concentrate purely on the screen, which is great for those who consume long-form video on small screens. The content literally flows out of the screen. Another new feature is Bixby —a personal assistant in the background. So what used to be the Flipboard screen in top-end Samsung devices earlier is now the Bixby screen, with Flipboard as just one of the elements. It helps you keep a tab on engagements, weather, top news and most frequented websites. Also, there is a Bixby button in the camera app that lets you click a picture of something and ask Bixby to identify it.
I would have expected Samsung to push a dual screen camera as this is pretty much becoming the norm these days for top-end flagships. However, Samsung seems to have resisted the temptation and gone for a great camera without the extra muscles. What it offers now is undoubtedly the best Android camera. The kind of colours it can reproduce along with the rich details in unparalleled. The camera comes with all kinds of presets, plus some fun animated add-ons you will use in the first week and then get bored with. The manual mode gives a lot of options to exploit this superb camera.
The Samsung Galaxy S8+ professes a heightened sense of security. So there is a fingerprint scanner, iris scanner and face scanner, all to let you in into the device and to keep others from accessing your data. Since Samsung is pushing its Samsung Pay payment platform with this phone, this added layer of security makes good sense. Both the iris scanner and face detection work well in good light, but you will need to fall back on your PIN if the light is weak.
What is not that good?
I would be really scared about the safety of this phone with the infinity screen. Usually, when a phone falls, it is the edges that protect it, here it will be the edges that need maximum protection. And there is no point hiding a phone like this under a flapped cover after having spent so much on it. To add to the stress, the glass on the edge does not give it a great grip either.
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The audio quality could have been a lot better, especially when you consider where some of Samsung’s rivals are pushing this. It is not a big issue, but it is time all flagships started offering top notch audio experiences. One last thing is that since the home button has become virtual, there is no space for a fingerprint scanner up front. The scanner has been accommodated next to the camera, but not exactly where you would rest your fingers.
Should you buy?
Yes, if you are looking for a top-end Android phone. The only challenger is the Google Pixel which has not really flown off the shelves. My advice is to wait a few weeks just to ensure there are no major issues being reported from other parts of the world. Otherwise, this is a perfect phone with no big issues and many good features that will ensure a great user experience everyday.
Estimated street price: Rs 64,900