I recently upgraded to the GS8 from my worn, aged LG G3. In a word, the experience has been exceptional.
Now I had left the Galaxy line over 2 years ago due to having a less than stellar experience with the GS3. This was mostly due to the touchwiz UI and personal preferences, but the ergonomics of the Galaxy phones have always bothered me because (while they are sleek) they slide out of my pockets so easily you’d think they were jumping out of them. Again, this is a preference thing, but still it is a big deal when you spend a lot of time running outside. Unfortunately the G3 was not any better at preventing this, and apart from its larger screen was not much of an improvement. Now years later I find myself wanting to give Samsung another try.
I picked up the GS8 (not the plus) about a week ago and have been using it for day to day tasks. Normally after a week I’m done with Samsung’s UI (and my carrier’s bloatware) and end up flashing a custom rom. This time around I thought I’d give it a bit more time and see if I can cope with touchwiz. I have to say the experience has been very smooth and chock fulla features.
It’s been four phone generations since I last used Samsung’s UI, so my opinion should be served with a pinch of salt. That being said several improvements have been made over the years that have culminated in the current iteration.
For one, typing is much easier using the default Samsung keyboard. My not so nimble brute fingers have little trouble typing lengthy paragraphs. (Some of this post was written using the phone.) I don’t know if they really changed much with the typing experience, but the kerning is well optimized to leave just enough space between characters and not so close as to bump the wrong characters. I don’t think the importance of this can be understated. Err body in the club texts and tweets all the time. The keyboard they use needs to be capable.
As for the display, it’s what you would expect from an WQHD+ display at 570ppi, crisp and clean (no caffeine). Doing a side by side comparison with a GS6, the backlighting on the S8 is clearly distributed more evenly, even under a lower brightness setting.
The infinity display is actually something to ride home about. I don’t think you can squeeze in much more screen real estate with this phone without doing away with the sleek body altogether. The device uses every last bit of the available space.
The camera is the best one I’ve used so far on an android phone. The G3’s laser autofocus was a huge selling point for me as I suck real bad at focusing on the right subjects when shooting with my phone.
The GS8’s phase detection focus is good, especially in pro mode when you opt for spot focus. There’s only so much you can get from a non DSLR lens without a high end auto focusing chip, but when it comes to phone lenses, the Galaxy S8 is the bar. Comparing to an iPhone 7 Plus, the colors on the GS8 are truer and therefore more vivid. Seriously, I did a side by side comparison and the iPhone’s blue and red colors were clearly muted by comparison.
Here’s a sample shot taken in pro mode (at dusk). Again, I’m super bad at focus, but despite that the colors are true and the foreground appears sharp:
The jury is still out on just how good the battery life is on the GS8, but so far I’ve not had a bad experience. I generally keep the display at 65% brightness and run a ton o apps concurrently, including maps (I like to explore) which as you probably know requires constant GPS updates to function. After a full day of use away from a charger the battery has dropped as low as 44%. This is a subjective view, but for me that’s pretty decent considering all that I use the phone for. I won’t even get into the automation tasks I run using it which eat up a considerable amount of electricity on their own.
The battery life alone is not the only major selling point, Samsung’s fast wireless charger is a must have accessory. When I started using the G3, I retrofitted it with a wireless charging sticker and became addicted to wireless charging. No fumbling with cables, just drop (well, place) the phone on the EMI charging pad and it starts charging. My family is prone to break USB ports on just about any device they use when constantly charging, so not having to do that anymore is great. The fast wireless charging is well, fast, and the GS8 has the chip required for this build in. I highly recommend picking up a fast wireless charger with this device. (I’ll also say that not all fast wireless chargers are created equal, as expensive as it may be the only charging pad I would use is the Samsung provided one.)
By default you get 64GB of internal storage with the base model, which for me quadrupled the amount of available space. I can store a lot of AAA games, videos and photos on the device, whereas before I eventually had to pick and choose what to keep or move to the SD card. How about that SD card space? 256GBs of U3 class speed is available, which basically means I could store 32k 8MB mp3s, 26k photos (RAW formatted/no compression), or an image backup of my DESKTOP PC! When Apple and other Android device manufacturers chose to eliminate the SD card in favor of deplorably abysmal free cloud storage options, it was nice to see Samsung still providing a rock solid SD option.
Application launch times on this phone are snappy and fast enough for me to not notice any latency. While I rarely use it, touchwiz’s multi window feature works well for when you want to use multiple apps at the same time.
If you’re a gamer playing the latest and greatest mobile games, this is the phone for you. I’m under the notion that in my lifetime, mobile GPUs will become equal in capability to high-end Desktop chips. The GS8’s graphics processing certainly supports that assumption. I play racing games and top down shooters quite a bit and thus far the gaming has been fun and lag free.
Call quality on this phone is clear and the speakers are loud when they need to be. I don’t have much to say beyond that as I don’t do a lot of calling. One thing I can say is that the alarm is loud and proud in the morning, even when I set the volume level low. The phone comes with (normally $99) AKG earbuds with dedicated drivers for tweeter and woofer. They are not reference earbuds by any means, but they are well above the quality I would normally get from buds. I can’t justify spending more than $40 on earbuds so getting a free pair that are valued at twice the price is amazing.
Overall, if I had to rate the Galaxy S8 I would give it 5 stars. This comes after doing several comparisons with other android devices and an iPhone 7. I did a lot of research on other phones before picking the S8 up.
As stated, I’ve only had the phone for about a week, so I probably need more time with it before solidifying my opinion. So far, it’s the only Android phone you should upgrade to.