I can sum up my review of the Samsung Galaxy S8 by quoting my 13-year-old son talking to his friend the other day. He said, “Yeah, my dad reviewed this demo Galaxy S8 for only 45 minutes and then he went out and bought one.”
He’s not lying. I immediately fell in love with the phone—and so should you. And I really did go out and buy one.
For those of you who require a little more detail to be convinced, however, let me go through the highlights of the new Samsung Galaxy S8.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Galaxy S8 is how beautiful it looks. Gone is the hard “home” button at the bottom of the phone (it is replaced by an on-screen software button). In its place is more of the display. Carried over from the S6 and S7 is the curved glass left and right edges. The combination of these makes the front of the Galaxy S8 look like all screen even though in reality there is still a slight border around the top and bottom. Samsung calls this the Infinity Screen and it looks every bit as sexy as it sounds.
If you’re wondering how the transition from the hard home button to the soft, on-screen home button is, it’s not bad. Admittedly, it did take me a day or two to get the feel of it, but after that, I barely even noticed the difference. The only time it still occasionally trips me up is when the display goes full screen (and the on-screen buttons disappear). When this happens you have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to re-display the buttons.
Incidentally, I say buttons not button because the on-screen buttons include the menu button, the home button and the back button.
A few more physical changes
Besides the new Infinity Screen, Samsung made a few other changes with the new Galaxy S8. The biggest is that the fingerprint sensor is now on the back of the phone. This means you’ll likely use your index finger instead of your thumb for your fingerprint because that’s the finger that easily rests on the fingerprint sensor when you hold the phone in your hand. I thought this might make it more difficult to use but it doesn’t.
Image source: www.samsung.com
In fact, I find the fingerprint sensor to be even better than previous Galaxy models. I can put my index finger on the sensor straight up and down, sideways or at an angle and it still recognizes it every time. Plus, if you add a case to your phone (and who doesn’t do this), the cutout on your case for the fingerprint sensor makes it even easier to locate.
For those wondering, here’s the case I bought for my Galaxy S8+: Spigen Neo Hybrid Galaxy S8 Plus Case. If you need a case for the slightly smaller S8, here’s the same case for that mode: Spigen Neo Hybrid Galaxy S8 Case
Galaxy S8 vs. S8+
You may have noticed I’ve referenced two models of the Galaxy S8—the S8 and the S8+. The only differences between these two models is the size and the battery. The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8″ display and a 3000mAh battery while the S8+ has a 6.2″ display and a 3500mAh battery. I normally never go for the larger “plus” model with phones but this time around the plus size didn’t seem all that much bigger to me. In fact the regular size felt a little smaller in my hand. For these reasons, I went with the S8+ for my own personal phone.
Image source: www.samsung.com
Other things I love about the Galaxy S8
Here’s a list of other things I love about the new Galaxy S8:
- Face detection. This isn’t necessarily new to the Galaxy line of phones but in my opinion it is much improved. Face detection allows you to use your face to unlock your phone. All you need to do is stare at your phone and if it recognizes you, it unlocks. Of course, hats, glasses and other accessories will throw it off so Samsung still recommends using your fingerprint but face detection is an awfully nice backup.
- microSD card is back! The S8 comes with 64GB of internal storage but can be expanded with a microSD card (up to 256GB)
- Still water resistant. Even with the microSD card expansion slot, the S8 is still IP68 rated meaning it can handle full submersion in up to 1.5 meters of fresh water for up to 30 minutes.
- Blue light filter. Numerous studies have shown that the blue light from our smartphones can be bad for us, especially when viewing our phones late at night in a dark room. With the touch of a button, the S8 can now filter out this blue light.
- Long press popup menus. Now when you long press an app icon on the home page, a mini menu appears next to the icon with options like removing the app from your home page or uninstalling the app. This is far easier than the old way of dragging the icon with your finger over a trash can icon.
- Power saving mode. Using the power saving mode settings, you can specify which apps you still want/need to use even with power saving mode on.
- App power monitor. Allows you to tag specific apps such that they no longer use power when you’re not using them.
- USB-C connection. The Galaxy S8 makes the jump to the new USB-C standard. While this means you probably are going to have to buy some new spare cables, it also means no more guess which way to plug your cable in. If you want to take care of all of your USB-C cable needs at once consider this 5-pack of cables on Amazon: AUKEY USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable Braided Nylon (5-Pack 3.3ft x 3, 6.6ft x 1, 1ft x 1)
I’d also like to take a minute to say a few words about the newly improved Samsung Health (formerly S Health) app on the Galaxy S8. For the first time, I’m all in on using this app. I let it count my steps (no more Fitbit), track my blood pressure and measure my stress level and SpO2 percentage (using the built-in heart rate monitor on the back of the phone). I also track my water and caffeine intake as well as input my food intake to track how many calories (and carbs, fat and protein) I consume each day. Finally, I use it to track my weight.
I couldn’t end a review of the Galaxy S8 without talking about Samsung’s new virtual assistant, Bixby. Yes, I realize Bixby can do a lot of cool things (like recognize things with the live camera) but I just feel like the bulk of what I want to use a virtual assistant for on this phone is already handled with the new Google Assistant. It feels like Samsung is entering a space that is already dominated by Google.
Even slightly more annoying is that Bixby has a dedicated hard button on the side of the phone just below the volume buttons that I ever so often accidentally press. I could definitely do without the Bixby button.
I’m not going to take any more space writing about Bixby. If you want to read up on more yourself, use this link.
You probably figured it out by now but I’m all in on the Samsung Galaxy S8. If you are looking for a new smartphone and Android is your thing, you simply can’t go wrong with the Galaxy S8.
Note: The Samsung Galaxy S8 in this review was provided to me by Verizon Wireless and can be purchased at your local Verizon Wireless store or at www.verizonwireless.com.