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Rediff.com  » Getahead » Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus: Simply stunning!

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus: Simply stunning!

Last updated on: May 28, 2017 08:00 IST

There is definitely a case for the S8 plus to be crowned as the champion of the handsets for the year 2017

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

With the Galaxy S7 handsets, Samsung showed quite impressively what it was capable of. The S7 Edge in particular established Samsung's refined ways of crafting unique phones, and few would have believed that anything could be capable of making the handsets outdated within a span of months.

While every year brings the renewed challenge for the handset makers to out perform themselves, the Galaxy Note 7's problems raised the stakes for Samsung further.

To everybody's delight, the Galaxy S8 handsets, and again the Plus variant in particular, resoundingly proved that Samsung is not the types to throw in the towel.

The 2017 flagship handsets are not only sleeker, taller, and more premium, it carries the hope of redefining the mobile phone market, with the Galaxy S8 leading from the front.

While pristine looks combined with top of the line hardware comes at a pretty price, one needs to look realistically about the chances it carries in a fiercely competing industry. There is no shortage of capable handsets with friendlier price tags, and the trend is not going anywhere either.

How much really does the all premium Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus hold against its rivals? We try to fish out the answer.

Construction

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

While the display is one of the important pillars of a smart phone, there is very little scope for making changes in this department.

Samsung seems to have cracked the mystery regarding how the future of phone display will be. A cursory glance at this glass and metal device, and it reinforces the belief that it is indeed futuristic.

The handset measures 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm in all, and weighs a decent 173 gms.

This IP68 certified device is a tall phone, and Samsung has done well to keep it slimmer. This should allow a decent leeway while moving the thumb across to access all those app icons.

The glass back is curved and further assists in holding the phone comfortably. It is quite remarkable that the Galaxy S8 Plus is right about iPhone 7's size, and yet, it comfortably beats the Apple device's 5.5-inch display in every which way possible.

One of the big surprises was that Samsung finally has removed the home button, a permanent fixture on its flagship mobile phones.

Instead, Samsung has opted for the onscreen navigation buttons, two of which can be switched as per the user preference.

The home button can be accessed from anywhere on the bottom part of the display, and features haptic feedback. The virtual buttons add to the immersive experience of the 'Infinity Display', as Samsung prefers to call it.

Turn the phone around and one finds the camera module, the heart rate sensor, and the LED flash.

Sitting right next to the camera is the finger print scanner and quite honestly is one of biggest flaws in this design.

One has to be mighty dexterous in order to reach it without smudging the camera lens.

Samsung clearly had to resort to this placement after it ran out of time to embed the fingerprint scanner underneath the display screen.

As for the button placement, the power button has been placed on the right edge, where as the left edge is seen carrying the volume buttons.

The top edge has the hybrid dual SIM slot, while at the bottom edge one finds the 3.5 mm audio jack, the USB Type C port, and the single speaker.

The left edge also has a new addition to Samsung handsets, a button to launch Bixby -- Samsung's very own voice assistant.

Overall, it is a stunning piece of premium hardware, and Samsung has indeed outdone itself with this 2017 blockbuster product.

Display

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

True to its image, Samsung again has wowed everybody with their choice and styling of display for the latest flagship handset. The Galaxy S8 Plus boasts of a big, but tall 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display panel.

With a resolution of 1440 x 2960 p, the pixel density goes right upto a mind boggling 529 ppi.

Samsung has been courageous enough to bring forward both the Galaxy S8 handsets with curved displays. The displays are less steep, and this revised design gives it a very sublime look and feel.

Just the way the screen meets the metal, removing scope of any bezel to exist, makes it look like the next logical upgrade in the display department.

Another interesting thing to note on the S8 Plus is the 18.5:9 aspect ratio. The tall display has got the interest of the heavy users of media files piqued.

The 'Mobile HDR Premium' certification needs to be seen to believed. The screen gets flooded with the content all over, giving a fantastic immersive experience.

The effort from Google to bring the apps to match this aspect ratio bodes well for the S8 handsets' chances. While few aspects of videos like subtitles may get cropped out, one cannot deny the fantastic experience while watching the videos.

Always on display has been provided, but it could have been a bit more detailed. Little more details on the notifications would have enhanced the effectiveness here. Otherwise, the display has nothing to complain about.

Bright enough to be used outdoors without any issues, and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection gives some assurance. But the display remains fragile, especially the corners.

Users will do well to opt for a sturdy case for this beauty.

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus comes with the Exynos 8895 SoC. The octa core CPU comprises of four cores operating at 2.3 GHz, while another set of four cores are clocked at 1.7 GHz.

The GPU responsibilities are handled by Mali-G71 MP20, and we see 4GB worth of RAM supplied alongside.

There is a rich dose of 64 GB worth of onboard storage that comes with the S8 plus, which can be further increased by another 256 GB via microSD card slot.

Connectivity

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

The S8 Plus is a dual SIM handset, and comes complete with support for 4G as well as VoLTE technology. Some users may frown at the hybrid slot, which will force them to choose from either the secondary SIM, or the microSD card.

Samsung should have spared the users from making this harsh choice.

Other connectivity options include WiFi (802.11ac), GPS, NFC and Bluetooth 5.0. The latter allowing not only for faster transfers and longer range, but also the advantage of pairing two Bluetooth speakers to get a good surround sound effect going for their media files esp.

Radio feature sadly failed to make the cut.

Operating system

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus comes running the Android Nougat (ver 7.0), with a custom skin applied on top.

Samsung prefers to call it 'Samsung Experience' now.

The software aspect of Samsung handsets has been the consistent recipient of criticism, and it is good to see Samsung finally warming up to the issue.

The user interface looks cleaner, refreshed, and well laid out.

Users can swipe from anywhere on the screen to bring the app drawer up. They could have optimised this a bit more, but let us not nitpick. They also seem to have addressed the issue of 'Ghost Taps' experienced by the users on the edge variants.

Speaking of the edge, users can swipe to get access to their preferred apps, contacts, screenshots or the gif making abilities. The rolling screenshot is a favourite feature, allowing to grab an entire page.

Icons look much evolved, and the system apps too have been refreshed in looks.

One can long press the app icons to get some additional options. While still not Apple-esque 3D touch, it is a start.

The default keyboard may not be appreciated by everybody, and installing a third party keyboard maybe in order. Then there are the issues of the pre-installed software like Microsoft Suite and Samsung's own duplicate apps like browser, the health based apps etc.

Not only do they clutter things, most of these are not completely uninstallable either. Maybe next year Samsung will oblige by removing these?

Lastly, we come to Samsung's own virtual assistant Bixby.

While it has a few tricks up its sleeves like bringing up weather info, system based options, themes and wallpaper options etc, it is also problematic.

There is a slight lag while loading it, and it still doesn't do voice commands.

Samsung deserves every bit of flak for the Bixby inclusion. Not only is it a half cooked product, it is basically a clone of Android's virtual assistant.

The stubbornness of Samsung to not allow the users to remap the Bixby button is counter productive.

The only somewhat useful feature of Bixby is enabling the users to look up desired products by clicking their photographs and launching a Bixby based search.

How much and how frequently this will be used, is anybody's guess.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

At the rear, Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus has a 12 MP sensor camera (with Dual Pixels), it has a f/1.7 aperture, and comes complete with Optical Image Stabilisation and Phase Detection Autofocus.

While at the first glance one may think that Samsung has not tinkered with last year's S7's camera here, but that is not entirely true. Samsung has indeed gone for a more polished version than last year.

To counter the all conquering Google Pixel's camerawork, Samsung has upgraded the last year's camera sensor and the result clearly shows. The Samsung Galaxy S8 handsets now rival Google Pixel in photography department, and these three marquee handsets tower above the competition easily.

The images captured by S8 Plus come out looking vibrant. Punchier colours and more vividness give the images an impressive, brighter look and feel.

The Auto HDR has been kept on by default and it has got a great deal of contribution in the final results. Seldom will the user feel to tinker around with the auto mode.

Pro mode of course is there for the prosumers.

The f/1.7 aperture also means better night time photography, and Samsung stands tall in this realm especially. The noise has been suppressed impressively and details come out nicely.

The PDAF ensured that the camera locked onto subjects quickly in any condition.

Samsung's camera app also has been quite impressive, and using the onscreen shutter button for zooming in and out is a useful feature.

Users can swipe anywhere on the screen to switch between the cameras easily. Addition of Snapchat like filters ought to win more admirers, as the filters are not only good looking, the tracking function seems to be on the money as well.

The videos mirror the findings from the still photography department, with clips looking brighter and more crisp than from last year's flagships.

Even the OIS looks more robust. One can shoot really good looking 4K videos, but the 1080p videos however have the HDR magical feature enabled, and that made the latter resolution an automatic choice.

The front facing camera gets a huge bump, with last year's 5 MP camera getting replaced by an 8 MP variant.

There is the auto focus mode as well, and everything combined nicely to get sharper selfie shots.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

This here is one of the most potent configuration here on paper, and the tasks zipped across the screen as expected. Be it the multitasking or the multi window feature being pressed into service, there were no hiccups really.

The HD content looked superb on the gorgeous screen and be it the demanding games or the video content, everything fared smoothly.

The Samsung Experience UI still has some rough edges it seems. It was a crying shame to see Bixby launching with a little pause, a problem veteran Samsung users have seen with other apps in the past.

The very slight stutter with the scrolling will remind you about that little bit of non optimization being left out. Samsung ought to own up and remove these with the next update.

While the AKG branded headset brings out good quality sound, the speaker just about does the job. Yes, it is loud, but not really sublime.

A stereo speaker would have added to the sheen on this hardware, but that was not to be. The placement makes it easy for the landscape mode lovers to muffle the speaker every now and then.

The fingerprint scanner is quick and accurate, but the placement again frustrates a lot.

Thankfully, the iris scanner, which should not be called as secure, comes to the rescue. It is fast and does the job even with sun glasses on, but make sure that your photograph is not widely available as that can be used to unlock the handset as well.

Battery

The Galaxy S8 plus comes with a 3500 mAh non user replaceable battery. While it sounded a tad feeble for the task, thankfully, the handset lasted for a day comfortably on a moderate to heavy usage pattern.

Adaptive charging feature has been preferred here, and allows for the battery to go from 0 to 100 per cent charged in about an hour and 45 minutes. Opt for the wireless charging ways, and expect about half an hour worth of increment in waiting time for battery to be fully juiced up.

Users can opt for 1080p display instead of cranking it up all the way to conserve the energy. Opting for non HDR mode also gets significant boost for the battery performance.

It is good to see Samsung putting in options to exercise during the crunch periods.

Verdict

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

The expectations were high, and with the S8+ and the S8, Samsung has redefined the competition, just like how they did it with the introduction of Samsung Galaxy Note.

There should be no hesitation by the users of premium phablet users to switch over to the S8+, even if not due for an immediate upgrade of their phones.

A stunning display, polished camera which was already had a reckoning, water resistance, microSD card slot, and wireless charging, all these features are enticing enough.

There is definitely a case for the S8 plus to be crowned as the champion of the handsets for the year 2017.

The battery does its job, and after Samsung published a detailed report about the findings on Note 7 fiasco, their decision not to pack the S8 handsets with extravagant battery packs must be appreciated.

The S8 plus is retailing for Rs 64,900 and for the features and the futuristic theme, it looks like a price worth paying for.

Himanshu Juneja