REVIEWS

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

Google Home

Sennheiser HD-1 in ear wireless headphones

Motorola Moto E4

Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch

BlackBerry KEYone

Philips Hue Smart Lighting System

insta360 nano 360 camera for iPhone

2017 Cadillac CT6 Luxury

UAG Rugged Case for Surface Book

Motorola Moto G5

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum

Linksys VELOP Whole Home Mesh Network

Fitbit Alta HR

2016 Range Rover

2016 Ford Flex Limited

Timex IQ+ Move fitness tracking watch

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature

2016 Mazda MX-5

Sennheiser PXC-550 Bluetooth headphones

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4MATIC Sedan

Sudio Regent Bluetooth headphones

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

VisionTek SoundTube PRO Bluetooth speaker

Fitbit Charge 2

2017 GMC Acadia Denali

Apple AirPods

Apple MacBook Pro (Late 2016)

808

Game of Thrones Season Six Blu-Ray

Michelin Premier all-season tires

Tom Tom Spark 3 Cardio +

Google Daydream View VR headset

ASUS ZenBook 3

Jaybird X3

JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod

Moto Insta-Share Projector for Moto Z

Google Pixel XL

Apalon's My Alarm Clock app

Lenovo Moto Z

Apple Watch Series 2 and watchOS 3

iOS 10

Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum

Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless vacuum

Tablo by Nuvyyo

Samsung Gear Fit 2 fitness wearable

Ulysses for macOS and iOS

Epson SureColor P600 Wide Format inkjet printer

HBO's Vinyl Season 1

Apple MacBook (2016)

Papago! GoSafe 268 mirror mounted dash-cam

Piper all-in-one security

JayBird Freedom headphones

SF MoMA app

Fitbit Blaze fitness tracker

UA HealthBox

Dyson Pure Cool Link

Lola by Blue

HTC 10

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Tuesday
Apr252017

Review: Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

The new Samsung Galaxy flagships, the S8 and the taller S8+, are the supermodels of the smartphone world. They’re fastidiously put together, unusually slender and stylish, and look and feel exclusive. Built around the new almost bezel-less infinity display, with an organic wraparound design, the new Galaxies transcend old smartphone design norms and challenge our expectations of what a premium and forward thinking smartphone could be.

Form and function


When someone hands you a Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+ for the first time, it is like they brought something back from the future, or perhaps a nearby alien planet.

The reason for this is that these new smartphones look and feel so different from anything that’s come from Samsung. The closest thing to holding a sleek slab of glass, the Galaxy S8’s feel truly integrated, like they were carved out of a piece of crystal or marble and polished to smooth perfection.

They’re taller and narrower than many phones I’ve tried before, yet they fit my hand well and are satisfying to use in one hand. The Galaxy S8, at 5.8-inches will be the sweet spot in terms of size for users who like smaller phones, but who still want in on the stunning new Quad HD + display with a (2960 x1440) resolution and a pixel density of 570 pixels per inch with an 18.9 aspect ratio. Most apps scale to fill up as much of this space as possible.

This is a svelte phone, feels very light and you can hardly feel where the front fascia ends and the rear begins. The Galaxy S8+, for me, is the model to get. It has a larger display and larger battery, plus it is truly a device you want to consume content on as well as interact with various apps and games.


All of Samsung’s previous work on Edge display technology, as well as software, has paid dividends with the Galaxy S8 line since the Infinity Display and deleted bezels look amazing.

Gone is the home button, which has now been replaced by a software button as well as a ‘force touch’ like force feedback engine. Samsung’s logo has also been deleted, so what you have now are shoestring-sized bezels on the top (for speaker, front facing cameras and sensors) and below.

The Samsung Galaxy S8’s Infinity Display is a hallmark feature, it makes all displays before it feel obsolete.  The bright display, the crisp resolution, the rounded corners as well as the smoothly tapered edges, make this a significant feature that set it apart from everything else out there today.

The Galaxy S8s offer a very high level of design and innovation that a lot of users are going to find attractive. Samsung has leapfrogged itself in this respect, and the selection of materials, colours and finishes all show a high-degree of taste and careful product development.

The rear of the S8 is similarly an expanse of glass, but now host the trifecta of camera and flash, as well as the fingerprint sensor, which seems poorly placed next to barely-there camera bezel. Despite Galaxy S8’s 8mm thinness, Samsung’s been gracious enough to include a headphone jack (and this is a waterproof device, too, with IP68 water and dust resistance, no less).

The downsides to this design is that it is quite slippery and it is also extremely prone to smudges and fingerprints. I noticed some scratches on my Galaxy S8+ review unit days after taking possession of it, this is despite me babying the device and always having a microfiber cloth nearby. Getting a case for these Galaxy devices is of paramount importance.

We get a USB-Type C port, a speaker, fast-charging capability, wireless charging is also on tap and the Galaxy S8 can reportedly handle the fastest LTE Cat 16 data transfer speeds (available in Canada through Bell Mobility).

The Galaxy S8’s, which are identical in most specs save for size, and battery life, run Android N immensely well, which is amazing if you consider Samsung’s persistent TouchWiz overlay, now slightly muted and more Material-Design infused, is still here running on top of Android. The Samsung apps are a mixed bag, some are neat and useful, others still feel like clutter. Clutter that you can't trash.

Software


The key thing here is not just that there are tiny bezels, or that the display is curved, but that it actually adds other layers of interaction.

Swipe left and you get an Apps Edge, which offers 10 shortcuts to your favourite apps. Swipe even more and you’re presented with a People Edge where you can call or message your five closest persons. Swipe again and you get Smart Select, which allows you to capture and create GIFs of any item on screen.

Samsung still hasn’t gotten over the need to duplicate apps that perform functions already addressed by Google’s apps. So, you have a folder for Samsung apps, one for Google apps and one for Microsoft apps as well.  

Access control is a key feature this year. I already talked about the rear fingerprint scanner (which I never use), but there’s also a retina scanner as well as facial recognition to secure and access the phone. I’ve been using facial recognition and it is a hit or miss affair. Still, it is nice to have choices. 


Another key feature for the Galaxy S8 line is the new Bixby personal assistant, which currently does not work as a voice assistant, but is available via a Bixby section, which is found when you swipe right on the screen. 

This gives you a look at nearby places, your schedule, activity tracking info, weather, theme downloads (?), news, Twitter feeds and recent photos. Once more, this is an example of Samsung replicating features you’d get from apps like Flipboard, Google Now or news aggregators.  Bixby isn’t a stillborn feature, but I personally doubt its success if it isn’t enabled soon. People will just ignore it. Specially since Google Assistant is already on tap.

Hits

•    Stunning Infinity Display pushes smartphone design forward
•    Bezel-free design and glass enclosure makes the Galaxy S8 and S8+ look and feel futuristic
•    Strong performance, great rear camera
•    Always On Display is useful
•    Water and dust resistance
•    Headphone jack
•    Wireless fast charging


Misses

•    Rear fingerprint sensor next to camera lens is a bust
•    Slippery and smudge prone finish and exterior
•    Expensive

Conclusion:

In terms of design and display technology, Samsung’s twin-towers hit the ball right out of the park. These are the most impressive and desirable handsets Samsung has ever made, and they are the flagship smartphones to beat right now with no challenger on the horizon until the next iPhone hits the market.

The Galaxy S8 offers a generational leap in design, fit and finish and also hints at a future where smartphones will be more about the display and less about the physical buttons and bezels. Samsung has maybe tried to do too much with this release. The heralded Bixby assistant is as good a vapourware until it works and users are already jaded with regards to personal assistant technology that it has a lot to prove, when it finally ships.



Rating: 4 out of 5

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