A Look at the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+

There are numerous smartphone makers out there, including big names like LG, relative newcomers like Google, and scrappy would-be disruptors like OnePlus. These companies put out great products, but in the eyes of many they are also-rans when compared to the two titans of smartphones: Apple and Samsung.

Although they are sometimes setting the trends and other times playing catchup with Apple, a new Galaxy S from Samsung rarely if ever disappoints. This year, Samsung has made some big shakeups to their line, ditching the Edge series of phones entirely and adding a newcomer, the S8+ to their Galaxy S8 line of flagships.

So what is new and what is not so new with the Galaxy phones, and should you be mourning the loss of the Galaxy Edge? We're here to dive in head first to come back up with the info you need to pick the phone that’s right for you with our Look at the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+. Readers should note that if you are looking for info on the Galaxy Note 8, head over to the Note-specific write-up where we detail the differences between these two phones and the newest Galaxy tablet.



Design Changes

Design Changes

The design of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ is where the biggest and most dramatic changes over the S7 have happened. To begin, the Galaxy Edge moniker laid to rest in favor of both S8 and S8+ inheriting the Edge’s razor thin bezel on either long edge of the screen, highlighted by a rounded Super AMOLED display that seems to pour over the sides of the phone like an infinity pool. Just as with the Edge phones, the rounded bezel is not purely aesthetic, as the S8 and S8+ can use that tiny bit of screen real estate to display notifications, time, weather, etc., although this is turned off by default.

That single pane of rounded glass runs the entire face of the phone, with the screen stopping just shy of the top and bottom edge, leaving S8 phones with a small forehead and chin while still being a far cry from the S7 line, which looks positively archaic by design when placed side by side. Missing from that aforementioned chin is the hardware home button and touch sensitive back and menu buttons that have been a staple of Galaxy phones since their inception, replaced now by soft keys to accommodate the longer 18.5:9 aspect ratio screen.

The back of both the S8 and S8+ are now fully glass from top to bottom with aluminum accents around the edges of the phone, and the fingerprint sensor that used to reside in the hardware home key has been moved to the rear of the phone alongside the camera and flash. Along the bottom of the phone is a USB C port for charging or data transfer, alongside the 3.5-mm audio jack for connecting your high end buds or pair of cans without a dongle, a feature that has proven to be a rarity in 2017 flagship smartphones.


Phone Dimensions Weight Screen Size (diagonal) Resolution Pixels Per Inch
Galaxy S8 5.86in x 2.68in x 0.31in 5.36oz 5.8in 2960 x 1440 571
Galaxy S8+ 6.28in x 2.89in x 0.32in 6.10oz 6.2in 2960 x 1440 529

With the Galaxy S8 and S8+ both taking on the near bezel-free design previously found only on the Edge, both phones have a remarkably similar size and form factor between them. The Galaxy S8+ is obviously a bit larger to house the larger 6.2-in. screen which is around 7% larger than the 5.8-in. screen found on the Galaxy S8. However, since the S8+ is not much wider than the S8 and the Super AMOLED HDR screens have an unconventional aspect ratio 18.5:9, all that extra space extends the phone vertically, making it quite a bit longer than most smartphones.

For shoppers with smaller hands, the new form factor of the S8+ may make the phone difficult to use with only one hand, and many have reported the questionable placement of the fingerprint sensor to be difficult to nail down when shifting the phone around because of its size.

Aside from a bit more screen real estate, the only other notable difference between the S8 and the S8+ is the battery capacity. At 3500mAh, the Galaxy S8+ has a significantly larger battery than the 3000mAh battery of the Galaxy S8, and even though that battery needs to power a larger screen, Samsung still rates the talk time of the S8+ to be a full 5 hours longer than the S8.

Aside from these changes, the two smartphones are a wash and offer identical features, power, and performance, making the choice between the two simply a matter of whether or not shoppers need (or want) the extra screen real estate.



Camera

Camera

While there are bountiful changes and upgrades to the design of the Galaxy 8 line of phones, when compared the Galaxy S7, the camera upgrades might seem a bit underwhelming if not entirely non-existent.

On paper, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ appear to have the exact same dual-pixel 12MP f/1.7 camera found in the Galaxy S7 Edge. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since the Galaxy S7 did feature one of the overall best cameras found on a flagship smartphone, but those wanting to get in on the dual camera hype will have to opt for the Note 8.

On the software front is where the camera does see some modest changes, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ camera does feature object tracking, facial detection, and manual shooting options such as manual focus and shutter speed control, all new features to the Galaxy S line of phones. On the video front, both phones have what has become standard options in 2017 flagships including 4k 30fps, 1080p 60fps, and 720p 240fps slow motion shooting.

The front facing "selfie" camera in the S8 and S8+ did see a significant upgrade with the new 8MP wide angle replacing the 5MP camera found in the S7.



Under the Hood

Under the Hood

Taking a look at the raw hardware power of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ looks about as one would expect from a 2017 flagship. The top of the line Snapdragon 835 processor from Qualcomm is here with the Adreno 540 GPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of built in storage, expandable via microSD up to 256GB. This puts the S8 exactly on par with every other 2017 flagship featuring the ubiquitous Qualcomm chipset, but does offer a nice performance boost over 2016 phones while keeping battery drain at a minimum.

The user replaceable battery remains a thing of the past in Galaxy S phones, but the inclusion of Quickcharge and Qi compatible wireless charging make it harder to miss battery swapping. Rounding out the features of the S8 phones are Bluetooth 5.0 EDR, 802.11ac wireless, NFC, USB-C 3.1, and IP 68 water resistance.



Price and Final Thoughts

It’s a crazy world we live in when a phone with a MSRP under $800 doesn’t seem that bad! But with 2017 being the year that $1,000+ phones became the norm, seeing fully featured flagships Galaxy S8 and S8+ retailing for $724.99 and $824.99 respectively is a bit of a relief. While this is still a large amount of money to spend on a phone, there are a couple of ways to help lower or at least subsidize the price. Check with your carrier for upgrade or interest free payment options.

Speaking of interest free payments, shoppers can purchase the Galaxy S8 or S8+ unlocked directly from Samsung for 0% interest for 24 months, leaving you free to move between carriers or take advantage of MVNO services like Straight Talk. Samsung also offers trade in programs that can subsidize the price of the phones up to $300 and offers discounts on accessories like wireless chargers and the Gear VR when purchasing a new Galaxy 8 series phone.

October 11, 2017
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