Thursday, 20 April 2017

Samsung Galaxy S8 - Meet The New Boss


I had the opportunity to spend time with the Galaxy S8 and S8+ today and, not unsurprisingly, it turns out we have a new smartphone king. For now, anyway.

It's a device whose main pitch for sales based entirely on its Infinity Display. 

The front of the S8 is almost all screen, and what a screen it is. For content consumption it's a unbeatable choice. However, Samsung is demoing the S8 with a set of 21:9 format videos, which fit the screen and look breathtaking. Normal videos either have letterboxing or require zooming within the Samsung video app to get the same, full screen effect.

For colour, brightness and contrast Samsung is leagues ahead. Yet every year it manages to boost performance of its SAMOLED technology to make older screens look average. This year is no exception.

For regular use I am unconvinced of the value of a tall, narrow screen. Yes, you can stretch a thumb from side to side, even on the bigger S8+ model, but the height of the screen doesn't work for me. That may pass with some re-education but it was one of the two flies in the ointment.

The other being the fingerprint scanner positioning. I just couldn't get comfortable with it stuck to the back of the phone, to one side of the camera like a very late afterthought.

Of course you don't have to use the fingerprint scanner. There is a fast and reliable iris scanner which is a fine alternative and one I'd recommend you use even if the fingerprint scanner was in a better place.

The main camera is one of the few components carried over from the S7, given how good the camera was there its no surprise that it performs admirably here too.

The Bixby assistant - along with the associated hardware button to launch it - feel like they could be the start of something new. No more than that because right now it feels altogether too much like Google Now, which raises questions about its presence on the S8. 

Touch Wiz has been cleaned up. Notably there's no more app drawer link on the home screen. Instead a swipe up or down on any home screen panel will bring the app drawer into view. Retro, for those who used the original Googlephone, the G1. 

In most other ways the S8 is an S7 turned up to 11. A little better in every department. Quicker, smoother, more refined. It is the current state of the art in smartphones. 

Whether that will be the case when Apple's ten year anniversary iPhone swings by in September remains to be seen.

For now though, you'd be a fool to invest your smartphone money anywhere else.

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