Is the media misleading you about the Samsung Galaxy S8 display?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is arguably the best smartphone currently available on the marke; it has the one of the best designs of any phone in history; and, it is certainly the best phone Samsung has ever made. That said, there is one thing that has bugged me in the hype of the launch of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus -- do consumers really understand what they're getting in the display?

The issue is this: Samsung's "Infinity Display" is gorgeous, but most places you might look for information about said display will tell you that the device has a Quad HD display with a resolution of 2960x1440. However, by default the phone is only running at Full HD (2220x1080). This is not a new story. Those of us who follow these things (aka all of you reading this) probably knew about this last month, because the news did come out. The strange thing is how quickly the story faded away until now when all of the reviews have come out for the device and only a few even mention the display resolution.

Samsung hasn't really gone out of its way to mention this either. If you go to the official page for the Samsung Galaxy S8, the main page leads off with a section about the Infinity Display and how amazing it is (and to repeat: it is amazing), but you have to scroll way down and then click through to the specs page before you see the real story:

Samsung isn't exactly trying to hide the information, but it can be hard to know the phone runs at 1080p by default because any other spec site you check will list the device as having a QHD display without the asterisk that Samsung adds in, and few of the reviews mention it. But, the availability of the information is only part of the story, because if you don't know there's something to look for, why would you look in the first place?

The reasons for the resolution change are pretty simple, of course. Samsung is obsessively paranoid about its batteries since the Galaxy Note 7 debacle, and because of that used smaller batteries than you might expect and has taken precautions around the battery life. One of those precautions is to have the default resolution set to 1080p in order to improve performance and battery life. There's really nothing wrong with that reasoning. And, of course Samsung couldn't just replace the panel with a display that maxed out at 1080p because then the Galaxy S8 wouldn't work well enough for VR applications.

This is as premium a device as is possible to buy, but the default settings don't have it running at its highest potential. It feels odd that very few people are mentioning that because customers should have the right to know what they are buying in a top-of-the-line phone. 

Does it actually matter?

Honestly, I don't know. For a long time, I've been on the side of performance over specs. Once smartphones hit the 720p display resolution mark, it's hard to tell the difference with anything higher-res, unless you have them side by side and are actively trying to see those differences. Even today, the 1080p display you'll find on low to mid-tier phones, or the 1344x750 display on the iPhone 7 look great. Samsung is pushing the idea of the Infinity Display, because it sees the value of the Galaxy S8 display in the curved edges, which it sees as minimizing the overall size of the phone while maximizing the size of the display. The resolution doesn't (or maybe shouldn't) matter all that much because most won't notice. 

And, the fact that so many trusted, professional reviewers have chosen not to mention it adds to the feeling that shouldn't matter. The phone is amazing and the display looks great, whatever the resolution may be. If running it at 1080p makes the phone run better and offers better battery life, that's a fine trade-off in my opinion. But, it's a trade-off that customers should understand before they buy the device because it might not be readily understandable once they have the phone in their hands. Samsung has work to do in repairing its reputation and pointing out how careful it is being with the battery is probably a good choice. 

But, beyond Samsung, it just feels strange that no one in the media is mentioning that Samsung's flagship phone with flagship specs isn't running up to its flagship potential either. I know Samsung is fine with it going unnoticed, but it feels like we should at least acknowledge that having a QHD display either matters or it doesn't really mean anything. 

There are plenty of people out there who have consistently made the argument that pushing phone specs has a limit and after a certain point, it doesn't matter anymore. We've seen Apple focus on more vague "performance" stats because it knows that its optimizations more than make up for what could be seen as lesser specs. It's unclear if Samsung has gone that far over in shipping the Galaxy S8 running at 1080p despite its QHD panel, but it comes close and raises the question of whether Samsung is tacitly acknowledging that specs don't matter as much as performance.

Related phones

Galaxy S8
  • Display 5.8" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(30h talk time)
Galaxy S8+
  • Display 6.2" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh(24h 3G talk time)



2. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

It doesn't matter, you're trying to make a big deal out of nothing. You gas take holds a certain amount of gas. When you buy the car, the tank is not filled up to the top. Has this been an issue? No one is being mislead. The display is not QHD. Its QHD+ and its set at Full HD+.

18. tsp38

Posts: 38; Member since: Jun 04, 2015

I fully agree with you, but I think a better analogy would be: we all buy cars that may have ECONOMY (or comfort) and SPORT settings in our cars. these cars all come with same potential HP or suspension capabilities, but if its default setting is set to save gas rather than go faster, IT DOES NOT f**kING MATTER.

73. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

PA psoted an article some time ago, because OEM were being fleeced about how much the storage claim was. The phone for examplke comes with 16GB, and yet the software took almost 1/2. Now is the OEM misleading you because the space is taken up? The advertising says it has 16GB of storage. They dont advertise what will be available to you. But yet people complained. Why? Because people always do. They were to cheap to simply buy a device with more storage. A better complaint would have been, how about since the pre-installed software takes so much space, how about you make the phone with more storage to begin with. After all, 32GB is cheap..>PERIOD and so is 64GB because they are common and sold in the billions...literally. So complain about the OEM's being cheap and trying to flex their bottom line vs given us what we are actually paying for.

21. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

"You gas take holds a certain amount of gas. When you buy the car, the tank is not filled up to the top." LOL not when I test drive it, before I leave the lot in it it's full. When I spend thousands on a vehicle it better be full when I drive off, lol

74. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Well unless you buy a luxury brand, the tank isn't filled up. I always make sure they do because, I am payign for it. They made enough off the sale to give me a full tank. But I shouldn't have to ask. But I have also purchased luxury cars and they only half filled the tank. When I notice, I turned right back and went in and told them hey...I just spent $50k on this car, don't you think I deserve a full tank? The sales guy spoke to his manager and he went and got me $50 from the cashier. Which is fine too. But I surprised him. I finished filling it up and I brought him back his I mean I understand that they keep the tank low, during the shipping of the car and while on the lot, so if it is stolen, the car will run out of gas. But once I buy it, not only do I expect you to clean it, but fill it up.


Posts: 322; Member since: Feb 28, 2014

Exactly!, I find it difficult to find the point of this article is it complaining for the sake of complaining, there are better stories to cover. Samsung played it smart by lowering the resolution because the majority of customers can't tell the difference and they care more for longer battery period. If anyone needs a higher resolution they can simply change it from the settings.

55. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Hell the S7 duo now ships in 1080p and I know it didn't use to, my sister just bought an S7 edge and It came with the display resolution set to 1080p, she doesn't know about it but I know she values battery life so I just left it without saying anything because it really doesn't matter, hell I was hard pressed to tell the difference when I switched back and forth a few times just to test it out.

3. megaSUNNY

Posts: 88; Member since: Jun 26, 2012

Is Phonearena misleading you about galaxy S8 display?

38. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

yes.. and their battery test also misleading

4. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1085; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

The media isn't deceiving us because those who care about the WQHD+ display know how to activate it and the media isn't reporting on the display so that isn't lying. Also I like how you consider 1080p a low to mid-tier quality, but say the WQHD helps the Galaxy reach flagship potential.... so what does that say about 720/750p?

5. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

1080p is fine for 5.1 and under, 750p in a 4.7 inch screen not so much. 5.5 and above should be QHD unless it uses some kind of crazy technology. If it's just a plain LCD it should be QHD.

34. AlikMalix unregistered

It's actually the opposite. IPhones LCD screens have pixels that are aligned horizontally and vertically. Samsung uses a pentile arsangment which produce a more fuzzier lines if compared to the same resolution as LCD on iPhone. This is why people don't complain about sharpness on the iPhone even though they have lower resolution than devices with higher resolutions but with pentile arrangment. Use a little critical thinking - it helps.

48. Quicksword_Phantom

Posts: 180; Member since: Jun 15, 2015

If you seriously classified the explanation you made as "critical thinking" it's time to rethink your life.

49. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

lol I never mentioned sharpness so I am not the one that needs to use critical thinking. You need to know the context of the post before replying it to it. Lol 5.5 inch should be either super sharp. OHD. Or have the punchiness of a plasma or an OLED otherwise it's just a dull 5.5 display that's nothing special. It has nothing to do with sharpness lol

58. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Also there's plenty of non pentile 5 inch 1080 displays including some from Samsung. You isheep slay me. Baaaa... lol

75. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The display on the Galaxy is far an away sharper vs the iPhone. The PPI is so high, you cannot see the difference even if "technically" there is one. So I fail to understand the big deal or the point of what you said.

6. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

@phonearena Few days back you said in one article that FHD or QHD does not make difference in battery life as native resolution is QHD. Now you are telling that FHD resolution on S8 will give better battery life.

7. ColinW

Posts: 412; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

It is obvious from reading PA's articles on the S8's that they are in defense mode. They are so good compared with iPhones that they are trying to find every tiny bit of news that might make them look bad.

9. Danini1112

Posts: 70; Member since: Jun 22, 2013

I'm not sure if it the most akward, weirdest, or stupid article from PA

13. uchihakurtz

Posts: 428; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

I went to Moto Z Play from a Galaxy Note 4. If I see hard enough, I can definitely see pixels on the Z Play whereas on the Note 4 it's just awesome. But in daily life doesn't matter though, I prefer smooth UX and good battery life. Wish the Note 4 could change resolution like S7.

14. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Most likely those reviewers are "paid" reviewers that have been treated with Samsung devices or some other treats by Samsung. That is true just check out how reviewers get early access to gadgets. So back to the subjects, since the biggest buzz about S8 is the infinity display naturally one goes and digs all about display, which lets agree it's not very difficult for reviewer to find out, because it's there, not in bold letters but it's there. So naturally one would ask : How did they miss that? Let's agree display is the best in the class but hey who do you take us for?

15. LyannaStark

Posts: 91; Member since: Apr 07, 2017

Tbh as long as there's still the option to change the resolution, I don't mind them scaling it back in the out of the box version.

16. nikhil23

Posts: 472; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

How desperate are you PA?

39. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

S8 will hit worldwide stores tomorrow, so they need to do everything to convince S8 potential buyer to hold their money and wait for iPhone, lol

17. nikhil23

Posts: 472; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

If a phone has 3000 mah battery and out of box it was only charged upto 2600 mah, then they should report that as 2600 mah battery ?

23. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

This is different to that but yet again that could be considered a feature in some way (as long as it could be changing in the settings like this can). E.g. many laptops have that feature to prolong battery longevity. E.g. if the A3 2017 had that feature it could be a good thing since the battery is already great and it wouldn't get worn out as quickly.

24. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

If you were to cap default battery charge capacity to 2600 mah for the battery of 3000 mah then yes your comparison would be valid. Don't you think so? He

26. nikhil23

Posts: 472; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

I don't have a better example for now but all I'm saying is bashing any company for every tiny little detail should be stopped.

28. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Just saying,

27. nikhil23

Posts: 472; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

Or consider this scenario. Many Laptops spec sheet says 300-400 nits display while out of box, it might be at 40-60% max brightness, which might be around 150- 200 nits and user has to turn on max brigntness ?

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