Samsung's Android software rises above the rest

Samsung has, once again!, reworked its take on Android. This time, we're not dealing with major functional shake-ups, but rather a visual rethinking. The operating system that comes pre-installed is Android 7.0, so all the latest Google features will be available, but what makes Samsung phones so enticing for consumers, perhaps equally as strongly as the elegant hardware design, is Samsung's unique software UI, which is now dubbed Samsung Experience (previously, it was called TouchWiz).

The new visual style of the user interface is interesting and unique. The iconography has a simplisic style with clean, yet thoughtful shapes and curves. The new gradient wallpapers with animated ‘stars’ overlay correspond well to this new style, although we can’t say they are exactly attractive. What’s more, these animated wallpapers seem to slow the Galaxy S8 and S8+ down somewhat, which is why we recommend switching to a static image.

Phone, Messaging, Calendar

Now let’s take a look at the essential communication applications. The phonebook is incredibly clean – it contains only two tabs: Recents and Contacts. In what seems like a questionable move, the favorites aren’t found in their own, separate tab, but at the top of the contacts list. What’s probably a bigger insult, however, is the fact that the tabs are close to the upper edge of the screen, which obviously not the optimal placement with such a tall screen. Samsung claims it has tailored its software to the tall screen, but when there are such decisions where the tabs in some of the most used apps like phone and messaging are put at the top, instead of close to the easy-to-reach bottom edge, it makes you realize those efforts haven’t gone too deep.

The screen is big enough, so typing tends to be a comfortable experience with the Samsung Galaxy S8. The portrait keyboard has a clean, yet functional design, with enough space between keys. There is a handy number row above the letters, although we would have liked to see the frequently used ‘comma’ and ‘apostrophe’ keys somehow included in the main layout.

The Samsung calendar app is very likeable. It’s quite modern, with nice, soft colors, a convenient week view, and swift appointment creation.


Promising, but half-baked at launch

Along with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, Samsung is debuting its own virtual butler, Bixby. It’s ultimate goal is to be a successful Google Assistant alternative/replacement by offering similar, or even richer features. While Samsung has promised to make Bixby capable of operating almost every aspect of the phone for the user, by means of voice, currently its expertise is limited to a number of things: vision, reminders, and homescreen info cards. Notice that voice commands aren’t supported by Bixby at launch – this functionality will be rolled out later, perhaps sometime in May. At the moment, voice commands are handled by Google Assistant.

Bixby is a promising Samsung feature, and even though it’s still in its infancy and doesn’t offer anything that isn’t already available on rival platforms, it’s something Samsung should definitely keep developing, because it’ll soon prove to be a valuable competitive asset.

Privacy and Security

This has to be the most versatile phone when it comes to security features! With no ultimate locking method, Samsung has simply chosen to include everything and let the user decide what to use. We're talking a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, iris scanner, and face detection. While all three can surely be reliable device-securing features, neither is particularly well implemented in the Galaxy S8.

  • Fingerprint scanner: With not enough physical space left on the bottom bezel, Samsung was forced to move the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone. The exact positioning is controversial: it's placed right next to the camera lens. Having all the stuff neatly lined up there sure looks nice and clean, but it's just not comfortable. Reaching the sensor requires quite a bit of stretch, and depending on which hand you hold the phone with, your experience may range from inconvenient to frustrating. The fingerprint sensor itself is good enough, but its positioning may ultimately make you opt for one of the other unlock methods available.

  • Iris scanner: The iris scanner that made its debut on the Note 7 is back, and it suffers from the same issues as before, including failed attempts, long scanning times, and limited optimal position/distance for a successful reading. It's said to be the most secure method of them all, but it just isn't practical enough for everyday use.

  • Face recognition: This is the newcomer here. Facial recognition is a way simpler method than iris recognition – it doesn't involve a special IR cameras, lights, etc. It simply uses the front (aka selfie) snapper of the phone, and the rest is software. Facial recognition is much faster than the iris scanner, but it's also not as secure. In fact, we managed to successfully fool it using a picture of the user's Facebook profile. It's not super easy to fool it, but it's absolutely possible. We'd say this unlocking method is just fine for everyday usage, as long as you don't keep any super-private and super-sensitive info on your device. Plus, if you do have such info, but for some reason want to stick with facial recognition, you can always put that info in the special Secure Folder, where it'll be hidden behind a second, tougher layer of protection.

Performance and Memory

Top hardware components, but not quite top performance

In terms of the chipset moving things inside, there are once again two main variants with Samsung’s new flagships. In the US, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, while in most other markets, it’s Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 chipset doing the computing. Both system-on-chips are extremely powerful and built on the state-of-the-art 10nm process, the main benefit of which is higher power efficiency. The Snapdragon 835 sports an octa-core CPU, running at up to 2450 MHz, and is complemented by the Adreno 540 GPU. Meanwhile, the Exynos 8895 comes with an octa-core CPU of up to 2.5 GHz, and the Mali-G71 MP20 GPU. The in-depth testing for this review has been done with the Exynos version of the phone, but performance and power efficiency are expected to be on par between both variants.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are generally very quick – no significant hiccups with regards to performance are observed. As mentioned earlier, there’s a bit of lag introduced by the default animated wallpapers, but once those are swapped for a static image, things tend to move in an instantaneous manner. The system also doesn’t seem to suffer from any temperature-related or stability issues. However, some heavier games may not run completely fluidly, even at the default FHD+ resolution. To be more precise: 3D gaming is perfectly possible and most titles are playable, but the frames per second in some of the more intensive ones (NOVA, Heroes of Order and Chaos, Asphalt Xtreme) just don’t reach the comfortable 60 fps, which is a shame. Turning the screen resolution down to the HD+ (1480 x 720px) setting doesn’t seem to improve things much. Simpler games, like town builders and the like, would naturally run with no such issues.

Samsung is being pretty generous with the storage space, as all Galaxy S8 and S8+ models come with 64 GB of internal memory, which is A LOT of space. But even if you happen to be a 4K video maniac, there isn’t much cause for concern, as the microSD card slot on board makes for an easy expansion.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8 166646.66
Samsung Galaxy S7 136695
Apple iPhone 7 168795
LG G6 157208
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8 3074
Samsung Galaxy S7 3632
LG G6 3632.33
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8 6759
Samsung Galaxy S7 5339
LG G6 4733.33
JetStream Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8 55.503
Samsung Galaxy S7 62.049
Apple iPhone 7 144.71
LG G6 57.368
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8 60
Samsung Galaxy S7 53
Apple iPhone 7 57.3
LG G6 50
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8 41
Samsung Galaxy S7 29
Apple iPhone 7 59.1
LG G6 14
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8 3201.66
Samsung Galaxy S7 1943
Apple iPhone 7 3355
LG G6 2122
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8 2008.33
Samsung Galaxy S7 1840
Apple iPhone 7 3464
LG G6 1797
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8 6575
Samsung Galaxy S7 5462
Apple iPhone 7 5605
LG G6 4285

Internet and connectivity

Samsung's own Internet browser is a real alternative to Chrome

Samsung continues to develop its own Internet browser, which seems like a good idea. It offers a solid alternative to Chrome, probably the best alternative out there. It’s very fast and fluid, and gets some essential things better, like scrolling velocity or pinch-to-zoom intensity. Unlike in Chrome, most of Samsung Internet’s controls are placed on the bottom, including the Back and Forward keys, as well as the Tabs button. Working with tabs is slightly clunky, because there’s a relatively slow animation between pressing the Tabs button and the actual appearance of the tabs, but this is a very minor issue.

With an immense number of supported LTE bands, the Galaxy S8 is one well connected handset. Not only that, it’s also future-proof with LTE-A Pro Cat 16 compatibility for theoretical download speeds of up to 1 gigabit/s, and upload of up to 150 megabits/s. There is no cellular network out there that will let you stream data at such speeds, of course, but the radio itself is evidently top notch. All kinds of other communications are also supported, including NFC and MST for easy mobile payments in countries where Samsung Pay is already operational, like US, China, South Korea, Spain, Australia, Singapore, and some others.



6. ithehappy

Posts: 48; Member since: Apr 24, 2014

So best android phone? But it lags when Samsung's own live wallpaper is used? Hmm. Then heavy games can't deliver 60 frames constantly? Even at 720p you say? Hmm. Not bad for TouchWi....umm Grace sorry. Camera samples look really nice though. Will wait for Dpreview's review.

83. kumar1234 unregistered

Yeah, Samsung phone is infamous for their extremely laggy performance. Their new "Grace" UI is nothing but the good old touchwiz with the same laggy and bloated experience. Camera is a very minor improvement over S7 family. S8 is overall a very boring phone.

88. dazed1

Posts: 802; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

1. It lags only via bixby an non finished software 2. Its S835 version, so its irrelevant. 3. Samsung phones with exynos are only topped or equal to OP3T, they destroy any other android phones, get your head out of your ass, and do a reserach before spewing BS

94. SCell

Posts: 15; Member since: Apr 23, 2017

No lags. It's not iPhone 7 thats madly lags.

8. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

Best smartphone on the planet Bravo dama

9. Lumbergh

Posts: 463; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

The best smartphone on the planet, yet bad performance while playing games? Nope.

11. John-Knotts

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

It doesn't. Try using one instead of trolling.

16. Lumbergh

Posts: 463; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

It does. From the PhoneArena review: "frames per second in some of the more intensive ones (NOVA, Heroes of Order and Chaos, Asphalt Xtreme) just don’t reach the comfortable 60 fps, which is a shame." Maybe you should learn how to read.

31. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

This is shocking. I did not expect this from sd835. But we need at least one more credible review to prove that s8 is struggling with intensive games.

44. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

This is Apple shill talk. I don't know how it is like now but before most PlayStation and xbox games don't hit 60fps. 30fps is fine, Definitely beats a super low res s**t 750p display,at at 60fps....

50. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

You have stopped taking your medication . so you are not able to comprehend anything. You cannot claim any one mobile device , operating on two different os platforms , as best . whether s8 is the best mobile is debatable. But yes it is the best android device. And it is a compliment.

84. bucky

Posts: 3785; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Id take a clean 60fps over a higher res screen that cant- especially for games.

89. dazed1

Posts: 802; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

WOW a total idiot, phone drop frames in games? how shocking!

95. SCell

Posts: 15; Member since: Apr 23, 2017

iPhoneArena fake review? :) Arena that sad that old LCD display is better than OLED??? LOL.

101. stallionmoves

Posts: 3; Member since: Apr 26, 2017

"Maybe you should learn how to read." nice block there hahaha

43. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

It is the best ANDROID smartphone on planet.

91. DareDevil01

Posts: 65; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

There was an update that tightens up performance. Also most games run great. The S8 scored better than all phones with gaming except the iPhone in the Manhatten bench.

13. Zylam

Posts: 1817; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Not worth the money. If you pay more than 400-500 for an Android phone, you got ripped off. The One Plus 5 will destroy this and cost half as much and receive software updates twice as fast. The Snapdragon 835 turned out to be nothing special in terms of performance, but a massive leap in terms of battery efficiency. For once it actually feels like the OEM's listened to people.

17. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

Still not efficient like the esynos 8895

29. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

OP5 will be a great device probably. But It does not mean s8 is less desirable. It is about choosing the best or the best VFM.

45. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

No interest in the one plus 5 but preordered the GS8. If you want to talk about being overpriced, look no further than the iPhone which will unfortunately get an automatic 9.3-10 from Ray S.

70. Zylam

Posts: 1817; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Can you point me to a 400-500 dollar iPhone with 2017 flagship specs? Such a thing doesn't exist. What you Samsung people don't understand is that Apple makes the software, hardware and the eco system (the services), which is why they can charge whatever they want, it's their technology. It's also why iOS isn't fragmented like Android and why iOS gets software updates and support far above Android. Some can argue it's not worth the price and that's fair enough, but there is no choice for an iPhone, either dish out for the latest spec iPhone or don't. When it comes to Android, there's a plethora of choices, I used a 50 dollar Android phone for a year before getting an iPhone, a phone I still keep near by and use every so often. Even with my iPhone being my main phone, which I need because of the software support it receives, but that 50 dollar phone, now that's value for money. A 500 dollar flagship such as the One Plus 5 might not have the infinity display of the S8, but it can do 99% of the stuff the S8 does for half the price and will come with non bloated software, along with better support. That makes this phone a pointless ripp off. If you invented something, you can sell it for whatever price you want. When Samsung makes it own OS, eco system and hardware, they can charge whatever they like because there will be no choice if you want to join their system. Weather it's worth it or not is dependent on person, however when you have a phone that can do pretty much everything the S8 does, minus a few things, that makes this thing a ripp off. Do you really think grace Ui and that screen is worth an extra 400? But either way, Death to Apple right? What else is there to do here. It's so ironic how the Samsung fans are the biggest sheep or all time. I don't even like iOS or Apple products, I prefer stock Android phones and Windows PC's far above anything else, but I don't get butt hurt when a rival has good merits, I call them out and I don't have any problems admitting problems that Android has either. Unlike Samsung fans who iconically are the exact same brainless sheep they call Apple users.

71. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Lol I don't know what kind of crack you are on but I don't have micro mange value like you are doing. All I have to do is look at hard data to see what is a rip off or not. Apple iPhones are the cheapest to manufacture yet are the most expensive phones to the tune of 250 billion profit from idiot sheep like you. Samsung phones are about par after factoring in their research costs and manufacturing expenses. Everything about Samsung devices are expensive s**t.$99 AKG earphones that they bought a company to include. Gorilla glass 5 manufacturing the SD835 for Qualcomm, and yes the Infiniti display. The truth is the design and Infiniti display might not be worth the $400 to you, but the extra costs to justify charging that extra $400 isn't unreasonable unless you have a beef with Samsung and their fans like you seem to have. Think about it this way, Samsung had to give Qualcomm a good deal and Qualcomm had to give oppo and one plus a good deal in order for Oneplus to achieve that kind of pricing. So don't be an idiot isheep and give Apple a pass for a $1000 phone that is worth nowhere near a $1000 to manufacture vs not giving a pass to Samsung for a $1000 phone that would be pretty close to a $1000 if any non Android OEM tried to manufacture it. Think about it this way mr Zylam sheep. If HTC U ultra is a $750 phone and HTC bleeds money instead of making a profit from it, that means that's pretty much how much is costs including marketing and packaging etc. If Apple makes $250 billion in liquid profits it means their products are extremely overpriced. Simple math sheep. Lol baaaa

77. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

What hardware does Apple make? Please enlighten us? You a stupid ass!

18. Tech_fan

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 28, 2017

DISPALY is a con????WOOOW, SHOOK!!!!!

19. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

There is lag. I can't believe there is still lag. It seems lag is simply a common thing with samsung. For f**k sake how hard is to make it lag-free phone with so powerful hardware ? Ah?

23. AmashAziz

Posts: 2930; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Lag is due to software, not hardware.

27. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I was implying software given so powerful hardware.

46. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

There's no more lag than other phones. Look at the speed tests. It smoke the Pixel which has no lag. To be fair, the pixel seems so smooth despite it losing speed tests big time. I think animation consistency is what Samsung needs to concentrate on rather than raw speed. Us humans are easy to fool and Samsung needs to utilize what Apple and Google seem to know quite well.

51. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

There two type of people who care about tests and benchmarks and who make purchase based solely on that. Which is minority. While majority buy phone at the shop. The difference in the real world is virtually non-existing. What matters is consistency in my opinion, appearance of fluidity and minimal latency. That's were Pixel exceeds over any other Android phone despite last year chip. Anyway that will hardly at all matter. It only matters for you, me and tech nerds like us.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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)

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