Interface

Another year, another overhaul of Samsung’s UI, and it’s for the better


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 very spacious, 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. In contrast, the landscape layout isn’t that convenient, because the Galaxy S8+ is quite wide, so reaching the letters in the middle can be a bit of a stretch.

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

Bixby

Still half-baked, but with a lot of potential


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 Vision is best described as a smart, contextual camera, which can detect a number of categories, such as QR codes, images, places, text, and… wine. You can point Bixby’s camera at an item, and if it manages to recognize it correctly, it can offer you a shopping link (mostly from Amazon), and/or an image search (powered by Pinterest). Weirdly, wine has its own separate category, probably because Samsung partnered with Vivino, which is an established wine database service. Using Bixby vision is a hit or miss experience – its object recognition accuracy is decent at this point, but definitely needs more work if it is to be more practical than a simple text search, which is Vision’s ultimate goal. When it gets the objects right, the image search feature (Pinterest pics) works well, but shopping is not very reliable, often returning no or inaccurate results. Products with labels on them, such as a branded box of chocolates, work well, but more generic-looking things, like a black laptop or a phone, for example, seem to be almost impossible to recognize.

The leftmost homescreen page on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus is, for some reason, called ‘Hello Bixby’, instead of just ‘Bixby’. It’s an HTC BlinkFeed slash Google Now kind of screen, which aggregates a bunch of organization and lifestyle features, such as alarms, next calendar appointments, reminders, latest news, weather forecast, frequently visited webpages, and more. It’s nice and fits the overall concept of a virtual assistant; it acts like a summary of your day.

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

No-compromise hardware, but performance is not flawless


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+ 173945
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 128191
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 179811
Google Pixel XL 141405
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 3223
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 3198
Google Pixel XL 2979
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 6881
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 4840
Google Pixel XL 5897
JetStream Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 60.931
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 60.315
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 167.76
Google Pixel XL 54.317
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 60
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 52
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 58.2
Google Pixel XL 55
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 41
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 28
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 55.8
Google Pixel XL 30
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 3256
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 1761
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 3119
Google Pixel XL 2367
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 2006
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 1857
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 3443
Google Pixel XL 1549
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 6708
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 5569
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 5619
Google Pixel XL 4066

Internet and connectivity


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.

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49 Comments

1. Lumbergh

Posts: 463; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

iPhone 7 Plus - 9.3 GS8+ - 9.0 iPhone 7 Plus wins. GS8+ =/= Phone of the year....and it's not even close. Let's sum this up real quick. A nearly year old iPhone 7 plus beats the S8+ in performance and battery life?

4. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

Let's see how many scores on Note 8 review. Note: They using Geekbench 4 as their "own" battery test, you may try it yourself and compare on your iPhone or other phones.

8. Lumbergh

Posts: 463; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

Since the iPhone 7 plus beats the S8+, there is absolutely no way the Note 8 is beating the iPhone 8 plus.

13. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

I mean the review score on Note 8, not battery test.

24. adi90

Posts: 554; Member since: Dec 21, 2015

Note 7 got 8.7 . so note 8 will get 8.7 too. It is pattern of phonearena. IPhone 6s and 7 - 9.3 S7 and s8 - 9

35. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

samsung beat iPhone in iPhoneArena's review score? not a chance.. btw, S8+ beat iPhone7plus with ~40% battery lefthttps://youtu.be/yMC_zo_Ge3w

22. Youngquenga41

Posts: 82; Member since: Apr 03, 2017

Beats the s8 plus in what? I've seen real world comparisons of both speed tests and battery test and the only thing the iPhone is good at is launching and relaunching games. Why because games are much more optimize for iOS than Android. When it comes to launching regular apps there's no contest! S8 hands down. The screen on time on the s8 is also way more than what you'd get on the iPhone plus. I really don't know where PA gets its stats from but I'm pretty sure it's not real world scenerios.

23. kumar1234 unregistered

iPhone 7 plus is all the best all rounder phone. Other than big bazel iPhone 7/7plus beat this mediocre faceless looking phone easily. S8 plus has mediocre battery life, a weird aspect display, a faceless design. atrocious placement for a fingerprint scanner, useless bixby and bixby button, #hit loads of crapware and bloatware, very slow and buggy update policy camera is hardy a upgrade, last year pixel has better camera High chance of explosion This phone shouldn't get more than 6.5. PA is very generous to samsung phone as usual. Be glad that they gave them 9.

44. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Such a child! Why would one compare an iPhone to an Android phone? They are really an Apple to Orange comparison. Can I buy a iOS device from Samsung, Sony or LG? There really only one choice for iOS device and that is Apple regardless.

45. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

On second thought, I know why, Lumbergh has a need to feel justified for getting an iPhone 7. Such child like behaviour. Shame...Shame...Shame.

19. Tarox

Posts: 114; Member since: Feb 17, 2015

Just check out real life comparisons to see the actual battery life of these two with the exact same tasks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMC_zo_Ge3w iphonearena, shame on you again

28. osterrich21

Posts: 186; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

Remember, you are in iPhonearena

38. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

The iPhone 7 Plus does not beat the S8+ (or even the S7 Edge) in any battery test except PhoneArena's. And their test has been suspect for years. The S8 won't be phone of the year only because the Note 8 will. The only reason the S7 Edge won last year (yes, it did win, like it is not) it's because the Note 7 was recalled.

47. Koozini

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 24, 2017

iPhone 7 Plus - Bezels GS8+ - no bezels

2. maherk

Posts: 6873; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Fingerprint placement should've been added as a con, and I would've also put the fact that we cannot remap nor disable the Bixby button.

3. davthom123

Posts: 121; Member since: Mar 02, 2015

60fps with a Qhd+ screen.if xiaomi's mi6 and the pixel 2 come with 1080p displays the s835 which usually has the slightly better GPU is going to be crazy on those

5. Tech_fan

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 28, 2017

Ray S,Ray S, Ray S..i think every one here knows you...i expected these numbers from you!!! imagine this phone had a FRUIT logo...9.5??? 9.8??? 9.999???

9. Lumbergh

Posts: 463; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

The iPhone is simply better. Stop crying. Better yet, have a nice warm Note 7 dry your tears lol

12. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

You dont deserve such good display in iphone 8 ....

14. fyah_king unregistered

Better? Ahahahaha!!

17. Tech_fan

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 28, 2017

here we come.. an ikid came back from school..do your homework ikid, this place is not for you..call your elder, maybe i argue with him...

21. Youngquenga41

Posts: 82; Member since: Apr 03, 2017

Why is it better? Because you're here preaching it? Go have a seat in the dumb corner kid.

27. SupermanayrB

Posts: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Member since barely over a year ago & only 23 posts. Your opinion means nothing.

40. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It's not, but maybe one day you'll convince yourself.

36. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

I won't expect less than 11/10

6. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

What a beauty. And that with IP68, a superb screen, superb camera and great battery life. I would give it a 10/10 if it only had FM radio and either a fingerprint scanner under the glass or under the camera on the back like the G6.

7. Sakeem

Posts: 857; Member since: Sep 05, 2012

Had a chance to finally hold this phone and give it a spin. Looks way better in person and the feel of the phone is great. Looking forward to the real world usage and reviews.

10. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

Best Smartphone to date, until september 2017 Bravo sammy

11. nikhil23

Posts: 440; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

is there a possibility of fixing your battery test procedures PA ? cz every youtube video or review tells that s8+ and s7edge has better battery life than iphone 7 plus. can't post liniks as PA blocks me for having less than 30 posts

15. fyah_king unregistered

I knew the speaker was loud when i heard it at bestbuy.
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)

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