Samsung Galaxy S8 in the first test: Better than the iPhone 7

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With the design of the Samsung Galaxy S8 the manufacturer dares a big leap forward: More display on less floor space hardly creates a smartphone. Is the new top model S8, which costs almost 800 euros, also a good device beyond the design?

Some objects create the appearance of modern looking objects suddenly appear quite old until they appear. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is such a device. Whoever turns on the black object of glass and metal for the first time finds many other smartphones suddenly clunky and obsolete. The big screen covers almost the whole front, on the sides it disappears into the nothingness. No button interrupts the smooth surface. It can hardly be more purist.

In the hands-on check the S8 made a good first impression.

After the debacle around burning batteries in the Samsung Note 7, the South Korean time have been left. With a slight delay, the Galaxy S8 and the larger S8 Plus will be available on April 28th. This is the division into “Edge” and “Non-Edge”: Both devices have rounded display edges. The home button is located as a touch-sensitive area at the bottom of the display, the fingerprint sensor has moved to the back of the device – next to the camera.

Extended screen

Compared to the predecessor S7 the screen was extended upwards. With the same width, this ensures a slim shape. Instead of the 16: 9 format, there is now 18.5: 9 with 2960 to 1440 pixels to 5.8 inches for the S8 as well as to 6.2 inches for the S8 Plus. Only LG’s G6 is currently so much screen on so little smartphone surface, but it is less filigree.

Inside the Galaxy S8 are each eight-core processors, 64 gigabytes (GB) of memory and 4 GB of memory. More memory is available via micro SD card, fast data transmission with LTE Cat.16, as well as dual-band WLAN of the latest type. Power is recharged via USB-C cable or wireless Qi standard.

How does the S8 use in everyday life?

The first impression is good: the display is bright and clear, the setup process is easy. Meanwhile there are understandable data protection hints, even if annually ex factory are all checked – also for advertising.

On the other hand, setting up the device lock by fingerprint is less pleasant. The sensor is placed unfavorably on the back and comparatively bocky when detecting fingers. Alternatively, the S8 offers an iris scanner – which works well, except in sunlight – as well as a face detection. This can easily be overlapped with photos and is therefore not recommended.

Settings can be reached with three fingertips

The new design means that users have to adapt. Home, Back, and App Switcher buttons are no longer at the bottom, but are shown at the bottom of the display. Samsung has also worked on the user interface. Instead of the colorful, unclear “TouchWiz” there is a tidy surface called Samsung Experience. All settings are a maximum of three finger tippers removed.

Really fun is the camera. Contrary to the trend at LG or Huawei, Samsung does not rely on a duplicate version. With the 12-megapixel sensor, large aperture of F1.7 and the very fast autofocus succeed images at a high level. If you like it, you can embellish it with numerous filters, effects and stickers.

The camera feels like a system camera

The camera app is very good also with one hand to use, in Pro mode comes almost system camera feeling. And good news for Selfie friends: The front camera has been upgraded to eight megapixels and now has an autofocus. Videos films the Galaxy S8 on request in UHD resolution (3840 to 2160 pixels). Full HD resolution (1920 to 1080 pixels) provides a tracking autofocus and HDR mode for enhanced color and contrast rendering.

Anyone wishing to organize their daily lives with digital assistants has two options on the S8 and the S8 +: the Google Assistant or Samsung’s Bixby, which can be started with a button on the left side of the device. Both require extensive access to personal data and usage, deliver information, recall appointments, or answer questions.

Language assistant Bixby not yet ready for series

Samsung’s speech assistant Bixby also has the Bixby Vision function. Here objects are detected via the camera and appropriate shopping offers are searched in the net. However, Bixby is still a few months away from the start of the season. Speech commands in German should be understood only towards the end of the year, Bixby vision also works only sporadically.

With all the beauty of the design: In terms of ergonomics, the Samsung designers have allowed two carvers. The fingerprint sensor on the back of the device is quite impractical. One always accidentally grabs the camera, and the fingerprints are often not detected the first time. With the Galaxy S8 Plus, the sensor is hardly reachable for people with small hands.

Ergonomics shows two weaknesses

The Bixby button on the left side of the device is also rather unfavorable: when the phone is locked or activated, the wizard is started unintentionally. Because the switch is exactly where right-handed hands would place the pointer finger for a comfortable grip.

So that with all the performance and the display size of the battery does not make too fast, Samsung works with various saving options. For example, the display, which works with the reduced resolution in the default setting. Power saving modes can be selected in the Accumulator to slow down the processor, reduce the connections in the background, or lower the display resolution. But even without the helpers, the S8 usually comes effortlessly throughout the day.

The S8 is docked to PC replacement

What Microsoft has been offering with Windows Continuum for a long time, Samsung Dex is now also available in the Galaxy S8: the DisplayDock allows the smartphone to be connected to a screen and used with a mouse and a keyboard. In a first test, this worked with browser and Office apps largely fluently and without great acclimatization. If you work with texts in online environments, the S8 could find a travel substitute for the PC.

Conclusion: lots of light, little shade

Hardly any vendor is as far ahead in terms of design and application range as Samsung with the Galaxy S8. The giant display, the fast camera, the new control software and the Dex mode are successful innovations. And then it looks good. To keep it that way, you should put the S8 in a protective cover – with an impact on the design. There are point prints for the fingerprint sensor and the bixby button: they are simply placed too unfavorably.

The Galaxy S8 is on the 28th April for around 800 euros in the trade:
The larger S8 Plus costs almost 900 euros.

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