Sam­sung Galaxy S8

Gulf Business - - REVIEW - By Mike Priest

To say that Sam­sung has had a trou­bled 12 months would be a se­vere un­der­state­ment.

From the fi­asco sur­round­ing the global re­call of its crit­i­cally ac­claimed, but ul­ti­mately faulty, Galaxy Note 7 hand­set, to the very pub­lic ar­rest of its CEO Jay Y Lee for his in­volve­ment in a ma­jor cor­rup­tion scan­dal, things have been tough for the Korean elec­tron­ics gi­ant.

That’s why ex­pec­ta­tions were rid­ing high on the re­lease of the com­pany’s 2017 flag­ship. Would the Galaxy S8 be enough to fo­cus cus­tomer at­ten­tion away from the var­i­ous scan­dals and back to what mat­ters most, the prod­ucts? Could Sam­sung man­age to make a phone that wouldn’t spon­ta­neously com­bust in your pocket? We’re happy to re­port in the af­fir­ma­tive on both counts, and then some.

Curved edges were what made last year’s Galaxy S7 Edge stand out – so much so that Sam­sung have done away with a flat screen ver­sion of the Galaxy S8 com­pletely. The cor­ners of the all-glass front have been rounded off in what has been dubbed an ‘In­fin­ity Dis­play’, help­ing the phone sit snugly in your grip.

The bezels at the top and bot­tom of the dis­play are in­cred­i­bly thin, a re­sult of re­mov­ing the phys­i­cal home but­ton from the front of the screen. In­stead, there’s now a dig­i­tal home but­ton, built into the glass, com­plete with hap­tic feed­back that works not dis­sim­i­larly to the Touch ID home but­ton on Ap­ple’s iPhone 7. This has lead to one of the more ques­tion­able de­sign de­ci­sions on the Galaxy S8, which is not that the fin­ger­print sen­sor has been moved to the rear of the de­vice, but the fact that it now sits to the right of the rear cam­era sen­sor, mak­ing it awk­ward to reach, and leav­ing the cam­era lens prone to fre­quent fin­ger­print smudges. To com­bat this, Sam­sung has in­cluded a num­ber of al­ter­na­tive ways to un­lock the phone in­clud­ing fa­cial recog­ni­tion and iris scan­ning, both of which work with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess but can be a bit slower than sim­ply typ­ing a pass­code into the al­ways-on lock screen.

And then there’s the panel it­self, a bril­liant 5.8-inch AMOLED af­fair, boast­ing a 2,960 by 1,440 pixel res­o­lu­tion that de­liv­ers deep, inky blacks and in­cred­i­ble con­trast. The su­per skinny bezels, and the phone’s unique 18:5:9 as­pect ra­tio, make it easy enough to use with one hand, de­spite it hav­ing a screen size that dwarfs many of its ri­vals.

It can’t be em­pha­sised enough, that this phone is a true marvel of de­sign that make’s even the iPhone 7 look dated by com­par­i­son.

With all the for­ward-look­ing in­no­va­tion brought to the front of the de­vice, it’s a shame to see Sam­sung tread­ing wa­ter in the rear cam­era de­part­ment. Not that the S8 takes bad pho­tos by any ac­count, it’s just that not much has changed from 2016. A 12MP sen­sor with f/1.7 aper­ture sense, dual pixel aut­o­fo­cus and op­ti­cal image sta­blil­i­sa­tion will sound fa­mil­iar if you’ve used a Galaxy S7 be­fore. With the likes of Huawei, LG and Ap­ple in­clud­ing dual-cam­era set­ups in their flag­ship de­vices, it feels like Sam­sung could have done a lit­tle more here. The selfie cam­era has re­ceived a wel­come up­grade to an 8MP sen­sor.

Pow­er­ing the Galaxy S8 is Sam­sung’s own octa-core Exynos CPU, a 10nm chip that is not only in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful, but helps con­serve bat­tery life. There is 64GB of stor­age as stan­dard (al­though ex­pand­able via mi­croSD) while 4GB of RAM is more than enough to help the phone fly through Sam­sung’s un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally re­strained take on An­droid 7.0.

Speak­ing of soft­ware, the new­est ad­di­tion to the Touch­wiz in­ter­face is an AI as­sis­tant named BIXBY that, rather than just re­spond to your voice, is de­signed to pay at­ten­tion to what’s on screen and what your cam­era is pointed at. Cur­rently it can launch apps, set wall­pa­pers and recog­nise text, and while Sam­sung clearly be­lieves BIXBY is a big deal – it has a ded­i­cated phys­i­cal but­ton on the phone – our test­ing proved that it still needs a sub­stan­tial amount of work if it wants to com­pete with Siri or Google As­sis­tant.

Those con­cerned about a re­peat of the Note 7’s ex­plod­ing bat­tery can rest easy, Sam­sung has played things con­ser­va­tively this time around in­clud­ing only a 3,000mAh bat­tery that, while safe, means you won’t get much more than a solid day of use out of the de­vice.

Sam­sung needed a win, and the Galaxy S8 is un­ques­tion­ably that. While its cam­era might be noth­ing new, and its fin­ger­print sen­sor an awk­ward mis­step, these are eas­ily for­got­ten in the face of a spec­tac­u­lar smart­phone that will un­doubt­edly set the tone for the en­tire in­dus­try mov­ing for­ward. The Sam­sung Galaxy S8 is avail­able in Maple Gold, Orchid Grey and Mid­night Black for Dhs 2,799

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.