The Samsung Galaxy S8 has the best display we’ve ever seen on a smartphone.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is not only the best Android smartphone, it is the best smartphone period. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better phone thanks to its stunning edge-to-edge display, powerful processor, impressive battery performance and top-notch cameras.
It kept us waiting a little longer than in previous years, but in March Samsung finally rewarded our patience with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. These smartphones then went on sale in April as the best phones of 2017 to date.
Now the Galaxy S7 was already a pretty decent phone – in fact Samsung has won the crown in our best smartphones chart for the past three years running. Is it too much to ask for the company to improve on an already good thing?
Well, yes and no. Because the Galaxy S8 is a fantastic flagship, but it’s not flawless. It’s also facing stiff competition from the brand-new OnePlus 5, and not before long it will also have to stand up to the iPhone 8.
When you hold the Galaxy S8, you know there is no other phone like it. Its metal frame feels premium and is inviting to touch, and its display is simply remarkable. It’s taller, skinnier and more compact than most smartphones but still manages to fit in more precious screen real estate.
This display has a 18.5:9 aspect ratio that’s noticeably unlike the 16:9 screens that outfit almost every other smartphone today. This bezel-less display does what the LG G6’s 18:9 display could not achieve – make the phone look like you are holding just a screen. While the Galaxy S7 Edge’s 76-percent screen-to-body ratio was impressive, the new Galaxy S8 has an 83-percent screen-to-body ratio. For additional comparison, the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus sits at just a 68-percent ratio.
The S8 is comfortable to hold and doesn’t feel slippery. This is coming from someone who hates large phones and prefers the 4-inch iPhone SE to any model with a “plus” in the name. The Galaxy S8 is the first big phone I didn’t feel like I was going to drop, even though it has an intimidatingly fragile glass body. I even felt confident operating it one-handed, although my thumb couldn’t reach the top of the screen. To compensate, Samsung added a one-handed mode – you can shrink the screen by tapping the home button three times.
Samsung has brought its edge-screen technology to both phones this year so you don’t need to buy the larger Galaxy S8 Plus to get the full experience. This not only looks great but has a big advantage when it comes to keeping the size of the phone from getting out of control.
The S8 is pretty much the same width, thickness and weight compared to its predecessor. It’s just a few millimetres taller but jumps from 5.1- to 5.8in when it comes to screen size. So what would typically be an unwieldy device feels barely any different in the hand.
In the grand scheme of things, the fingerprint scanner is a minor complaint, and Samsung made more wise design decisions than bad ones. The company kept several key design elements that made its past phones shine, including wireless charging, a MicroSD card slot and a water-resistant body. The AT&T model even touts a FM receiver. Unlike iPhone’s 7 and 7 Plus models, Samsung opted to keep the S8’s 3.5mm headphone jack and make the switch to USB-C for its charging port.
Samsung didn’t really update the Galaxy S8’s rear camera, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure, it would have been nice to see a dual-camera setup, but its onboard camera is still incredibly impressive – it has the same 12MP sensor with an f/1.7 optically stabilized lens as its predecessor. However, Samsung upped its software processing to be in the same vein as the Google Pixel’s HDR+ mode.
Additionally, the front-facing camera got a bit of an upgrade to up your selfie game. The Galaxy S8 sports a new 8MP camera with a wide-angle lens and auto focus. In beauty mode, you can slim your face, enlarge your eyes and adjust your skin tone. Pro users will appreciate the full-manual control, a feature that’s missing on the Google Pixel.
The S8’s camera shoots 4K video at 30 frames per second (fps) and slow-mo video at up to 240 fps at 720p. Videos are crisp and vivid, and the image stabilization comes in handy when you are moving and recording video simultaneously.
This smartphone is fast and incredibly versatile thanks to its onboard Snapdragon 835 processor. It also comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage space. That’s twice the amount you get from base models of the iPhone 7, LG G6 and Google Pixel. And if you need more storage, you can just pop a MicroSD card in the expandable storage slot.
At Top Ten Reviews, we put every smartphone we review through at least 50 separate benchmarks, gathering over 300 individual data points. Our benchmark tests found that the Galaxy S8 is the most powerful Android phone, and smartphone in general for that matter, on the market. It’s a powerhouse, and we never experienced lag.
Tom’s Guide, our sister site, conducted an extensive battery test on the Samsung Galaxy S8. It determined that the Galaxy S8’s 3000 mAh battery lasts for 10 hours and 39 minutes, improving on the Galaxy S7’s eight hour and 43 minute time by nearly two hours – the screen may be larger, but it doesn’t affect battery life. These results were obtained with the phone’s resolution set to its max 2960 x 1440 pixels. The phone’s less-demanding 2220 x 1080 setting is enabled by default.
Samsung introduced Bixby, a new built-in assistant that doesn’t have voice functionality yet. For now, Bixby is sort of like Google Now, with information cards to let you know what’s trending online and give you a quick glance at your calendar, the weather and the news. There’s even a dedicated button on the left side of the phone to activate Bixby, though it would be nice if Samsung let users remap this button or at least disable it. Google Assistant, which the S8 also has, is much more capable and powerful. We aren’t much of a fan of Bixby, but to be fair, we aren’t fans of Siri either. Both have significant room for improvement.
The Galaxy S8 has Bluetooth 5.0, which has a longer range than previous standards and lets you play audio from two different devices simultaneously. This comes in handy for Bluetooth speakers and lets you listen to the same tunes as a workout buddy at the gym, as long as your friend has a pair of Bluetooth headphones.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is hands down the best smartphone. It beats all the competition in terms of performance, design, battery life and features.