Your Complete Guide to Samsung Galaxy S8
Since 2009, Samsung Galaxy phones have brought fierce competition to the smartphone market. Using the popular open-source Android OS, these phones are among the better-known alternatives to iPhone and offer many similar features. The three newest models, all in the Galaxy 8 family, came out in 2017 to generally positive reviews. Is one of these the right smartphone for you? That depends on what you’re looking for. Let’s take a look at the features and specs offered by the Samsung Galaxy 8 and how these phones stack up against the competition.
The first two Galaxy 8 models, the S8 and S8+, were released in April 2017. The only real difference between them is the size: The S8+’s 6.2-inch display is larger than the standard 5.8-inch S8. Otherwise, all features are the same. Each phone is equipped with a 12 megapixel rear-facing camera and 8 megapixel front-facing “selfie” camera. The phone runs Android 7.0 Nougat OS and comes equipped with 64GB of memory and 4GB of RAM. The Galaxy Note 8, almost identical to the S8+ in both size and features, was released in September 2017. It’s slightly larger, with a 6.3-inch screen, and has 6GB of RAM instead of the standard 4GB in the S models. The Note 8 comes with a built-in stylus and a secondary telephoto camera for better picture quality and depth-of-field images. Fans of the Note series prize the stylus for its usefulness in writing hand-written notes and navigating the touch screen. If you have no preference between using a stylus or your finger to navigate your phone, the difference between the Note and S models may be negligible.
One of the most talked-about features for the Galaxy S8 is the Infinity Display, which allows for significantly more on-screen space without requiring a larger phone. The display boasts an 18.5:9 aspect ratio on a 5.8-inch display, with nearly the entire face of the phone dedicated to the screen. This means there is no bezel or branding taking up space, and the home button is entirely virtual. Another first for the Galaxy S8 is facial recognition capabilities. This feature has been seen before in other Android devices, but this is Samsung’s first use of it, and reports suggest that it’s lightning-fast and effective. Facial recognition might become a default method for unlocking your phone, especially as the S8’s design moves the fingerprint reader to the back face of the phone rather than the usual home button placement. Whimsically named virtual assistants have become an expected part of the modern tech landscape, and Samsung has jumped into the fray with Bixby. Bixby, accessible through a dedicated button, is a voice-operated virtual assistant that can manage essentially anything you can do with the phone, from searching through photo galleries to sending text messages or browsing websites. Using the same infrastructure as the facial recognition software, Bixby can identify items and provide information about them, based on contextual clues. For example, you could take a photograph of a bottle of wine and ask Bixby for its nutritional data or where to buy it. Headphone fans will be relieved to know that the Galaxy S8 still comes equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack, allowing you to listen to music on your headphones or auxiliary device of choice. The phone also supports Bluetooth 5, if that’s your preference. Another potentially useful feature for some smartphone users is the DeX Dock accessory. This simple-looking bowl comes equipped with the necessary USB connections and adapters to easily convert your smartphone into a mini desktop PC. Using the DeX, you can plug your phone into a monitor, keyboard and mouse for the full desktop experience.
The Galaxy 8’s battery is designed to last up to 26 hours of regular use or talk time. The battery standby time is just about 12 days. Some activities, such as searching for Wi-Fi signal or running background apps, will drain the battery faster. The S8 uses a 3000mAh battery, which delivers about the same amount of power as its previous models. The phone can be charged wirelessly and has fast-charging capabilities. Samsung caught a lot of bad press last year as a result of a dangerous battery issue in the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. A global recall was issued to pull the phones from the market in response to overheating problems that caused some phones to catch fire. Needless to say, battery safety was a top priority for Samsung when developing future phone models. All new Samsung phones are built using an 8-point battery safety system, advisory group and new quality assurance process. So far, it appears that there are no dangerous battery issues with the Galaxy 8. However, some users have reported problems with a “deep discharge,” or a phone that refuses to hold a charge after the battery has completely discharged. This doesn’t seem to be a widespread issue, but Samsung is aware of it and has been replacing phones on a case-by-case basis while investigating the cause behind these complaints.
When buying a smartphone, you have the option between purchasing the phone directly from your carrier or buying an unlocked phone that can be used with any wireless provider. For people who don’t want to be locked into a contract, buying an unlocked Galaxy S8 or Note 8 might be the right choice. However, you may miss out on some discounts and opportunities if you take this route, and you might run into trouble using certain carriers if you have an unlocked phone model. That said, Samsung phones are available from all of the usual online retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, ebay, Target and Walmart. The Galaxy S8 is available in the neighborhood of $750. Add approximately $100 or $200, respectively, for the S8+ or the Galaxy Note 8. Prices vary between retailers, depending on sales and specials, so it’s a good idea to shop around online before settling on a phone. If you don’t mind buying through a carrier, you can often get a better discount and the ability to pay for the phone over time, with the monthly payment plan added to your service bill. The payment plan details may vary, depending on your credit, so be sure to check with the carrier for the most accurate and up-to-date pricing.
If you purchase a Galaxy S8 through the T-Mobile website, you can add a second one for free. This is one of the better deals out there, especially if you have a spouse or child looking to upgrade at the same time. The standard T-Mobile payment plan is $30 per month for 24 months. If you qualify for this plan, you can get an S8 for $30 down or an S8+ for $130 down. Otherwise, these phones cost $750 and $850, respectively, when paid for up-front.
If you trade in an eligible device and sign up for the carrier’s unlimited plan, you can get a $300 credit toward your new phone. Otherwise, the standard payment plan is 24 months at $31.50 per month for the S8 or $35 per month for the S8+. Bought for cash, the phones are $756 and $840 respectively.
Similar to T-Mobile, AT&T is offering up to $750 in credit toward buying a second Galaxy S8 when you purchase the first. The S8 costs $750, or $25 per month, over a 30-month repayment plan. The S8+ costs $850, or $28.34 per month, over 30 months.
Sprint offers an annual upgrade program called Galaxy Forever that allows customers to upgrade an existing phone to the newest model after making 12 monthly lease payments. In general, Sprint will charge $750 up front or $31.25 per month for 24 months for an S8, and $850 or $35.42 per month for an S8+.
If you commit to a particular 30-month plan, US Cellular offers a free Galaxy S8. Otherwise, expect to pay $738 for the Galaxy S8 or $851 for the S8+.
Many smartphone options are available on the market today, and it can be hard to choose which phone is right for your needs. If you’re upgrading to a new phone, it’s worth looking at the competition to see which features and benefits stand out. Below, we’ll look at a few of the top competitors and popular smartphones fresh on the market. Apple iPhone X The Apple iPhone is practically synonymous with smartphones, and iPhone products are always strong competitors. Two models came out as direct competition for the Samsung Galaxy: the iPhone X and the iPhone 7. Of the two, the iPhone X is the most similar to the Galaxy S8. The phones are roughly the same size, and both have a display of 5.8 inches. The S8 has a higher pixel density and resolution, however, as well as a somewhat higher screen-to-body ratio. This makes the Galaxy S8 a clear winner for graphics-heavy uses, like streaming video. With similarly sized processors, both phones should perform at roughly the same speed. The Galaxy S8 has less built-in storage: 64 GB, as compared to the iPhone’s 256 GB. The Galaxy can be upgraded with additional storage if necessary. Overall, Android users will probably find the Galaxy S8 to be the clear winner between the two. The phones are similar enough for tight competition, but the better image quality and more affordable price tag help the Galaxy come out on top. If you’re accustomed to the iPhone and iOS, however, the decision may be somewhat more difficult, because not all apps will work on the Android-based system. Google Pixel 2 Google Pixel 2 is a surprisingly strong contender, for a relative newcomer to the smartphone scene. Priced similarly to the Galaxy S8 and with many of the same features, this Android-based phone holds its own in competition. Measuring 5.74 by 2.74 inches, the Pixel 2 is roughly the same size as the S8. It has a much lower screen-to-body ratio, however, and the display itself has both a lower resolution and a lower pixel density. In other words, it simply cannot compete with the graphics quality of the S8. Other features, including its processor and camera, are almost identical to the Galaxy S8. Because the phones are so similar, there is little to make the Pixel 2 stand out. Lower image quality and limited carrier availability make this a weaker choice for your money than the Galaxy S8. LG G6 LG is another popular smartphone brand, and the G6 is its newest offering. This phone is widely available through common carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. It’s also cheaper than the Galaxy S8, which may make it more attractive for some price-conscious users. Both phones use the Android operating system. In terms of performance, the LG G6 is somewhat weaker, sporting just 32 GB of built-in storage and a quad-core processor rather than the octa-core in the Galaxy S8. The G6 is also missing some of the bells and whistles, like a unique virtual assistant or facial recognition software, but the average user may not mind their absence. Where the G6 deserves a positive mention is its display, which is almost as good as the Galaxy’s. The 1440 x 2880 resolution is a bit different from the standard smartphone, but the image quality is clean and clear, offering serious competition for one of the Galaxy’s strongest features. OnePlus 5 OnePlus is a relative newcomer to the smartphone scene, and it’s still struggling to get a toe-hold among the better-known brands. The OnePlus 5 stands as solid competition against better-known smartphone models, and it’s somewhat more affordable than the Galaxy S8. However, the price difference may not be enough to compensate for some of its drawbacks. In terms of performance and specs, the OnePlus 5 is fairly similar to the Galaxy. Both have octa-core processors and Adreno 540 graphics processors. The OnePlus has 128 GB of built-in storage and a slightly larger battery, and the camera is somewhat higher quality. However, the display is significantly smaller than the Galaxy S8, despite the phone itself being larger. In fact, the size of the OnePlus is one of its biggest drawbacks. A slender, rounded design makes for a slippery phone, and the large size makes one-handed use more cumbersome. This is a phone practically begging to be dropped. This coupled with the fact that the OnePlus is not waterproofed may be enough to knock it from the competition.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Final Verdict
Compared to other Android phones in its class, the Galaxy S8 is a strong competitor. It’s more expensive than its Android competitors, but its display quality and high resolution help it to stand out from the pack. It’s also competitive enough with the much pricier iPhone to make switching from iOS to Android seem attractive. Pros – A beautiful display with more screen space than any other phone on the market. – A powerful processor and storage that can be upgraded. – Headphone jack and Bluetooth capability. – Dust and water resistant. – Plenty of cutting-edge features like facial recognition and Bixby. Cons – Poor battery life, compared to some of its competitors. – Some reports of phones not holding a charge after the battery is fully discharged; this claim is still being investigated. – A fingerprint sensor placed awkwardly next to the camera lens. – Some bloatware, or standard apps, that can’t be removed. Overall, if you’re planning to upgrade your Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy 8 is a strong contender. The phone is at its best when its large screen size is put to good use, such as while streaming videos or playing mobile games. If you’re primarily looking for a workhorse with a long battery life and plenty of memory for file storage, however, this is probably not the phone for you. But as with all shopping, comparisons with competitors allow for a more informed choice as to which product will work best for you.