Image source: Samsung Canada website
If you prefer a large phone, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus may be just the device for you. Let’s take an in-depth look at its design, screen, performance, and more.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is sleek and beautifully designed, likely the best-looking big smartphone currently on the market.
It features an especially large 6.2-inch screen, but the narrow design makes it comfortable to hold. The curved front and back also help it fit cozily in your hand.
However, there are a few drawbacks to the tall screen. It can be a challenge to swipe your thumb from the top to the bottom of the screen in one motion, sometimes requiring you to hold the phone with two hands. The fingerprint sensor, which is crammed in next to the camera, is difficult to reach.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus also has a dedicated key for Bixby, Samsung’s new voice assistant, next to the volume button. Along the top of the device, there’s a SIM and microSD card slot. On the bottom, you’ll find a headphone jack and mono-speaker alongside the USB Type C-port.
The front and back of the phone are coated in Gorilla Glass 5, and it’s IP68 rated for water-resistance, meaning it can be submerged in 1m of water for half an hour.
There are five colour options: Midnight Black, Arctic Silver, Maple Gold, Coral Blue, and Orchid Gray.
The screen display on the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus extends almost to the corners of the device. While most phones stick to the 16:9 aspect ratio, the S8 Plus has an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. This makes the screen look taller and feel narrower.
The display is extremely high quality as well. It’s a crystal-clear AMOLED panel with a resolution of 2960 x 1440. So far, it’s the only phone to have been “Mobile HDR Premium” certified by the UHD Alliance that certifies HD televisions.
Color reproduction is bright and vivid without being oversaturated. The Galaxy S8 can sometimes surpass 1000-nits of brightness.
The phone’s default setting is 1080p, which looks great, but you can easily switch to 1440p in Settings.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus shows major improvement in Samsung’s software. It’s simple and more intuitive than many other devices. You can manually stretch apps to fit the massive display, and you can crop Youtube videos (mostly shot in 16:9) to remove any unsightly black bars.
Some of the phone’s software additions aren’t particularly useful, however. Bixby, which has its own dedicated button, doesn’t allow you to “control every part of the phone with your voice,” as Samsung originally claimed. Currently, you can’t talk to Bixby at all. It’s more of a home screen page that’s only moderately useful.
Bixby also works with the camera: You can point the camera at landmarks, and it will show you some similar pictures, like Google Goggles. It also offers basic product scanning, but both of these features seem unfinished and don’t always operate effectively.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus also introduces DeX, which combines hardware and software to provide a PC-like experience. To use this feature, you’ll need a DeX dock, called the DeX station by Samsung. It attaches to your Galaxy S8 Plus using a USB-C and lets you plug in a keyboard, external monitor, and mouse.
DeX works, but it’s limited. It’s designed to increase productivity by giving you the experience of a full-fledged desktop, and you still get full access to incoming calls, texts, and phone notifications. There’s a desktop and windowed apps, but some of these apps, like Spotify, won’t work with DeX.
Despite the limitations of Bixby and DeX, the overall software experience is a strong improvement for Samsung.
In addition, there are three ways to unlock the Galaxy S8 Plus: the slightly frustrating fingerprint sensor, an iris scanner, and face recognition. The iris scanner can be a bit slow at times, but the face recognition works quickly and reliably.
Both the Exynos 8895 (Canada, Asia, and Europe) and the Snapdragon 835 (United States) make for an extremely fast phone, one of the fastest on the market.
The newer chipset offers a more efficient 10nm process, which results in improved battery life and better support for gigabit LTE speeds. Games and apps run well, and the operating system is smooth and fluid.
4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage come standard. 4GB of RAM may not be the highest available, but there’s little noticeable difference between a phone with 4GB of RAM and one with 6GB.
Phone-call quality and Wi-Fi performance are good, but not necessarily better than on many other devices. The speakers are poor, and since sound comes from the bottom, it’s easy to accidentally block sound with your hand. On the plus side, the Galaxy S8 Plus does keep the headphone jack and provide a good pair of headphones.
The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is a 12-megapixel sensor with an f/1.7 aperture and what Samsung calls Dual Pixels (the bigger pixels).
It boasts a multi-frame image processor that takes three shots for each one you snap. The speed of the camera is also unbeatable. Focusing is reliable and locks onto its target almost instantly, regardless of lighting quality.
The new auto-HDR mode balances exposure and contrast in bright conditions, and colors really pop on the photos you’ll snap with the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. It also features excellent depth perception and detail.
Due to the wide f/1.7 aperture, the camera is able to naturally achieve the trendy “bokeh effect” that other phones produce with second lenses or software tricks.
The camera produces quality shots even in low-lighting, and it uses optical image stabilization. The front-facing 8-megapixel camera, too, has a f/1.7 aperture and autofocus. Snapchat-like live filters give you a variety of filter options that can be shared on any app.
Video, too, benefits from HDR and tracking autofocus. It can be recorded up to UHD.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus features one of the most reliable cameras on the market, consistently producing sharp, beautiful images in any lighting. It’s fast, too, and the camera app is excellent.
Inside the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is a 3500mAh cell, which is impressive, and there are a variety of power-saving modes. Used moderately, the phone can probably last a full day. But with the big 6.2-inch display, the device still needs to be charged nightly.
The phone uses Samsung’s Adaptive Charging, and a full charge takes about an hour and 40 minutes. Wireless charging is also an option with the S8 Plus.
If you have a preference for large phones or don’t mind a bigger device, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a great option.
The phone is attractive and comfortable for its size, the screen is stunning, and the camera consistently produces superb images. There may be small inconveniences, like the new Bixby button and the location of the fingerprint sensor, but it also features extras like wireless charging and water-resistance.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is a winner.