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Five reasons not to buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+

Samsung's new S series flagships have captured the heart and attention of many smartphone enthusiasts. But, before you get too enthusiastic, it has some serious weaknesses. After trying the new Galaxy S8 and S8+ for myself, here are the reasons why I believe you should think twice before buying either device.

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Glass backs are easily cracked fingerprint magnets

There's no denying that the Galaxy S8 is a beautiful looking device with superior build quality. The curved design of the S8 is striking and modern, and the choice to put glass on both sides certainly adds to the elegant effect. However, there are three problems with this, in my opinion. First and foremost, glass is fragile, even Gorilla Glass 5. 

In the drop test below, you'll see how the S8+ holds up against the iPhone 7 Plus. Early in the drop test, at just two minutes into the video, the glass on the back of the S8+ cracks, while the iPhone 7 Plus' back looks almost completely unscathed. While the phone is still functional, you can say good bye to Samsung's perfect aesthetic.

If you think you can just repair the phone easily when it cracks and your problems will be solved, you're dead wrong. Repair website iFixit just published the results of their teardown, and the S8 and S8+ got a very poor repairability score. They found that both glass panels are held in place by strong adhesive, making it difficult to replace internal parts (like the non-removable battery) and the glass (especially on the front, which could destroy the display).

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There are a couple of other reasons why a glass-backed S8 may not have been the best choice. The S8 gets covered in fingerprints the moment you take it out of the box. This draws attention away from the beautiful design, especially on the back of the black model. I don't know about you, but I don't want my phone looking constantly smudged and dirty.

And there's one last reason I don't think the glass back was a great idea: the phone case. The vast majority of people I know use phone cases. Whether they're silicone or leather, cover a little or a lot, at least 90 percent of the phones I see are covered by cases. Samsung has made a beautiful device, but it's fragile and expensive - and anyone who cares about their phone will opt to cover it with a case to protect it. So, why make a glass back that people will hardly ever see and appreciate the beauty of? The trade off of making it more fragile just isn't worth it to me, even if you get wireless charging capability, especially given that these phones are hard to repair. To make things worse, Samsung even made these horrendously, shamefully ugly official S8 cases

Samsung's attempt at AI falls short

Samsung seems to enjoy duplicating Google's efforts when it comes to apps, and the results aren't superior. Creating things like Samsung Internet and S Voice, the manufacturer has been offering pointless and even less useful alternatives to stock Android apps for a long while. And now, in addition to all the other Samsung bloatware, the company is trying to force Bixby onto its users. 

Bixby the latest in a crowded market of AI assistants already dominated by Google Assistant, Siri and Amazon Alexa. It does little to differentiate itself feature-wise, and even worse, voice activation won't be available in the US until sometime "later this Spring". That means you can get the Bixby equivalent of the classic Google Now cards, but you won't be able to use voice commands, a central feature, until a while after the device is made available on April 21.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S8 2032
Google Assistant is harder to access than Bixby, but it's still an option on the S8. / © AndroidPIT

Luckily, you can still summon Google Assistant by holding down the virtual home button, but it's not as convenient to launch as Bixby - and this was clearly intentional. To get to Bixby, you can use the dedicated hardware button just under the volume rocker - which Samsung has gone out of their way to prevent users from remapping to activate Google Assistant or any other functions. Heaven forbid that users want to use the hardware button to access the only fully functional AI assistant installed on their phone instead of Samsung's own as yet incomplete one.

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Almost all smartphones on the market come with at least some bloatware, but Bixby was particularly poorly executed for a high-end device. Customers are left with a dedicated button meant to encourage them to use an AI assistant that doesn't even work fully yet. Since Bixby has been promoted as such a central selling point of the S8, it's sure to be a let down in its current state.

You can find better value elsewhere

Why get the new Samsung flagship when you could get a better value? With the new Xiaomi Mi 6, you get the same beauty (and fragility) as the S8+, but with better specs for half the price.

xiaomi mi 6 official 04
The Xiaomi Mi 6 features the style of the Xiaomi Mi 5 merged with that of the Samsung Galaxy S7. / © Xiaomi

The just announced Xiaomi Mi 6 has the same Snapdragon 835 processor as the S8 and S8+, and it comes in a version with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage - just like the South Korean-exclusive version of the S8+ with 6 GB of RAM. Still, the Mi 6 offers even more: 12 MP dual cameras, a larger 3,350 mAh battery and a significantly lower price tag - around half the price. It is only $420 compared to $1,017 (converted to US Dollars). The only drawback in my mind is that it offers less screen real estate: 5.15 inches, compared to the 6 GB S8+ display's 6.2 inches. In any case, the Mi 6 is a great looking device, with curved glass on the front and back like the S8, combining the style of its Mi 5 predecessor with that of the Galaxy S7.

Same old camera

The Galaxy S8 may be helping to solidify a new curved glass design trend, but the device isn't setting the bar when it comes to smartphone photography. The trend of late has been dual cameras. LG's latest flagship has a dual 13 MP rear camera, the iPhone 7 Plus has one, the aforementioned Xiaomi Mi 6 has one, and plenty of others do as well. But, not only do the S8 and S8+ not feature a dual camera, these devices use the camera of their predecessors! The S8 features the same 12 MP sensor and dual pixel technology that the Galaxy S7 has. The camera of the S7 was one of the best when it was released, but by standing still, the S8 is falling behind the crowd already.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6 2466
The S8 and G6: not having a dual camera is a set back since the competition has one. / © AndroidPIT

To Samsung's credit, there have been some small improvements to the software and front camera. The front camera was upgraded from 5 to 8 MP, and the camera software now uses multi-frame processing - automatically taking multiple shots and combining them into one, hopefully improved, result.

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Awkward fingerprint scanner placement

One of the most common knocks against the Galaxy S8 is the placement of the fingerprint scanner. If you're used to swiping your finger on the home button, you're in for a change - for the worse. Since the physical home button of the S7 has disappeared, the fingerprint scanner has migrated to the back of the device.

Instead of placing the button more toward the middle on the back (like on the LG G6), where it could be easily reached, Samsung has placed it just beside the camera. If you're using your phone with your right hand like most people do, you'll have to reach your index finger over the camera to use it - meaning you'll be smudging your camera lens constantly while feeling around for the fingerprint scanner. On the larger S8+, you practically can't reach the scanner without employing both hands.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6 2450
Galaxy S8 (left), LG G6 (right). / © AndroidPIT

The best placement option, which Samsung may not have been able to scramble together before the launch of the S8, would be to put the scanner under the glass on the front. There were rumors of sourcing from Synaptics for this, but hopefully, it may still happen on the Note 8.

In summary: the lovely glass back could crack, the placement of the fingerprint scanner is sure to get on your nerves, the Bixby experience falls short and Samsung has sadly decided to hang onto the camera of the previous generation. If you're considering getting the Galaxy S8 or S8+, make sure that you are aware of its weaknesses and adjust your expectations accordingly before you spend your hard earned cash, or consider a better value phone like the Xiaomi Mi 6.

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Readers' favorite comments

  • Paul d Scott 3 months ago

    i can think of 680 reasons not to buy something so insanely impractical..
    nothing epitomises the ridiculous nature of fashion driven design more than a smartphone covered front to back in glass ...

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  • Save yourself the money and don't buy this phone, it isn't worth the headaches. I have had mine for 4 months now and am on my way to phone number three because of the screen cracking. The first time I dropped it onto pavement from 3 feet. Ok, my fault, I'll accept it. I had a S5 for two years and a S7 for 2 years before I switched to the S8 and never cracked a screen till this phone which I am currently on cracked screen number 2...after 4 months. This time I can't even tell you what caused it to crack. Happened between a walk to my car, a five minute drive back to my house, and up the stairs to my room. it was in my pocket the whole time, cracked top to bottom. 225 dollars for insurance claim number two puts me now at 1250 dollars for this cell phone I have had for 4 months. It is a beautiful phone, fast, and works well, but it is not worth how fragile it is. I do not think I will be purchasing Samsung again. I have an otterbox defender case and an invisibleshield screen protector (the non glass one) the 50 dollar glass one I bought didn't respond to my touches on the screen, so we will just call this S8 1300 wasted dollars.

  • Madars G 3 months ago Link to comment

    Actually camera isn't 100% the same, there is some improvements, just a little bit, but anyway. Actually very stupid reasons. I can mention so many reasons why to upgrade from s7/s7 edge to s8/s8+

  • due to recent malfunction in samsung people didn't trust in samsung brand anymore.

  • Karl E 3 months ago Link to comment

    Is it a innovation to create something unpractical? Samsung things so or believing it is practical, the screenratio is maybe a new standard in future, but at the moment it is not that useful. The fingerprint reader is set on a stupid place and it is slippery even with dry palms. Curved screens are no problem for me, but there is no practical use beneath of design. We will see what the future shows us regarding this unpractical parts of this smartphone.

  • why were apple number one for years? not because they were better it's just because people thought they were better? same goes for Samsung.

    • That's a pretty incisive observation, Peter. Some companies have mastered the art of appearing hip and stylish without offering anything more substantial than the rest. I have to agree with you that Apple and Samsung are both examples.

  • Well, Samsung is still outselling all competitors so.......

  • l know someone who's just got one and is drooling all over it i asked him is it any better than your previous S7? Then comes the silence?

    • It's much faster for one thing. Better antenna's too

      • Not even a little bit, dude. My Samsung Galaxy S6 blows the Samsung Galaxy S8 out of the water. I've had this new phone for about a week and I am taking it back to T-Mobile tomorrow for a refund. I can't even get cell service in my driveway, where I never had a problem with the S6. Voice to text is almost impossible to use because it takes forever to parse my speech. I have run speed test with both phones connected to the same Wi-Fi and had them opening up different web pages simultaneously and the S6 is faster all the way around than the S8.

        This thing is absolute junk.

  • i can think of 680 reasons not to buy something so insanely impractical..
    nothing epitomises the ridiculous nature of fashion driven design more than a smartphone covered front to back in glass ...

  • They position it as a multimedia device in commercials but watching movies on it is less than stellar.
    Curved glass serves one purpose, to look nice and it can't even do that because of the faded edges and unwanted glare. Add to that, it's a ergonomic nightmare and you just have a fragile, hard to use, glass bar.
    I won't even get into Sammy's software as most know its always poor already.

  • XIomi Mi6 is not a half of S8 price!!!!
    maybe it is in china...but, once available it will cost at least 100$ more (i some countries and 200, since you will add shipping and reseller cost, plus 20-25% of VAT on chinese price of 400$ to have it in EU or US...and that is, to have it without warranty and service support).

    in same time, i have bought s8 for 500€ with one year contract with my network....so that Samsung is even cheaper than Mi6 for me (which can't go under 550€ right now)

    • I guess that the Xiaomi example was, well, an example, to examplify how expensive is the S8. Other than that, are you sure you're not paying more on your monthly bill and will bring the real cost to $1000 or close?

  • Yep exactly why I waited for the S8 to come out and then bought the S7 when the price dropped. Dont like the design of the S8 at all.

  • Samsung is acting the exact same as Apple thinking anything they produce consumers will buy,why.do they promise things and then when released its not even ready for use,Samsung needs loads of help with the Software section as there always slow with offering updates and should work more with Google to sort there Android software,consumers will jump in straight away buying the new S8 models just to show of the look of the new phones but into 2-3 months the price of the phones will drop,so will then be able to read full opinions of the phones to see if the pleased or sad with the phones,S7 Edge still a brilliant phone that might get some S8 models software updates

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