Since last Friday, I've had a new friend. The Samsung Galaxy S8+, the larger and longer version of the Galaxy S8, has been my trusty companion for the last week. I'd like to use this diary on a daily basis to walk you through some of the new features of this powerful smartphone, as I discover them.
Day 1 - April 10
The Galaxy S8+ is already receiving a lot of attention around here in the editorial office at AndroidPIT. It's interesting to see the response among those people who don't usually go for a top-end device like this one. As expected, the Galaxy S8+ was well received and drew many 'oohs and aahs' from within the team. My main suspicion that people wouldn't like the size of the phone was ultimately proven to be wrong. The huge, though impressive, display combined with its very thin edges and smooth shape creates the illusion that the device is smaller than it actually is. On an interesting side note, the Xiaomi Mi MIX prompted exactly the opposite reaction - everyone I showed it to thought the phone was way too big.
As I began to actually use the device, one of my initial fears were confirmed; the new position of the fingerprint sensor is not optimal. Because the body of the device has been elongated, my fingertips are no longer immediately within range of the sensor. This could've been different had Samsung placed the sensor slightly higher in the body, nearer the camera. Perhaps I'll get used to this, though I doubt it. Nevertheless, I can still drool over the amazing display.
I think it's great that the app drawer can be opened with a single swipe from the home screen. However, someone needs to tell the Samsung developers to add a function where you can swipe up or down to show your notifications. At the moment, this action only opens the app drawer - which is frustrating to say the least. As the upper bar is currently too far up on the home screen, this feature would be a very useful addition.
Day 2 - April 11
Today, I want to share some thoughts with you on the audio capabilities of the Galaxy S8+. Firstly, some background information: Samsung purchased Edelschmiede / Harman Kardon as part of an enormous deal last year. By doing this, it also procured the rights to use headphones from Austrian brand AKG, which belonged to Kardon. The earbuds that come with both the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are therefore also from AKG, and cost around $99. This provides an enormous sonic difference. Many manufacturers include cheap plastic headphones, or indeed none at all, even with their most expensive devices. These AKG earbuds however, look and sound great. The fabric cables are a nice touch too!
That being said, there is a small unsightly detail where the display transitions into the frame at the top of the device. After only a few days, this area was visibly dirty - even around the internal speaker. This isn't especially unusual and happens often enough with other devices, though I'm still a little sad when a sleek new smartphone bears signs of use at such an early stage. It could be worse - a little dust is forgivable compared to, say, a large scratch.
Day 3 - April 12
Bixby. The digital assistant that currently achieves next to nothing. Today, Samsung actually admitted that the voice commands from Bixby don't even work for the languages that have already been made available (English and Korean). Ultimately, what Bixby can do at the moment is present cards, notifications and Bixby Vision, which is an augmented reality camera for identifying objects in real time and then searching for them online. For what seemed like a lot of hype, Bixby is actually of very little use to the user, especially compared to Google Assistant, which is also installed on the Galaxy S8. And for this, Samsung included a new built-in button?! In my opinion, the company could have spared the effort and cost of this up-to-now rather useless element.
Day 4 - April 13
Today I have to say a few words about the camera on the Galaxy S8+. Yes, I have to admit it, but I was a bit disappointed by Samsung's decision not to add a dual camera to the Galaxy S8. More than this, it also struck me as a bit strange that when the newest addition to the Galaxy generation was first presented, the camera didn't even get a mention.
That said, after using the S8+ for a few days, I have to say: the camera is really great! It's faster than most other smartphones when it comes to focusing and capturing images, so it's really fun to use. The quality of the images is overall excellent, so you won't have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to capture a high quality picture.
However, the Galaxy S8+ isn't in a position to compete when it comes to, for instance, the bokeh effect. The depth of focus on other smartphone cameras, like the iPhone 7 Plus or the Huawei P10, is much better. As they say, you can't have everything.
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Stop by tomorrow for more illuminating observations about the Galaxy S8+!