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Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ review: The future is here
By James Lu - 14 May 2017
Prices:

Performance Benchmarks, Imaging and Battery Life

Performance Benchmarks

As usual there are two versions of the S8 and S8+, the US gets Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor while the rest of the world uses Samsung's own Exynos 8895 SoC. In the past, Samsung's chips have outperformed Qualcomm's, so I'm perfectly fine with this. The new 8895 is built around a cutting-edge 10nm process and features four of Samsung's Mongoose M2 cores running at 2.3GHz and four ARM Cortex A53 cores running at 1.7GHz. It also sports ARM's new Mali G71 GPU clocked at 550MHz. Let's get down to comparing how it ranks in some of the core benchmarks.

  Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy S8+ Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge OnePlus 3T Apple iPhone 7 Plus
  Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy S8+ Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge OnePlus 3T Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Launch SRP
  • From S$1148
  • From S$1298
  • From S$998
  • From S$1098
  • From S$799
  • From S$1248
Latest Price
  • From S$795
  • From S$895
  • From S$488
  • From S$518
  • From S$540
  • From S$958
Operating system
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with Dream UX
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with Dream UX
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Oxygen OS 3.2.4
  • iOS 10
Processor
  • Samsung Exynos 8895 octa-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz), 10nm process
  • Samsung Exynos 8895 octa-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz), 10nm process
  • Samsung Exynos 8890 octa-core (quad-core 2.3GHz Cortex- M1 & quad-core 1.6GHz Cortex-A53), 14nm process
  • Samsung Exynos 8890 octa-core (quad-core 2.3GHz Cortex- M1 & quad-core 1.6GHz Cortex-A53), 14nm process
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (dual-core 2.35GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6GHz Kryo)
  • Apple A10 Fusion quad-core 2.33GHz processor
Built-in Memory
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
Display
  • 5.8-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (570 ppi) / Super AMOLED Infinity Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 6.2-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (529 ppi) / Super AMOLED Infinity Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.1-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (577 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.5-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (534 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • Always-On Display
  • Edge Screen
  • 5.5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) / Optic AMOLED
  • 5.5-inch Retina HD / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401ppi) / IPS
Camera
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/1.7, 1/2.5" sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size, phase detection autofocus, OIS
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/1.7, 1/2.5" sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size, phase detection autofocus, OIS
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Rear: 12-megapixel with f/1.7 aperture and smart OIS
  • Front: 5-megapixel with f/1.7 aperture
  • Rear: 12-megapixel with f/1.7 aperture and smart OIS
  • Front: 5-megapixel with f/1.7 aperture
  • Rear: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash, 1/2.8" sensor size, 1.12 µm pixel size
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, 1.0 µm pixel size
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel, (f/1.8, 28mm & f/2.8, 56mm) with phase detection autofocus, OIS, and quad LED (dual-tone) flash
  • Front: 7-megapixel, f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 9 (up to 450Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 9 (up to 450Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 9 (up to 450Mbps), Bluetooth 4.1, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 9 (up to 450Mbps), Bluetooth 4.1, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, Lightning connector
Storage Type
  • 64GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 64GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 32GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 200GB (MicroSD)
  • 32GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 200GB (MicroSD)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 32 / 128 / 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 3,000mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 3,500mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 3,000mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 3,600mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 3,400mAh
  • Dash Charge
  • 2,900mAh
Dimensions
  • 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm
  • 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm
  • 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm
  • 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm
  • 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4 mm
  • 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
Weight
  • 155g
  • 173g
  • 152g
  • 157g
  • 158g
  • 188g


Sunspider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. 

The S8 and S8+ were both slightly faster than last year's models, and much faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821-powered OnePlus 3T. Having said that, Apple is still unbeaten in this benchmark.

 

Quadrant

Quadrant is an Android benchmark that evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performances. We didn't see that much of an improvement here, although that's just a testament to how good last year's Exynos processors were. It's also worth noting that the S8 scored slightly higher than the S8+, just like the S7 did compared to the S7 Edge.


 

 

3DMark Sling Shot

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

This is the benchmark where we saw the biggest gains, with both devices recording monster scores. Last year, only Apple's A10 Fusion chip scored anywhere close to 3000 and now both the S8 and S8+ have easily surpassed it.



 

Imaging

Specs-wise, Samsung hasn't changed much with the S8's rear camera, which seems to use the same 12-megapixel f/1.7 shooter as last year's S7. According to Samsung, the software processing has been improved to provide better images in low light, but I didn't notice much difference in image quality between the S8 and S7.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, the S7 had one of the better cameras of 2016, even if Samsung did pass on the whole dual-lens fad (Huawei's P10 sports this, so does LG G6, iPhone 7, the upcoming ASUS ZenFone Zoom S and more). To quick launch the camera you can now double press the power button (a feature that's actually been around since Android 6.0 but only now available on Samsung phones). Samsung's default camera app is easy to use, and if you want manual controls, Samsung's Pro mode offers a DSLR-like experience with options to manually set ISO, shutter speed, focus, white balance and exposure. There's also a Selective Focus mode that mimics bokeh background blurring, and lets you adjust the focal point after you've taken the picture but, as is normally the case with this kind of software processing, it's a bit hit-or-miss.

The front camera has been improved, and is now a higher-resolution 8-megapixel shooter with autofocus, which is apparently something that front-facing cameras have never had before. The autofocus works pretty well, and means you don't have to tap the screen to focus on your face.

Image quality from the S8's rear camera is consistently good, with crisp details across the entire image, accurate colors and good contrast. Low-light performance is also surprisingly good, with relatively bright photos, reasonably fast auto-focus and an acceptable amount of noise.

Click for full-size image

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

Samsung has understandably been a little conservative with the batteries inside the S8 and S8+, with a 3,000mAh battery on the S8 (the same size as the S7) and a 3,500mAh battery on the S8+ (slightly smaller than the S7 Edge's 3,600mAh battery). Recently, Samsung has been trying to allay fears of the S8 suffering the same fiery fate as the Note7 by publicizing its new eight-point safety check, but honestly, we won't know how safe the S8 is until after the phone is released and has been in public hands for a while. Personally, I'd be very surprised if the S8 shared the same fate as the Note7 just because of what it would mean to Samsung if it did explode. The company has put a lot of time and effort into making sure the S8 is safe to use, so a repeat performance immediately after the Note7 would pretty much be the end for Samsung.

In our video looping battery benchmark, the S8 lasted just short of twelve hours and the S8+ lasted thirteen and a half, both of which are actually slightly shorter than last year's S7 and S7 Edge. Nevertheless, that's still above average compared to many other smartphones, and in day-to-day usage, I had more than enough battery life remaining at the end of the day.

Samsung has redesigned the wireless charging on the S8 and it now charges much faster. Unfortunately I wasn't able to test it for this review but it should now be pretty close to wired charging with Samsung's adaptive fast charger (which takes about 90 minutes to fully charge from empty). The much longer charging time was the one drawback to wireless charging in the past, so this is a very welcome upgrade.

9.0
  • Design 9.5
  • Features 9
  • User-Friendliness 9
  • Performance 9
  • Value 7.5
The Good
Gorgeous design with huge dual curved display in a small body
Excellent camera
Great benchmark performance
IP68 build
Iris scanning
Edge panel functions on both S8 and S8+
The Bad
Awkwardly positioned fingerprint scanner
Bixby is still a work in progress
Pretty expensive
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