7 things we love about the Samsung Galaxy S8 - and 3 we don't

Are those gorgeous looks hiding a whole host of hidden frustrations? Here's what we think

Oh hello there, beautiful. The Galaxy S8 has arrived, and has been getting glowing reviews across the board - including from us here at Stuff.

It's easily one of the best phones Samsung has ever made - and not just because it hasn't blown up. So far. But while there are loads of things to love about it and its bigger brother, it isn't quite perfect. 

Now that it's been living in our pocket for a few weeks, here are our favourite aspects of Samsung's superphone - and a few niggles that we wish Samsung had managed to iron out before launch.

The best things about the Galaxy S8 are...

1) Those drop-dead gorgeous looks

There's no question about it: the Galaxy S8 is the best looking phone you can buy right now. Possibly the best ever.

It's not just the curved screen edges, or the ultra-skinny top and bottom bezels. Or the odd 18.5:9 aspect ratio that stretches 5.8in (or 6.2in for the Galaxy S8+) into something you can comfortably use in one hand, or the aluminium frame that sandwiches the front and back slabs of glass together, or the glossy finish that looks a million miles away from the plastics and bare metal of previous years.

Nope, it's the combination of all that, with everything coming together to blow away every other phone that's fighting for a place in your pocket. If you want the best looking smartphone in your hand, you've got to get one of these.

2) The fantastic photo quality

Samsung already had one of the best smartphone cameras around with the Galaxy S7, so it didn't need to make many changes for the S8 in order to keep that record.

And indeed it didn't: the hardware is practically the same as on last year's model, pairing a 12MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture lens, optical image stabilisation and dual-pixel autofocus. The big difference this year is multi-frame image processing, which stitches multiple shots together every time you press the shutter button. It then uses some of these shots to sharpen and reduce noise in the one frame that ultimately becomes your photo.  

The end result? Fantastic photos that keep pace (and in some cases, overtake) the likes of Google's Pixel and the iPhone 7 Plus. However dim the light levels are.

It might not have the dual-camera cleverness you'll find in a Huawei P10 or LG G6, but that honestly doesn't matter when your photos look so good to begin with.

3) The fact that Touchwiz is loads better now

Look, we admit it: Touchwiz used to be flippin' awful. Samsung's custom Android skin crept into every nook and cranny of the operating system, replacing icons, filling your storage with unwanted apps, and seemingly making changes just for the sake of it. I mean why flip the Back and Recents keys? They're backwards compared to every other Android phone!

Rant over. Thankfully, this year's version of Touchwiz is an absolute joy to use, with minimal changes to Google's base OS and options to modify just about everything so you can get your phone working exactly how you want it. Don't want an app drawer? No problem, just turn it off. Hate all those fiddly gestures and motion controls? Ditch 'em. And finally (finally!) you can reverse the Back and Recents keys back to the 'correct' way round.

Samsung's even added a few tweaks that we think are actually better than the default Android skin - for instance you can swipe up or down anywhere on the home screen to open your app drawer. It may sound trivial, but it makes opening the app or game you want just that little bit simpler.

4) The DeX station and its added productivity

I'm guessing that only a small minority of people who actually pick up a Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus will be interested in the DeX Station, but honestly, everyone else is missing out. Because this unassuming little gizmo turns your phone into a fully functioning desktop computer.

It's essentially a dock into which you slot your phone; you just supply the screen, keyboard and mouse, and the phone takes care of the rest. All of your apps work as normal, and some are even tweaked for full-screen so they work just like their desktop alternatives. Sure, some are still a little buggy right now, but we reckon Samsung will be working hard to iron out the kinks and encourage more people to give up on their laptop and just carry their phone around instead.

The docking station even charges your phone while you're working, and has a little fan inside for keeping it cool under pressure. Neat.

5) All the extras that make it a Galaxy

When you're paying big bucks for a flagship phone, you'd expect it to have all the bells and whistles - and the S8 has them all over the place. 

Old favourites such as microSD card expansion and IP68 water resistance make a return here, so you won't run out of space for your music, photos and apps, or have to buy a new phone just because you dropped it in the sink.

Wireless charging is onboard, too - something that few other top-end phones have right now, because they're all still using unibody aluminium designs. The S8's glass back is perfect for cable-free charging, and we love it.

1
2