The Galaxy S8+ is big - bigger than anything from Samsung’s 2016 smartphone selection.
Or at least, it does on paper: stripping away the screen bezels to almost nothing and switching to a skinny 18.5:9 aspect ratio makes this the most manageable big-screen phone… well, possibly ever.
Take a look at the spec sheet and there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the S8+ and its smaller brother, but for a smartphone that’s mostly screen, it could translate to a world of difference in real-world use.
It’s time to answer the age-old question of whether bigger really does mean better.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S8+ DESIGN & BUILD: TRENDSETTER
Last year’s Galaxy S7 Edge was easily one of the best-looking phones in the world - and yet it might as well be wearing bellbottoms and winklepickers next to the S8+. This glorious mixture of metal and glass feels every bit the premium phone.
Samsung has done more than refine the design: it has stripped away the bezels and buttons to make room for an eye-catching screen that almost completely fills the front of the phone.
With the display switched off, it’s an inky, slender slab of mystery. Whichever colour you choose, the front of the phone will always be uniformly black - so you can’t tell where the top and bottom bezels end and the display begins.
That screen curves subtly around the sides, too. Nothing else comes close in terms of looks.
A 6.2in phone might sound impossibly tall, but the S8+ is actually around the same height as the 5.5in iPhone 7 Plus, and slim enough to make Apple’s slimmest phone ever look like a fat kid that loves cake.
Samsung’s compact combination of metal and glass might be taller and skinnier than other phones, on account of the odd 18.5:9 aspect ratio, but that just makes the S8+ easier to hold. Even if you’ll still struggle to reach the top of the screen without some serious finger yoga.
You’ll notice there’s no physical home button - once a hallmark of every Galaxy phone. In its place is a virtual home key, which responds with haptic feedback to let you know you’ve hit the right spot. It might feel a bit odd at first, but like the solid state Home key on the iPhone 7, it won’t take long to adjust.
The fingerprint sensor has been forced to the back to make room for those tiny bezels. It sits a little too close to the camera lens, so you’ve got to watch out for smudges and smears showing up in your selfies, but fast, accurate iris scanning means you won’t be using it all that often.
The whole thing is IP68 water-resistant, to survive any accidental dunkings, and there’s room at the bottom for a speaker, reversible USB-C charging port, and a headphone jack. Sorry Apple, Samsung isn’t interested in your cable-free future just yet.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S8+ DISPLAY: TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
At 6.2in, the S8+ sounds huge - but those ultra-slim top and bottom bezels, subtle curves that spill over the sides of the phone, and 18.5:9 aspect ratio mean you’re getting that extra screen real estate without it becoming a true pocket burster.
There’s a massive resolution to match the massive screen, of course: 2960x1440. You’d have to pick up Sony’s 4K Xperia ZX Premium to get a phone with more pixels.
This is identical to the Galaxy S8, only here, those pixels are stretched over a bigger panel. That means you get a slightly lower 529ppi pixel density, versus 570 on the smaller phone. Honestly though, you won’t spot the difference unless you have microscopic vision.
The phone actually renders at Full HD out of the box, anyway, to save on battery power. You can force the full resolution on through the Settings screen if you want all your pixels, all of the time.
The AMOLED panel has near-perfect contrast and deep, inky blacks that make videos and photos look fantastic. Colours are vibrant, but don’t look unnatural - a big improvement from the early days of OLED.
Viewing angles are exceptional, and the whole thing is easily bright enough to use outdoors on bright, sunny days - even if it’ll drain your battery that little bit quicker in the process.
This is an HDR-ready phone, too, meaning you’ll be able to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime video shows with even better colours and contrast. Once they launch, anyway.
Technically, the regular S8 has the superior screen, but the differences are so small they’re inconsequential.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S8+ PERFORMANCE & BATTERY LIFE: G.O.A.T.
If the Galaxy S8+ was a car, it would have a fire-breathing, thousand-horsepower W16 engine under the hood - it’s that fast.
Samsung’s home-grown, octa-core Exynos CPU provides that grunt, with four low-power cores running at 1.7GHz and four high-power ones clocked at 2.2GHz. It is, hands-down, quicker than any other Android phone out there right now - a Geekbench 4 multi-core score of 6683 proves as much. That’s quicker than Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, too.
In the real world, it means you never wait for apps to open, never experience any lag or stutter when swiping through Android’s menus, and never spot any frame-rate dips in games. This thing absolutely flies.
That should be true when it comes to 4G and Wi-Fi speeds, too. The Galaxy S8+ is ready for Gigabit LTE, and has 802.11ac Wi-Fi the fastest possible speeds on compatible routers.
4GB of RAM might not sound like much any more, now that other phones are arriving with 6GB or even 8GB, but it’s easily enough for some major multi-tasking - either on the phone itself, or hooked into Samsung’s DeX docking station to use the S8+ as a computer. In other words, it’s seriously quick.
The 3500mAh battery looks like the weak link, at least on paper: it’s smaller than the S7 Edge’s 3600mAh juice pack, and feels a bit like Samsung is playing it safe so soon after the Galaxy Note 7.
With a more power-frugal 10nm CPU, though, the S8+ can still deliver when it comes to battery life. It managed over 12 hours of streaming video playback, and easily lasted a full day of heavy use - including wireless music streaming to a pair of Bluetooth headphones, snapping photos and far too much time spent scrolling through Facebook.
When you do eventually run out of juice, fast charging should have you up and running again in less than three hours. There’s wireless charging, too - something that few 2017 phones have. It's not the best, then, but will last as long as any other flagship phone out there right now.
There’s no choice when it comes to storage any more: it’s one size fits all, and that size is 64GB. It should be enough for most, but if you do run out of space you can always add more with a microSD card.