Let's turn the clock back six months, when few phones could match the level of attention the Samsung Galaxy S8 was getting.
The bad press surrounding the exploding Note 7, business scandals and postponed S8 release dates had all set the stage for reviewers to rip it apart. But when it made its debut in April, the critics were silenced. Perhaps it was because we had all had such low expectations to begin with, or perhaps it was because it was genuinely a thing of beauty. Whatever the case, it had us mesmerised at launch.
But what do we think of it now that half a year has elapsed, the sheen of newness has faded and everyone is clamouring for the iPhone X? Is the Galaxy S8 still worth picking up? We weigh in on its longevity, performance and price.
Beauty that hasn't aged
Google Pixel 2 XL, iPhone X, LG G6… Even in a year of dazzling bezel-less beauties, the Galaxy S8 still tops the class when it comes to design. It’s hard not to be impressed by the jaw-dropping quality of the OLED screen that seductively curves round the edges of the phone.
Samsung has brought its Edge technology to the S8 and made it a true work of art. Plenty of manufacturers have made phones with OLED panels and tried to stretch the screens to the very edge (like the LG V30), but those curves are where Sammy sets itself apart.
It feels like you’re just holding a screen in your hands at times. It’s elegant and uninterrupted by front-facing cameras and sensor hubs that the Essential Phone and iPhone X have been unable to avoid. The sad thing is, persistent fingerprints and cracks probably means you’ll slap a case on the Galaxy S8 and give it bezels. We still haven’t found a case that truly upholds its elegant, bezel-less beauty.
Complaints about the Galaxy S8’s awkwardly positioned fingerprint sensor need to stop. More than enough time has elapsed for muscle memory to register the position of your sensor. No one's praising its design, but we should be getting it right by now.
The phone's other security options include the Face Scanner. Personally, I've found this to be not too effective as it works too slowly under low-light conditions and generally takes a while to process. It doesn’t have the iPhone X’s AI capabilities either. In theory, this means it’s far less reliable in recognising subtle changes, and is a step down in security too.
The Iris Scanner however, is where it’s at. It often recognises my eyes before I realise it and works through spectacles too. And it can even work in the dark, albeit more slowly.
It’s not all perfect though – if it doesn’t recognise your irises at first try, subsequent attempts take so long that the phone itself sometimes gives up and tells you to key in your passcode.
It’s amazing how quickly tech moves on. The 4GB RAM working alongside a hefty Snapdragon 835 in the Galaxy S8 were handsome specs at launch. Six months on, these are specs found in mid-range phones, which sit in the shadow of the Note 8’s 6GB RAM and Apple’s silky smooth A11 Bionix chip.
While the S8 is undoubtedly still very powerful and silky smooth, plays games like a beast and will handle daily tasks effortlessly, it’s what’s coming that's trouble. How much staying power does it have, equipped with the kit it has?
With Augmented Reality, in-depth photo-editing and other processor-heavy trends gaining ground in the mobile world, we’re not too sure how long the phone can keep up, even a year on.