Galaxy S8+ Long Term Review

Most reviews are published asap after the release of a particular device – riding on the novelty effect and public interest. I’ve used the Galaxy S8+ as my daily driver for about six months, and this is my take on it. 

I’ve been very impressed with the design and build quality from day one. It’s a much sleeker and polished device than the previous S-models, and one of the best looking phones out there now. Still is.

One of the reasons for that is its positively fantastic screen that’s great to use and look at in any lighting conditions, with very small bezels that really maximizes the screen real estate in your hand. I’ve had quite a lot of iPhone users doing a double take when they see it in action, although that’s probably going to change with the iPhone X coming out.

I still don’t feel that the curved screen adds any real usability. In fact, in previous ‘edge’ models it was a distinct drawback, all but eliminating the possibility of one handed use by constantly registering the base of my thumb as a touch in the lower corner of the screen. This caused endless frustration for me when the phone decided to zoom in/out instead of scrolling or decided to open my lower right home screen app shortcut a lot. Like, a lot!
That issue is gone in the S8+ and it makes a world of difference.

The fingerprint reader placement has been widely criticized, and yes, it is obnoxious. I have pretty big hands(1), but I cannot for the life of me hold the phone in a way where I can reach the navbar and the fingerprint reader at the same time. This forces me to shuffle the phone around on my hand in a rather awkward and precarious fashion all the time. This will inevitably result in a drop sooner or later.

The camera has been covered extensively elsewhere… everywhere else, in fact, but suffice it to say it’s beyond good. It’s very hard to take a bad photo with this thing. It can be done though, and that’s a limitation of Samsung’s software, to which I’ll return in a minute.

This is an epic device among epic devices, because, to be honest, there are very few misses among flagships these days. Smartphones have gotten very, very good, and at this point it makes more sense to rate them by their flaws than their features, which is a horribly spoiled way of looking at it, really.

The Google Pixel XL was by all accounts great, had an awesome camera and the super fluid stock Android experience, but lacked waterproofing and had mediocre battery life. By today’s standard, the bezels are yuuuuge and it’s never realy been a looker overall. And didn’t launch in Denmark, so…booo!

The LG V6 is by all accounts a great device. Small bezels, great camera(s), reasonably placed fingerprint reader. But it has an LCD display when the rest of the world has moved to AMOLEDs, and it has mediocre battery life (again). The V30 looks amazing but there might be screen quality issues, and in any case there seems to be some agreement that LGs custom UI implementation is shit.

Like Samsung’s, I might add, because oh boy. Six months in, and the device has become sluggish and laggy. It’s begun to take a while to open and switch between apps, and at this point it sometimes takes almost 6 seconds from when I double tap the power button until the camera is ready for action.

I know exactly how to fix this: I just have to reset the device to factory settings and start over. Because Android does this. It gets sand in its gears. It’s by no means uncommon among Android devices, at least, but the effect is less pronounced in the Nexus 6P, and even less, I’d bet, in the Pixel XL or notably the Pixel 2 XL.

I’ve become quite aware of that because while writing this review, the built-in ear speaker became more or less inaudible, a faulty part apparently. Switching back to my old Nexus 6P while the S8+ was in for repair has shown me how much phones have progressed in a relatively short time. But also that it hasn’t really degraded since its first and only 1st initial boot in 2015. Using the 6P again also puts into perspective how bad the S8+ finger print reader is. The 6P just works, flawlessly, every time. While my S8+ seems to complain that I’m not covering the entire sensor(2) no matter what I do.

So apart from the fact that this post grew well beyond the short-form informal long term review I intended, it also transitioned into a sort of “Now what?” train of thought. Well, the repair took a little longer than it should have, but it seems you don’t just repair an earpiece – it came back with front, back, frame and battery switched out…essentially a new phone.

Which I sold and bought a Galaxy Note 8. I’ll post my impressions of that later.

(1) I have a 23cm reach from the tip of my thumb to the tip of my middle finger.(2) The maybe don’t put the damn thing all the way up next to the camera, you freaks.

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