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Samsung Galaxy S8 Arrives In The UK: Hands-On Review

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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Silicon goes hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ as it hits the shelves in the UK

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are now available in the UK, as the Korean manufacturer looks to take on the Apple iPhone in the premium smartphone market and recover from the Galaxy Note debacle.

Arriving in two display sizes, the 5.8inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2inch Galaxy S8+, Samsung’s latest smartphone aims to bridge the consumer and enterprise world as the handset of choice, firing a veritable volley of shots across Apple’s bow.

Samsung invited Silicon for a hands-on with the brace of Galaxy S8s, so let’s take a closer look.

Off the edge

Samsung Galaxy S8 SiliconBoth versions of the Galaxy S8 sport a curved display that wraps around the rounded edges of the handset and almost bleeds into the chassis, constructed of glass and aluminium. At the top and bottom of the handset the bezels are thinner than ever before, with Samsung ditching the home button and moving the fingerprint scanner to the rear of the phone.

Speaking of the rear, Samsung has managed to make the rear-mounted camera flush against the chassis, so unlike its predecessors the phone can be laid flat.

Around the sides are the standard power and volume buttons as well as a dedicated button for the Bixby virtual assistant designed to fire it up in an instant. USB Type-C provides connectivity and fast charging and unlike Apple and the iPhone 7, Samsung has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack. IP68 dust and water resistance and wireless charging complete the Galaxy S8’s external feature set.

All this adds up to a device that is visually striking and lovely to the touch.

It is lightweight, yet feels solid. At the same time Samsung has managed to make handling even the larger S8+ with one hand easy thanks to using as much of the chassis real estate as possible and using display with 18.5.9 aspect ratios.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+The idea of making a big screen than can be easily navigated by in one hand is something LG has pipped the Galaxy S8 to the post with its G6, with the the latter somewhat diminishing the impact of the former’s design.

By offering three colours, Orchid Grey, Arctic Silver, and Midnight Black, the Galaxy S8s are lovely phones to hold and behold, especially in black where the handset resembles a high-end concept smartphone. At the same time the dimensions and rounded edges make it a functional as a powerhouse smartphone, as well as a fashionable piece of tech.

Under the hood

Samsung Galaxy S8 appsUnder its svelte surface, the Galaxy S8 sports an octa-core system-on-a-chip arranged in the big.LITTLE setup using the 10 nanometre configuration. This results in a processor that uses four cores running at 2.3GHz to handle power-intensive tasks, paired with another quad core array running at 1.7GHz to handle less compute hungry workloads, meaning the more powerful cores can be shut off when not needed to save battery life.

Samsung has yet to reveal what chipset the new phones are using but we’d hazard a guess and say it’s Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 for handsets in the US and South Korea and a new Exynos chip for the UK and Europe regions.

A hands-on demo is no way to really see the true potential or identify any shortcomings in the Galaxy S8’s performance. But the software, Android 7 Nougat with a trimmed down and streamlined TouchWiz interface added by Samsung, ran very smoothly indeed, with native apps and web pages loading quickly, accompanied by silky smooth video playback.

Storage for both handsets weighs in at 65GB only, but that can be expanded to 256GB via the microUSB slot.

Battery size for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ sits at 3,000mAh and 3,500mAh, pretty much the same as its predecessor the Galaxy S7, which should yield at least a solid day’s worth of use. We couldn’t put this to the test but noted there are battery optimisation options for the handsets.

HDR display

Samsung Galaxy S8 contactsThis mobile horsepower is needed to get the most out of the Galaxy S8’s AMOLED display, which like its predecessor features a QHD 2960×1440 resolution and a pixel density of 570ppi. Samsung boasts the Galaxy S8 is the first smartphone to sport mobile HDR (high dynamic range) which boosts the contrast between colours and makes blacks seem darker and whites seem whiter.

Samsung’s AMOLED displays have always impressed, but the Galaxy S8’s screen is lovely to behold; colours are rich and vibrant without appearing oversaturated, images are detailed and sharp, and video playback is very smooth.

The display also has a few tricks up its sleeve, allowing for split screen multitasking by snapping video clips to one part of the display while browsing the internet in another. It also automatically fits videos to the display’s aspect ratio, a simple yet pleasing feature that really shows off the attention to detail Samsung has shown with the Galaxy S8.

The display real-estate on offer will likely make it an excellent phone for working while on the move, yet eschews the sometimes unwieldy nature of so-called ‘phablet’ phones.

Hands-on review continues on page 2…