We’re just starting to get acquainted with Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, and there’s a lot to like. But not everything is hunky dory. Admittedly, these are the best phones Samsung has ever made. Yet, a few things are giving us pause.
The Galaxy S7’s camera was fantastic, so we’re not entirely bummed by the fact that the S8 features the same sensor. However, considering what Google was able to do with the Pixel, we know there’s room for Samsung to improve. The jury’s still out on whether the S8 offers noticeable improvements, but Samsung did say it tweaked its software algorithms to produce higher quality images.
We’re inclined to believe them, because the company typically offers the best mobile cameras on the market. But if the images don’t look better than last year’s S7? Well, it will be a pretty big missed opportunity, one that companies like Apple and Google could capitalize on when their new flagships are released later this year.
4GB of RAM
Most of today’s top handsets come with 4GB of RAM, so it’s not like Samsung’s flagship is behind. And, to be fair, Android is pretty good about limiting background processes, which Google plans to improve even more in Android O. But we’ve seen phones with 6GB of RAM, so we can’t help but feel like Samsung should have made that amount standard.
We use our phones for more tasks than ever—photo editing, streaming video, games, email, and everything in between. The extra bump in RAM certainly wouldn’t hurt, and would further separate the device from its closest rivals, such as the LG G6 and Google Pixel. The addition of the Snapdragon 835 is a nice touch, but introducing the device with 6GB of RAM would have been the icing on the cake.
Fingerprint sensor placement
People are rightly fuming over Samsung’s decision to place the fingerprint sensor beside the camera. In Samsung’s skewed view, it makes sense. But for people who are going to have their greasy hands all over the S8 everyday, it’s obvious why the placement will pose a problem.
Not only will people smear the camera lens in finger grease, but it’s a difficult place to reach, especially when the screen is facing up. It’s very possible users will get used to the placement and eventually learn to tolerate it. But, in our brief time with the device, it didn’t seem like the smartest place to put a fingerprint sensor.
This is more targeted at the Galaxy S8, but we’re a little disappointed with the device’s battery size. At just 3,000mAh, it’s smaller than the LG G6, Nexus 6P, OnePlus 3T, and Pixel XL. These are devices consumers may upgrade from or cross-shop against the Galaxy S8.
Considering what happened with last year’s Note 7, it makes sense for Samsung to take a more conservative approach with the S8. With the Snapdragon 835 onboard, 3,000mAh should be plenty. But there will no doubt be people who frown upon Samsung’s decision to equip the S8 with a “small” battery. Hopefully, it’s enough to get users through a heavy day of use.
If you want Samsung’s new flagship, you’re going to pay a premium price. At most places, you’ll be spending $750 for the S8 and $850 for the S8 Plus, which ain’t cheap. Many carriers offer competitive monthly pricing, but the cost of getting it unlocked is a tough pill to swallow. The good news is folks who preorder will get a free Gear VR and controller, which is about a $170 value.