Introduction and Specifications

This might be the best Android phone, period

The Galaxy S8 Plus is Samsung's first ‘big’ phone since the Note7 fiasco, and just looking at it the design and engineering process seems to have paid off. Simply put, the GS8/GS8+ might just be the most striking handheld devices ever made. The U.S. version sports the newest and fastest Qualcomm platform with the Snapdragon 835, and the international version of the handset uses Samsung’s Exynos 8895 Octa SoC. We have the former on hand, and it was this MSM8998-powered version of the 6.2-inch GS8+ that I spent some quality time with over the past two weeks.

There is more to a phone than its looks, and even in that department the Galaxy S8+ raises questions about durability with that large, curved glass screen. With the front and back panels wrapping around as they do the phone has a very slim, elegant look that feels fantastic in hand. And while one drop could easily ruin your day with any smartphone, this design is particularly unforgiving – and screen replacement costs with these new S8 phones are particularly high due to the difficulty in repairing the screen, and need to replace the AMOLED display along with the laminated glass.

Forgetting the fragility for a moment and just embracing the case-free lifestyle I was so tempted to adopt, lest I change the best in-hand feel I've had from a handset (and I didn't want to hide its knockout design, either), I got down to actually objectively assessing the phone's performance. This is the first production phone we have had on hand with the new Snapdragon 835 platform, and we will be able to draw some definitive performance conclusions compared to SoCs in other shipping phones.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Specifications (US Version)
Display 6.2-inch 1440x2960 AMOLED
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998)
CPU Cores 4x 2.45 GHz Kryo
4x 1.90 GHz Kryo
GPU Cores Adreno 540
RAM 4 / 6 GB LPDDR4 (6 GB with 128 GB storage option)
Storage 64 / 128 GB
Network Snapdragon X16 LTE
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0; A2DP, aptX
USB 3.1 (Type-C)
Battery 3500 mAh Li-Ion
Dimensions 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173 g
OS Android 7.0

The Galaxy S8+ offers a smooth, sleek exterior, which is comprised entirely of glass (front and back) with a metal band around the perimeter of the phone. This glass sandwiched construction was the basis of the iPhone 4, and like that design this one does trade some durability for aesthetics.

The fingerprint reader to the right of the camera sensor might be the one design flaw

However, the GS8+ is lightyears ahead of that 2010 iPhone design, with a level of fit and finish above any other current phone that I have seen - though the position of the fingerprint reader (next to the camera sensor on the back) looks like a last-minute decision after there were (reportedly) problems with an embedded fingerprint reader in the display.

There are no visible screws to this design, but they are not hidden: there are no external screws at all! The entire exterior of the phone is glued together (yikes!), making it an involved process to get it open for repairs (iFixit gives this phone a 4/10 rating for repairability).

Still, fear of damage aside (I generally use a case with all phones, so this is not a concern to me) from the curved glass screen and glass back, the smooth lines and slim feel of the phone make it easily the friendliest 6.2-inch phone you are likely to hold. I just wish I was brave enough to use it without a case. (If a phone can be "sexy", this one is!)

On the next page we will take a closer look at that stunning 6.2-inch display.

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