We first saw Samsung’s new 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ at its Unpacked event a few weeks ago. During the event, we saw demos of its new virtual assistant, Bixby, and its DeX docking station, which allows the Galaxy S8 to provide a desktop-like experience by connecting to an external monitor and peripherals, but we didn’t have much time with the phones to do much more than take some pictures and try a couple of the new features. After receiving a Galaxy S8 earlier this week, we wanted to give you some feedback about its design and biometric features, as well as, an initial performance and battery life assessment before we dive into our usual in-depth testing.

My biggest complaint about the design is the location of the fingerprint sensor, which I discuss in the video above. It has been relocated to the back next to the camera, making it difficult to reach and use. The new face unlock feature, the second of the S8’s three biometric authentication options, is flawed too. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to get face unlock to work, not even once. The feature, which relies solely on the front-facing camera for identification, also is not very secure, assuming it works at all. It has already been shown that simply holding a picture in front of the camera is enough to fool it into unlocking the phone. The camera really needs to be augmented with an infrared camera to detect a face’s heat signature as a liveness test, or a second, depth-sensing camera to at least detect a face in three dimensions. So far the iris scanner, which I also demo in the video above, has proven to be the easiest and most reliable biometric option. 

Samsung Galaxy S8 Series
  Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy S8+
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (US, China, Japan)
4x Kryo 280 Performance @ 2.35GHz
4x Kryo 280 Efficiency @ 1.90GHz
Adreno 540

Samsung Exynos 8895 (rest of world)
4x Exynos M2 @ 2.30GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.70GHz
ARM Mali-G71
Display 5.8-inch 2960x1440 (18.5:9)
SAMOLED (curved edges)
6.2-inch 2960x1440 (18.5:9)
SAMOLED (curved edges)
Dimensions 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm
155 grams
159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm
173 grams
RAM 4GB LPDDR4 (US)
NAND 64GB (UFS)
+ microSD
Battery 3000 mAh (11.55 Wh)
non-replaceable
3500 mAh (13.48 Wh)
non-replaceable
Front Camera 8MP, f/1.7, Contrast AF
Rear Camera 12MP, 1.4µm pixels, f/1.7, dual-pixel PDAF, OIS, auto HDR, LED flash
Modem Snapdragon X16 LTE (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 16/13)

Samsung LTE (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 16/13)
SIM Size NanoSIM
Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MU-MIMO, BT 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS/Glonass/Galileo/BDS
Connectivity USB Type-C, 3.5mm headset
Features fingerprint sensor, heart-rate sensor, iris scanner, face unlock, fast charging (Qualcomm QC 2.0 or Adaptive Fast Charging), wireless charging (WPC & PMA), IP68, Mobile HDR Premium
Launch OS Android 7.0 with TouchWiz

Inside the redesigned Galaxy S8 and S8+ is either a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Samsung Exynos 8895 SoC. The US and other regions that require CDMA capability will get the Snapdragon 835, while the rest of the world will get Samsung’s SoC. The new 10nm SoCs are paired with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB of UFS 2.1 NAND. The Galaxy S8 comes with a 3000mAh battery, the same size as the Galaxy S7, while the S8+ comes with a 3500mAh battery, slightly less than the S7 edge’s 3600mAh capacity.

PCMark - Work 2.0 Performance Overall

PCMark - Web Browsing 2.0

PCMark - Writing 2.0

PCMark - Data Manipulation 2.0

PCMark - Video Editing 2.0

PCMark - Photo Editing 2.0

In PCMark, which is our best indicator of general system performance, the Galaxy S8 with Snapdragon 835 performs quite well, besting even the Mate 9 overall. Because this is the first S835 retail device we’ve tested, I’ve also included Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 MDP/S, which the company uses internally for hardware testing and software development, as a reference point. In most of these tests, the Galaxy S8 performs about the same as the Snapdragon 835 MDP/S, which is certainly a good sign.

The Galaxy S8 does particularly well in the Writing test, outscoring the Mate 9 by 13% and the Galaxy S7 (Snapdragon 820) by 85%. The Writing test, which previous Galaxy phones struggle with, uses a fairly bursty workload, frequently migrating threads between the little and big cores. Perhaps this is an indication that Samsung is utilizing the big cores more aggressively than in the past. The Galaxy S8 is also 9% faster than the Mate 9 in the Web Browsing test and 37% faster than the S7 (S820).

PCMark - Work 2.0 Battery Life

The Galaxy S8 achieves over 8 hours of screen-on-time while continuously crunching through the PCMark workloads, 46% longer than the Galaxy S7 that has the same 3000mAh battery, which suggests some nice efficiency gains from the new SoC, display, or other components. While the Galaxy S7 can struggle to last a full day on a single charge depending on how it’s used, these initial results suggest the Galaxy S8 will encounter fewer scenarios where it will need to use its fast charging or wireless charging abilities to stretch battery life till the end of the day.

While we’ve only had the Galaxy S8 for a couple of days, our first impression is generally positive. It’s packed with features, TouchWiz is more refined, and it performed well in our first performance and battery life tests. A few issues are already apparent, however. Your face probably will not be smiling if you try to rely on it to unlock the phone, and the fingerprint sensor is located in just about the worst possible place. Samsung’s Bixby assistant also is not yet fully functional; fortunately, you can still use Google Assistant while you’re waiting for Bixby to mature.

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  • Chaser - Saturday, April 22, 2017 - link

    I love this phone. Amazing. Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    The serious problems:

    1. It's too big! It's 18% larger than my S6. What is with Samsung's obsession of continually forcing larger screens, while our hands and pockets stay the same.

    2. Loss of the IR blaster from the S6.

    3. The camera's aspect ratio of 4:3 doesn't match every modern screen! The S6 is suitably 16:9 and its pictures fit perfectly.

    4. The curved edges of the screen add obscure light reflections.
    Reply
  • hp79 - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    1. Matter of personal taste
    2. I feel the pain
    3. 4:3 is better, easier for the optics. If you go too wide the lens distortion will be very noticeable. Otherwise, if you must have wide screen photos, you use the lower resolution (which defeats the purpose).
    4. Also personal preference.

    I had S6, and then S7 Edge. Couple months ago I dumped S7 Edge and jumped to iPhone SE. I couldn't stand the TouchWiz anymore. All those constant nag screens on volume up, airplane mode, data-off, whatever... along with the bad idle battery drain. The camera was really good though, but then a lot of the pictures looked artificial when you looked at it from a monitor screen. Inconsistent speed (especially with the camera launch) was also one of the problems of the S7 Edge. I'm using an iPhone SE right now, but will probably get a iPhone 8 when it comes out.
    Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    1. Size is hardly a "personal preference". Smaller is better.

    3. Then how did they pull off the S6? It doesn't distort images and its 16:9 pictures fit screens perfectly.

    4. No. Looking at obscure light reflections that are only on the sides of the screen is a bad thing for any viewer--not a personal preference.
    Reply
  • loller86 - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    "Your face probably will not be smiling if you try to rely on it to unlock the phone"

    No.

    But my legs will be!

    Because...

    You are very dumb.
    Reply
  • fanofanand - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    95 comments in, and you win the award for the dumbest. Congratulations! Reply
  • Allan_Hundeboll - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    Reasonable priced phone offer everything a typical smartphone user needs, so please review Moto g5 and g5 plus Reply
  • negusp - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    G5 sucks ass.

    G5 plus looks OK- SD625 looks to be fairly powerful and the battery will be good.

    However, a G4 Plus is now $160 on Amazon vs $225 for the G5 Plus. Not to mention the G4 Plus also has a better camera.
    Reply
  • Allan_Hundeboll - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    I know g4 plus is cheaper. But 2 GB ram isn't much and I think the 3 GB Moto g5 plus will get Android O, so it's a little more "future proof".
    But I would really like to read a thorough review before I recommend it to my best friend.
    Reply
  • UtilityMax - Saturday, April 29, 2017 - link

    Both, the G4 Plus and the 2GB G5 Plus suck. Any Android phone with only 2GB of memory is effectively a single-tasking phone, because it boots any background apps out of memory very fast. Hence I need to wait 10 seconds while switching from the web browser back to the podcast app. There is a G5 Plus 4GB RAM version, but that one does cost 300USD. Reply

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