Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus hands-on review: When word broke that Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 Plus (stylised as ‘S8+’) was going to rock a gargantuan 6.2-inch display we couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow, but in the
flesh metal and glass, it’s actually a thing of real beauty.
Unlike last year’s S7 duo, the S8+ is near enough an enlarged carbon copy of its smaller sibling. A rounded metal frame comes set between curved glass on the back and front with a display that wraps around at the edges and features rounded corners too much like the LG G6’s screen.
The expansive 6.2-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED ‘infinity display’ boasts an insanely crispy 2960×1440 resolution and Mobile HDR Premium certification from the UHD Alliance that’ll give rival HDR-capable phones like the G6 a run for their money come launch time.
Pushing the screen to the fringes of the phone’s front, as on the S8+, means there’s next to no bezel for a more seamless viewing experience and its distinctive 18.5:9 aspect ratio isn’t only closer to the format of traditional cinema, but as Samsung was keen to point out, allows for 14 per cent more screen real estate making the S8+ a more capable multitasking device.
Covering the whole frontage of the phone in display means the company’s signature physical home button has been replaced by a pressure sensitive on-screen alternative and an arguably more conveniently placed fingerprint sensor next to the rear camera.
Despite its slick new design, the S8+ still retains its predecessor’s IP68 dust and water resistance, microSD expandability up to 256GB, fast charging (on its surprisingly smaller 3500mAh battery) via a new reversible USB-C port and fast wireless charging too.
The company’s also been able to massage the camera bump of the S7 and S7 Edge to effectively zero without diminishing the phone’s imaging chops, meaning, whilst there’s no fancy dual rear camera array as some rumours had us believe, you can still expect a fantastic 12-megapixel sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, OIS and dual pixel focus technology much like on last year’s flagship.
The improvements to the camera experience seem to focus on software, with a new swipe-based interface optimised for one-handed operation and a capture feature that compiles three photos into one to create a better overall result. Selfie lovers will also delight in a higher resolution front-facing snapper compared to last year’s phones at 8-megapixels, that also packs in face detection and an equally wide f/1.7 aperture.
Software-wise both the S8 and S8+come running a revised version of Samsung’s own TouchWiz interface atop Android 7.0 Nougat. It doesn’t feel like a huge departure from the Nougat update currently landing on S7 and S7 Edge devices the world but it does offer cleaner navigation, new icon designs and Bixby; arguably the most important software feature on Samsung’s new devices.
Summoned by pressing a physical hardware button on the phone’s left side, Bixby aggregates news (from Samsung’s Upday service), weather and calendar information, but as a result of its foundation, Viv is also able to engage in threaded conversation and answer more complex queries than its leading rivals; at least that’s the theory. Something we’ll no doubt put to the test come full review time.
Bixby Vision is an extension of the new assistant that lets users scan objects, landmarks and branded items to find out more about them, find out information on a particular area or even buy them online.
The S8+’s software also includes Samsung Connect, which accommodates a host of standards so you can interact with connected home and IoT devices. It’s compliant with services SmartThings, Nest and Philips Hue, but more will be added at a later date.
At the heart of both S8 phones is the company’s newest Exynos chipset – an octa-core SoC backed up by 4GB of RAM, while storage has thankfully been doubled to 64GB.
Check out our Samsung Galaxy S8 hands-on review for a more in-depth look at what these phones are capable of.
Samsung Galaxy S8+ pricing and availability
We’re yet to hear just how much the Samsung Galaxy S8+ will be SIM-free when it touches down in the UK in one of its three launch colours (arctic silver, midnight black and orchid grey) but it hits pre-order today and those who pre-order the phone before the 19th of April can expect delivery eight days earlier than its April 28th European launch date.
Read next: Samsung Galaxy S8 hands-on review
Head to O2’s Galaxy S8 Plus webpage to check out the tariffs and pre-order Samsung’s phone. All pre-order customers should receive the handset eight days before it goes on general sale, while O2 is also offering benefits such as a free JBL speaker worth £120.