Happy Galaxy S8 weekend South Africa! Although many of you early adopters have already had the pleasure of caressing those exquisite curves for about a week now. Ours arrived in Midnight Black and it remains, as I stated in the snap judgement, the most beautifully crafted smartphone on the market right now. Just look at it!
Initial setup was a bit of a chore, but I’ve settled on a combination of iris and fingerprint unlocking mechanisms to accompany a four digit PIN. The iris scanner works great, sometimes even fantastically well when I unwittingly hold it at just the right position for it to not even bother with asking me to align the sensors. Oh, and that’s with my glasses on.
The office consensus is that it’s pretty, but I can see the drop-anxiety on everyone’s face when they play around with it. If you’re getting one, maybe unbox it in the same store that you’ll buy the protective cover/case from. That’s actually my first port of call when I leave the office. This thing is fragile.
From a first use perspective, both front and rear cameras are phenomenal. I apologise in advance to my Instagram followers for the flood of test images hitting the service this weekend. It’s a very small change from the best overall (stills and video) offering on the S7 family, so those devices are still great value for someone wanting to save a few rand. (Pro tip: the S7 Edge also has the dual curve screen that plays nicely with the slide out menus on Google apps.)
On the software side Samsung should be commended for making the Android 7.0 skin elegant. There’s still plenty of standard Samsung annoyances like settings that logically should live in the same menu being split up, but overall it adds usefulness to Nougat. I’m still disappointed that LG and Samsung both haven’t launched with Android 7.1.1.
Time to address the elephant in the room: how does it compare to the best phone on the market? Well, the mighty iPhone SE still has the ergonomic edge with it’s microscopic screen, but the Galaxy S8 does cram a ton of real estate into a small space. The S8’s camera delivers punchier images and the super-secure iris scanning gives it an otherworldly appeal to match its futuristic looks. If only it had access to iMessage, fingerprint authentication on my banking app and was about an inch smaller.
I will say this though: the S8’s design gives me the same tingles as the iPhone 5s (the one with TouchID) did, which puts it in a select group of perception-altering smartphones. These include the Motorola RAZR, Nokia N9, Motorola Milestone (aka DROID), iPhone 4, LG G6 and the Motorola Atrix.
I mention the Atrix last because I haven’t truly loved a phone like I loved that one. And, if Samsung did a good enough job with DeX, I think I may come to love the S8. I’ll always hold a candle for the one device that can transform into a desktop operating system, your home media hub and is your constant companion. Yes, I secretly want Glitch from Reboot.
Galaxy S8 coverage will continue on the site for the month of May, but for now, the first impressions are good.