I have been utilizing Samsung’s Galaxy Observe Eight for the previous couple of months, and it has been fairly spectacular. It does effectively in all the normal measures of a sensible cellphone, and affords some surprisingly good distinctive options on prime of that, corresponding to a high-quality stylus and the optionally available DeX docking station. Nonetheless, a number of quirks and annoyances do depart room for enchancment.
While you first take a look at the Galaxy Observe Eight, it appears to be like quite a bit like a Galaxy S8+, however barely bigger, and with a slot for the S-Pen, Samsung’s identify for the cellphone’s stylus. Clearly, each gadgets are geared toward individuals who need giant shows—the S8+ has a 6.2-inch show, whereas the show on the Observe Eight is bigger, at 6.Three inches.
At 6.38-by-2.95-by-Zero.34 inches and 6.88 ounces, the Observe Eight additionally is not a lot larger than the S8+, which measures 6.28-by-2.88-by-Zero.32 inches and weighs 6.1 ounces, nevertheless it feels notably denser. Screens with tiny bezels have develop into commonplace this 12 months, and in consequence, you have got a tool with a 6.Three-inch show that does not really feel too huge. Not everybody needs such giant shows, however when you do, it is a lot simpler to hold these now when put next with earlier gadgets.
In contrast with the final model I spent any actual time with, the Observe 5—Samsung skipped a Observe 6 and the notorious Observe 7 was rapidly pulled off the market because of overheating battery points—the Observe Eight is a bit longer and notably heavier. (The Observe 5 measured 6.03-by-Three-by-Zero.Three inches and weighed 6.03 ounces.) However the Observe Eight has a a lot larger display—6.Three inches, in contrast with the 5.7-inch display on the Observe 5, and that does make for simpler viewing. The display has a nominal decision of two,960-by-1,440 pixels, although it defaults to 2,220-by-1,080 pixels, which conserves battery life. Even on the decrease decision, the display appears to be like nice—my eyes could not see any pixelation—and the colours actually pop on the Tremendous AMOLED show. (Some research say that is one of the best cellular show but.)
Apart from the big display, which Samsung just about pioneered, the factor that has set the Galaxy Observe line aside from most different smartphones has been the S-Pen stylus. The Observe Eight maintains the custom, and comes with a really delicate S-Pen that snaps unobtrusively into the underside of the unit when not in use. While you do pull it out, you instantly get quite a lot of choices, corresponding to writing notes, capturing a part of the display, writing on the display, and a easy means of translating textual content.
The pen has been up to date for the reason that Observe 5. It has a slimmer tip, Zero.7mm, and it appears to be extraordinarily correct. There are many choices for pens and colours, and the result’s that the Observe Eight turns into a pleasant small pill for drawing on. I am not a lot of an artist, so this is not a function I personally used, however I can positively see the attraction. The S-pen works in quite a lot of functions, together with many of the Microsoft Workplace suite and Autodesk Sketchbook.
The stylus additionally affords a handy strategy to choose gadgets, or for writing on the display, in addition to for annotating internet pages or images. In apply, I did not try this a lot. I did discover it supplied a better strategy to translate a part of an internet web page (say from Spanish to English), and likewise a really handy means of rapidly writing down notes, which will be simpler than typing in some conditions.
The opposite fundamentals of the cellphone are fairly good as effectively. Just like the S8 and S8+, the US variations run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, and I discovered it to be a handy guide a rough performer. For charging, the Observe Eight has a USB-C port, and you’ll go for quick wi-fi charging, a function Samsung has been pushing for a few years. The Observe Eight comes with 6GB of RAM, 64GB of flash storage, and a microSD slot. And sure, it nonetheless has a conventional headphone jack. The cellphone runs Android 7.1.1 with the standard Samsung enhancements.
The fingerprint reader is on the again and, as with the S8, that is nonetheless a bit annoying. It is subsequent to the flash as a substitute beside the digital camera, so I did not discover myself smudging the lens, however the place remains to be awkward. (Different Android telephones, such because the LG sequence and the Pixel, have a bigger fingerprint sensor beneath the digital camera, and that is simpler.) The Observe Eight additionally contains face recognition, which I discovered labored, however wasn’t as quick as I might like (and is considerably much less safe), in addition to iris recognition.
The Observe Eight differs from the S8 household in that it now options two 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras as a substitute of only one, together with the Eight-megapixel front-facing digital camera. Each of the rear-facing cameras assist optical picture stabilization, and also you now have one major lens with an f/1.7 aperture and a telephoto lens with f/2.four. Having a 2X telephoto lens helps if you’re making an attempt to seize one thing farther away (although it is no substitute for an actual digital camera with an extended zoom lens), and likewise allows what Samsung calls Reside Focus, a function that makes use of each cameras to supply a picture with a blurred background. (Some distributors, corresponding to Apple, name this Portrait mode).
General, I believed the Observe Eight took some very nice-looking photographs. Above are photographs of Grand Central Terminal inside in the course of the day, and outdoors at night time. Typically, I observed good decision and was very proud of footage taken on the Observe Eight, even in low-light; photographs taken on this cellphone are among the many finest I’ve ever seen taken utilizing an Android cellphone. (I obtained barely higher outcomes with the iPhone X, however extra on that in one other submit.)
Some of the spectacular options of the Observe and of the S8 sequence is assist for Samsung’s DeX, a tiny docking station the place you plug in a monitor and a keyboard and mouse, with the concept being which you could now use your machine extra like a desktop if you find yourself on the workplace. The dock even incorporates a small fan, to maintain the cellphone from getting too sizzling while you’re working a number of functions.
I’ve tried this a bit with the Observe Eight, and total, I am fairly impressed.
While you plug your cellphone into the dock, you see your display in a horizontal structure with your property display icons on the left aspect of the show and a process bar on the underside that reveals your present functions and supplies entry to widespread system duties. You possibly can run a number of functions at a time, in a number of home windows on display, and with functions designed for DeX, you’ll be able to resize the functions and drag and drop materials between the home windows.
A MyFiles icon works like a regular information menu, displaying your information on the cellphone itself, any microSD playing cards you may need plugged in, or information from Samsung’s Cloud Drive or Google Drive. One factor to notice: you do should be cautious to save lots of your work earlier than docking and undocking.
Let’s not child ourselves: it isn’t Home windows or Mac. Android, even on a big display, will not be designed as a desktop working system, and a few issues simply aren’t as easy. The person utility home windows aren’t labelled, and when you can minimize, copy, and paste between functions, your choices are restricted. There are solely a relative handful of functions designed for DeX (which means which you could resize simply, drag and drop, and so forth.), however fortunately, these do embody the Microsoft Workplace suite. The Android variations of Phrase and Excel actually do not do every little thing their Home windows or Mac equivalents can do (for example, no type sheets or macros).
Alternatively, utilizing DeX feels quite a bit like utilizing a conventional desktop laptop, which is far more comfy than utilizing a cellphone show and keyboard while you’re engaged on it for an extended time frame. The Microsoft apps, corresponding to Phrase, is probably not as full-featured because the Home windows or Mac variations, however they examine effectively with the browser variations when it comes to options, and utilizing them feels a lot snappier. In truth, I wrote this submit utilizing the Android model of Phrase on DeX on the Observe Eight. I am not going to surrender a regular desktop laptop for DeX but, however I am stunned at simply how good it has develop into.
The Observe Eight additionally options Samsung’s new digital assistant, referred to as Bixby. You possibly can activate it by saying “Hello Bixby” or by urgent a button on the aspect of the cellphone. It appeared to do assistant fundamentals fairly effectively, and likewise manages settings on the cellphone. In apply, I discovered myself utilizing the Google Assistant (which you wake by saying “OK Google,” or by urgent the house button on the display) extra typically.
In abstract, the Observe Eight is not for everybody, however does have quite a lot of options that set it aside. It is a dear cellphone, about $100 greater than the S8+, and aside from the iPhone X, it appears to be the most costly mainstream smartphone available on the market. However you are getting loads of cellphone—a really giant display, quick processor, nice show, an excellent digital camera—and quite a lot of Samsung-specific extras corresponding to Bixby and DeX (which additionally work with the S8). You’d choose the Observe Eight over the S8+ when you really need two cameras or a barely bigger show, however what makes the Observe Eight stand out are its S-Pen and the functions that work with it. It is merely probably the most superior of the Android telephones proper now.
Here is PCMag’s full overview.
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