Samsung Galaxy S8 :: The verdict

by Volker Weber

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I have used the Galaxy S8 for a week, and by the end of the month, it will be back at Samsung. By and large it behaved exactly like I expected. But I have softened by judgement somewhat.

The S8 is an almost perfect smartphone. There are only two compromises: Samsung had to move the fingerprint sensor to the back, next to the camera. It would have been better placed underneath the camera, but that is where the battery and the wireless charging sit. Yes, you will touch the camera, but that is not a big deal, if you clean it once in a while. The app reminds you to do that. The other compromise is the mono speaker. You can watch beautiful videos in wide screen, but the sound comes out of one end. This device really needs stereo speakers.

With these exceptions, the S8 is best in class. Period.

When you build an Android phone and you want access to Google Play Store and Google Play Services, then Google dictates what you need to deliver with your phone. When you are Samsung and you have ambitions beyond being yet another Android OEM, then you need to also deliver your own software. The user ends up with two of everything. But Samsung is getting better at this. Samsung Experience, formerly known as TouchWiz, is now very elegantly designed, it does not bog down the hardware, and it is actually a joy to use.

Here is my recommendation: if you buy a Galaxy S8, then go with the Samsung Experience. Don't just replace the launcher with the Google Launcher and ignore what Samsung has built. You are fighting with your phone and that will be a frustrating experience. Sign up to a Samsung ID, get Bixby going, help it learn your ways.

And here is my problem: I cannot do that. I do not trust Samsung. Samsung destroyed my trust with their TV. It's not my TV, although I paid for it. Samsung pushes their software and their apps into my TV experience. And I can already smell the same behaviour with Bixby. I never have this feeling with Apple. Microsoft is sort of borderline. But Samsung is not with me. If you don't have my problem, then by all means, buy this machine. You will love it.

The bigger question is of course: do you trust Google?

Comments

Volker, I purchased my Samsung TV one year after you purchased your Samsung TV. And I am much more satisfied with my TV than you with yours. That one year seems to be a major difference. I do receive regular software updates and the software does get better. The software does seem to be the same as on the latest Samsung TVs that I bought for the company. Deleted apps do not get installed again either.

Felix Binsack, 2017-04-23

You might not have the feeling with Apple, but it is there.
If you are not using the keychain, have switched off Hey Siri or don't want to use iCloud Apple annoys you big time with every software udpate.

Patrick Bohr, 2017-04-24

Felix, good for you, but not for me. Mine gets an update once in a while, but Samsung keeps selling more than 50% of the smart hub UI to their "trusted partners". Until Samsung fixes this, I won't be buying another TV from them.

Patrick, I have switched off (or rather not switched on) Hey Siri, I use iCloud for some basic stuff (I don't pay Apple), and I am really fine. Apple treats me well.

Volker Weber, 2017-04-24

My Samsung Smart TV is not connected to the network. Why should it be ? I get all apps i like an need on my AppleTV (80% usage incl. NAS playback, Youtube etc.) and FireTV (20% usage, only Amazon content). They don't annoy me with ads and their stuff works fine.

Thomas Klein, 2017-04-24

Wait three years. The S11 will be stereo and it will go to 11.

Richard Schwartz, 2017-04-25

I can't wait until TV and other "smart" systems start build Aircrack or similar into their devices so they can get on WiFi in spite of the owners wishes.

Bill Brown, 2017-04-25

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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