Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review

The best big Android phone you can own

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Our Verdict

The Galaxy S8 Plus is the Android phone you want if you like big and tall smartphones. The amazing display, great camera and slick software should make you forget about the awkwardly placed fingerprint scanner and the half-bake Bixby assistant.

For

  • Big screen, acceptable phone size
  • Best camera on a smartphone
  • Slick software and performance

Against

  • Your most expensive phone yet
  • Flawed fingerprint sensor
  • Hello, Bixby? Hello?!

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is ‘the next big thing’ that takes Samsung’s favorite slogan very literally. It has a ridiculously sized screen, top-of-the-line specs and an equally outsized price.

Just how big is this thing? You’re looking at a 6.2-inch display that far and away makes it one of the best big Android phone you can buy – if you can handle it. The ‘smaller’ 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 exists if you can’t, or if you want something even bigger there's now the Galaxy Note 8.

What’s remarkable is that the elegantly curved screen has dramatically grown half an inch from last year’s 5.7-inch Galaxy S7 Edge, yet the phone is nearly the same size. It’s just a bit taller thanks to the elimination of needless bezel and Samsung’s familiar oval-shaped home button.

Your big new phone laughs at these water droplets!

Moreover, owning this new Android means you’re upgrading to the most cutting-edge, VR-ready smartphone available. Having the absolute best camera and best display matter to you.

It’s a glimpse of the future and, in a twist of fate for Samsung vs Apple, a lot of what we expect from the iPhone 8 based on recent leaks and speculation. In 2017, Samsung continues to be the smartphone trendsetter.

Obviously, the Galaxy S8 Plus isn’t the perfect phone for everyone, and for more reasons than ‘it’s too tall for people with small hands.’ Having no physical home button is going to be a deal-breaker for some Samsung fans and their muscle memory.

Our reaction to trying to find the rear fingerprint sensor

Ironically for such a futuristic phone, the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor on the S8 Plus is stuck in the past. Accessing this off-center scanner is impractical, and Samsung’s new face-recognition unlock feature just doesn’t work well.

Check out our Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review video

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus price and release date

  • $35 a month on-contract in the US, $825 unlocked
  • Down to around £670 in the UK and AU$1,349 in Australia
  • Bundled accessories are still available in some instances

There are now lots of Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals since the phone has been out since around May 2017. It's still incredibly expensive but the introduction of the Galaxy Note 8 and the passage of time has meant the price has dropped down a touch.

It's cheaper on some carriers than others, but not by much

In the US it’s now available at about $35 a month with a 24-month contract through carriers. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are all selling the new phone on-contract. It launched on Friday, April 21.

Looking for that elusive unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus in the US? It costs $824.99 via Samsung and Best Buy.

The SIM-free Samsung Galaxy S8 UK price was £779.99 at launch but it's now down to around £680 from some retailers. Either that or you can get it on-contract through a carrier for £45-£50 a month with £0 cost upfront. In Australia it tops out at AU$1,349. It launched on April 28 in both regions

Design

  • ‘Infinity Display’ maximizes the nearly bezel-less screen
  • Its dimensions remain relatively reasonable for a big phone
  • Dust- and water-resistant with a stellar IP68 rating

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus design is exactly what we’ve wanted for several years – almost. We’ve been asking for a bigger screen, but on a phone that’s still small enough to be easy to hold.

Its 6.2-inch display doesn't make the actual phone much bigger than before

Samsung nails that balance with its nearly bezel-less front face. It once again eliminates the left and right borders with a gently curved screen, and now nearly erases the top and bottom bezels too.

It’s a neat trick. You’re getting an 'all-screen' phone – or what Samsung calls its ‘Infinity Display’ – that gives you more screen real estate without significantly increasing the size of the device.

It measures 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm and weighs 173g. That’s taller than the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and even the Note 7, but not by much. And get this: the iPhone 7 Plus with its smaller 5.5-inch screen is just a millimeter shorter and actually wider and heavier than the S8 Plus.

In fact, it's just about the same size as the S7 Edge (middle) and iPhone 7 Plus (right)

Touching the top corners of the display requires two hands, or extreme juggling with one hand. This phone isn’t going to be easy for anyone moving from a 4.7-inch or 5.1-inch screen.

Everything about the Galaxy S8 Plus design seems to highlight the real star attraction, the 6.2-inch screen. This includes the rather muted Galaxy S8 colors of Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, and Arctic Silver (we’re not getting Maple Gold or Coral Blue in the West).

The same goes for the now-understated rear camera design, and the S-A-M-S-U-N-G logo no longer adorning the top of the screen and staring back at you every single second you use your phone; the logo is now on the back, and everything is a lot cleaner that way.

Samsung has eliminated the ugly rear camera bump, and simply outlines the flat lens with a tiny lip. We’re in favor of this decision – a protective camera lip may save your camera if you do happen to drop it and crack the back glass. We’ve found out the hard way that the bump-free, unprotected Google Pixel XL will spiderweb when just about any part of the back glass shatters, rendering your main camera useless.

You’re once again protected against the elements, too. Samsung’s phone has an IP68 rating to make it dust- and water-resistant. It can survive 1.5m underwater for 30 minutes – you can probably take it deeper, although we don’t suggest testing your luck or your warranty.

The bottom frame of the phone has something new, something old and something ancient: Samsung has finally switched over to the fully reversible USB-C port for charging and data transfer, replacing the non-reversible micro USB port. You can now plug in your phone in the dark. 

Samsung keeps the old-fashioned 3.5mm headphone jack, dismissing early rumors that its new phone would eliminate this still-widely-used port in favor of USB-C audio. The company even includes high-end AKG-branded earbuds in the box for clearer audio.

What’s ancient is the single speaker at the bottom, and we’re disappointed to see it. It’s easy to accidentally cover up the grille when watching YouTube videos in landscape mode, and really, when Apple is beating you to something with the iPhone 7, you know there’s a problem.

About that fingerprint scanner

  • Fingerprint sensor is awkwardly in the back now, and off-center
  • It’s right next to the camera lens, so expect a lot of smudges
  • Face unlock is wildly inaccurate, while the iris scanner is okay

The biggest shift for long-time Samsung users is the home button. Gone is the physical oval-shaped button, along with the capacitive ‘recent’ and ‘back’ keys that flanked it. Samsung has finally switched to on-screen bottom buttons, including a pressure-sensitive home button.

Sure, on-screen buttons aren’t a big deal for non-Samsung Android owners. They’ve been used on LG, Google and Motorola phones for years, just to name a few. And now you can swap the ‘back’ and ‘recent’ keys if you’d like. You’ll get used to their disappearing and reappearing act when watching a movie that takes up the entire screen.

However, Samsung fans – and everyone else, really – will be tripped up when it comes to the oddly-placed fingerprint sensor. It’s now on the back of the phone, and in an off-center location next to the camera lens. It’s hard to reach, and you’ll often mistake the camera lens for the sensor. Smudge, smudge, smudge. “Why are my pictures so blurry?”

The biggest mistake Samsung has made here is placing this scanner to the right of the camera lens, meaning the majority right-handed users who hold their phone in their non-dominant left hand (to do other things like open doors and of course not drive) are going to have an extra-difficult time unlocking their phone.

Samsung’s solution seems to be no shortage of other ways to unlock your phone: passwords, pins, patterns, an iris scanner and the all-new face unlock. Sounds promising, right?

Face unlock is the default method that you’ll see on the set-up screen, but, while it may work at first, it rejected our faces more than half of the time, requiring us to enter our backup pattern. A 50% fail rate is incredibly problematic. Don’t worry about someone breaking into your phone – you can’t even get in.

Don’t worry about someone breaking into your phone – you can’t even get in.

We found that the iris scanner, borrowed from the Note 7, is more accurate and maybe only half a beat behind a normal fingerprint sensor. It doesn’t work with sunglasses, and you have hold the top of phone so it’s aligned with your eyes, but this is the retina-scanning unlock method you should switch to. It’s quick enough, it works in the dark and there are fun cartoon owl eyes and scuba masks, so that the two eyes staring back at you don’t look as demonic as they did on the Note 7. 

But all of this is a problem when even incredibly cheap Android phones are debuting with fingerprint sensors that work close to 100% of the time. There’s no easy-to-reach fingerprint sensor here, and Samsung’s trumpeted new method, Face unlock, doesn’t even work in the dark.

A true fix may come with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or Samsung Galaxy S9. The company was reportedly close to being able to embed a fingerprint scanner inside the front home button, but backed off at the last minute. For now, though, it’s this issue that keeps the Galaxy S8 Plus from scoring a five-star review.

Cases and warranty

  • Official and third-party cases recommended for a phone of this size
  • Samsung Premium Care is a decently priced protection plan

Given its tremendous size and fragile glass design, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus needs protection, and this comes in two forms, the first of which is a protective case.

Of course, even the best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus cases add a bit of bulk, and rob your phone of its most unique design characteristics – and there is an alternative this year.

Samsung Premium Care is the company’s new US insurance plan, and costs $11.99 a month, with replacements priced at $99 a pop. If you break your phone once a year that’s $234 in total, but $595 saved on a brand new phone. SquareTrade and other gizmo-focused insurance companies have similar protection plans.

We prefer a slim-fitting case, but it’s nice to see both options available at launch. This is a big phone and it deserves some sort of protection.

Display

  • 6.2-inch screen with a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio and HDR
  • Best-looking phone screen ever, even if mobile HDR video isn’t here yet
  • Immersive AMOLED display maxes out at Quad HD and defaults to 1080p

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus has the world’s best phone display, and for more reasons than simply because it packs in a lot of extra pixels. That’s definitely not all that’s happening here.

Its new 18.5:9 aspect ratio elongates the screen’s dimensions to give you more viewing space; you can train your eyes on two to three Facebook stories at a time in your newsfeed, instead of having to continuously scroll just to read portions of one.

It’s all thanks to the impressive 88% screen-to-body ratio of Samsung’s ‘Infinity Screen’. The Galaxy S7 Edge had what we thought was a good 76% ratio, while the iPhone 7 Plus sits at about a 68% screen-body ratio.

Reading is certainly easier, and split-screen multitasking feels less cramped, but because it deviates from the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, the phone throws up black bars when playing video content. This didn’t bother us as much as we thought it would, and it’s partly because every S8 color option has a black front face. It blends really well.

Samsung also gives you some familiar options you’ll remember from when HD first came onto the scene in an SD world. You can choose Smart Cropping, which fills the entire extra-wide screen (some content is cut off at the top and bottom), or Fit to Screen with black bars.

Transitioning between Smart Crop and Fit to Screen is tedious – apps don’t remember what we prefer, and we’re still unsure too. Neither is perfect, though neither is a deal-breaker when it comes to becoming immersed in video on this gorgeous 6.2-inch screen. It’ll be interesting to see where Samsung and LG go with this wider format when they also own the 4K TV market.

Samsung is once again pushing HDR on a mobile device, offering more vibrance, brightness and contrast, just like it did on the Note 7 and the Galaxy Tab S3. It’s even touting the Mobile HDR Premium label on the S8 and S8 Plus. Here’s the (literally) unseen problem: HDR video content from Amazon, Netflix and others just isn’t here yet on mobile devices, only your 4K TV.

The Galaxy S8 Plus is at least future-proofed for the HDR revolution. It’s not, however, bringing a 4K revolution to the palm of your hand. It sticks with the same Quad HD resolution as last year, and frankly we’re okay with that. We’re even okay with it defaulting to Full HD 1080p as a battery-saving tactic. Quad HD is best saved for VR, when the screen is two inches from your face and even at that 2K-level resolution you’re sometime able to make out individual pixels (what’s called the screen door effect).

We’re hoping that Samsung, solely for the purposes of VR, amps that up to 4K with the Galaxy Note 8 or S9 later this year or early next year. For everyday use, Full HD actually looks good, and most people won’t be able to tell the difference. You could even tell them it’s 4K and they’ll readily believe you.

Samsung’s curved Super AMOLED display makes it seem as if your app tiles and menus are falling off the sides of the screen as you scroll through your many app-filled homepages. It’s a neat effect that’s sure to attraction attention, and we're even happier with the gentler curve here – we’ve experienced fewer false touches than we did with the S7 Edge or any Samsung phone,. so if that’s been a problem for you with past device, consider it fixed.

We’re also mightily impressed with the enhanced Always-on Display. It constantly shows the time, date, battery life and tiny notification icons (which you can double-tap to open straight away – after you figure out how to unlock your phone). There’s even a way to display world clocks, a calendar and a small image on the Always-on Display. That’s right, you can set lock screen, home screen and now always-on screen wallpaper.

Interface and apps

  • Stop hating on TouchWiz. It’s great software now.
  • Everything’s cleaner looking and new gestures offer menu shortcuts
  • The default keyboard could use improvements like emoji suggestions

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is as powerful as it is big. It’s debuting with the best specs and the slickest interface we’ve seen from the company yet.

You can stop hating on Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface now, too – in fact, it’s not even called TouchWiz anymore. Samsung has renamed its stylization of Android ‘Samsung Experience’, and it’s pretty great.

It takes Google’s Android 7.0 Nougat operating system and makes it a little more robust, yet it’s able to scale everything to keep it looking clean. It has logically laid-out settings menus, and helpful suggestions when you can’t find what you want. Search is everywhere, too.

New this year is the ability to swipe up or down anywhere on the home screen to trigger an internal search box and the full app drawer. This handy shortcut replaces the virtual app drawer button on the home screen, since you really don’t need that any more. And we’re loving the fact that you can search your phone so quickly, like you can with iOS 10.

We’re able to access apps more quickly, and take action on them with fewer touches. You can now long-press on app tiles to bring up additional options – not unlike a computer’s right-click menu or the iPhone’s 3D Touch mechanic. From here you can remove, uninstall or select multiple apps, allowing you to easily rearrange apps to the desired home screen. Remember when you had to do that one at a time? Small touches like this make Samsung’s UI stand out.

Samsung’s notifications shade and customizable quick settings tray are easy to read, and strike the right tone with a white-and-light-blue color scheme (remember when all of this was neon green three years ago?). iOS 10 still does messaging better with iMessages, and we miss Apple's smarter, emoji-filled keyboard suggestions, but Samsung has almost everything else down, including a Blue Light filter that’s better than the one on the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL.

Google’s Android Nougat update also means notifications are now grouped together, and while split-screen multitasking is new for other phones, Samsung owners have had that for several iterations. Android O is getting notification badge count over top of individual app tiles, but Samsung has that too. All of a sudden, Samsung and stock Android aren’t that different.

Bixby

  • Bixby Voice has now launched, but Google Assistant is also on board
  • Its Home, Reminders and Vision features are pre-loaded, but do very little
  • The physical Bixby button only serves to get confused with volume down

Bixby is Samsung’s promising AI counterweight to Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant, and it’s the company’s overdue replacement for S Voice.

Bixby Voice is the ringleader for Samsung’s virtual assistant, which we're currently testing and we'll update this review with how it works very soon. But there's also Bixby’s less exciting posse: Bixby Home, Bixby Reminders, and Bixby Vision. 

Bixby Home is the leftmost menu, and takes cues from Google Now by contextually surfacing information: your local weather, schedule and activity. It also lays out news stories you might want to read, but it’s all less convincing than the more graphically-appealing Flipboard, which occupied this space before.

Bixby Reminders is a basic reminders app that can also pull text from the web and other apps as part of the ‘Share’ button. You can add a time or a geolocation to the reminder.

Bixby Vision can an identify object with the camera and bring up Pinterest images of the thing you already have, or locate stores where you can buy... the thing you already have. It may be helpful for reading up on a certain wine, but it’s really difficult to see the everyday usefulness of this feature right now.

What’s even more confusing is that there’s a dedicated Bixby button right under the volume rocker on the left side of the phone. Hit it twice and it’ll instantly transport you to the Bixby Home screen (confusing labeled Bixby Today).

The button only really serves to get confused for volume down during calls, and thwart your ability to take screenshots (long-time Samsung users are going to be mildly irritated here, because taking screenshots used to be a matter of holding the home button and power button – now it’s the power button plus volume down). The Bixby button just gets in the way.

Moreover, Google Assistant is onboard from the start, meaning Samsung now has competing voice assistants on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. And Google’s AI gets top billing; it’s activated by long-pressing on the home button – no need for Samsung’s invented Bixby button.

Specs and performance

  • The best chipset we’ve tested, even if the phone only has 4GB of RAM
  • Promises to power the next generation of Samsung Gear VR games
  • 64GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot for more room
  • Stream audio to two bluetooth headphones at once

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is the fastest and most powerful phone we’ve ever tested. It doesn’t have 6GB of RAM outside of China, but it doesn’t really need it.

The proof is in the performance. 4GB of RAM coupled with either the speedy Qualcomm 835 (US) or even faster Samsung Exynos 8895 (UK and everywhere else) chipset topped all of our benchmark tests.

It’s these smaller 10nm chipsets that make this phone more powerful, and they also draw less energy than last year’s 14nm chips. Samsung’s Exynos chips are always a little more powerful, but Qualcomm’s have the US-essential CDMA capabilities to work with Verizon and Sprint.

Our Geekbench benchmarking gave the Exynos chipset a 6,630 multi-core score, while the Qualcomm chipset averaged a 6,000 multi-core score. More importantly, we experienced no slowdown other than gradually appearing Bixby animations – that’s not actual slowdown.

That’s great news for anyone who wants to step into the future of mobile virtual reality with the new Samsung Gear VR, or simply avoid slowdown two to three years down the road. The S8 and S8 Plus have fully capable chipsets to power’s VR next generation the 3D graphics, and everyone benefits from this smartphone powerhouse.

Samsung Pay is back and more widely available than ever – at least in the US

Both chipsets are future-proofed with Gigabit LTE modems and are Gigabit Wi-Fi-ready, which will make your phone faster at home and on the road one day. Right now, you can also take advantage of Bluetooth Dual Audio, which can output audio to two sets of  headphones at the same time.

Samsung is charging you more than ever for this phone, but it is offering  better value when it comes to internal storage space. There’s just one option: 64GB, up from the 32GB entry-level S7 Edge. You don’t need to chose between 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB this year.

What if you want more space? Thankfully, the microSD card slot returns, giving you ample expandable storage (up to 256GB more). Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus and Google’s Pixel XL don’t support microSD cards, so this is a nice perk.

See how the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus performs in our big Samsung speed test video below.

Camera

  • 12MP camera is the best on a smartphone thanks to new improvements
  • Snaps better low-light photos and video OIS is smoother than last year
  • The camera app enables faster snapping, even if the camera launcher shortcut has moved to a less convenient location

If you’re looking for the best camera in a smartphone, you should buy the Galaxy S8 or the Galaxy S8 Plus right now. Samsung’s competition has a lot to live up to.

Sure, everything seems to be the same as on the Galaxy S7 Edge on the surface: the main camera has a 12MP sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus, a fast f/1.7 aperture and it captures large 1.4µm pixels.

All identical to last year’s phone, right? Not exactly. While the sensor size is the same, both the chip and the technology behind it offer better low-light photos, thanks to multi-frame image processing.

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Press on the arrow to the right to see more camera samples


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Multi-frame image processing works a lot like the Google Pixel’s HDR+ mode. Samsung’s phone selects the best of three photos, and uses the other two shots to reduce motion blur. It’s sort of like burst shooting, but everything works behind the scenes.

Side-by-side, photos from the Galaxy S8 Plus turned out better than similar shots taken with the S7 Edge in both bright and low-light conditions. There was less chromatic aberration and graininess in the dark; that’s not to say we didn’t see some motion blur in dimly-lit bar settings when people were moving their hands mid-shot, but the post-processing that’s happening here is top-notch for a smartphone.

The front-facing Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus camera has been given an even bigger upgrade, reflected in both the specs sheet and its overall performance. 

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Press on the arrow to the right to see more camera samples

There's a small big meaningful difference in these selfie photos. The S8 Plus exhibited brighter tones and captured the twinkle in the eyes. Everything looks better and we swear we didn't just amp up the beauty mode.

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The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus includes silly new effects for both photos and live video, like these Blue's Brothers virtual mask overlays. Move over, Facebook. It's Samsung's turn to clone Snapchat.

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The Galaxy S8 Plus does an okay job in indoor low-light – better than the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and any other Android phone. There's still a long way to go to compare to a DSLR, mirrorless camera or compact camera with a one-inch sensor. But we're getting there. 

Our selfies looked sharper, thanks to a jump from last year’s 5MP sensor to this year’s 8MP sensor with autofocus and facial recognition technology. You’re going to love that gleam in your eye that it’s able to pick up, offsetting any beauty marks it also brings to the forefront in cleaner photos.

You’re also in for a treat from the robust and logically laid out camera software first seen on the Galaxy Note 7, and then on the S7 and S7 Edge with the Android Nougat update.

Swipe up or down anywhere on the camera viewfinder and it switches between the front and back cameras – no more hunting for the insufferably small camera flip button.

You can zoom in and out with one finger by sliding left or right on the shutter button. Pinch-to-zoom can still be used, but with such a large phone, this one finger mechanic is useful.

One swipe to the left brings up menus for filters, stickers and an all-new clone of Snapchat mask – fun but pointless. It’s not just Facebook stealing Snapchat’s ideas anymore.

One swipe to the right brings up all of the capture modes: Auto, Pro (manual), Panorama, Selective focus, Slow motion, Hyperlapse (timelapse) Food and Virtual Shot. 

You can download a few others from Samsung’s Galaxy Apps store, including Sports shot, Animated GIF, and Dual Camera (a mode in which the camera taker shows up in a weird stamp-sized selfie window on top of a larger photo from the main camera). What we liked most is that you can add any of these modes, like Hyperlapse, to the home screen as a shortcut. No one else goes as far as Samsung does with its smartphone camera software.

Video is another example of where the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus doesn’t tout new specs beyond its 4K resolution, but has improved in real-world testing. Video quality is noticeably brighter than from the Galaxy S7 Edge, and optical image stabilization is smoother.

Now take a look at the same location with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

Using a custom-built tripod for a side-by-side comparison while walking down to the beach, we found the S8 Plus’s stabilization to produce an almost gimbal-like effect, while the S7 Edge made it seem as if we were bouncing along on a trampoline (we were not!).

Even with everything that’s going on – from multi-frame image processing to enhanced optical image stabilization – the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus’s shutter speed doesn’t exhibit slowdown. What we did find to be a drag was the new camera launcher shortcut, moved from double-clicking the now non-existent physical home button to the side power button – you may miss capturing a Kodak moment until you retrain your muscle memory and find a case that doesn’t make hitting the side buttons so difficult. 

Watch below to see how the Galaxy S8 Plus performed in our camera test.

Battery life

  • 3,500mAh battery capacity plays is safe following the Note 7 recalls
  • Day-and-a-half of power thanks to advanced battery-saving tactics
  • Takes 1 hour and 11 minutes to completely recharge
  • Fast and wireless charging are here, and so its USB-C

Here’s a tricky one for Samsung: the Galaxy S8 Plus is big enough to house a monster-sized battery, but given all of the Note 7 battery explosions it chose not to push the envelope.

Instead, we have a 3,500mAh battery – the same exact capacity as the Note 7 and actually 100 fewer milliamps than the Galaxy S7 Edge. All of this is conservative given the Asus Zenfone Max just launched with a 5,000mAh battery.

Don’t let these stagnant numbers fool you. The Galaxy S8 Plus is power-efficient enough to offer day-and-a-half battery life. We didn’t have a problem running out of juice every day, even with heavy photo and video use.

This is partly due to its smaller and less power-hungry 10nm chipset and partly because the default Full HD display setting looks nearly as good as the maxed-out Quad HD resolution. These two things make a difference.

Running a 90-minute Full HD looped video from a 100%-charged battery, we found the phone to drain 11% on Quad HD, leaving us with 89% of juice. Setting it to Full HD, the same video burned fewer pixels and drained 8%, with 92% battery remaining.

Samsung also packs the S8 Plus with software optimization tools to eke out more battery life when you’re down to 15%. It really clings to those last single digits while counting down to the exact time it’ll power down (it’s never exactly right, but it’s nice to have a ballpark estimate).

The Galaxy S8 Plus retains perks like fast charging and wireless charging. Its easier-to-plug-in USB-C port means wireless charging is now a minor convenience, but still one we like seeing. 

We pitted all of the Samsung Galaxy phones against each other in our big battery test that you can watch below.

Verdict

This is Samsung’s latest sci-fi-looking smartphone, and its newest trick is maximizing the screen space while minimizing the bezels. It fits a monstrous 6.2-inch curved display into an acceptably large body that doesn’t feel too different from last year’s Galaxy S7 Edge. 

That’s not all that’s impressive. It features the best phone display, chipset and camera of any phone to date. In other words, it has the best looks, most power and is extremely photogenic. 

It’s water- and dust-resistant, so you don’t need to wait for the Galaxy S8 Active necessarily, and it features 64GB of internal storage plus a microSD card slot for expandable storage. All of this is a good value – if you’re willing to pay top dollar already.

The battery life is good (it didn’t blow up in our tests), it can power the next generation of mobile VR games, and it has software that rivals stock Android. Aside from Bixby, Samsung has made tremendous inroads with its software. If bad memories of the cluttered TouchWiz interface are what’s holding you back, you should give this phone a try.

Everything looks and feels futuristic except for the illogically located fingerprint sensor and the (so far) absent Bixby voice assistant. Face unlock doesn’t work well enough to right this wrong, and the iris scanner is better but imperfect, too. Being locked out of your phone when you’re paying this much money keeps the Galaxy S8 Plus from being flawless.

You’re not going to find a bigger, better phone than this. Small gripes aside, the 6.2-inch display and big boost in power and efficiency make this an easy recommendation for anyone who is willing to invest a lot of money in their phone.

Who's it for?

This is the smartphone for you if your hands are big, your wallet is too, and you really care about having the best smartphone of 2017. While the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 is just as good and slightly cheaper, the Plus version has a maximized 6.2-inch display size and extra battery life. Anyone moving from a 4.7-inch and 5-inch screen should stick with the smaller size.

Should I buy it?

You have to really want a phone with a screen that’s the biggest size and best quality to sink this kind of money into the Galaxy S8 Plus. It doesn’t hurt that it also has other accolades attached to it, like the best camera and newest chipset.

First reviewed April 2017

Competition

There are a lot of great phones on the market right now, so what are your other choices if you don't want to buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus? Here are three options that may suit you.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

If you don't think the screen on the Galaxy S8 Plus is big enough, there's now the choice of the Galaxy Note 8 too. This comes with a largely similar design but has a 6.4-inch display instead.

There's also an S-Pen stylus that comes with the phone too so you have a selection of new productivity features such as screen off note taking or you can even just use it to draw.

You'll have to spend a lot of money to get one though with the Galaxy Note 8 costing even more than the Galaxy S8 Plus.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus launch means the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is instantly on sale. You can have this 5.5-inch smartphone for cheaper, and it has almost everything you need.

It’s one step back in most areas: it has a curved 5.5-inch display, last year’s Qualcomm and Exynos chipsets, and a camera that takes nearly as good photos and video. It’s two steps forward in other areas: a well-placed fingerprint sensor home button and a more reasonable price. 

That’s perfectly good for most people who want a good deal on a great Samsung phone. 

Read the full Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review

iPhone 7 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S8 makes the iPhone 7 Plus hardware design seem dated. Apple’s stuck with big bezels and a smaller 5.5-inch screen, despite the fact that the phone dimensions are all roughly the same. It’ll be that way at least until the iPhone 8 release date later this year.

But we also really like the iPhone 7 Plus for its iOS 10 software, and iOS 11 is bound to improve upon it later this year. It has iMessages, the swipe-up-from-the-bottom Control Center, and Siri is always making new strides. 

Apple finally made its smartphone water-resistant and included a telephoto second camera lens on the back, and it does have that easy-to-reach home button that’s missing from the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.

Read the full iPhone 7 Plus review

LG G6

Here’s the other new Android smartphone with an elongated screen that rivals the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. It features a 5.7-inch LCD display and no curved screen design, but a very similar 18:9 aspect ratio. It has a rear (but center-mounted) fingerprint sensor, dual camera lens (one is an extra-wide lens) and uses Google Assistant (and only Google Assistant).

It’s also slightly cheaper than either Samsung phone. If you really wanted a flat Samsung Galaxy S8, this is a perfectly good option. Just don’t expect VR out of its LCD screen.

Read the full LG G6 review

Samsung Galaxy S8

Maybe the smaller version of the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus may suit you for your next phone upgrade?

It doesn't have such great battery life and the screen isn't as large, but it will be a little easier to handle and is a touch cheaper too. 

You should also know there may be both a Samsung Galaxy S8 Active and S8 Mini in the works too. Choosing a Samsung phone at the moment is quite a complicated process, but at least there are lots of options.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy S8 review