You can’t really tell whether a phone will suit you until you’ve been using it for a while. So I’ve been putting the Samsung Galaxy S8+ through its paces.
I’ve been quite fickle when it comes to phones. I used Nokia phones for a while, then switched to Apple when I fell in love with the iPhone 4. After a few more years on iOS, I switched back to Android and I am now using the Huawei P9. But until Three loaned me the Galaxy S8+ to try out, I’d never used a Samsung phone before.
But they’ve always struck me as very beautiful phones, and Samsung have an excellent reputation for electronic goods. So I decided that it would be a good idea to put the phone through its paces and find out whether my next switch would be to Samsung.
This won’t be a hugely technical review – there are already plenty of those on the web if that’s what you’re after. I wanted to see how the S8+ performs in everyday use, and whether that makes it a good phone for a blogger. There are a few things that I want to see when I’m choosing a phone:
- Is it easy to set up?
- Can I use my usual apps on it easily?
- How good is the camera?
- Does the battery last a reasonable time?
When the phone arrived, the sleek look of the phone impressed me right away. And although it’s one of the plus size phones available on the market now, I was surprised that the size isn’t too big. It measures 159.5mm x 8.1mm, which is bigger than my current phone. But that is only a little larger than the Huawei P9 ‘in the flesh’, and the phone still feels very comfortable to hold.
But if you don’t fancy using the larger sized phone, then the Samsung Galaxy S8 also has all of the features that I mention in this review.
So Simple to Set up!
Three had kindly sent the phone fully charged, so I was ready to put the SIM straight in and get going. The SIM also gave me access to Three’s ‘Feel at Home‘ scheme, which allows you to use your phone in 60 countries just the same as if you were at home. So you can text or phone UK numbers and use your data allowance just as if you were in the UK. That was really useful for when I visited Malaga recently – I didn’t have to worry about how much it was costing me to post on social media or check my email!
After loading the SIM, the rest of the set up was ridiculously easy. I literally just entered my Google account details, and the rest of the set up happened automatically. All my contacts were there and even the lock screen photo was set up.
All your Apps Right at your Fingertips
As part of the set up, all of my Android apps downloaded to the phone automatically. This is so much easier than in the past, when you had to go through and download each one individually!
The set up process also installed the really useful Three app. This allows you to keep a check on how much of your allowances you’ve used up, so you’ll know if you’re running low on data or texts. That’s another feature which would be really useful for when I’m overseas, although the Three SIM’s generous data allowance would keep me going for a fairly long time.
Totally Easy to Use
It didn’t take long to organise my apps on different screens and then I was ready to use the phone. It did take me a little while to get used to the different way to unlock the phone. But I think that’s always the case with a new model.
The phone doesn’t have the Google Now Launcher, but I think that I could have set that up if I’d wished. I also decided to stick with the Samsung keyboard rather than loading the Google keyboard. To be honest, I didn’t like the Samsung keyboard as much as the one on my current phone. If I was keeping the phone that’s something that I would definitely look to install.
But apart from those minor quibbles, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ was very easy to use and I got used to it very quickly. It was so convenient to have on hand for snapping photos like this gorgeous tiled sign that I spotted while wandering around Malaga.
Super Impressive Camera
The big dealbreaker for me on a new phone is the camera. I rarely use a mobile to make calls, but I use it to take photos on a daily basis. While I’m out and about, I may also do a little basic editing before posting to social media. The Samsung Galaxy S8+ has a 12MP back camera, and a 8MP back camera. This has facial recognition autofocus to give the perfect selfie.
I used the S8+ to take all of the photos in this post – apart from the photos of the phone itself, obviously! I’ve been trying to use it in as many different situations as possible. If it meets my requirements as a blogger, then I reckon it’s going to be a good fit for most people.
The first test was to use it in Malaga when I visited recently. I needed the camera to cope with the intense Spanish sunlight, without making the photos look washed out. The photo of the statue above shows that it manages to do that brilliantly. I haven’t edited that photo at all before posting it here.
Photos in Close Up
Next I wanted to see how the Galaxy S8+ would handle close up photos of food. That’s surely a staple shot on any blogger’s phone!
Again, I haven’t edited this photo for this post. I think it shows that the Samsung Galaxy S8+ camera handles shady conditions as well as the bright sunshine. The colours look vivid and you get that gorgeous blurry background as well. I wouldn’t need to do much to this photo apart from brightening it a little.
Now, I don’t take masses of selfies but yes, that’s a pretty important function for any phone. So I tested the Samsung’s back camera while I was sheltering from the sun in the Nasrid Palace at Alhambra.
Although I haven’t edited this selfie, you can quickly edit your selfie before posting it to social media as well. The Samsung’s editing facilities are very easy to use, and of course the extra screen size comes in handy here.
I actually don’t mind this photo of myself, and was very pleasantly surprised by the Samsung’s selfie camera. It is much better than my current phone, which is quite frustrating because I still have a year left on my contract.
Coping Easily with Low Light
The final test that I put the Samsung’s camera through was to take photos in low light conditions. When I review a restaurant, I don’t really want to take my big DSLR along with me. And you probably feel the same when you want to snap a food photo for your Insta feed. So a small camera or my phone’s camera is a necessity for me on these occasions.
While I was reviewing the Brewhouse and Kitchen in Lichfield recently, I decided to leave my cameras at home. Instead, I used the Samsung Galaxy S8+ to take photos for the post. Normally I edit photos in Lightroom before posting, and I edited all of the photos in my review post. But as you can see in the comparison photo above, I didn’t really have to do much. A little brightening and tweaking of the shadows/highlights was all that was really necessary.
It even coped well with the tricky job of capturing the lighting display in the restaurant!
I definitely think that the Galaxy S8 camera is better than my P9’s camera. And that’s a huge factor for me when I’m choosing a phone.
No Battery Pack Required
I am always paranoid about running out of battery when I’m out and about. So my recent day out in London was a good opportunity to put the Samsung Galaxy S8+ battery to the test.
Usually when I go out, I carry a battery pack and cable with me. This means that I can recharge my phone on the go if necessary. For this test, I left the battery at home, but did take my P9 out with me – just in case…
Well, I needn’t have worried, because the Samsung’s battery was more than up to the task. I used the S8+ to take all of the photos throughout the day – you can see more of them in my post here.
The phone also got used heavily for providing us with directions around London all day, checking emails and social media, and even looking for somewhere to go for dinner.
By the time we returned back to the car at 8pm that evening, the battery still had over 25% left. I was really surprised by how well it had lasted. I thought I’d given it a really stern test on our day out, and it had come through with flying colours.
Samsung Galaxy S8+: The Verdict
If you hadn’t already guessed, the Galaxy S8+ really impressed me in many ways. I love the look of the phone, its ease of use, the fantastic camera and the impressive battery life. It handled all of my needs really easily, and exceeded my expectations.
My only minor quibbles were ones which would be easily resolved if I was keeping the phone long term. And although I love the look of the plus-sized model, I think it was a little too big for my hands (and pocket!). So my preference would probably be for the standard Galaxy S8.
But it’s looking very likely that my next phone will be a Samsung!
Many thanks to Three for loaning me the Samsung Galaxy S8+ to review.