Why I’m In Love with The Galaxy S8 Plus: A Gamer’s Review

The Samsung Galaxy S8 in various styles.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 in various styles.

This past week, I decided that it was time for a new phone. I’ve been a Samsung fan since I got my first S6 in 2014. So, it was just the logical choice that I’d pick up a new Galaxy S8. I have been researching the S8 a bit and decided that I’d go with the S8 Plus – mainly because I love bigger screens for mobile gaming. It’s now been less than a week and I am completely head over heels in love with this phone for more reasons than just the crazy cool screen. Here is my gamer’s review of the Galaxy S8 Plus to give you the details on why you’ll love this phone too:

Size Does Matter

I’ll just start with the screen size because that is initially why I went with the S8 Plus over the S8. The S8 Plus has a screen size of 6.2 inches, the iPhone 7 Plus has a screen size of 6.23 inches, which is the same size. The S8 has a screen size of 5.8 inches, so it’s a pretty close second to the size of the S8 Plus.

As a gamer, here’s why I like the bigger screen: it’s easier to see some of the awesome graphics on the S8 Plus than on smaller phones. For example, Hearthstone looks amazing on the screen as it adds to the 3D effects of the cards and layouts of the game.

Internal Memory

Man, here’s another area that impressed me. All of the S8s (normal and Plus) come with 64 GB of memory standard. Add in an SD card, and you can push that all the way up to 256 GB. I mean, holy internal awesomeness Batman, that’s a snot load of memory.

Again, as a gamer, this matters to me for several reasons: first, most of the games I love take up a lot of memory. Games like Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow, Hearthstone and Bloons Tower Defense 5 (I still play the crap out of Bloons) take up some space. Add in all the social media apps, movie and tv apps, weather apps, writing apps and so on, and you’ve got a full board before you realize it with phones that offer 16 GB or smaller.

The fact that the stock memory in the Galaxy S8 Plus is huge makes a massive difference. Then throw in a monster SD card and you can shove more games on the phone than you could possibly play.

Internal Processor Magic

According to the specs, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus come with an “MSM 8998 Octa Core 2.35 GHz (Quad Core) + 1.9 GHz (Quad)”. To me, that means nothing as I’m not a huge tech guru who reads this stuff in my sleep. Here’s what I do know: that Snapdragon 835 is crazy strong and lightning fast. In fact, the processor is strong enough to run a full version of Windows 10 on the phone. As a writer, I understand that and I also understand how humongous Windows 10 is.

When Qualcomm put out the specs for the Snapdragon 835 processor, they stated that this new chip will take up 35% less space and use 25% less power than the previous ones. I’m all about saving space and not burning up my battery with just the processor.

Let’s Talk About the Camera and Photos

When it comes to the cameras on the Galaxy S8 Plus, they are brilliant. The front camera offers an 8MP Af and the rear camera offers a Dual Pixel 12.0 MP. Both are great and I have taken some great shots with them. When it comes to screenshots of your favorite games, say for reviews or bugs, any of the shots that I’ve taken are crisp and brilliant.

You can access the camera from the home screen shortcut or you can simply hit the power button twice (even with the phone off) and it will open the camera for you. If you’re looking for some sweet ways to do screenshots on your phone, the S8 doesn’t let you down there either. You can use the power button and the volume down together, you can use the palm gesture (swiping your palm across the phone slowly), you can use the scroll capture to take photos of long screen pages and you can even do .gifs on your phone with the Apps Edge settings. Here’s a link that will show you how to do it all.

Video

The S8 and S8 Plus take video in 4K HD and it looks downright amazing. You can test it for yourself or you can check out some of the videos that has been taken with the phone on the Samsung website. I take a lot of videos during the summer and will be testing out one of the game recording apps for the phone this week. (You can check out a short video here of some Hearthstone play on my phone that looks beautiful with the screen.)

Taking Photos With Bixby

However, one of the things that I really love about the S8 Plus is that it has Bixby, which takes your photos to a whole new level. Bixby is Samsung’s new intelligence system that rivals Siri. (Personally, I like Bixby better so far – although messing with Siri is still pretty damn fun.) Bixby is activated by text, touch or voice and understands the vast majority of what I’ve thrown at it so far with my southern accent. (Thank goodness.)

However, what makes it really impressive is that you can point the camera at something or take a photo when you’re using Bixby and it will do all sorts of things. For example, say you’re somewhere and can’t read the language, such as in another country or at a festival and want to know what’s on the menu. Point the camera at the wording and it will automatically translate it for you. Curious where someone got their epic Pokemon hat or bag while at a Pokemon Go raid? Take a picture of it or point the camera with Bixby and hit the ‘shopping button’ and it will automatically pull up where you can order one. It’s badass. No lie.

What Else Does Bixby Do?

The Bixby interface.
The Bixby interface.

Bixby is also a learning AI inside the phone. It learns as you use the phone so it can perform those tasks faster as you continue to use them. You have to go through the short set up before you can use Bixby, which basically is programming your voice into the phone. After a few childish comments and fun on my part, I finally got Bixby set up and started using it.

Holy cow. It is awesome. It will allow you to wake up your phone by simply saying Hello Bixby and you can open any app (even games), set reminders, text or call someone and really do just about anything. I was able to add to my shopping list while cooking, open Pokemon Go to grab PokeStops while visiting Oklahoma State University this past week and text my sister when I’m driving (hands-free guys – you just have to talk to the phone).

As you use Bixby, you teach it what you use the phone for the most. For me, this is playing games, writing and keeping in touch with family and friends. There is also a big perk to using Bixby: as you do, you earn experience points and for now, you can transfer them over to Samsung points that you can trade in on gear, accessories, free Google Music and so on.

Cosmetic Goodies

How it fits in my hand.
How it fits in my hand.

Maybe it’s because I’m a chick, but I like when phones have different color choices. The Galaxy S8 Plus has three: black, silver and orchid gray. Ok, here’s the low down: the silver is actually a badass chrome and the orchid gray is a light metallic purple. I went with the purple, but my husband picked up the chrome and my son grabbed the black since he always has a case on his. I’ll admit that the chrome is pretty awesome however and I went back and forth for about 2 seconds. Here’s a photo of my S8 Plus in Orchid Grey as well as a front shot so you can see how it fits in my hand (Note, I wasn’t able to take a photo with the S8, which sucks. So, this is just to show the size of it in my hand. No judging my photo here!):

Left or right, your choice.
Left or right, your choice.

I think one of the things I really like cosmetically about the S8 Plus is that even with smaller hands, I can easily hold and use the phone with one hand if needed. Plus, you can use the Apps Edge to easily access apps, contacts, news, etc just with a flick of your finger off the side of the screen. You can also adjust this for the left or right side of the screen according to your preference.

The Galaxy S8 offers a blue and a gold choice if you are looking at one of those options. The picture here shows all the colors of the S8, with the S8 Plus colors, are the black, the gray/purple next to it and the silver below it.

Epic Security

We’re all used to the passcode with your chosen numbers, your little swipe design pattern and so on when it comes to cell phones. However, Samsung is taking it to the next level when it comes to security and unlocking your phone without your hands. There are two ways on the phone to unlock it by simply holding it up: iris or face recognition. The nerd in me absolutely adores this. I set up both right away just to play with it and I’ve been extremely impressed at how easy it is to use both of them. I have noticed that even in really low light, such as just a soft lamp next to my bed at night, it will still recognize my face and my irises. That’s pretty impressive to me. So, during this winter, I’m not gonna have to shuck off the gloves to turn my phone on – with or without Bixby.

Oh, and for the really nerdy part of me, I loved that you can even set a mask for the iris scanner. I chose one that looks like a Spartan helmet.

Durability

Now, I’m not about to go out and drop my $850 S8 Plus on the concrete and see how it fairs, that’s why I have YouTube. I checked out a few videos after seeing that Samsung says the phone works in the rain and dust. I found this video on YouTube by EverythingApplePro, where they do a water test on the S8 Plus and the iPhone 7 side by side. Man. Impressive isn’t even the word for the results. The S8 Plus worked in about 3 inches of water, still worked perfectly after being submerged in 3 and 5 feet of water for over 15 minutes and never showed signs of water damage. The iPhone 7 – well, let’s just say this video is not a testament to its waterproof glory. (It showed water damage after being in just a few inches for a few minutes and was squirting like a water gun after the 3 feet test.)

He then takes the phone and dives in the water with it. Phone still working perfectly after it’s taken out of the bag. Next, he jumps in the water with the phone with the video on – still working perfectly and taking video. I personally don’t recommend doing any of this with your phone, but it’s nice to see that it really did beautifully throughout all of these tests.

After this awesome video, this same YouTuber goes on to drop test both phones. It did suck that the first drop test on the S8 cracked the whole back of the phone from waist level – but no glass came out. The corner drop test didn’t do much damage at all, where it really messed up the iPhone 7. You can watch the rest of the video here if you’d like to check out the full results of the different types of drops.

Ok Finally to Game Play

Hearthstone.
Hearthstone.

If you checked out the video of Hearthstone game play, you can see how amazing the screen looks during game play. I chose Hearthstone for a reason: the 3D effects that look brilliant on the phone. One thing that the video doesn’t capture well is the 3D effects that the Plus screen offers. The Plus has the rounded edge screen like the S7 Edge, giving it a gorgeous view of movies, games and more. I think that the rounded screen is one of my favorite things about the game play on the phone.

The games themselves look amazing as well, even simple solitaire games. The combination of the large screen and the curved glass give everything that you play a beautiful crisp look. Here are a few other screen shots of games on the S8 Plus.

With the processor, I haven’t had any issues yet with loading games or playing them. I’m hoping that this doesn’t change as I use the phone more because it’s already spoiling me.

Overall Impression

Man, I love this phone. I know that there is more craziness that it does and I’m still exploring all of it. However, right now, I can’t put the thing down. If you’re in the market for a new phone, I would highly recommend checking out one of the Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus models. And, while you’re at it – pick up one of the Samsung wireless chargers. I grabbed one when I picked up my new phone and it charges crazy fast, as in 15% to 100% in less than an hour and a half. Highly worth that extra dough.

Trying not to melt away in the heat of Oklahoma, MD Weems has been a writer and artist for over 20 years. Her written works over all types of gaming have been used in college level game design textbooks as well as in US Patents over virtual character design. She has worked with gaming companies all over the world and is even cool enough to have her own Korean cartoon character.
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