Function
Step Into The Future
KEVIN WONG 
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Arising from the flames of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Samsung has redeemed itself with the new Galaxy S8+. A notch up from the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the new model has redefined what it means to “unbox your phone” with its boundary-pushing ways.

For one, the S8+, redesigned from the inside out, has broken free from the confines of the bezels and buttons, offering a smooth uninterrupted surface that flows seamlessly over the edges. The stunning 6.2-inch Infinity Display is 18% larger than the display of the Galaxy 7, hence offering an immersive viewing experience.

In Landscape mode, watching movies proves to be more cinematic. Meanwhile, gaming experience has been enhanced and made more entertaining when the 18:5:9 Full Screen mode is automatically optimised to fill every millimetre of the screen.

It brought mobile games such as Need for Speed: No Limits and Bully to a whole new level with astonishing graphics. At the same time, the Infinity Display makes it a lot easier to see and do more on a single screen without having to scroll often, making multi-tasking a breeze.

The Infinity Display is also protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which is impervious against scratches and external impacts.


Design

The design of the Galaxy S8+ is a futuristic work of art as it has extended the screen to all sides, including the top and bottom, into gentle curves. It offers a bigger display – hence the name Infinity Display – without increasing the size of the device.

The S8+ measures 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm and weighs 173g but its subtle curvature flows from the front of the device to the back to create a more ergonomic grip, which is ideal for one-handed use.

Additionally, Samsung has eliminated the unattractive rear camera bump and simply outlines the flat lens with a tiny lip. Meanwhile, the typical volume rocker and standby buttons that sit along the sides of the S8+ are joined by a dedicated Bixby key to access Samsung’s new smart assistant.


Bixby

Given how limited Bixby is at the moment, it is perhaps a waste of space for it to have its own button. Still, the new mobile assistant proves to be useful when you are trying to find the right word to describe an object. Just take a picture and Bixby will look it up.

The Bixby Home panel can also store your calendar of appointments, give you reminders, and offer you the local weather forecast. Yes, it doesn’t do much at the moment but it is only a matter of time before Bixby becomes the next Siri.


Camera

With the dual-pixel sensor technology, wide aperture and fast autofocus of the 12MP f1.7 rear camera, the S8+ captures great pictures, even in low light conditions. The 8MP f1.7 front camera is equipped with enhanced autofocus features and facial recognition technology. The latter can recognise and track faces to take clear and focused selfies, regardless of the distance between the user and the camera.

Additionally, it is really fun enhancing the photos with the variety of easy-to-use filters, including the Auto Filter that automatically cleans up the image. Even animated stickers and stamps are available from the camera app itself. The camera’s UX has also been optimised for one-handed photo-capturing.


Performance and battery life

Powered by the new Snapdragon 835 with 4GB of RAM, the phone operates smoothly – switching from one app to the next is not an issue. The 3,500mAh battery gives about two full days of use on a single charge and that is with the screen set to its maximum resolution. Imagine how long it would last if the resolution is dialled down. It is certainly one of the longest lasting batteries in the market to date.


Security

The S8+ comes with enhanced security features through the integration of Samsung’s trusted Knox security platform and a combination of biometric technologies. Among them is the secure iris scanner that it is touted to be fast, accurate, and touch-free – this reviewer’s experience, however, proves otherwise.

The same goes for the fingerprint scanning sensor, which is in an awkward location at the back and right next to the camera. The off-centre position makes it easy to miss and this results in a lot of accidental fingerprints over the camera lens.

Nevertheless it does offer another security feature – the device can be unlocked through facial recognition. It is no different than taking a selfie to access your phone. A tad narcissistic, if you ask me. I much prefer the old-school PIN or password options.

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 241.