Samsung Galaxy S8 Review: An Android Masterpiece, But It's Not Without Flaws

Quickly, a paragraph about Bixby! The Bixby Home panel connected to your home screen still lacks standout features, leaving me to wonder if we'd all be better served by just integrating the few pieces of it that work into other areas of the phone and leaving this full-screen Home experience to die, as most of it just isn't useful. Bixby Voice recognition is actually pretty good, if you just downright don't know how to do something and want it to handle it over voice — but most of the time, touch is faster and more accurate. I could go deep into why Bixby is a flawed system that isn't making any strides in terms of changing the way we use our phones, but let's save that for another time — the important part here is that you can use Bixby if you want, and you can turn it off entirely if you don't.

Bixby has a few good things going for it — but it commands far more attention than it deserves.

It's sort of the same "use it or forget it" situation for AR Emoji — Samsung's new Apple Animoji competitor. It works, it's neat to play with and maybe the younger crowd will latch onto it. But for most of us, we'll stick to taking great pictures with the camera rather than putting weird masks on our quasi-cartoon avatars in selfies. Samsung once again deserves praise for having a camera feature that's dead simple to capture and export anywhere, rather than locking you into its platform, but this isn't compelling enough to be an actual selling point of the phones.


The Snapdragon 845 processor I'm using in this U.S. model of the Galaxy S9+ is the latest and greatest from Qualcomm, and honestly it's far more powerful than anything we need in a smartphone today — particularly when it's paired up with 6GB of RAM. But hey, it means this phone's ready for the future.

This processor is good for today and far into the future.

As far as using the phone every day, it doesn't feel any different from the Galaxy S8 using Oreo, or the Note 8 using Nougat for that matter. Anyone who's spent time with a Pixel 2 or even last-gen Pixel will be able to sense moments of dropped frames or stutters on the Galaxy S9, but let's be honest it just isn't that big of a difference. The Galaxy S9+ handled everything I threw at it without any hesitation, and I experienced zero slowdowns, app crashes or system instability. The phone's been rock solid, and I just hope it stays that way over time.

Samsung Galaxy S9+ on a wireless charger

Battery life

Samsung's promise of "all day" battery life holds true in my use, if just barely, with the 3500mAh capacity inside the Galaxy S9+. Without fail, I got 17 to 18 hours of battery life each day, including 3 to 4 hours of "screen on" time, at the point when I settled into bed and tossed the phone on its wireless charger. That's certainly good enough for most people, and roughly on par with what I get out of my Pixel 2 XL — but heavier users will need a midday top-up if they're going to be hitting the phone hard.

I got 17-18 hours of battery life without fail, and that's plenty for most people.

On the other side of things, light users will still be charging at night regardless, as the standby battery life just isn't fantastic on the Galaxy S9+. Even with light usage and most of my day spent at home on Wi-Fi, the phone was still estimating roughly 18 to 19 hours of battery life. Consistency is good in most cases, but keep in mind that even if you baby it throughout the day you aren't going to be able to push far into a second day without charging.

Galaxy S9+ battery life

Galaxy S9+ battery lifeGalaxy S9+ battery life

Despite this being the year 2018, Samsung is curiously still supporting just Quick Charge 2.0 charging speeds and supplies the same charger as it did with the Galaxy S7 and S8. It's not really an issue, and the phones do support USB-C Power Delivery for another fast charging option, but it's so odd that an otherwise extremely technologically advanced phone wouldn't have at least Quick Charge 3.0.

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