I never said I wasn’t fickle.
I’ve switched phones again. I did love my Pixel XL – just read my review but in the ever changing landscape of mobile cellular telecommunications, 6 months is a long time. Since then the Pixel has been surpassed not once (LG G6) but twice. The second phone to dash past it in the rankings is, of course, my current lifeline, companion and my right hands near permanent fixture: the Samsung Galaxy S8+. A phone that to look at it makes the Pixel XL look like a child’s toy – and a design that finally makes it look like it is, something that for 2014 would be fine but shouldn’t have been released in late 2016. In hardware design terms NOBODY (and yes, that includes you Apple) is anywhere near what Samsung is capable of. Make no mistake.
There has been a lot written about it, the S8+ – it’s a beautiful thing, speedy-fast, the screen is nothing short of phenomenal, and the Samsung UI isn’t (for a wonder) terrible for once. I mean, it’s no stock android, but it’s not the laggy cartoonish mess it used to be. If you tried Samsung’s a few years ago, and subscribe to the ‘once bitten twice shy’ phrase, I strongly suggest you go back and try them now. It’s a different world.
So with all that talk about the phone – which is (and I’ll put this in bold to make it clear) the best phone currently on the market, bar none – I think it’s worth pointing out something that I’ve discovered since using it for three days. Hopefully it’ll draw it away from the usual gushing my-life-depends-on-a-good-review press corp review because there are two key things that it’s teaching us about Samsung that are negative, much as I like the phone.
Firstly, the finerprint sensor. It’s in the wrong place for one – the back is, and always has been the worst place for this. I know it’s for those with smaller hands, and I know it isn’t exactly an effort to pick a phone up off the table to use it – you can just double tap to wake, and input a pin or a pattern unlock. But that isn’t the point. The point is that if you’re spending millions of currency, and thousands of man hours on building and designing a phone like this, people shouldn’t have to compromise on something as basic as unlocking it.
But in this case, Samsung knows this. You see, originally (from some fairly accurate reporting) the fingerprint sensor was supposed to be buried under the non-physical home button. It was going to be the first of it’s kind, and would allow a thumb or fingerprint to unlock the phone without need of a physical sensor bolted onto it. Amazing! Incredible! Game changing!
Except it wasn’t ready in time.
Instead what we got was a sensor bolted onto the back, right next to the camera lens. So if the back of a phone prompts compromise in having to use it, then placing it there is extra stupid. It’s too high, it’s too close to something you really don’t want to be smudging with an errant fingertip, and it is too small. It is getting increasingly annoying to use day to day, and I’m fortunate enough to have fairly long forefingers so can easily reach it. All because Samsung took a chance that new tech would be ready and it wasn’t in time, so late in the design stage they had to frantically find somewhere in their gorgeous, incredibly well packaged case to stick a sensor. Which is bad. It means they are compromising, again.
You see the S7 was superb. It was, by the technology of the time, an absolutely without fault phone. It did everything we could do, and wasn’t released until it couldn’t be made better. They didn’t do it with the Note 7 – which started exploding on people, and they haven’t done it again with the S8. It shows that the company is still locked in the worrying chase being the first instead of being the best. Apples 7s/8 won’t be out for months yet. What Samsung (a company who isn’t afraid of making big choices) should have done is waited a month, delayed the launch and put out something that was technically perfect.
Because with it’s (and I can’t stress this enough) damn near impeccable design, the best screen out there, excellent camera, good UI, faultless build quality, blazing speed (it’s the first Samsung I’ve had that doesn’t appreciably lag), expandable storage, desktop replacement functions, wireless charging (oh wireless charging how I’ve missed you) and everything else in that little gleaming black glass slab it kills me that it’s marred by a rushed release.
It isn’t enough to make it a bad phone. It’s a first world problem for sure, it’s stopping a superb phone being the perfect phone. There isn’t anything even close to it on the market right now for specs or design, so please if you’re in the market for a new phone don’t bother looking anywhere else, there is no point.
Just be brave next time Samsung (have ‘courage’, you could say…). Sometimes a 100% solution a month late is preferable to a 95% solution on time.