I’m Returning the Samsung Galaxy S8+

Posted on April 26, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, iOS, Android with 87 Comments

The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is unquestionably the best smartphone I've ever owned, a gorgeous and modern device with great performance and a superior camera. And I have to return it.

The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is unquestionably the best smartphone I’ve ever owned, a gorgeous and modern device with great performance and a superior camera. And I have to return it.

It’s not you, Samsung. It’s me.

And I want to be very clear about this. Yes, there are some weird and obvious issues with the Galaxy S8+, like the inexcusably-positioned fingerprint reader. But this handset is a milestone, and it will change smartphone design permanently going forward. This device is arguably as a big a deal as the original iPhone, and I write that knowing that it sounds like hyperbole. It’s not.

For me, however, the future is still, well, in the future. I’m drowning in electronics as it is, and with smartphones in particular, my situation is such that the Galaxy S8+ just doesn’t make sense. Especially when you factor in the nearly $1000 it costs to buy one outright with a protective case.

In fact, that’s what this is really about. The money.

I maintain two wireless accounts, one at AT&T Wireless—I switched from Verizon when the first iPhone arrived in 2007—and one at Google Project Fi. My footprint at AT&T had once swelled to three accounts, the theory being that a SIM for three phone types—Windows phone, Android, and iPhone—made sense at one time. These days, only two of those platforms matter, so I only need two lines. So earlier this year, I killed off two of my AT&T accounts, saving about $60 per month in the process.

Project Fi, of course, is special. And while that’s mostly good, there’s also some bad: You can only use the service with a select list of Google phones for the most part. But the big reason I want to keep Fi around is international travel: It’s the best solution for traveling internationally by far, and I have three more trips this year already scheduled. I need to keep Project Fi.

But that Project Fi requirement means that I also need to keep my Google Pixel XL around, at least until a (hopefully improved) successor arrives later this year. Using the Pixel with Project Fi in Europe (or elsewhere) is a win-win in that the service is amazing and the Pixel takes incredible photos, especially in low-light. But as you may know, I have serious issues with the Pixel’s performance, and of course, I screwed myself over by cheaping out and getting a 32 GB version. It’s just not enough storage.

So if we forget for a moment about the three phones I just purchased—at a combined cost of about $1650—I basically maintain two phones. The Pixel, which is on the (secondary) Project Fi account, and the iPhone 7 Plus, which is on my AT&T account. The iPhone, like the Pixel, is a bit disappointing compared to its predecessors, but in this case, it’s the camera quality that has let me down. Photos taken with this phone can be quite nice, but they’re usually very muted and dull, and I feel that the two previous iPhone Plus models took better pictures.

I should note, too, that I paid off the Pixel XL, but that the iPhone is in Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program. This means that I can upgrade each year. But it also means that I have a two-year contract (on the phone, not the service), that I have monthly payments, and that I’d have to pay a lot to own this thing outright. That I’m on an iPhone I’m not particularly fond of right now doesn’t help matters, for sure.

Ideally, if the Samsung Galaxy S8+ worked out, it would replace the Pixel. The Samsung is nearly perfect, and I’d love to get rid of the Pixel and use this device instead. There’s just one major issue: The Galaxy S8+ doesn’t work on Project Fi. And when push comes to shove, Project Fi is more important to me than some wonderful new phone.

The Galaxy S8+ has achieved the impossible in that it is, in my opinion, every bit as good as the iPhone, a platform I have routinely held up as superior to Android in every important way. I could use the Samsung on AT&T, in fact, I have been doing so, but it’s important for me to maintain my ties to Apple’s ecosystem, given its popularity. And let’s be serious, no matter how excellent the Galaxy is, iOS in general and the iPhone, in particular, are still excellent as well. The iPhone needs to stay on AT&T.

So if the iPhone is on AT&T and the Pixel is on Project Fi, there’s no room for the $1000-ish Samsung Galaxy S8+ in my life, as painful as that is to conclude. So I’ve contacted Samsung—I bought the phone directly—and have started the process of returning the device, and getting a refund.

A moment of silence, please.

In lieu of a formal review, allow me to quickly list a few negative things about this device. Hopefully, this will help you determine whether you will buy one for yourself.

I have three primary criticisms of the Samsung Galaxy S8+. They are:

Fingerprint reader. The position of this sensor right next to the rear camera is inexcusable. There is plenty of room below the camera, and that space would make more sense given that your finger would rest there naturally anyway. That the Galaxy S8+ ships with about 1000 other ways to authenticate doesn’t excuse this glaring design mistake, though I’m distressed to note that many reviewers have done so anyway. Do not trust people like that.

Price. The base price of the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is $850, but that’s before shipping, taxes, and the protective case you are very much going to want to buy. All told, this purchase set me back almost $1000, and I’m just not made of money, sorry. That said, this handset may be the first phone I’ve ever used that justifies such a heady price tag. Assuming, again, you can afford it. Or are comfortable with unnecessary debt.

Thin format factor. I specifically purchased the Galaxy S8+ because of its “6.2-inch screen,” thrilled at getting a big-screen device that could do everything. But it’s not a true phablet, and it is surprisingly small overall. Many will love it for this reason, and I am actually OK with it. (Plus the screen is freaking gorgeous.) But I really was hoping for a bigger device. Maybe the Note 8 or a coming Pixel XL revision (or XXL) will solve this need.

With regards to the other phones I recently purchased, yes, I’m trying to return those as well. This was never my plan, in fact, I sort of expected to test each over a longer period of time and then perhaps sell them to readers at a steep discount later this year. But a few things have changed, the most obvious being my also unexpected u-turn with the Galaxy S8+. Unrelated, we suddenly appear to be moving from Massachusetts as well, and while that process could drag out for many months, now is the time for less stuff, not more. So I’m also returning the other phones.

Which maybe is a story in its own right. It’s fascinating to me how these three companies—Samsung, Motorola, and OnePlus—have handled their respective return requests.

To return the Galaxy S8+, I had to call Samsung. I waited on hold “due to unexpected high call volumes” for almost an hour, which was distressing. But once I finally did reach a human, he was courteous and quick, and he told me to expect an email that would detail what I’d have to do to get the device (and the free Gear VR, which I had never even opened) back to Samsung.

Motorola provided the best return experience: You can set up the return right from its website, and the firm provided printable FedEx labels right away. No fuss, no muss. (And I’ll remember this: The ability to walk away from a mistake is important, and Motorola, which is owned by Lenovo, gets high marks for this process.)

OnePlus, as I had feared, has been almost comically terrible. You can Google “OnePlus returns” if you want, but the advice on the website, to fill out a support ticket, was met by three subsequent emails in a row from a person at the company seeking clarification to a situation that I thought was clear-cut to begin with. Finally, I was provided with a link to fill out a different form-based request, which I am still waiting on them to OK. Today, as I write this, it’s day 15 of my 15-day return window. And if you think I’m nervous that they’re going to dick me around just long enough to claim that it’s too late, you’re not alone. I do sort of expect that, yes. (Update: They just approved it.)

(To be fair to OnePlus, it’s a small company. I knew what I was doing going in. And I will absolutely consider an anticipated OnePlus 4, or whatever, if the camera reviews well. This is a sweet device.)

With these and my other smartphone experiences in mind, I’ll wind this down with a few general thoughts about purchasing a phone here in early 2017.

Most important buy as much phone as you can. We all have different financial situations and different levels of spending comfort. But one of the biggest mistakes I make, and I do this with painful regularity, is going with lower-end devices to save money.

For example, I probably saved $100 by getting a 32 GB Pixel XL and I regret that every day because 32 GB is not enough, and this device doesn’t offer expandable storage. I tried to do better with the phones I purchased recently: The Moto G5 Plus was an upgraded model with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of (expandable) storage, for example, and was more future proof than lower-end versions. With the OnePlus, I made sure to get 128 GB of internal storage because that device does not offer expandable storage.

And I recommend thinking about a smartphone as a two-year commitment if you can stomach it. Hardware makers and carriers are making this harder, and it’s clear that a yearly upgrade cycle is becoming the new norm. But the more you can stretch out this purchase, the better off you’ll be. You know, unless you are rich.

It’s weird to me that I’ve emerged on the other side of this with the same two phones I started with. That wasn’t my plan, per se, or my expectation. But there are more phones coming throughout the year, and hope springs eternal: Maybe the next Pixel and iPhone will erase their respective predecessors’ mistakes.

And maybe I’ll hit the lottery. I guess you just never know.

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Comments (87)

87 responses to “I’m Returning the Samsung Galaxy S8+”

  1. mjw149

    But where are you going? Bay Area?

  2. Ugur

    and yeah, i totally agree with you regarding the part that one should buy the phone/tablet/device with most storage one can.

    for while i bought several devices with lower storage since, well, i used the plan was to use them mostly for dev, so it doesn't matter much, right?

    Well, turns out that one can't always tell for sure which one turns out to be so nice one wants to use as daily driver then instead of just for dev testing apps on it and even for those one only uses for dev testing 32 GB (of which one gets less than 25 GB on many devices) is quite low.

    And once one uses it as main daily driver, yeah, 32 GB is tiny.

    Photos, videos and apps become larger and larger, the OS itself, too and yeah, overall they should really not sell devices with only 32 GB anymore.

    The only time i'm ok with 32 GB only storage now is when the device has an sd card slot (for example with the switch i have no problem at all it comes with so low storage as i put a 256 GB sd card in it right away =) ).

    I really regret any device purchase where it only has 32 GB storage, no use at all in the long run.

    On that note: best to sell a bunch of your old chunk and go down to fewer devices and in return ones you're most happy with.

    So: Paul: If i was you i'd sell a bunch of your older devices and keep the S8 =)

  3. dcdevito

    I paid $400 for my OnePlus 3 and I use Straight Talk on AT&T's network, my wife owns a Nexus 6P and is also on Straight Talk but on the Verizon network. We own our phones, our bill is cheap, and we're contract free. Life is Good.

  4. Travis

    I'm going to respectfully disagree with your comment. This phone is just a minor evolution from the s7 which if I remember right you wouldn't even look at. What is this changing in design? Curved glass and smaller bezels? How is that even comparable to the release of the iPhone?

    But this handset is a milestone, and it will change smartphone design permanently going forward. This device is arguably as a big a deal as the original iPhone, and I write that knowing that it sounds like hyperbole. It’s not.

    • Ugur

      In reply to Travis: To me it became quite clear what Paul meant thanks to listening to the what the tech podcast. In a nutshell the thought is that it changes the look so much that all other previous phones which don't have that look yet will look antiquated in comparison.

      So on that end, yes, it is comparable to the first iPhone.
      Now, yes, the S8 is actually not the first phone with such tiny bezels (like the first iPhone was also not the first phone without a hardware keyboard leading to a tiny screen area), but like the first iPhone made that look popular in biggest way, the S8 is about to make this look popular in most widespread form now.

      Yes, the next iPhone will likely have almost no bezels, too.
      The latest LG and others have it in a way, too.
      But if no major issue comes in between, the S8 will likely become the phone sold most widely around the globe half a year before the iPhone with that new look.

      I bet Apple is super pissed they couldn't be the first to make this now "state of the art" new look for phones popular first.

      And yes, from videos/screenshots it maybe doesn't look that massively different, but when one has an S8+ and looks at content on it which fills the full screen (various apps obviously don't fill the whole screen yet and need to be updated for it first) and compares that to an iPhone 7 plus for example, the iPhone 7 plus looks like a laughable brick suddenly.

      It reminds me a bit of how the small smartphones seemed nice when one wasn't used to anything else, but once one used a bigger display smartphone for a while and then looked at something like an iPhone 5 or similar, suddenly that phone looked like a kid's toy phone to one.

      This time it's the same feeling of the previously totally fine seeming thing suddenly feeling antiquated, but due to other way round reason: before the bezels of older phones seemed sorta ok (though Apple was already on the bulky side there for a few years compared to the competition), but when looking at it now compared to the s8, yeah, those seem like ancient things.

      One could also compare it to looking at a tube tv again after being used to a flat screen or looking at a low res display again after being used to a "retina"/high dpi screen.

      Some things just make the older thing seem much worse.

      In a year or two, yeah, most if not all leading phones will have tiny or no noticeable bezels, we'll be used to it and it will be nothing special at all anymore.

      But now, when i put an S8 next to an iPPhone 7, yeah, the s8 is pretty amazing looking and the iPhone suddenly archaic.

  5. Michael Delpach

    You can replace your iPhone and use the Samsung Galaxy S8+ on AT&T if you really wanted to. What is really there for you being on an "Apple ecosystem"? Google gives you a bigger ecosystem than Apple.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to Michael Delpach: I'm not sure he would even need to replace the iPhone. Just throw the AT&T SIM into the S8 for the primary phone and maintain the iPhone on just WiFi. You still get the ecosystem, and functionality, short of making phone calls and SMS. True iPhans don't SMS anyway. If you don't iMessage you're not worth communicating with. ;)

    • donkey

      In reply to Michael Delpach:

      Paul actually states in the article - "it’s important for me to maintain my ties to Apple’s ecosystem, given its popularity."

      Obviously he needs to keep a foot in both camps - being his job and all.

      • jboman32768

        In reply to donkey:

        He could keep tabs on the Apple ecosystem from his iPad - he has an irrational Apple bias he is not acknowledging. He should follow his own advice and use the best tool for the job.

      • Ugur

        In reply to donkey: The part i don't get about this is why Paul then needs to buy an iPhone and the latest iPhone. I mean to stay up to date wouldn't it be enough he gets an older (more affordable) version so he can always try new OS updates etc and then for testing the latest one he could just get a review unit, no?

  6. jbuccola

    So you bought the three phones in the hopes that they would displace one of two slots ?

    If one did, then you're selling a used device - which opens a conversation about resale values. Is that not a factor in your value equation?

  7. James Wilson

    ...and this is why I own a PC and a Lumia 950XL. I don't know of any other phone that has the same specs as the 950XL for a very low price . Sure, it runs Windows 10 Creators update, which is why the price is so low, and is end of life - but as a phone - (camera, screen, expandability, extras) - I don't think it can be beat. Any Android phone that can compare for the same price?

    • SvenJ

      In reply to James Wilson: That great price is today. The 950XL was pretty pricey when it was released. You are comparing an 18mo old phone, which is only still available because there have been no new options released. (and there is still stock people are trying to unload) Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with your assessment of the device, it is my daily driver. I just don't think you can point at the price, given it has been lowered to that over 18 mos, and WP is basically 'abandoned.'

  8. Ugur

    I don't understand why you need a separate sim in your iPhone. I mean i have many different phones from all sorts of manufacturers, too (as i develop for many of them), but i only ever have one sim for a mobile phone and just use that in the other devices when i need to, otherwise they stay on wifi. Getting rid of one of those contracts could probably already save you enough per year that you could keep the s8.

    • Michael Delpach

      In reply to Ugur:

      ... and you are lucky that all your apps you want are available to you in your Windows Phone. In my case, unfortunately I can't although I'd really like a Windows phone.

      • James Wilson

        In reply to Michael Delpach:

        all the apps I need while I'm out and about, Yes. Like everyone on here,I have more than one device. In my case, an iPad mini and a PC so I still have the apps, but not quite as conveniently ( and a 950XL plus iPad mini 3 16GB is still cheaper than a flagship).

  9. obarthelemy

    The result seems pre-ordained: if you want to keep an iPhone and Gogle Fi, there's no way you can change phones....

  10. Jason Watkins

    Hi Paul,

    I don't understand these statements: "I specifically purchased the Galaxy S8+ because of its '6.2-inch screen,' thrilled at getting a big-screen device that could do everything. But it’s not a true phablet, and it is surprisingly small overall. ... But I really was hoping for a bigger device.."

    Isn't the Nexus 6P (a 5.7" screen) generally considered a phablet? (and the 6P screen size is in the ballpark of the Note 6/7). I own both the S8+ and a Nexus 6P. The S8+ screen is quite a bit bigger than the 6P and it shows more information at the same font size (see my comparison pics below). The "smaller feeling" of the GS8+ definitely doesn't equate to the usable screen size. The 6P and S8 have roughly the same horizontal screen real estate, and vertically the S8+ beats the 6P hands down.

    Side-by-side: (S8+ on the right)

    WIth the nav bars lined up at the bottom which really shows the screen size difference (S8+ on the right):

    The only thing "non-phablety" about the S8+ is the lack of a stylus. It still has the old Note 7 features such as always-on display, side-by-side multitasking, secure folder, etc. Plus I'm getting better than phablety battery life on the S8+: 8-9 hours of screen on time between charges. Never had any phone in the past that could do this.

  11. mcenergy

    I am very happy with the Nexus 6p. I have one on AT&T as my business phone and one on Google Fi as our home phone. We take the home phone with us when we travel and Fi works great. We had no problems using it in Malaysia & Australia, even in small towns. I cannot see spending over $700 for a newer phone, either the Pixel or Samsung. The incremental benefit is just not there.

  12. Hammos Hassan

    Brand new Original Samsung Galaxy s8 and s8+ New Edition RED Apple iphone 7 and 7 128GB plus cost 550usd with 1year warranty.

    Serious buyer should contact us.

    Whatsapp CHAT or Call : +14309010532 or 0014309010532

  13. BBoileau

    Expandable storage was an absolute must for me 8 months ago when I upgraded. It eliminated several phones and was not an option for me. My phone carries my playlists of music and with 200GB SD cards I can have it all with me if I choose. I am actually surprised how so many makers have dropped this option. I almost purchased the Note 7, but I ruled it out since I was annoyed with my Note 3 and how the bloatware from Samsung really got in the way as the phone got older. Good thing considering the problems that phone turned out to be. I settled with the Moto G4+ and I am quite pleased. Confused why the new one from Moto seems to be a minor downgrade from mine. Thanks for the comments Paul. Great article and everything about your comments are exactly why the Windows 950/950XL failed. Microsoft really should have subsidized the phone to try to gain a little bit of market share.

  14. jboman32768

    I think readers of this site would be interested in which smartphone is the best for someone committed to Windows on the Desktop. I switched from a Lumia 950 recently to a S7 Edge - and with Samsungs extra software (SideSync) am confident i chose well as I spend alot of time with Windows. The full features of iPhone are only available with a Mac on the desktop side - and Google removed compatibility with Microsoft Display adapters from the Pixel, whereas Samsung maintained it. All up, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the best Windows smartphone companion may be the flagship phone from the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world - but we wont find that information on Thurrott.com.

  15. Brydon

    I'm in basically the same boat. Tried it out but it's $200 more expensive than my Pixel XL, I'm still on contract for the Pixel and I have a bill credit on the Pixel. The S8+ is just not dramatically better than the Pixel, not enough to justify the cost. Plus the Pixels finger print sensor is in JUST the right place and it does OK Google detection with the screen off. Can't do it. Keeping the Pixel.

  16. EnterMegatron99

    How was the battery life on the S8+? The most shocking thing for me moving from WM10 to my iPhone 7 Plus is the incredible battery life. After 18 hours of admittedly very light use yesterday, I was at 91%...91% (never plugged it in)! Normally, I'll plug it in at night and be between 60-70%. I no longer worry about battery life. Probably the biggest win after moving to the iPhone.

    I'm curious if the SD835 has similar battery life, but also guessing that Sammy's added features take their toll?

  17. Caliko

    Yes this iPhone knockoff is almost as huge as the original iPhone.....

  18. PcGuy8088

    Thank you Paul for this. Seems these days all that we see is article after article hyping up the latest greatest tech gadget and not going into an analysis of do I really need this gadget? These days want seem to outweigh need and I appreciate these types of articles to bring us back down to earth. Here in Canada the S8 is $1049 + 13% in provincial and federal taxes. That makes the phone $1185. The S8+ is $1149 or $1298.

    Sorry but no smart phone is worth that much money. Take that money in $50 bills and lay it out on a table and look at it and say to yourself. Do I really need to spend that much money on a cellphone? The answer is probably no in the vast number of cases.

    This is even before factoring in cell plans. Here in Canada there are no such thing as "unlimited" plans. Carriers either throttle your throughput so much that it makes it unbearable to use or they ding you with overages. Plans are approximatedly $80+ a month.

    • Elan Gabriel

      In reply to PcGuy8088:

      True. Companies makes us think we need that new phone, but most of the people don't. I can afford the S8, but I find the best value with getting the top of the line 1 or 2 years old phone. I took me some time, but I grew up and separated me wanting to play with the latest tech toy because it's exciting to the actual things I need my phone to do. 

      No phone is worth $1200, regardless of your income.

  19. DaveMcLain

    In my personal usage I just can't see how ANY smart phone would be worth $1000. They are useful but not that useful but I guess they are worth having for some people just not me. I'll stick to using the pre owned phones that I buy off of E-Bay for about $75 if I break one I wonder if I'm alone in being a smart phone "cheapskate"?

  20. chaad_losan

    Your moving? Damn how many boxes do you need for your XBOX one's much less all the the tech you got in your place. I hate moving. You never know how much crap you have until you have to move it.

  21. MTrimmer

    I understand Paul's position perfectly. While I appreciate the sleek design of Galaxy S8 with fantastic screen and top notch camera, I won't be buying one either. My next cell phone purchase will be a Google Fi capable phone for the same reason as Paul - they are by far the best option for international travel. If the Pixel 2 design is underwhelming or too costly, I'll look to pick up used Nexus 6P to use on Fi.

  22. Jules Wombat

    This is just stupid gadget fever. Is the S8 really 6 x better than a Lumia 640. Paying $800+ for premimium phones only sensible to those fools willing to pay silly money.

    You do realise that we are running short precious metals, consumed and idily disposed by the returns policy on smartphone technology. This is a sad case of western Consumerism gone mad, whilst the African mines run dry of valuable metals.

  23. wright_is

    I have a 32GB Nexus 5x and after nearly a year, it still has 6,5GB free.

    Looking at the stats, 4GB is system 17GB is apps and 210MB photos, 700MB "other" and 1.05GB cache - probably podcasts.

    I'm also guessing that a lot of the app space is used by Audible.

  24. RocketScientist

    Extremely poor article.

    Context, had nothing to do with the phone, rather your choice of service provider.

    Content, overly verbose and over sharing style.

    • Polie

      In reply to RocketScientist:

      I disagree. This is exactly why I read and Pay for Paul. Not so I can agree with him (The Pixel XL is a point of contention for me) but I do like this style as he drills into his reasoning. I say disagree there eloquently but understand how he, a professional reviewer of hardware, thinks about this is useful.

  25. thisisdonovan

    So what kind of returns policy do you guys have in the US...he's bought and used the phone, how can he just return it??

    • JCerna

      In reply to thisisdonovan:

      At&t if your are a good paying long time customer there may be no fee to return it. I used to have a biusness account with them and returned multiple phones that did not work for my needs. Usually they charge $30 activation fee and $50 restocking fee. Maybe more now.

  26. Daekar

    I'm not sure in what universe a yearly phone upgrade cycle is becoming the norm, but it sure as heck isn't mine. People I know are keeping their phones longer than they used to, not the opposite.

    Today's devices are so good that getting a new phone every year simply isn't necessary. If I were made of money I'd have a new one every year, but I'm not.

    Samsung Pay and a usable fingerprint reader were the two features I lusted after that my Galaxy S5 didn't have, and I have those now in my S7. This phone is far more capable than I need, and so I don't see any reason not to keep it as long as the battery holds out.

    • Michael Delpach

      In reply to Daekar:

      Agree with you. My very first smartphone: Galaxy S - I couldn't wait to replace mine. Finally after 2 years I did. My second phone was a Nexus 5 which lasted me 4 years. I am now using OnePlus One which is my wife's older phone and waiting till the Pixel 2. Obviously, the attempt is to hang on to for even longer.

    • Polie

      In reply to Daekar:

      Unfortunately my upgrade cycle (and my sons) - both in college so I am still buying their plan and phones...sigh) is driven more by clumsiness then anything else. splurging on a fully loaded Pixel XL is either my hope that I will stop dropping phones or folly. I hope I can make 24 months without cracking the screen...

  27. pbruynzeel

    One question for you. If you took out all the carrier and plan options out of the equation (so let say the S8 could be used on project Fi). Would you keep the Samsung and rather than the Pixel and the iPhone as your daily driver?

  28. mmcpher

    I don't travel outside of the US much, so the appeal, no less the necessity, of Project Fi escapes me. I can see if you travel the desire for seamless coverage would be great. But the necessity to use a narrow ranged of proprietary phones would send me looking for an alternative to Fi if there is one. Given PT's very positive review of the S8+, the decision to nonetheless return it begs the question of just how insanely great a new device has to be in order for it to move in the 'absolutely must have' category? I mean "move heaven and earth, family and work plans and carriers" just to get your hands on the new device category. If you are going to return a device like the S8+, its probably best to do it sooner than later or suffer the fallout from settling back to your old, sensible devices.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to mmcpher: 'the necessity to use a narrow ranged of proprietary phones'. Kind of describes the Apple ecosystem too, doesn't it. Fi is a good service, IMHO, even if you don't travel. My bill is rarely over $23-$25/mo because I am generally near WiFi when I need to access data. Between T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular, the cell phone/sms coverage seems pretty good. The short list of compatible phones includes good devices, some say excellent. Paul's biggest complaint has been price. Same complaint on iPhone and the S8.

  29. Narg

    Paul, as much as you hate crapware, I'm kind of confused why you like the Samsung?

  30. Orin

    Thanks for this article, Paul. This type of writing is why thurrott.com keeps me coming back daily. I hope your move goes well.

  31. Peter Vassiliou

    It's good that you are returning it, even if it is for the wrong reasons. This is not the great device that the press has hyped. There are other devices that are much better.

  32. JWayneG

    I know the "real" reason why you're returning it! :)


  33. Invinciblegod

    I have heard that the iphone photos are dull because it is capturing photos with more colors and when viewed on a regular monitor that doesn't support the higher color space, it looks dull. Do you know if this is true?

  34. brettscoast

    Great post Paul

    I have been a regular samsung galaxy phone user and after reading your first and second impressions will be going with the 8+ model. We all have different requirements/needs and therefore should weigh all of this carefully when purchasing or taking a 2 year contract for a high end smartphone.

  35. victorchinn

    Did you have to pay a 15% restocking fee ?

  36. YEHUDA

    Hey @paul What's preventing you from using T-Mobile and their international data, texting and calling features? How does that differ from project fi?

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to YEHUDA:

      That's a good question. I will look into that.

      But I'd still want the unlocked version, not the AT&T one I purchased.

      • JCerna

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:If you want a t-mobile sim to try let me know and i will be happy to ship one with service. Not that I am trying to promote t-mobile. I just hate when the sales reps get you and you pay for phone and service then it does not work fo you. Because of my buisness plan I have a few extra unused sims.

  37. Waethorn

    I think if you're going to do flagship reviews, consider looking at Chinese brands instead. At least they won't break the bank.

  38. Roger Ramjet

    I read the initial impressions of the author, gushing over the S8 (I have myself seen it at Best Buy, and "meh", don't care enough for phones, to even think of anything at that price point. I still have my trusty Lumia 650 I bought for $199 IIRC. When Microsoft finishes their ongoing switching off the lights and ask all customers to leave or they will call Chicago Airport police, I will think of what next).

    The fact that he is returning the S8 just tells me the space is hypercompetitive in high end products. Which makes me think it makes zero sense (as I have thought for some time) for Microsoft to release a "Surface Phone", which some repeatedly speculate about without much evidence (apologies to bring up Microsoft, but it is/was a Microsoft site, and I visit mainly for MSFT research purposes).

    What can Microsoft make a Surface Phone do that would create enough  at this point for it to be a success? If folks are returning a product from Samsung, that they think it the best Smart Phone available, that will set future design standards, I dont think there is anything Microsoft could do.  At this point they are rightly focusing on the next spin of the wheel. The nearest thing they can do to a "Smart Phone" that would make sense has to be some sort of hybrid device, a Phablet++ of some sort, and even that has to target some specific niche like a laser, the way Google Cloud is focused on US education. Perhaps with a limited objective of just keeping them in the game, something that pays the rent, so to speak. Microsoft's next opportunity, if any, for mass market consumer appeal has to be the next big thing, whatever that may be.

    • mmurfin87

      In reply to Roger Ramjet:

      A phone I can plug in at work to power a monitor and run visual studio but then still put in my pocket to take to lunch and watch podcasts is what will set apart the surface phone.

      • SvenJ

        In reply to mmurfin87: Why can't you run Visual Studio on your PC at work, and watch podcasts at lunch on your phone? Why does it need to be the same device?

      • Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to mmurfin87:

        That might be cool for some, but it probably won't even register with most people. If enterprise can make it work, maybe, but even then, meeting rooms don't have docks and monitors and keyboards and mice for a bunch of phones. They have a table for laptops. Anything else will defeat the versatility of a table.

  39. Darmok N Jalad

    In your evaluation of these devices, you might be better off buying these from a retailer that has a no hassle return policy. B&H sells lots of phones for similar or better pricing, they ship for free, you don't pay sales tax (unless you are a New Yorker), and returns are as simple as clicking a few buttons on the website. At most you're out the cost of return shipping. Granted, they don't have the S8 in stock yet, but that is only because it just came out. I don't know why anyone would rush to buy a new device like this considering you're paying top-dollar for the for the privilege of early-adopter problems.

    Also, I don't know if Samsung can get full credit for shifting the phone form-factor universe (which some may not even prefer). Yeah, they made a slick device, but the LG G6 came first and iPhone 8 is not far away. Samsung isn't alone on the design idea. And I still feel convex screens are a bad idea.

  40. CrownSeven

    Instead of Project FI - why not switch over to T-Mobile? They offer free data roaming internationally and very low rates for international calling?

    • Josh Cook

      In reply to CrownSeven:

      Came here to say this. As far as I can tell, Project Fi's agreement with the 140+ countries is the exact same as T-Mobile's. My totally unqualified guess is that T-Mobile negotiated this, and Google just lumped it in with their agreement with T-Mobile.

      T-Mobile now includes the 140+ country roaming with the One plan which I recently switched to from Project Fi. I feel like I was in the same boat as Paul, as that was all I needed to dump the Pixel. Loved that phone, but the pricetag was just too big for me.

    • Aaron Kulbe

      In reply to CrownSeven:

      Because T-Mo is more expensive than Fi?

      • CrownSeven

        In reply to Aaron Kulbe:

        I suppose it can be. Although I have 2 phones, unlimited data, talk and text for 100 bucks a month (free international data, hot spotting, etc...). And you can use any phone thats compatible with their frequencies. Fi is what, 20 bucks a month plus 10 bucks a gig that you use - so it really depends on how much data you need.

        If the only reason Paul is keeping the pixel is because of Fi - dump Fi, sign up with TMobile and keep the S8+ which he seems to prefer over the Pixel.

        • SvenJ

          In reply to CrownSeven: Have you ever traveled internationally with a US T-Mobile SIM? That's a real question, not a dig. How is the service, and how was the bill? Paul has with Fi, and I know others who have. The say the experience is like being home.

          • CrownSeven

            In reply to SvenJ:

            I've traveled to Canada many times, the UK for 2 months and Greece for 2 months. I had zero issues. The only negative was that the data speeds while in europe were a bit slower than I would have liked. Otherwise everything worked as it should - texting, browsing, email - all functioned normally.

            As for the 'bill' - I was only charged for any calls I made while in Europe (a few cents a minute), there was no extra charge for texting or using data while roaming internationally.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to CrownSeven:

      Yes, and they are contract free. My service with T-Mobile is a consumer bright spot for me, and it got even better when I redeemed that free MLB.tv Premium subscription a few weeks ago on T-Mobile Tuesdays. I haven't had cable in over a decade, and now I can watch my old home team again (I moved out of market long ago). Now the kids are of age to watch, so the tradition starts anew. :)

  41. Lateef Alabi-Oki

    Filling your flash NAND storage past 75% of its capacity will force the OS to do frequent garbage collection, thereby significantly diminishing the performance of your device. That's probably why your Pixel is performing terribly.

    If you care about performance then get the Pixel with the largest storage capacity. 32GB is clearly not enough for you. And using up all of it is clearly going to cause a lot of instability since there's barely enough space for the OS to function.

    Get enough storage such that you're not using more than 50% of NAND storage for optimal performance. Oh, and this is a problem with mobile devices that use NAND storage. Be it iOS or Android.

    • wolters

      In reply to Lateef Alabi-Oki:

      This is why I use my Pixel XL over my preferred Moto Z Force Droid. The roomy 128GB pure storage.

      • Lateef Alabi-Oki

        In reply to wolters:

        I couldn't figure out why he kept crowing about the performance of the Pixel, when everyone, literally everyone, I recommended the Pixel to, tells me it performs the same today as the first day they got it.

        Not to mention every reviewer that I know till this day still say it's the best performing Android device.

        Turns out he filled up his storage. Well, duh! That obviously should have been a clue. :smh:

        Oh, and the S8 I test still dropped frames occasionally when I tested it. Granted I only had a few hours to play with it, but it's performance was still not as silky smooth and consistent as my Pixel. The camera, on default auto settings, is also not as good as the Pixel.

        • Polie

          In reply to Lateef Alabi-Oki:

          Good catch. I will say I am at the 6-ish month mark and perf is great but battery life is beginning to have issues.

        • wolters

          In reply to Lateef Alabi-Oki:

          The Pixel XL just screams performance. Despite loving my Moto Z Force more, I need performance, I need the fast camera and the PURE Android feel of the Pixel. The Pixel is far from the turkey people make it out to be. The camera, at times, has underwhelmed but more often than not, it produces amazing images.

          And my Moto Z, despite having an excellent camera, tends to crash a lot on longer videos and then you lose what video you made... :(

          • Lateef Alabi-Oki

            In reply to wolters:

            Have you invested in any add-ons for the Moto Z? I find the ability to slap modules on it intriguing.

            • wolters

              In reply to Lateef Alabi-Oki:

              Yes...the JBL Speaker, Incipio Battery Pack and several "backs". The JBL Speaker is quite good and great for conference calls. Having Bluetooth in my car and Amazon Echo's at home, I don't use it much but I like having the option. The battery pack is nice to have when I want to be ensured of all day battery (vacations, amusement park trips, etc.) It can either work as a second battery and be used before your main battery or keep your battery at a slower drain at 80%. These mods are true "plug and play."

              Now it makes me want to go back to my Moto Z, LOL. If anything, I can't live with the tight 32GB space and slower camera. I did use adoptive storage with it for 3-4 months and despite some camera quirks, it actually performed quite well.

  42. wolters

    Since the Note 7's demise (and coming from beloved Windows Phones), I've had the Note 5, Moto Z Force Droid and Pixel XL (with an iPhone 7+ available to me but just couldn't go iPhone.)

    I can honestly say the Moto Z Force is the best I've used. It is pretty much "pure Android", the mods are useful, the battery life is amazing, the 21MP camera is fantastic (but can be slow and software is glitchy.) I truly believe is is an underappreciated phone.

    But I use my Pixel XL as a daily driver due to the 128GB of storage, (32GB on Moto is not enough) smooth OS and FAST camera. I was tempted to try the S8+ but just don't want to return to skinned Android. I keep both phones updated and use SMS Backup and Restore to keep that in sync, so I often go between both phones.

  43. Allen Tomas

    Hello,I just downloaded the update to my Galaxy s5.They give us more storage and cut our ability to use it. Why can't I download to my SD card?Now it is even difficult to move my apps and their content to the micro SD card. My idea of a great phone can do these things. That Galaxy s8+,5yrs.from now will be on Letgo or Ebay for $300.00. Less with a cracked screen.Now go get the flip phone out of the junk draw because,THERE BACK!!!