I was perfectly happy with my iPhone 6s until the Galaxy S8 came along.
The Galaxy S8 — Samsung’s latest model of its flagship phone — is brand new, and I got the chance to test the larger S8+ version over the course of a weekend. I knew it was a high-end phone, but I wasn’t expecting it to blow me away and make me pine for the end of my iPhone contract.
Alas, that’s exactly what happened.
For the record, I didn’t run the phone through its paces or give it a full camera review, much less a full phone review (for that, click here). I simply used it as I use my current phone, casually snapping photos of my activities throughout the course of a weekend to share with family or post on social media.
Here are the results from my weekend with the Galaxy S8+.
I started my Saturday grabbing coffee in Tribeca, where I spotted these flowers on the footpath. I was immediately impressed with the camera's macro capabilities. The flowers in the foreground were crisp and in focus, while the rest of the bunch was blurred.
The only thing I didn't like about the camera, which I first noticed in this photo, was a tinge of sepia, or a brownish, orange-y cast to some of my photos. You'll see what I mean as the weekend progresses.
I happened upon One World Trade Center (and another skyscraper under construction) on my walk through Tribeca. While this isn't the prettiest picture of one of New York's more famous buildings, I was impressed by how much detail the phone captured -- like the reflection of the clouds on the glass -- even at a distance.
And, of course, I had to take a selfie. But it was for research purposes, I swear: I wanted to see how the camera would perform in extremely bright light, which was the situation at the Hudson River waterfront.
The results were pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. While the background was almost entirely blown out (no sweeping views of Hoboken, sorry), I was impressed how the camera modulated for the intense sunlight when I snapped a quick selfie.
While I won't publish the dozens of other selfies I took over the course of the weekend, I can definitively say that the Galaxy's front-facing camera is far superior to the iPhone's. It softens and brightens your skin, making you look airbrushed in the best way possible.
In contrast, here's me taking that selfie -- shot with an iPhone 7 Plus, Apple's top-of-the-line shooter.
The background isn't blown out here, but the colours look much less vibrant and much more dull.
It was a warm day in New York, so I stopped in a bar for a quick drink. The bar was very dimly lit, but it still captured a nice photo of my beer.
This was the second time I noticed the camera's tendency toward an orange tint. The lighting in the bar wasn't particularly warm, but it looked that way in my photo.
I headed back outside to walk up the East River and captured this gorgeous shot of the underside of the Brooklyn Bridge. This photo looks almost as good as it would have if I shot it on a DSLR: you can see each individual brick and can even make out a tiny American flag at the top of the bridge.
Here's the underside of the Manhattan Bridge. Again, I was stunned by the amount of detail, even in the distance. If you look closely, you can make out the carousel across the river in Dumbo.
I wanted to test the camera at night, so I snapped a photo of the Empire State Building, which was lit up in pastel colours for Easter. I was impressed by how saturated the colours looked, but there was a downside to that: The light from the street lamps looked extremely orange.
The next day, I went to a very hip and Pinterest-worthy brunch spot. In bright daylight, the colours looked crisp, clean, and cool without so much as a hint of sepia -- apparently, that's only a problem in low light.
I ordered some very delicious buttermilk pancakes. Look closely: You can make out the salted butter melting on top.
Here's another test in bright sunlight. Unfortunately for me, the camera couldn't handle how pale my legs are, leaving them a bit overexposed.
This beautiful doorway in Brooklyn helped me test out how well the camera captures colours. In this case, the phone exceeded my expectations. The colours are vibrant and crisp, no editing or enhancement necessary.
I ended my weekend the best way: with an ice cream cone (it was a lot bigger than that before I remembered to snap a photo). The camera impressed me once again, especially since it was about to thunderstorm when I took the photo. The colours here are balanced and rich and the camera focused precisely, sharpening my cone while softening the background and blurring the passersby.
This was probably my favourite photo from the weekend (and not just because it was such a delicious ice cream cone): It's because this photo encapsulates the strengths of the Galaxy's camera.
The images it takes are sharp, the colours are beautiful, and each photo comes out Instagram-ready, little editing necessary. While I love my iPhone camera and have never complained about it before, I was sad to return the Galaxy phone and go back to my own.
After using the Galaxy S8+ -- the most high-end phone on the market currently -- my own phone seemed clunky and immature. The colours seemed more bland, the images less precise and the controls much more amateur.
I'll really miss the Galaxy S8, but at least I'll always have these photos to remember it by.
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