Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is the most feature-filled, beautiful smartphone you can get, period. It has the best camera, the best design, the best screen, and the latest specs.
Yet, despite these accolades, I’m still more attracted to the new OnePlus 5.
What could the Galaxy S8 possibly do wrong that makes me drift towards the OnePlus 5 instead?
I want to give the Galaxy S8 the credit it deserves, so check out all the things the Galaxy S8 can do that the OnePlus 5 can’t. Then, see why I’d still pick the OnePlus 5:
There's no competition here. The combination of the invisible home button, curved display edges, rounded display corners, taller aspect ratio, and ultra-narrow borders around its display makes the S8 a strikingly beautiful smartphone that also more modern than the utilitarian design of the OnePlus 5.
You can set the S8's display to a 1440p resolution, which is sharper than the OnePlus 5's 1080p resolution.
Samsung is keen to boast about the S8's IP 68 water resistance, which allows it to survive down to a depth of 1.5 meters (nearly five feet) for up to half an hour.
Wireless charging is a nice feature to have for topping up the Galaxy S8 during the day. I can rest the Galaxy S8 on its wireless charging dock more easily than plugging it in when I'm not using it, and it pretty much guarantees that I'll never run out of battery.
I can hold up the Galaxy S8 to my eyes to unlock it without reaching for the fingerprint scanner.
The Galaxy S8's facial recognition also lets me unlock the phone by simply waking it up with the power button.
The Galaxy S8 features Samsung Pay, while the OnePlus 5 only has Android Pay. There's an important difference.
Samsung Pay on the Galaxy S8 works almost anywhere because it uses similar magnetic-based technology as a regular credit card. Meanwhile, the near-field-communication (NFC) based Android Pay on the OnePlus 5 only works on payment terminals that have NFC technology.
The OnePlus 5's dual-lens camera certainly has its merits, as it's an excellent camera that can do things the Galaxy S8 can't, like the professional-looking Portrait mode and enhanced optical zooming thanks to that second telephoto lens. Yet, at the end of the day, the Galaxy S8 has the superior camera, especially in low-light situations.
The first thing that gets my attention is the OnePlus 5's $US480 price tag, compared to the Galaxy S8's $US720 starting cost. Price, on it's own, is a huge factor. I can buy a lot of things I like for the $US240 I'd be saving by going for the OnePlus 5, like video games, computer parts, and wine.
I simply don't like the Galaxy S8's fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone. It's a matter of personal preference, and my own preference is a fingerprint scanner on the front of the phone because it's easier to find. I can also unlock phones with front-facing fingerprint scanners while they're resting on a table without lifting the phone first.
With that said, Samsung may not have been able to make the Galaxy S8's borders so narrow had it kept the fingerprint scanner on the front. So, I can understand why the scanner is on the back.
I should note that the Galaxy S8's fingerprint scanner is surprisingly inaccurate unless you place your finger perfectly onto the scanner. That's a big problem, as the fingerprint scanner isn't easy to find with your finger. I always end up placing my finger near the scanner and sliding it over to the scanner's center, and nine times out ten, it wants me to re-scan my fingerprint.
It's easier to find the S8's fingerprint scanner with the Samsung silicone case, but it's still not great.
The case's groove around the scanner helps guides my finger to the scanner's center. Yet, the groove is so deep that not enough of my fingertip lands on the scanner unless I push hard with my finger. The Galaxy S8 often asks me to re-scan my fingerprint at least two or three times with the case, too.
Meanwhile, the OnePlus 5's front-facing fingerprint scanner is easy to find, and it's never asked me to re-scan my fingerprint after the first time. It's also incredibly fast -- much faster than the Galaxy S8's fingerprint scanner.
Above, I'm pressing using each phone's fingerprint at exactly the same time, and the S8 clearly has a delay to unlock compared with the OnePlus 5.
The Galaxy S8's iris scanner is surprisingly fast and accurate, so long as you're holding the phone at a perfect distance from your eyes and they're lined up perfectly with the guide circles on the screen. Add the fact that it's a multi-step process to use the iris scanner -- press the home button > swipe the lock screen > line up your eyes with the phone -- and it quickly becomes a frustrating experience. I turned it off eventually. It works, but it's not as fast or convenient as a fingerprint scanner.
The best way I've found to unlock the Galaxy S8 is to use facial recognition. It's fast and requires far fewer steps than the iris scanner. Yet, it will occasionally fail to register my face, and I either have to tap the tiny button to re-attempt the facial recognition, use the ineffective fingerprint scanner, or enter my PIN number.
The Galaxy S8 is a fantastic phone, but I quickly became disenchanted with it because I simply can't unlock it as quickly and easily as other phones -- and that's not great, because it's more expensive than those other great Android phones, including the OnePlus 5. Unlocking a phone is a mundane task, but it's also extremely important: You're going to unlocking your phone many, many times a day, so if it's a less-than-stellar experience, the monotony can get disheartening over time.
With all that said, my experience with unlocking the Galaxy S8 may not be the same for all Galaxy S8 owners or prospective Galaxy S8 owners. For me, though, the OnePlus 5 is a solid Android phone that's simply more reliable than the Galaxy S8, despite the latter phone's exciting features.