The Samsung Galaxy S8 is, so far, the definitive flagship smartphone of 2017. Its bigger partner in crime, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, is high up there as well, especially if you have large hands or simply desire a blazing-fast, phablet-sized phone.
If you’ve read our reviews and have purchased one of Samsung’s S8 phones for yourself, welcome! With our combined expertise that spans across multiple TechRadar editors, we’ve made the following guide just for you, bringing the latest update information, tips and essential accessories and downloads to the surface.
Latest update: Android Nougat 7.0
The S8 originally launched with Android Nougat 7.0 and surprisingly, there hasn’t been much movement since then. With Android O just on the horizon and more than a few flagship smartphones updated to at least Nougat 7.1 or 7.1.2, it’s pretty clear that Samsung is lagging behind a bit.
Thankfully, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, there aren’t any literal or metaphorical fires that Samsung needs to race to put out. However, owners who were expecting an update within the first few months of the phone’s availability (aside from a few carrier-specific updates) are still waiting.
For Google Pixel and Nexus users, the jump to 7.1 brought along app shortcuts (think 3D Touch-like app icon functionality), though Samsung Experience 8.1, AKA TouchWiz, already has that function. So it’s very possible that while the updates may come eventually, more focus may be on getting Android O loaded up when it launches in Autumn. Speaking of Android O…
What's coming next?
The Android O beta is well underway and is set to launch in Autumn. Fingers are crossed that the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus are near the top of the list to support it from the start.
- Here's how to download Android O
The next iteration of Android will introduce a bevy of new features to Samsung users, like picture-in-picture (PiP) mode, app notification badges, sped-up boot times and much more.
You can bet that Samsung will have some extras built into its version of Android O. Let’s just hope that Bixby launches in full as part of the major update.
But until then, S8 owners can soon look forward to Daydream support. Google made the announcement in May at Google IO 2017, so it should arrive any day now.
Below, you'll find some of the most useful and popular tips for boosting your enjoyment with the Samsung Galaxy S8. We're always digging into the S8 to find what's new and interesting, so stay tuned for more tips.
Access the notifications tab using your fingerprint sensor
Instead of reaching for the top of the S8’s display to drag down the notifications panel, why not simply swipe the fingerprint sensor?
To activate, you’ll need to go Settings > Advanced features > Finger sensor gestures, and toggle that switch to the on position.
Now, you’ll get to enjoy this supremely handy feature that we’ve been seeing on more and more smartphones this year.
Enjoy split-screen multitasking
Look, we all need to multitask from time to time. Thankfully, Android Nougat makes it easier than ever, eliminating the need to switch back and forth between apps.
To split the S8’s screen in half and double your productivity (or have twice as much fun), click the ‘Recents’ app button on the bottom left of the screen. Then, tap on any app that displays an icon of two rectangles sitting atop each other near the app’s name. From there, tap on the other app you’d like to occupy your screen.
Once you’re finished multitasking, drag the bar separating the two apps off of the screen to return to the fullscreen mode.
Rearrange your soft keys
Do you prefer the back button on the left of the home button or to the right of it? Obviously, each person has their own taste and Samsung’s default [Recents, Home, Back] orientation might turn some off initially.
Thankfully, you can easily switch them up to be arranged in the order of your liking. Just head to Settings > Display > Navigation bar > Button layout, and make your selection.
ICYMI: there are three screen resolution options in the S8 – there's HD+ (1,480 x 730), FHD+ (2,220 x 1,080) or WQHD+ (2,960 x 1,440).
The screen is capable of up to 2K resolution, though it actually defaults to just above 1080p, likely in a bid to maximize performance and battery life.
Our tips piece shows how to adjust resolution and why one might be better than the other in certain situations.
Most phones limit you to connecting just one set of wireless headphones at a time, though thanks to Bluetooth 5.0, the S8 is able to pump entertainment out to two simultaneously.
To set up your headphones (and a friend's) on your S8, simply navigate to the Bluetooth setting and switch it on. Then, select the three dots in the top right and select "Dual Audio".
Even more tips and tricks
Like a nice slice of pie, there’s a lot to enjoy about the Samsung Galaxy S8 alone. But just like adding whipped cream to it, the S8 experience only gets better with the right accessories.
Samsung’s latest phone has some real thoughtful, forward-thinking accessories available and thankfully, getting setup with most of them doesn’t require a ton of cash.
Below, you’ll find what we consider to be the essentials to go along with the S8. If our recommendation isn’t all about increasing the fun factor, then it’s likely focused on ensuring peace of mind while using the phone.
A case worthy of the phone it covers
I know, the last thing you want to do is strap what’s essentially a helmet to your beautiful, new Samsung Galaxy S8. But if you’re one who tends to slip up, investing in a stylish, affordable case is probably your best move.
Thankfully, we’ve found plenty of models worthy of snuggling up close to your smartphone. And don’t worry, the S8 is waterproof, so you’ll just be putting one on to protect from falls and scrapes.
Here's our list of the best Samsung Galaxy S8 cases.
Samsung Gear VR
The Samsung Gear VR headset is one of the best accessories you can buy for the S8. Built on over two years of VR content, consisting of both games and videos, there’s plenty to keep occupied by.
Paired with the new motion controller, the new Gear VR is basically on-par with experiences provided by the Google Daydream. If you want to squeeze even more fun out of your S8, this is a must-have.
Read the full review: Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear 360
The new Samsung Gear 360 is a portable camera with lenses on both sides, so it captures footage with a 360-degree field of view. For those who want to insert themselves into the action, this relatively affordable camera might be just for you.
Obviously, it’s compatible with the S8 and the Gear 360 takes special advantage of the super-fast hardware to copy over videos, apply effects and livestream 360-degree footage straight from the phone to your favorite social media platform.
Read the full review: Samsung Gear 360
The Samsung Galaxy S8 comes with 64GB by default – a fairly generous amount of storage to start you off. Thankfully, Samsung hasn’t forgotten the microSD slot for people who just can’t get enough multimedia, whether it’s movies, games or music.
The S8 is the ultimate personal multimedia device, so do yourself a favor and snag a good-sized microSD card to start you off. It won’t cost you much and you’ll likely never have to sweat about storage again.
Whether you’re coming to the S8 from a previous Android or iOS smartphone, there’s a good chance that you’ll have a trusty batch of apps and games that you’ll immediately lunge to download.
Given the power of the S8 and generous screen real estate of its 18:9 display, certain apps just really stand out on Samsung’s latest. Here are a few essentials to add to your list.
This one more or less speaks for itself. You’re going to want to freshen up the home and lockscreen pretty often just to see as much pixel-packed artwork as you can on the S8.
Minimalist Wallpapers provides a seemingly never-ending fount of wallpapers and better yet, it’s free. Whether you’re into nature shots, cityscapes or abstract imagery, this app has you covered.
Download here: Minimalist Wallpapers
Rayman Fiesta Run
The S8’s screen is a Super AMOLED HDR-ready display running at 2K resolution. In other words, the right content can really make it sing. Rayman Fiesta Run is the perfect example of this.
On top of its gorgeous hand-drawn graphics, this game is an addicting endless runner that will have you jumping and punching your way to victory. If you liked Super Mario Run, this will be your jam, simply put.
Download here: Rayman Fiesta Run
Soon, Samsung Galaxy S8 owners will have access to not one, but two of the leading mobile VR headsets available: the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream.
It’s totally cool if you want to opt for Samsung’s own headset, though there are some experiences and games that you can only try out on Google Daydream View, Google’s headset. Look for official support to drop any day now. And once it does, you can download the app at the link below.
Download here: Google Daydream
Another interesting and fun game to try out on the S8’s huge, vibrant screen is Framed. In this detective noir game, you have to assemble the comic strips so that your character can fluidly flow through the level.
It’s a premise that’s tough to describe, though it’s utterly simple and intuitive once you start playing. Like Rayman, the frames in Framed are each animated and drawn by hand and as a result, look stunning.
Buy here: Framed