8 ways Samsung still manages to annoy us with the Galaxy S8

8 ways Samsung still manages to annoy us with the Galaxy S8

The Galaxy S8 might very well be the best phone, nay the best handheld gadget ever made. From the stunning infinity screen to the sleek curves and brilliantly compact design, Samsung’s latest flagship is truly in a class by itself and will no doubt spawn a slew of imitators.

But it’s still a Samsung phone, so that means there are things that constantly bug us. And we’re not talking about Bixby's failed launch. We’re not even talking about the fact that it’s still running Android 7.0. No, these are the things that start out small and eventually grow to be constant irritations after we deal with them time and time again. Don’t get us wrong, we still love the Galaxy S8, and no phone is without its irritations. But we already have a list of annoyances we hope are addressed in the Galaxy S9.

1. The screen keeps lighting up

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have fantastic batteries, so more often than not, we don’t need to plug them in until right before we go to bed, usually in a dark room. And just like previous Samsung phones, it gets a little overzealous when its plugged in. 

galaxy s8 charging Greenbot

When the Galaxy S8 is fully charged, the screen lights up to let us know. We really wish it would stop doing that.

We can’t quite figure out why, but Samsung phones have a weird habit of turning the screen on to celebrate when the battery is fully charged. And there’s no setting or toggle that will change it. It’s annoying enough that the screen needs to turn on when we plug the phone in, but does it really need to light up the room when it’s all done, too?

2. It favors right-handed users

Back when Samsung released the S6 Edge variant, two things were clear: It was a glimpse at the future, and Samsung was biased to right-handed users. Back then, the curved portion of the screen was only on one side, the right, which made it extraordinarily uncomfortable for left-handed users to hold and operate. You’d think that wouldn’t be an issue now that both sides of the screen are curved, but you’d be wrong.

galaxy s8 edge Greenbot

You really need to be right-handed to fully enjoy the S8’s Edge screen.

Even though the S8’s Edge screen is extended to both sides, you still need to be right-handed to properly enjoy it. In the Display settings, you’ll find some options that let you toggle the panels and the lighting, as well as install numerous tools and shortcuts that really set the S8 apart from other slim-bezeled phones. The only problem is, there isn’t a setting to move them to the left side of the screen. So even though there’s no physical reason for the edge screen to be on the right side anymore, Samsung still doesn’t seem to want left-handed users to be able to easily access it.

galaxy s8 fingerprint Doug Duvall/IDG

The fingerprint on the Galaxy S8 is bad enough for right-handed users.

The same is true with the fingerprint sensor. Granted, accessing it is an issue for fingers of all dexterities, but the alignment on the right side of the camera once again makes it a little more difficult for left handed users. A centered, lower fingerprint sensor would make it easy for everyone to use, no matter which hand is the dominant one.

3. Bloatware we can't remove

We’ve grown accustomed to Android phone makers forcing their own versions of common apps upon us, but Samsung takes it to a whole other level. There are some 20 Samsung versions of Android apps on the S8, and while some of them are bearable, none rise to the level of something you’d want to use every day. And of course, you can’t delete most of them.

galaxy s8 apps Greenbot

We don’t need Samsung versions of every single Google app.

Mind you, things are actually a little better on the S8, but there are still way too many apps that duplicate the Google ones we’re already invested in. And this time around there’s a new one: Samsung Internet. In case you didn’t notice, Chrome is already the best mobile browser, so why on earth would we need another one?

4. A second store we don't want

In addition to the apps Samsung bundles with the S8, there’s also a whole Galaxy Store where we can download new ones. Many of them are the same ones ones in the Google Play Store but with exclusive-sounding names, like Yelp for Samsung or Shazam for Samsung, but the differences are extremely minor, certainly not enough to justify a separate version.

s8 galaxy appstore Greenbot

Do we really an exclusive Yelp app made specifically for Samsung phones?

There are also fonts and themes to download, which understandably require their own storefront, but LG and Huawei offer something similar without need a Play Store competitor. For people who aren’t familiar with Samsung’s method of doing things, Samsung Galaxy Store is confusing and annoying, two qualities you don’t want in a major smartphone feature.

5. Capitulating to carriers

Samsung is hardly the only Android OEM that plays nice with the Big 4 carriers, but the S8 continues the tradition of the company’s over-the-top compliance. And we’re not sure it’s all that necessary. Together with Apple, Samsung makes the most hyped and heralded phones of the year, and carriers absolutely need to sell them to stay relevant.

s8 carrier apps Greenbot

Carrier apps are still front and center on the Galaxy S8, and T-Mobile is one of the least cumbersome!

But instead of using its clout to top force a better experience from carriers, Samsung has once again allowed them to call the shots. For starters, there’s the usual bloatware, with several carrier apps that we have no reason to open but can’t delete. And then there’s the lack of an unlocked version. While the S8 has already been on shelves for a week now, you’ll have to wait until May to get an unlocked version.

If Google can make Verizon sell the Pixel with only three carriers apps—all of which are installed when first activated and can be fully uninstalled—then Samsung should be able to do the same with its vastly higher-demand Galaxy S and Note lines.

6. Sub-optimal optimization

The Galaxy S8 should be the fastest Android phone around. It’s the only handset with the Snapdragon 835 processor, and it’s packed with 4GB of RAM and UFS 2.1 storage to boot. And when we were using it during the first week while writing our reviews, it was as buttery smooth as we expected it to be.

galaxy s8 optimized Greenbot

It’s nice to have a setting to optimize our S8, but we wish Samsung would do the same.

However, as we’ve been using it more, we’ve started to see some of the usual Samsung jankiness. While it’s nowhere near as bad as TouchWiz of the past, the Samsung Experience on the Galaxy S8 still isn’t quite as responsive and smooth as it is on our six-month-old Pixel. There are dropped frame rates when sliding the Bixby Home panel, occasional stutters when opening apps, and some lag when scrolling. Again, it’s nothing that makes it unusable, but it’s definitely noticeable.

7. Horizontal app pages

There are a ton of ways to customize the Galaxy S8’s Nougat skin to personalize it for your tastes, but there’s one thing you can’t do: Change the paginated scrolling of the app drawer.

galaxy s8 app scrolling Greenbot

With such a tall screen, we sure wish we could scroll, rather than swipe through our apps.

The vertical scrolling on most app drawers is far superior to the swipe-between-pages method Samsung utilizes, and it would be even better on the S8’s tall screen. 

8. Software that gets it half-right

There’s no denying that Samsung’s skin on the Galaxy S8 is better than ever. It’s not just how it looks—Samsung has taken a long, hard look at Nougat and tried to improve on it without changing things just for the sake of it.

ok google s8 Greenbot

The OK Google settings on Nexus phones (left) allow for detection when the screen is off, but the S8 does not.

However, there are still a few things that irk us. For example, Samsung has included support for Google Assistant (which is good because Bixby can’t listen yet), but you can’t use it to wake your phone unless the phone is plugged in. When you’re charging, “OK, Google” will wake your phone and activate Assistant, but when it’s just sitting on your desk, it doesn’t. And we can’t figure out why—this sort of passive listening problem has been solved in phones for years.

Also annoying is Samsung’s insistence on not including raise to wake or tap to wake. Since the S8 doesn’t include a home button, we’re constantly tapping the screen to wake it up, but Samsung forces us to hit the virtual home button when the always-on display is activated.

IDG Insider

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