The Samsung Galaxy S8, despite its age, is still one hell of a handset. And if you’re comfortable unlocking its bootloader, the phone is still 100% worth buying in 2020. And here’s why…
Samsung (and pretty much every other phone maker on the planet) wants you to buy a new phone. New phones are expensive, pack in the latest specs and features, and sales of these new phones help these companies make their mega-profits every quarter.
But what if you didn’t need to buy the latest and greatest phone? What if you could still get plenty of performance, gorgeous design, and a brilliant camera for better than half the price of a new flagship device? That’d be pretty cool, right?
Well, this is exactly why I am a huge fan of buying old flagships.
Literally NO ONE does this, either. No one seems to care that you can pick up a handset like the Galaxy S8 for hardly any money (less than $230 at the time of writing) which means you can buy it outright and then shop around for a cheap SIM-only deal. It’s crazy. Doing this can reduce your monthly phone expenditure by as much as 70%.
Why You Should Buy The Samsung Galaxy S8 In 2020 – The PROS
Before we get the potential downsides of buying a Galaxy S8 in 2020, let’s first look at the benefits of running an older flagship in 2020. As you’ll see below, once you strip away the marketing fluff, a phone like the Galaxy S8 – even when compared to the newer Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S20 – still has plenty going for it. And then there’s newer, cheaper Samsung phones like the quad-camera rockin’ Samsung Galaxy A71 (it retails for less than $500 or £419 in the UK).
The Display. It Is Literally Fantastic
Samsung makes great AMOLED displays. Everybody knows that. But the Samsung Galaxy S8’s – even when compared to newer Samsung phones – is special. It is insanely bright (569cd/m2), detailed, and crisp. It looks great in all lightening environments and it has 99.9% sRGB coverage which means practically every color is present and accounted for which means everything from text to video looks pitch-perfect.
Galaxy S8 Display Specs:
- Size: 5.8in
- Pixels: 1,440 x 2,960 pixels (570ppi)
- Panel: Super AMOLED
The Galaxy S8 uses a 5.8in AMOLED display too, so it’s a lot more portable than many of Samsung’s later Galaxy S flagship releases. If you prefer a smaller, more portable phone, the Galaxy S8 fits the bill perfectly. And if that wasn’t enough, at the time of its release, the Galaxy S8 was the ONLY phone to be certified by the UHD Alliance to the Mobile HDR Premium. And, yes, that is a very good thing.
The display is also curved around the chassis too, resulting in an attractive finish. Swipes in from the side reveal quick-settings too. Chuck in the fact that the Galaxy S8 can be comfortably used single-handedly and it is easy to see why many view the Galaxy S8 as Samsung’s best industrial design to date.
It’s Got Plenty of Performance Under The Hood
Depending on where you are, you’ll either get Exynos or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 inside your Galaxy S8. If you’re in the UK, you’ll get Samsung’s Exynos CPU. Those in the USA will get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835. Both chipsets are very powerful, even today – so performance is no issue with this phone.
You have 4GB of RAM inside the phone and that, combined with the Exynos or Snapdragon, should be more than enough for 90% of users. I know a lot of newer phones are running 8GB to 12GB of RAM, and that’s great, but for most users, this is simply overkill. If all you’re doing is using your phone as a phone then 4GB of RAM is more than enough.
The Design is Still Stunning
Even now, three generations later, the Samsung Galaxy S8 still looks as stunning as it did the day it was launched. With its slim profile, curved display, and 84% screen-to-body ratio, it still has the power to turn heads – especially if wrapped in an eye-catching skin.
The handset is tall in order to accommodate its 18.5:9 “Infinity Display” but that’s OK; once you’ve adjusted to this the benefits far outweigh the downsides. You have a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone, ideally placed buttons for power and volume control, and, of course, the accursed Bixby button (don’t worry, you can switch this off completely).
On the whole, the Galaxy S8’s design is testament to just how good Samsung’s industrial design really is. Even now, three generations later, the phone still looks utterly fantastic and futuristic. It has aged incredibly well. The same cannot be said for Apple’s iPhone X, however, which launched around the same time.
And that should tell you everything you need to know about the Galaxy S8’s design.
The Camera is Brilliant As Well
The Galaxy S8 features a 12MP main camera with f/1.7 aperture, dual-pixel phase-detect autofocus, and optical image stabilization. It’s more or less the same deal as what we got with the Galaxy S7, only here there have been some tweaks made to how the camera performs, most notable in low-light conditions – it’s now a lot better.
Is it as good as the Pixel 4 or the Galaxy S20? No. But that’s to be expected. Camera technology has come on A LOT in the last few years, so while the Galaxy S8 can still capture very impressive still photography, it’s not going to be able to compete with modern smartphones in this context.
Having said that, captured images from the Galaxy S8 are still very good. If all you want from your camera is the ability to take clear, crisp images to share on social media and with family and friends, the S8’s 12MP sensor will be more than enough.
The Price: The Galaxy S8 is Cheap Enough To Buy Outright
The #1 reason why everybody should be looking at the Galaxy S8 in 2020 is the price – you can pick up the handset for just $229 via Amazon. That’s insane value for money given everything we’ve just talked about above. Yes, the phone is older. But still… less than $230 for a phone of this caliber is massively impressive.
It’s Got A Headphone Jack
Another cool thing about the Galaxy S8? It’s got a 3.4mm headphone jack, a thing missing on ALL new Samsung phones. If you like wired headphones and incredible value for money, the Galaxy S8 could well be the phone you’ve been searching for.
And There’s MicroSD Support Too
Not only that but the Galaxy S8 also supports MicroSD as well. This is a huge USP for the phone as well because hardly any Android phones, especially flagship models, support expandable storage.
For me, SD-support isn’t a deal-breaker. But I know A LOT of people that not only want MicroSD on their phones but will literally go out of their way to get it. If that sounds like you, again, the Galaxy S8 could well be what you’ve been looking for. They really don’t make ‘em like this anymore…
Things To Keep In Mind (Or Stuff You’ll Need To Do)
OK, that’s a lot of positives, right? The good news is the positives massively outweigh the negatives here, although there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when running an older Samsung phone. And they are as follows:
No More Android Updates
Samsung isn’t great with Android updates. Even if you’re running a newer phone like the Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S10, you’re going to struggle with Android updates 12 months after purchase. This sucks. But this is just a fact of life for Samsung phone owners.
Will the Samsung Galaxy S8 get Android 10? Sadly not, no. Samsung only guarantees two year’s worth of Android updates, so that means the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 are now being left to fend for themselves. But this isn’t actually a problem, as you’ll find out below…
You’ll Need/Want To Unlock The Bootloader
When you buy a Samsung Galaxy S8, make sure you buy an unlocked model. Once you have the phone, you’ll want to unlock its bootloader so you can install a custom ROM on the phone. Custom ROMs are basically forked versions of Android that are updated regularly, most are based on the latest builds of Android, so they ensure your phone is always up to date.
Also, most custom ROMs are a lot less CPU-intensive than Samsung’s own software, so the performance of your Galaxy S8 should improve dramatically, meaning snappier visuals and better battery life. If you’ve never unlocked the bootloader on a Samsung phone before, follow these steps to do it:
Installing Lineage OS (This is VERY Important)
Once you’ve unlocked the Samsung Galaxy S8’s bootloader, you’ll want to install a custom ROM on the phone. Our preferred custom ROM is Lineage OS; it’s stable, fast, and is constantly updated. It also looks fantastic too, so your phone will look and function as good as new.
Lineage OS, once installed, will give you access to some of the latest features of Android, as well as few choice extras as well. Many people swear by Lineage OS too, using it instead of custom skins by Samsung because of its lightweight nature, lack of bloatware, and the fact there is no carrier/network spy software inside it.
I think I’ve made a pretty good case for buying the Galaxy S8 in 2020. The phone itself still looks totally badass, performs brilliantly, and is now dirt cheap to buy (less than $230). This means you can buy outright and get yourself a cheap, unlimited data plan (I use this one; it’s less than £20 a month) which will reduce your monthly expenditure massively over getting a brand new flagship on contract.
Yes, the phone is older. But who cares? The core specs and design are still phenomenal and if you decide to root the Galaxy S8, you’ll get access to all the latest features of Android without the hassle of having to deal or wait for Samsung to push out updates. Given ALL of the above, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t go for this awesome phone in 2020…