Samsung is the leader when it comes to smartphone shipments across the globe and there’s no doubt the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are the current top crops from the South Korean tech giant.
In Kenya, you need a cool Ksh 80,000 to get your hands on the Galaxy S8 and about Ksh 90,000 for the high-end Galaxy S8+. These price tags mean only the elite can have these phones unless you are willing to break the bank.
So, what makes the Galaxy S8 one of the most wanted smartphones in Kenya? For starters, the phone has a beautiful curved display screen that leaves close to no bezels on the top and bottom ends thanks to its Infinity Display and impressive 18.5:9 aspect ratio. The edges have no bezels at all, just like the 2016 Galaxy S7 Edge, leaving the phone with a screen-to-body ratio of 83%, only bettered by the likes of Xiaomi Mi MIX’s 91.3% (also available in Kenya).
The impeccable blend of glass and metal alongside Gorilla Glass 5 protection and IP68 dust and water resistance are the pinnacle of the phone’s design. But this is not all. Under the hood, you get the best of hardware specs that include a Samsung-made Exynos 8895 processor that is mated with a 4GB RAM and 64GB of expandable storage.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge was rated one of the best in photography (only eclipsed by the Google Pixel, according to industry experts DxOMark) and for sure, the Galaxy S8 picks up from where the 2016 flagship left. With a 12MP DualPixel lens on the back boasting an aperture of f/1.7, optical image stabilization (OIS), phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and dual-tone LED flash, the phone delivers some of the best shots that are easily comparable to those captured on a professional DSLR camera.
To top this photography greatness, you can record impressive 4K videos on this phone. Selfie lovers can also get the best from the 8MP lens on the front, which also comes with the same f/1.7 aperture that promises superior performance even when in low-light conditions. The Galaxy S8 has a 3000mAh battery unit while the S8+ has a 3500mAh unit. Both support fast charging technology via the latest connectivity standard – USB Type-C port. You also get Bluetooth 5.0, a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and facial recognition as your biometric authentication partners.
Android 7.0 Nougat runs the show out of the box and Samsung has also thrown in a new digital assistant dubbed Bixby and even given it a dedicated button, but this feature is far from being a reality. Where the S8 gets a screen size of 5.8 inches, the S8+ has a bigger 6.2-inch panel and due to the much-changed aspect ratio, the resolution had to be pushed to QHD+ (2880 x 1440 pixels) instead of the usual QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels). However, the phones have a default resolution of Full HD+ (2220 x 1080 pixels) as opposed to Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), but this can be adjusted to the battery conscious HD+ or the crispier, but battery consuming QHD+.
Despite all this greatness, Samsung Galaxy S8 and its S8+ counterpart are still nowhere near the new kid on the block – OnePlus 5. Coming from China’s OnePlus, a company that has close ties with Oppo, the OnePlus 5, which is also known as the flagship killer, is indeed here to kill the flagship S8 and S8+. You might not get the same beauty that the two Sammy devices bring, but the raw power under the hood is all that counts. After all, you won’t be buying a phone to stare at it, instead, you’ll be using it to perform different tasks such as making calls, playing games, streaming videos, heavy internet browsing, and suchlike stuff.
If you are heavy smartphone user – and by heavy I mean executing resource-intensive processes – well, there’s nothing better than the OnePlus 5. This phone can comfortably handle anything you throw at it, literally.
At first glance, you will be forgiven to think that this phone is an Apple iPhone 7 Plus. From the rear, it looks almost the same, apart from the logos. The front is a little different, especially when it comes to the fingerprint design. The screen is not a beauty as what you find on the S8, but it’ll get the job done.
As noted, the S8 and S8+ come with a default screen resolution of Full HD+, which is just about the same (Full HD) resolution you find on the 5.5-inch AMOLED screen used on the OnePlus 5. This kind of resolution is easy on the battery, which means the 3300mAh unit on the phone promises a longer battery life than the 3000mAh unit on the S8. The screen is also protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 technology that prevents easy cracking or breaking in cases of accidental falls.
It gets even better when the specs under the hood come into play. OnePlus 5 packs the most powerful smartphone processor on the market – the Snapdragon 835 from American chipmaker Qualcomm. This is paired with either 6GB RAM and 64GB storage on the base model or a whopping 8GB RAM and 128GB storage on the high-end variant. As you may have guessed, these two combinations, especially the latter, will give you insanely fast performance. Unlike the S8, there’s no room for microSD card storage.
In fact, recent benchmarks have confirmed that OnePlus 5 is the only Android phone that has managed to beat Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus in terms of performance. In terms of cameras, the flagship killer has a dual-lens setup on the back with 16MP+20MP lenses. You get all the bells and whistles you’d expect to find in a flagship smartphone’s camera, be it EIS (electronic image stabilization), PDAF, dual-tone LED flash, 4K video recording and f/1.7 aperture on the 16MP lens and f/2.6 aperture on the 20MP lens. The latter lens supports up to 2x optical zooming that promises the best shots even when your target is quite a distance away. The front has a massive 16MP lens that delivers even better shots for selfie lovers.
Software-wise, OnePlus 5 has a newer version of Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box compared to the S8’s v7.0, which is another added advantage. However, the USB-C port used for charging the phone also doubles as the port for audio connectivity since the phone has no traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. Similar to the S8 and S8+, you still get fast battery charging technology, a fingerprint scanner (front-mounted), 4G LTE connectivity and Bluetooth 5.0, but there’s no IP68 dust and water resistance, meaning you should be more careful with the phone when around pools of water or your kitchen sink.
As you can see, the OnePlus 5 is a beast of a phone and a better match for the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but it’s the pricing aspect that makes this phone the best flagship in Kenya right now. A quick look at online retailer Avechi.com, which is the exclusive seller of OnePlus phones in the country, reveals that the base model (6GB RAM and 64GB storage) will set you back Ksh 58,999 while the high-end variant (8GB RAM and 128GB storage) costs Ksh 69,999. These prices are up to Ksh 20,000 cheaper than the S8.
When compared to the raw power and features you get on the Galaxy S8 and S8+, there’s no doubt that this OnePlus 5 phone is the real deal right now. The company also promises regular software updates and in fact, it has already confirmed that the upcoming Android 8.0 O will be available before this year comes to an end, something Samsung hasn’t been confident enough to promise S8 customers.