Hardware Overview and System Performance

As with Samsung's past Galaxy S phones, there are two variants of the Galaxy S8+ on the market: one with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 SoC, and another with Samsung's Exynos 8895 SoC. Those in North America will get the Snapdragon model, while the rest of the world gets the Exynos variant. I have the Exynos model on hand to review, so I'll be discussing the hardware of that phone in detail here.

The Exynos 8895 is an evolutionary step on the Exynos 8890, which was seen in both the Galaxy S7 series and the Galaxy Note 7 in some regions. The Exynos 8890 was built on a 14nm process, but with the 8895, Samsung has shifted to a cutting-edge 10nm FinFET process, the same as used in the Snapdragon 835. Samsung claims this has led to up to 27 percent higher performance and 40 percent lower power consumption.

In terms of CPU, we're looking at an octa-core layout like last time. In fact, the design is pretty similar to the Exynos 8890, with a quad-core Exynos M2 cluster clocked at 2.31 GHz paired with a quad-core Cortex-A53 cluster clocked at 1.69 GHz. This is roughly a 300 MHz decrease in clock on the high-performance cores, and a 100 MHz increase on the efficient cores, relative to last year's model.

The GPU has received a significant upgrade, moving from the Mali-T880 MP12 to a Mali-G71 MP20 clocked at 546 MHz. This upgrade should provide around 40 percent better GPU performance than last year's Exynos 8890, and is the main point of difference between the two SoCs. We're also seeing LPDDR4X memory support, and a new modem that supports LTE Category 16 downstream for 1 Gbps transfers, matching the Snapdragon 835.

The Galaxy S8+ itself comes with 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM as standard, with microSD card expansion support. For wireless radios, we're looking at Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 5, the new Bluetooth standard that supports greater transfer speeds over longer ranges. LTE Category 16 downstream support is complemented by Category 16 upstream. There's also NFC, which is standard for flagship phones.

Taking a look at our system benchmarks, and it's clear that the Galaxy S8+ holds a strong lead over the Galaxy S7 Edge in CPU-limited workloads. The Exynos 8895 was 22 percent faster on average across our system benchmarks, despite the lower clock speed on the high-performance cores, though it didn't quite match Samsung's 27 percent performance improvement claims.

This leads to an extremely snappy device experience. It's not noticeably faster than the Galaxy S7 Edge in most everyday tasks, however there's enough CPU power here to run everything you can imagine, and this extra power will be useful in workloads like virtual reality and running Samsung's DeX accessory.

The S8+ also holds a decent lead over the Google Pixel XL, which is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC, to the tune of 20 percent on average. Compared to the Huawei Mate 9's Kirin 960 SoC, however, the Exynos 8895 in the S8+ falls short by about six percent. The Cortex-A73 CPU design used in the Kirin 960 is very strong as still leads in most metrics.

Those upgrading from the Exynos-powered Galaxy S6 will enjoy 37 percent better CPU performance on average.