Samsung Galaxy S8 – Why it'll be great for games

Samsung has just taken the lid of its latest flagship phone. Suffice to say, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is blowing up. Not like that.

Yep, despite last year’s notorious hardware issues, there’s still a whole heap of interest in what Samsung has to offer. It’s no surprise really, as the world’s biggest smartphone maker has been making even the mighty Apple look foolish when it comes to building stylish phones.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is no different, with its drop dead gorgeous curvy looks and lack of screen bezels. But that’s not the main reason we’re excited by the phone.

We’re pretty convinced that the Samsung Galaxy S8 is going to be a truly great gaming device, and it’s mainly down to that display.

Size isn’t everything – but it’s a lot

There are two models of the Samsung Galaxy S8 – the standard model, and the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. But unlike with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, there isn’t a clear winner in gaming terms.

The reason for that is simple – both devices have absolutely massive QHD Super AMOLED displays. It’s just that the Galaxy S8 Plus screen is slightly more massive at 6.2-inches.

Even the standard model has a 5.8-inch display though. That’s significantly bigger than the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus, or even the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (RIP). In other words, it’s more gaming real estate than most smartphone users will have experienced short of a tablet.

Just to reiterate, both phones share the same QHD resolution. That’s 2960 x 1440 pixels, compared to the iPhone 7 Plus display’s 1920 x 1080 (aka 1080p). That’s sharp.

Colour us impressed

It’s not just pixels that will be assaulting your eyes either. Samsung routinely makes the best smartphone displays in the business, having long ago mastered the tricky AMOLED panel technology.

AMOLED has always offered far more vibrant colours and deeper blacks than LCD, but early efforts (and even some recent rival efforts) looked fake and blown out. Samsung’s just don’t. And even if you don’t like the warmth of the picture, you can adjust it in the settings menu.

Samsung has enhanced the vibrancy of this AMOLED technology further to the point where the Galaxy S8 is the first smartphone to be granted a Mobile HDR Premium rating. That means it’s capable of showing a far broader spectrum of colours than normal, bringing more depth to content that supports such things. Like future games, hopefully.

More power to you

That’s a whole lot of pixels and colours to push around, particularly for some of the advanced 3D games that are available on the Google Play Store. To be honest, though, we doubt the Galaxy S8 will even break into a sweat for any game over the next few years.

Samsung’s flagships are always extremely fast, and are particularly strong when it comes to gaming performance. That’s because it fits them (in most territories) with its own custom Exynos processors, which invariably pack brilliant GPU components.

In this case that chip is the Exynos 8895, an octa-core chip that features four high performance 2.3 GHz cores for such gaming tasks.

The US model won’t have this chip, but it will still have the cutting edge Snapdragon 835, which should provide roughly equivalent performance. Both chips are made to a super-small 10nm standard, which means then pack more transistors into a small space than ever before, enabling a boost in performance and efficiency.

Oh, and both chips will be backed by the same 4GB of RAM, which is ample for gaming applications.

Samsung is still big on VR

Samsung is arguably the smartphone manufacturer that’s most invested in VR. It worked with Oculus to get its own Gear VR headset up and running.

The arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S8 shows that company is still enthusiastic about VR. Not only do those large, bright screens promise a great VR experience, but the company is also launching a new Gear VR headset with the phone.

Excitingly for gamers, this time around the Gear VR comes with a motion controller. This means that you won’t have to hold your hand to your face when you’re playing games – like you need to look like any more of a jerk, right?

Essentially, Samsung and the Galaxy S8 are well placed to capitalise should mobile VR gaming get its act together and actually become a proper thing.

Potential drawbacks

In the interest of balance, we should note a couple of potential drawbacks here. The Galaxy S8 display – big and beautiful as it is – has a rather unusual 18.5:9 aspect ratio. This means that standard 16:9 games will have letterboxing at the sides, unless you opt to zoom in a little so that they fill the screen. But then you’ll miss part of the picture.

Also, not everyone is a fan of the way content looks on Samsung’s ‘Edge’ displays, which curve away at their longest sides. This effect looks and feels cool, but also tends to distort the picture a little at the edges, which can prove annoying to purists.

Indeed, this display has extra curves at the corners of the picture, so playing games might feel like you’re doing so on a 1950s TV set. Albeit some fantastical 1950s sci-fi vision of the future where people carry colour TVs in their pockets.

But we’re really grasping at straws here. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is going to be a great gaming phone when it launches in April.