Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ Review: Call Quality
Author:Soomal
Source:eng.soomal.com

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Samsung upgraded processor, display and camera in Galaxy S8 & S8+, as well as the appearance. We found that the S8 & S8+ really made progress in display and audio performance than the previous generation. Will they make progress in call quality, too?

The latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 platform upgrades the CODEC from WCD9335 to WCD9341, which not only supports the DSD128 and DXD audio format, but also the latest audio call technology, such as VoLTE with SRVCC to 3G and 2G, HD and Ultra HD Voice (EVS), CSFB to 3G and 2G. The X16 LTE of Snapdragon 835 supports peak download speed at 1Gbps with 4x20 MHz carrier aggregation download and peak upload speed at 150Mbps with 2x20 MHz carrier aggregation. Samsung S8 & S8+ supports all wireless network in China mainland.

Samsung had simplified call settings after they upgraded to Android 7.0, as they removed noise cancellation switching, and using touch instead volume button to trigger laud mode when calling. As usual, we place this cell phone indoor with normal signal, and set the call voice volume to maximum, then call 10010 [GSM], which is China Unicom customer service hotline, and 10086 [VoLTE], which is China Mobile customer service hotline. And we use WeChat, the most popular tool in china, as VoIP. Then use professional sound card and microphone for recording and analysis.

Earpiece Speaker Test

We place this cell phone indoor with normal signal, and set the call voice volume to maximum, then call 10010 [GSM], which is China Unicom customer service hotline. Then use professional sound card and microphone for recording and analysis.

Testing Item Galaxy S8 Galaxy S8+ Galaxy S7 Edge Pixel XL Nexus 6P vivo Xplay 6 iPhone 7 Plus
Output Level of Earpiece,dB -9.49/-8.98 -10.2/-9.98 -10.7 -8.7 -11.88 -10.56 -8.06

S8 & S8+ have slightly higher earpiece volume than S7 Edge. S8 is a little lauder than S8+, but not significant. These phones resampled playback. Volume gains little in laud mode, but voice sounds brighter. The earpiece performance is average, slightly worse than iPhone 7P.

Loud Speaker Test

Speaker test was undertaken indoors with ambient noise level at 40dB or less, we turn up the ringtone volume to its maximum, and then use a sound level meter to measure sound level at the distance of one meter from the phone.

Testing Item Galaxy S8 Galaxy S8+ Galaxy S7 Edge Pixel XL Huawei Mate 9 Pro vivo Xplay 6 iPhone 7 Plus
Face Up,dB 74.1 73.4 75.7 72.1 74.1 78.1 78.9
Face Down,dB 74.1 73.7 76.6 72.8 77.7 78.3 79.8
In Camera Bag,dB 69.9 69.1 73.2 68.8 73.1 70.0 73.3

Although Qualcomm claims that the latest WCD9341 could deliver up to 4W of Class-D power to your external speakers, S8 & S8+ are not good at laud speakers. The max volume of S8 & S8+ is lower than that of S7 Edge or S6 Edge, and dynamic is also narrower. If you want to use it for teleconference, video, or gaming, it will not be satisfied. The S8 is also slightly better than S8+ on this item, but also not significant.

Noise Reduction Test

We place this phone indoors with ambient noise level at 32db or less, in the middle of the room, we use a human-like structure "handholding" the phone to send voice signal, and put surround speakers in a certain distance playing 5 kinds of simulating ambient noise at 6db SNR. Then we standardize the recording from this end, and run a specific program comparing this recording with raw speech recording and noise-speech mixed recording to get noise reduction level, SNR improvement and SNRI-to-NPLR difference quantitative result.

Testing Item[S8 Hand Holding] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 37.4 24.6 42.6 43.7 28.4
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 29.9 17.0 35.0 35.0 17.1
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -1.6 1.4 -3.6 -4.0 2.0
Testing Item[S8 Hand-Free Mode] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 38.0 37.8 38.1 38.1 38.0
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 24.4 25.2 18.3 18.6 28.1
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -6.4 -3.4 -8.7 -8.9 -1.5
Testing Item[S8 VoIP by WeChat] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 28.7 26.6 32.5 39.5 19.6
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 18.8 17.0 21.5 25.5 14.7
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -1.6 1.4 -2.0 -2.4 1.4
Testing Item[S8+ Hand Holding] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 40.9 34.4 44.4 44.6 31.3
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 34.4 25.1 35.6 35.4 18.3
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -2.0 1.0 -3.4 -3.8 1.8
Testing Item[S8+ Hand-Free Mode] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 35.7 33.9 37.8 38.1 36.7
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 29.8 24.8 26.5 29.4 28.5
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -3.2 -1.6 -4.9 -4.0 -0.9
Testing Item[S8+ VoIP by WeChat] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 23.8 17.5 27.5 30.2 13.7
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 15.2 14.8 13.2 12.9 2.2
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -1.7 1.2 -3.5 -4.2 0.2
  • Total Noise Level Reduction, TNLR: Total Noise Level Reduction illustrates the reduction of ambient noise level. The average level is above 5dB. Theoretically, higher TNLR would be better, but an over high result may be caused by severe attenuation of voice signal, or interruption caused by poor phone signal or noise reduction algorithm flaw.
    Signal-to-Noise Ratio Improvement, SNRI: capability of an NS method to enhance the speech component of a noisy speech signal from an additive background noise. SNR improves after noise reduction by comparing noise-reduced and raw voice signal. Generally, the improvement is over 4dB.
    SNRI-to-NPLR difference, DSN: the signal level difference between raw and noise-reduced. Noise reduction process would attenuate voice signal level, cell phones would gain signal to ensure the call quality. Theoretically, it would be best that signal level remain the same before and after noise reduction. A standard signal level peak is -2.5dB. If the signal was gained too high, overflow would happen, and that means frequent crackle, too low, voice signal strength would not be enough, and that means the sound would be too low, and the other end would not hear clearly.
    The result is just a test reference under similiar circumstances or conditions, third-party websites or official technical data cannot be used for comparison.

If we just compare these 2 cell phones, S8+ wins in hand-holding and hand-free mode, while S8 has a better performance in Skype, QQ, WeChat and other VoIP apps. Both of them are good at noise reduction in hand-free mode, while S8+ is truly better in locating voice and filter noise that can be even compared with hand-holding mode.

Overall, the S8 & S8+ are reliable in calls and wireless signal, as we had never met any interruption occurs when calling. If you use hand-free mode more often, we command you to choose the larger S8+. However, it is a pity that, in earpiece, laud speaker volume and quality performance, S8 series are not as good as the iPhone 7 series.

Attention. Our S8 series test are based on Qualcomm 835 mobile platform, while the S8 series sold in South Korea or Europe are based on Samsung Exynos 8895 mobile platform, which are totally different in baseband and audio sub-system, so our review for reference only in China mainland version.

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