Samsung smartphone flagship cameras had been a benchmark since Galaxy S6, then S7 made a breakthrough in autofocus experience, which makes S7 series one of the best cameras. After generations effort, Samsung Galaxy S7 becomes the best in smartphone camera, so anyone who want to be the best, it must beat S7 to win the opportunity. Because of S7's outstanding, S8 series are highly expected. How good S8 will be? Not us, but also smartphone fans and industry are concentrating.
S8 series includes S8 and S8+, that both has the same camera configuration, so we consider both of them has the same image quality. However, some articles points that the image CMOS sensor may differ according to the region they sold. One CIS is Sony Exmor IMX333, and another is Samsung S5K2L2. The S8+ we got is equipped with IMX333, so this article is about the S8+ with IMX333, but not a reference for S8 series with S5K2L2 CIS.
IMX333 is a 12MP CIS with the latest on-chip PDAF system, dual-pixel phase-detection autofocus, just like the former S7 series. Without any doubt, S7 series had the fastest autofocus speed then. As IMX333 details are not public, we infer that IMX333 should be an advanced version of IMX260, for most specifics, such as sensor and pixel size, are similar to IMX260.
S8+ has a F/1.7 aperture lens, just the same as S7 series, remaining the largest among smartphone cameras. It has about 26-27mm equivalent focus length in the default 4:3 picture size. The OIS system enlarges the camera module, but S8+ lens does not protrude significantly.
The S8+ upgrades image algorithm rather than the CIS. Samsung advertised Capture the night as the slogan for S8 series' camera, so low light shooting becomes the main selling point for S8 series.
Large aperture and wide angle adds difficulty in lens design, especially the edge image quality, but S8+ is excellent in image quality on both center and corners. The edges are not as good as the center, but still outstanding, which is hard to see in smartphones. S8+'s photos give us an impression for its high resolution. The acceptable sharpening process may bring some negative effect to texture that some looks dry. Compared with S7 series, S8+'s photos has a little more information.
S8+ has an excellent anti-flare performance. Strong light shining in would not produce much haze, but a few light rays, flares, or ghosting. Side backlight may produce a few arc-like flares, and may lead to a little haze, but easy to be avoided. It has a better lens than S7.
We judged S7 series as the fastest among smartphones, so what S8+ can do to improve? S8 can hardly fasten autofocus speed, while S8+ improves the autofocus experience. For example, S8+ would detect the subject in the 1/4 center part and focus on it, while other smartphones would just focus on the center object, if not, they will focus on background, which makes micro shooting difficult. The S8+ is not, it would try to figure out which one you would like to capture, then focus on the nearer subject, so it has a much higher success rate in micro shooting than others, even though it would fail sometimes, but still the best among smartphones. S8+ is also easy to focus in low light shooting. There is light, there is focusing. The overall autofocus performance is outstanding, not just among smartphones, but also among digital still cameras.
The default metering mode is center weighted average, which is suitable for most scenes, especially in lowlights. S8+ would not increase picture brightness like others do, it just reflects what you see and what you want. In daylight, S8+ photos are similar to S7's, but a little brighter, some white part may overflow. Let's have a look at Clear and Peaceful Boat (Qingyan Fang). You can see that some details of the marble had been lost. S8+ also supports focus point weighted metering. It won't change the brightness too much, and easy to learn, so you can use it for some bright scenes. Both auto and pro modes provide exposure comprehension tools with 2EV range and 0.1EV to adjust.
The S8+'s metering is not perfect, but still quite easy to use. Most of our photos are just by auto metering, no manual interference.