It was a tall task for the Samsung Galaxy S8+ development team - not an enviable position, to say the least. Not only were they looked upon to deliver a meaningful upgrade to the S-series in an increasingly competitive market, but had a Note7-sized gap in the company portfolio to fill. And such a task certainly involved taking quite a few risks.
Getting rid of the home key goes against a generations-old tradition, while the new fingerprint reader position will certainly raise more than a few eyebrows. The unorthodox 18.5:9 aspect ratio is not going to be a YouTuber's favorite either.
Well, you've got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette and the final product looks like the sacrifices were well worth it. The Galaxy S8+ is one gorgeous piece of tech with its Infinity display and no amount of black bars can take that away from it. Plus, it's not like having bezels in their place will do your videos any good.
The camera is barely an upgrade over the Galaxy S7 for your good light or video shooting, but the new image-stacking tech delivers a notable boost in the camera's weakest area - low light photography. And the front camera got such a major update that it might be enough of an incentive on its own for selfie fans to upgrade.
The chipset is the fastest around, while the software is more polished than ever. And while the battery capacity hasn't been increased over the S7 edge, the endurance is improved when it comes to web browsing and video watching.
The Galaxy S8+ has plenty of polarizing potential, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - all the best-selling smartphones have their fair share of detractors and, if nothing else, debates do raise awareness. Samsung needs a box-office hit to prove that the Note7 was merely a blip and if early interest is anything to go by, it has scored a homerun with the Galaxy S8+.
But to put things in perspective, let's see what other options you have in the super premium segment right now. The Galaxy S8+ goes for about EUR 850 and while it can go lower with carrier subsidy there are no devices out there that it can really undercut. It never meant to anyway - it wants to win battles on merit rather than budget.
If you are eyeballing the S8+, chances are a bigger screen is what you're after. The Note would normally be your first choice but you'd need to go to the Note5, which is a year and a half old and can't really match the new flagship for camera or performance - even the display quality took a major step forward since. We'd certainly advise against going in that direction.
The LG G6 seems like a more natural alternative, offering another display-dominated front. The LG flagship has a secondary ultra-wide camera to go with that ultra-wide screen and costs a bit less. It comes with last year's Snapdragon 821 chipset though, and lacks the seamless design of the Galaxy S8+ .
The Xperia XZ Premium could potentially be the closest match for the S8+ once it finally hits the stores. It has the 4K panel and Snapdragon 835 to offer, but it's more than a month away and for all the flashiness of its mirror finish it's no match for the Samsung in terms of looks. The Motion Eye camera certainly has its limitations, but those 960fps videos are the kind of exclusive feature you'd expect from a flagship.
If you fancy a clean android with timely updates the Google's own Pixel XL is what you should be looking at. It can't match the Galaxy S8+ processing prowess, its body looks like something from a previous era and it's some EUR 100 more expensive. Hardly an easy recommendation here, the Google purebread.
A more feasible alternative comes from Huawei and its dual-curved Mate 9 Pro. It comes with last year's definition of slim bezels, but is a hot-looking device with two Leica-branded cameras on the back. It doesn't have the Galaxy S8+ polish in either design or software, but it can be a decent alternative if you can find a good deal on it.
Similarly, Samsung's own S7 edge has undergone a couple of price cuts and offers much of the same software experience (although running on last year's hardware) at a far more acceptable price point. It's not going to get the same envious looks from bystanders, it's only the value for money alternative.
But there goes value-for-money when you're tempted by something beautiful, new and exciting. Okay, the Samsung Galaxy may be too novel and too ambitious for some, but this time around it's not just the next installment in the Galaxy S line. The Galaxy S8+ is following and defying tradition. It's called upon to take over from the Edge and get even for the Note. And if it does succeed in both, the competition will be either reaching for the panic button or flipping through their own sketchbooks for the next big thing.