I take all my photos with my Samsung S8 phone when I travel, and I can’t recommend it enough for other travelers and bloggers. I can’t compare it to other phones since I only use the Samsung line, but I can say why I think it’s the best phone on the market (except maybe the new S9).
PS: this is not a sponsored post.
When I was choosing my first phone several years ago, one of the main factors which slanted me toward Android phones over Apple was the compatibility. At the time, Apple had exclusive formats for most multimedia files and playing other files on their devices was not easy. Connecting to other devices wasn’t easy either. I had a Dell PDA (one of those obsolete Personal Digital Assistants), an iPod and a Samsung tablet. The one which worked the best and was the easiest to connect to other devices and programs was the tablet, so I stayed with Samsung. My first phone was the Samsung Galaxy S4, which I conveniently dropped in the toilet in Trafalgar Square.
Using VLC I played any media file. With the Aldiko eReader app I read ebooks designed for Apple (ePub format). Best of all, I connected easily to my laptop to transfer files without having to specially configure my device or use iTunes. Perhaps it was a minor feature, but it was the catalyst.
While Apple products have become more versatile and compatible, I’ll always prefer the Android OS and its ease of use. The Samsung S8 has yet to give me any problems with using different files, connecting to other devices or ease of use with the OS.
My first camera on my travels was the Canon Powershot ELPH 310, the new model of which is still one of the best point-and-shoot cameras on the market, and with a very nice price tag.
By the end of 2015, I found that my Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 was taking better photos than the camera, but I could tell my photos were still nowhere near as good as they should be for the blog. I started researching different DSLRs.
In the Summer of 2016 before my return to northern Europe, I had saved up enough money for a new camera. The only problem is I also needed a phone. After extensive research, I decided to go with the Samsung S7, combining the phone with an amazing camera at a slightly higher cost. Since then, nearly every photo taken for my Instagram account has been with my S7 or S8 phones.
Perhaps the best feature of using the phone as my camera is the portability. It fits in my pocket, doesn’t require special baggage or a dozen accessories, and…well…I was going to say I wouldn’t be as worried about having it stolen, but would be a lie. At least all my photos are backed up each day to the cloud with the phone.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand fully the limitations of using a phone camera, and I’d love to have a DSLR. Until I do, I’m constantly improving my skills at taking photos with the phone.
It wasn’t until I enrolled in film school that I realized my phone was capable of 4K video. The one disadvantage is that the auto-stabilizer is deactivated when filming in 4K, which necessitates a tripod or gimbal. I’ve now purchased a tripod optimized for smartphones, and look forward to adding some more video content to my blog in the near future.
The new Samsung phones leave little wanting when it comes to speed. There is almost never any wait time for routine programs, and photo and video editing are surprisingly fast. Perhaps the best feature when it comes to speed is the quick launch feature for the camera. Although the S7 was a little faster lauching the camera (less than two seconds), the S8 is still ready to take a shot in under three seconds of double-pressing the power button.
Too many times in my travels, I’ve had friends with iPhones that stopped working while my Samsung S8 continued to perform flawlessly. The two biggest differences seem to be SIM Card compatibility and temperature. Apple phones have an operating temperature between 32° and 95° F. I feel like I’ve personally been outside that range for at least half my travels and my phone has never shut down. I’ve also never had a problem switching SIM cards, which I often do around the world.
Project Extreme Titanium Case
Perhaps the best feature of both the S7 and S8 is the durability. They’re both water resistant, scratch-resistant and shatter-resistant. Somehow I seem to test that too often, and thus I invested in a unique case when I first purchased my S7 and again with my S8.
The case I use is from Project Extreme. Crafted from titanium, the thin strip of metal is nearly weightless while affording nearly perfect protection for the phone. I dropped my Samsung S7 phone at least a dozen times, sometimes from shoulder height or higher, and at least once with force. The surface the phone landed on was concrete or marble more often than not. Despite all the abuse, the phone itself was never damaged, and the case only received minor scratches and dents. Since I’ve had the S8, I’ve dropped it three times, and except for one dent where it landed on a rock, you could hardly tell by looking at the case.
The case is also very comfortable in the hand, and the titanium also amplifies signal reception for the phone. With a price tag of only $35, the LX Titanium Case is one of the best investments I’ve made in my travels.
Project Extreme also has their own series of hi-fi aluminum headphones. I obtained a set of SX550 Headphones, and they’re my best earbuds to date. Unfortunately without a microphone and volume control, they’re not as useful with the phone, but they’ve proved invaluable in cafes with my laptop, and are also great on planes to compensate pressure changes in my ear, and drown out engine noise.
As you can tell, I can’t recommend my Samsung S8 phone enough. Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is now out, and thus I would recommend that model if you’re looking for a new phone. Youtube mega-influencer and tech reviewer Dave Lee names the S9 as his favorite phone, and I believe Youtuber Casey Neistat also uses the Samsung S8 Note as his primary phone. While I don’t have multiple phones, I wouldn’t ever go with anything else. Hopefully you will agree. If so, click on any of the links in this article to order your new phone.
This post may contain affiliate links. These links help give me the wherewithal to continue traveling at no additional cost to you. For more information, click here.
Also, cell phones becomes much more handy in the rugged terrains and wilderness. S8 is a good option to go with.
I used to be a Samsung person before I moved to iphone and I was hesitant about using the iPhone for the very reason you’ve mentioned – compatibility. Using a windows PC with an Apple phone isn’t the best, transferring files, etc can be a painful task. However, at that time, I tried someone’s iPhone and the picture quality seemed so much better than mine (maybe I didn’t have the right Samsung phone for the purpose, I think I had a Galaxy S6) that I switched to it and since then I haven’t looked back! I have seen someone’s S9 recently and it’s amazing though. Maybe I’ll switch back one day haha.
Thanks. Yeah, the S7 was the massive camera upgrade. The same time the iPhone upgraded too. But the S9 is even better.
Sounds like a good phone for those quick insta moments. My only grudge with the Samsung phones are the battery. They drain out faster than most other phones and that becomes an issue when traveling. I wonder how it has been working out for you. Also, how it is with low light pics?
I usually get about 8 hours of constant use with my Samsung S8 phone, and I have an Anker power pack which can charge the phone to full up to three times on a single charge of the battery pack. As to the low light, I’m always amazed at the quality of them. I captured stunning photos of the Northern Lights from a rocking boat even!
The phone sounds cool but at this stage in the game people are more less in love with there particular device for what reason suites their needs. I’ve been in the Apple ecosystem for several years now. I have a Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Airpods and Apple TV. If I replace my phone it cannot play with everyone else. Every phone takes good pictures and videos so it really down to preference.
That’s very true. Hard-core Apple fans will have a hard time switching over. Having said that, I’ve already converted more than a few over to Samsung.
I have always been with Android. S8 does seem unbreakable 🙂 Do you drop it in purpose? hahaha. 4K video …thats got to be awesome. The advantage of a good mobile phone camera is that the post processing is all done in the background and shows us the best possible result.
Very true. I have no delusion that a phone takes as good video as a Red camera, but for blogs and social media sharing, it’s more than adequate.
It’s truly amazing how much the camera function has improved on mobile devices. I’m personally an apple fan and I just got a new phone and the best feature is the camera. I am looking for a new point and shoot camera and the Cannon Powershot looks like a great option. I’ll look further into it, for sure!
I’ve actually watched some videos recently about the new iPhone X outperforming the Samsung, but only in a couple ways. The Powershot is also a good companion, if you’re looking for something more compact than a DLSR.
I am an android fan and I totally get what you say about compatibility. This is a huge issue with Apple. I am also one of the bloggers who use their phone camera most of the times, and I do not regret it. Sometimes phones do a better job! The S8 is a phone that I have definitely considered buying.
Thanks. I still believe that Samsung should be the industry leaders. We’ll see where the future goes.
Dropped your phone down the toilet in Trafalgar Square, I bet it wasn’t a pleasant retrieval experience. The Samsung S8 does sound good although I’m still a bit of an Apple fanboy, although they are pushing the limit of my loyalty a bit.
I’d be interested to hear what Apple is doing to push your loyalty. Yeah, luckily it wasn’t too messy getting my phone out of the toilet, but the damage was done. Those S4s just weren’t waterproof. Oh, I totally forgot to mention that about my S7 and S8. They’re both waterproof, and I’ve actually gone swimming several times with both phones for the water shots!
The case sounds like a must have for travelers. We have dropped out phone a few times and it is about on it’s last leg. I might have to look into the Galaxy S8 when we replace our current phone.
Sounds good. I’m actually having trouble contacting the company right now that makes the titanium cases, and I’m worried they’re becoming defunct. If not, they are the best investment ever. They also have titanium cases for the iPhone 8, but I still prefer the Samsung.
I used to always have Samsung phones but my latest is a Huawei. Honestly, I think a lot comes down to brand loyalty as knowing the menu system for whatever brand you prefer really helps when an upgrade comes out. Samsung are great and I may well switch back – especially seeing how ‘drop proof’ yours has been!
I honestly can’t believe that I didn’t shatter my S7 on several occasions. I’ve been told the S8 has a slightly more fragile glass back, but it’s still weathered several drops from a decent height, including a nice toss at the pavement this week.
I’m a huge fan of Samsung and love my Galaxy S8. The camera quality is superb and I’ve recently started using it for video.
It really is the best. Well, maybe the S9 is a tad better. My favorite moment was standing with a group of journalists taking photos of Hogmanay in Edinburgh, and they all got jealous of my 4K video I was capturing on my phone while they had out their $40k cameras.