The fans of modern technology have finally gotten their wish. The most anticipated smartphone of the first half of 2017, the high-end Samsung Galaxy S8, was officially unveiled at two simultaneous events held in London and New York. The conference has confirmed the previous leaks about its slim, nearly bezel-less design, screen size, Bixby AI assistant, and the global release date, slated for April 28. Let’s take a closer look at what is probably going to be the smartphone of the year, what makes it different from the Galaxy S7, and the final price. The article also covers some other Samsung news, namely the Samsung Gear 360 spherical camera, Samsung Gear VR headset, and the DeX Station dock.
The first thing you notice when looking at the Samsung Galaxy S8 is its giant display that takes up almost the entire front. The lion's share of that is the so-called Infinity Display, almost entirely bezel-less. The impressive thing is that Samsung has managed to enlarge the display without increasing the overall phone dimensions to any significant extent.
The leaks got right the size of the phone's Super AMOLED display (5.8” and 6.2”), as well as its 2960 × 1440p resolution. The Galaxy S8 also has a new 18:5.9 screen aspect ratio. The screen is longer and more narrow than in its predecessor, which means less scrolling when reading long texts and the option to use two apps at the same time. According to the Samsung representatives at the unveiling, the screen also sports more vibrant colours and HDR support.
Prior to the official unveiling, rumours were flying that the Galaxy S8 will be significantly more expensive than its predecessor. The truth is somewhere in the middle. The cheapest version of the Samsung S8 is indeed more expensive than the Galaxy S7. On the other hand, the Galaxy S8 does not distinguish between the basic version and the Edge version with a curved display, which brings us to a pleasant surprise. Although even the cheapest version of the Galaxy S8 features an attractive 3D panel, its price tag is slightly lower than the launch price of the last year’s Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.
Remember the Xiaomi Mi Mix? This was the first phone offering superslim bezels, stealing the Galaxy S8’s thunder. Unfortunately, almost half a year later, the phone remains unavailable for a large part of the world due to a limited production capacity. Samsung took pains to avoid a similar fiasco, so expect to see the Galaxy S8 and S8+ on the shelves starting with April 28.
|Type||Samsung S8||Samsung S8+||Samsung S7 edge|
|Resolution||1440 × 2960||1440 × 2960||1440 × 2960|
|Pixels per inch||570 ppi||529 ppi||534 ppi|
|Processor||Exynos 8895||Exynos 8895||Snapdragon 820, Exynos 8890|
|RAM||4 GB||4 GB||4 GB|
|Internal storage||min. 64 GB + memory card||min. 64 GB + memory card||min. 32 GB + memory card|
|Camera||12 Mpx f/1.7||12 Mpx f/1.7||12 Mpx f/1.7|
|Front camera||8 Mpx||8 Mpx||5 Mpx|
|Dimensions||14.89 x 6.81 x 0.8 cm||15.95 x 7.34 x 0.81 cm||15.09 x 7.26 x 0.77 cm|
|Weight||155 g||173 g||157 g|
|Type||Samsung S8||Samsung S8+||iPhone 7||iPhone 7 Plus|
|Resolution||1440 × 2960||1440 × 2960||1440 × 2960||750 x 1334|
|Pixels per inch||570 ppi||529 ppi||534 ppi||326 ppi|
|Processor||Exynos 8895||Exynos 8895||Apple A10||Apple A10|
|RAM||4 GB||4 GB||2 GB||3 GB|
|Internal storage||min. 64 GB + memory card||min. 64 GB + memory card||32 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB||32 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB|
|Camera||12 Mpx f/1.7||12 Mpx f/1.7||12 Mpx f/1.8||12 Mpx f/1.8|
|Front camera||8 Mpx||8 Mpx||7 Mpx||7 Mpx|
|Dimensions||14.89 x 6.81 x 0.8 cm||15.95 x 7.34 x 0.81 cm||13.8 x 6.71 x 0.71 cm||15.8 x 7.79 x 0.73 cm|
|Weight||155 g||173 g||138 g||188 g|
Both version sport a curved screen with superslim bezels, so if you want a phone with a classic flat screen, you are out of luck. Similar to the LG G6, the Samsung S8 display is rounded at the corners, which nicely enhances the overall design. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are stunningly beautiful and in our opinion, look much better than the older Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.
The Samsung Galaxy S8’s giant screen and small body mean that the fingerprint scanner had to be moved on the back of the phone. Many will consider it a disadvantage, as you can no longer unlock the phone without taking it into your hand. Others will argue that it’s no big deal and having the scanner near the rear camera makes sense.
Since the fingerprint scanner is now on the back, does that mean the home button is gone too? Not quite. The bottom part of the Samsung Galaxy S8 display is pressure sensitive, so if you press it, it will take you to the home screen. This is useful if, for example, you are watching a movie in full-screen mode with softkeys enabled. Now you no longer need to call them up, because you can simply press the display. An elegant and practical feature to be sure. Additionally, the gesture is accompanied by a slight vibration, similar to what you can find in the newer iPhone models.
Physically, the Samsung S8 seems almost perfect. The aluminium frame sports front and back glass panels that shimmer when the light hits them. The sides are rounder compared to its predecessor and Samsung promises that the curved back is more comfortable to hold than the Galaxy S7. Unlike the S7’s matte frame, the S8 sides are glossy. As expected, the phone is IP68 certified against dust and water and also retains a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which you can find at the bottom along with one speaker and a new USB-C connector.
Another important new feature of the Galaxy S8 is an iris scanner and facial recognition. The manufacturer promises faster phone unlocking, since the only thing you have to do is to look at your phone screen. Another way to unlock the display is via the iris scanner, which is a feature we know from the last year’s Galaxy Note 7. The jury is still out on whether it will work properly if the user wears glasses, however. Expect us to address this point in our review.
Samsung took care to spruce up the camera functionality as well. Following its predecessor, the S8 has kept a 12 Mpx sensor resolution, f/1.7 aperture, PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), and optical image stabilisation. The camera can also record in 4K or slow motion. Contrary to the rumours, however, the phone cannot capture video at 1,000 fps.
The biggest change has occurred in the front camera, which now features a 8 Mpx sensor, perfect f/1.7 aperture and autofocus. With the Samsung Galaxy S8, selfie fans can look forward to some truly amazing results.
Even before the unveiling, we knew the name Samsung chose for their own intelligent voice assistant – Bixby – and similar to Apple's Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa, Bixby enables an advanced interaction with the S8. It can assist you as a tourist guide or help you with shopping, to name just a few. Samsung representatives have also promised a more intuitive control. Naturally, Bixby will be available not only for the S8, but also for future Samsung devices.
As expected, the S8 will be powered by an Exynos 8895 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. In the case of Europe it'll be the former, which is supposed to be slightly more powerful than the Snapdragon 835 that is heading to North America. Both the chips are, however, made using the advanced 10nm process and compared to its predecessor in Samsung S7, promise to increase both performance and graphics. The S8 also boasts 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded by up to 256 GB with a microSDXC card.
In addition to their new smartphone flagship, the Korean number one have also unveiled other interesting gadgets, one of them being the Samsung Gear 360 (2017) spherical camera with two 8,4 Mpx sensors and up to 4K resolution. Compared to the older variant, it offers an improved design and allows you to share content in real time. It will be available starting with April 28.
Samsung have also improved their Gear VR glasses by adding an all-new motion controller to the mix. Apart from the controller, featuring a touch pad for your thumb and a button for your index finger that you can use for immersive action in shooting games for instance, the design hasn't changed much from its predecessor.
Samsung DeX, or Desktop Experience, is similar to Microsoft's Continuum, allowing you to morph into a desktop PC-like environment when you connect your S8 or S8+ to a monitor. The DeX dock looks like a candle holder in which you simply insert the phone and connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
The welcome screen and the interface with icons and support for third-party apps pop up on your monitor. With the Microsoft Office Mobile package for example, you can now use its capabilities fully on your Samsung Galaxy S8. The Samsung DeX Station will be, like the S8 itself, available starting from April 28.
Samsung have hit the nail right on the head with the S8. They have finally realised, it seems, that in order to keep pace with China, they need to come up with some serious innovation. And they did! It will probably take some time before there's an Android smartphone that can offer as much as the S8. For example, the Huawei P10 is great but perhaps except for a lower price, it cannot put up a fight with the S8. And if smartphones such as the LG G6 or Sony Xperia XZ Premium don't take us completely by surprise, we will probably see yet another fight between Samsung and Apple. We still don't know much about the iPhone 8, but there are speculations about a bezel-less OLED display design as well as wireless charging with a range of several metres.
We cannot wait to test the S8 in a full review. In cooperation with the Gear VR glasses and the DeX Station dock, the Samsung Galaxy S8 may well become a flawless smartphone. Expect to see it on the shelves starting from April 28.
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