The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a dustproof and waterproof device running on Android 7 Nougat out of its box. It comes with a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display, 1440x2960 resolution, and 570ppi index. It is equipped with a 2.45 GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and the Adreno 540 GPU. There is an onboard storage of 64GB plus a microSD card slot for up to 256GB memory expansion. For photos, the device has a 12MP rear-facing camera with 4K video recording and another 8MP camera in front. The Galaxy S8 comes with a 3,000 mAh battery with built-in wireless charging, a fingerprint sensor, Samsung Pay, NFC, and IP68 certification. Its colors range from Midnight Black, Arctic Silver, Orchid Gray, Maple Gold, and Coral Blue.
Given Samsung's recent negative publicity and the absolutely importance of the Galaxy line of phones and tablets to its business, the South Korean company has a lot riding on the new Galaxy S8. Fortunately, for the company and consumers alike, the S8 delivers in both style and performance, making it a worthy successor to the Galaxy name.
With a staggering amount of leaks proceeding the phone's release, the public has been salivating over the long-rumored Infinity Display. And while it isn't quite infinite in its capabilities, its close enough to inspire and give applause to the design team behind it. The display occupies every available millimeter of the face of the phone with Samsung even creating a novel way to replace the home button.
Although the Samsung S8 isn't a perfect phone, lacking a significant upgrade to the camera and user interface, its still a remarkable accomplishment and a delight to use.
However, as fine of an entry into the crowded Android market as it might be, it's still too early to tell if it'd the absolute home run that both Samsung and it's shareholders are desperately hoping for right now.
Galaxy S8 Release and Pricing Information
Of course, the newest technology rarely comes cheap, the Galaxy S8 being no exception. Already available for pre-order in the United States, the phone will retail at $724 (£689, AU$1,199) with a global launch date of April 21, 2017. The S8 is released in the UK on April 28.
In the United States, the Galaxy S8 will simultaneously launch on AT&T, Metro PCS, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. Each carrier might be carrying its own deal so its worth checking in with your carrier to see if any promotions or discounts are available.
Just a glance at the Samsung Galaxy S8's new design is enough to inspire awe to both Samsung fans and others alike. Lacking significant internal upgrades, the new display is clearly what Samsung pinned its hopes to with the newest Galaxy model. With an ultra low bezel-to-screen ratio, nearly the entire face of the phone is occupied by the Infinity Display with some of it even flowing to the back of the device.
The Galaxy S8 feels very comfortable in the hand, the rounded edges and corners being reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, but also has the curved screen that Samsung has been pushing for at least two years now. The device's larger cousin, the Galaxy S8 Plus, has the same curved screen.
In order to take full advantage of the beautiful display, Samsung made no effort to minimize the physical size of the phone, with 148.90 x 68 x 8mm dimensions that will stretch a hand's capacity to comfortably reach the entire face with a thumb.
With the fingerprint scanner now next to the camera on the back of the phone, it's quite easy to smear a finger over the lens so the scanner placement will definitely take some getting used to.
Still, even with these small nuisances, the overall beauty of the design is truly a marvel. Samsung has even been able to include wireless charging and a IP68 rating beneath the 5.8 inch screen, meaning the phone can be completely submerged in water, dust and grime without damage and doesn't even have to be plugged in to charge.
The US and UK launches will feature Arctic Silver, Midnight and Orchid Gray as available chassis colors with Maple Gold and Coral Blue being reserved for other global regions.
Since the screen is the center point of the new Galaxy S8, it warrants a little closer attention. The 5.8 inch AMOLED features QED resolution, giving it an extraordinarily bright, vivid, colorful and roomy display. With the screen extending further down the phone, the actual resolution sports a 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
The screen isn't just bigger for appearances, however. Unlike LG and their G6 phone, Samsung has tweaked all of the loaded apps to fill the screen, not wasting any of the extra space. Although 3rd party apps can also be stretched like the native applications, the user needs to trek through the formidable settings menu to allow the apps to take advantage of the bigger display.
On a side note, Samsung is claiming the Galaxy S8 is the first mobile phone with a full HDR display, but both LG and Sony have previously made claims to the title, having already brokered agreements with streaming media companies for content. Given the larger resolution on the Galaxy S8, it's likely Samsung has made similar partnerships but has yet to make an official announcement as of the pre-order date.
It might be a tactical maneuver on Samsung's part, though, since there's still not much in terms of HDR content available to stream as of yet. Equipping the phone with HDR capabilities might just be in preparation of future streaming opportunities.
Bixby - Samsung's New Assistant
Despite the avalanche of pre-release information leaks, Samsung managed to keep it's new AI-based assistant, Bixby, pretty well under wraps. Using it's new flagship phone as the launching point for Bixby definitely speaks to the importance Samsung places on the service. In fact, the Galaxy S8 even features a dedicated button on its side to provide immediate access to Bixby.
Bixby will first be available in South Korea and the US as Samsung continues to work on the accent capabilities for the UK market. No matter the region, it is intended to be a seamlessly integrated assistant to help the user with all uses of the S8.
As of the beginning of the device's launch, however, Bixby is a far cry from what Samsung likely intended, capable of only rudimentary commands and basic web searches. Of course, Samsung likely installed Bixby on the S8 as a nod to the future. Still, including Bixby on the phone seems like a misplaced choice given the availability of the Google Assistant on all Android-based devices, the Galaxy S8 included.
Assuming Samsung did, in fact, put Bixby on the S8 to lay the groundwork for future integration, it would be wise of Samsung to not waste much more time. With Google, Amazon and Microsoft all firmly entrenched into the voice assistant market, Samsung already has a significant amount of catching up to do.
One aspect of Bixby that is already intriguing, however, is Bixby Vision. As a built-in function for the camera, the application allows the user to point the camera at an object and have Bixby identify it for them, including items at a store. It's actually very similar to the same functionality built into the Fire Phone from Amazon.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Specifications
Given the abundance of leaks before the release, there aren't many surprises regarding the Galaxy S8's specifications. It sports either a Snapdragon 835 processor or Samsung's own Exynos 8895, both with 4 GB of RAM. Although it is unclear which chipset will be shipped to particular regions, multiple sources have stated it is definitely one of the two.
Also, utilizing a 10 nm fabrication process, the S8 is incredibly efficient and powerful, with 10% greater processing power and over 20% additional GPU than the previous model, resulting in an even clearer viewing experience.
As before, Samsung has integrated its own Samsung Experience interface atop the Android Nougat operating system. This integration has been poorly received in certain circles but most of the criticism seems unfounded. Samsung has done a fine job of fusing the two UIs into a single, well-functioning interface.
New tweaks to the interface include an app tray that is now accessed with an upwards or downwards swipe from the main screen, exposing myriad apps available on the device.
In another slight change, Samsung moving the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone eliminates the extra step of holding down a finger on the front of the phone to engage the scanning app. Granted, it's a small difference but is a noticeable improvement from the Galaxy S7 model.
This, of course, brings up the previously-mentioned issue of the scanner being so close to the camera. Alternatively, the user can use the iris scanner to unlock the device. As compared to the terrible iris scanner on the Note 7, the Galaxy S8 version is much faster and accurate in recognizing the user's iris.
The facial recognition feature, although not as secure as a fingerprint or iris scan, is the most convenient out of all the security locking features. It is extremely fast, accurate and infinitely more convenient than manually entering a PIN every time the phone is unlocked.
Despite the lack of a traditional home button on the phone's face, Samsung has integrated a virtual home key below the screen. In functionality, it performs much like the Touch ID on the iPhone 7.
Lastly, the responsiveness of the interface is amazingly fast and responsive. With the only perceptible lag occurring when opening or closing the video player, the performance of the Galaxy S8 is near flawless in comparison to other tent pole device releases.
Although the interface for the Galaxy S8 only features small changes to previous versions, the user experience as a whole feels much more natural in both look and function. With the phone, icons and menus all having a more rounded and fluid appearance, the Galaxy S8 giving the user a more organic, friendly experience than any Galaxy device before it.
A small let down with the Galaxy S8 is a lack of noticeable improvements from the S7 model. Sure, the camera on the Galaxy S7 was very impressive but, with the way Samsung has been touting vast improvements for the S8, it's tough not to feel just a bit disappointed.
Still, the specifications of the camera are pretty impressive, including a 12 MP rear-facing sensor and an f/1.7 aperture for blazing fast auto-focus. Yes, those same specs made the camera on the Galaxy S7 one of the best, if not the very best, camera on a mobile device last year.
With that level of success, it's hard to blame Samsung for not wanting to drastically change such a winning formula but, given the dual-lens camera design on the LG G6 and iPhone 7S, we can't help but wish it had devoted more time and effort into revamping the camera.
There is, however, a software-based improvement that is worth mentioning. The multi-frame image feature snaps three separate pictures and chooses the best of them for you. We're still unsure if the Galaxy S8 combines the three, mimicking an HDR function or literally chooses the sharpest of the group. Either way, it's a very useful function that makes taking crisp photos a breeze.
The auto mode function is extremely quick and takes razor sharp pictures each and every time. The pro mode offers a dizzying variety of useful features, including the ability to de-focus the background, much like the iPhone 7S.
Given the superior quality and function of the rear-facing camera on the Galaxy S8, it's difficult to say if Samsung made an error in not integrating improvements into the camera. Assuming they will make any needed improvements in the future, leaving the camera basically the same as the S7 model is far from a poor decision. The Galaxy S8 takes marvelous pictures, is user friendly and offers more experienced users many useful features to maximize the superior quality the camera is capable of taking.
The front-facing camera on the Galaxy S8 has seen some relatively notable changes, however. Now featuring an 8 MP sensor, the camera is capable of taking very sharp and clear pictures and, perhaps even more important, performs extremely well in low light environments. We'r sure millions of lovely selfies the world over will spill from the Galaxy S8 in years to come.
Also, Bixby Vision is built in to the front-facing camera from the get go, so the user will be able to identify objects caught by the lens. Thankfully, this function is not lined to the overall functionality of the Bixby assistant so it should work very well from the moment it's taken out of the box.
A slightly strange functionality built into the front-facing camera is the selection of filters offered on the Galaxy S8. Obviously an attempt to keep up with Snapchat's collection of face-altering filters, it just seems like an odd fit given the straight-forward approach to nearly everything else on the device. At least the filters seem to work well, though, so some users should be get a kick out them.
Although the Galaxy S8 only boasts a 3000 mAh battery, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be problematic, even with the longer display that taps more energy to illuminate. Due to the more efficient operation from the faster processor, though, the more powerful coupling of chipset and GPU should more than make up the difference.
Likewise, the device offers wireless and fast charging by default but nothing extraordinary. Similar to the battery, the charging capabilities are adequate but not anything more than that.
The lack of significant improvements in the camera, battery and charging capabilities certainly brings up a curious question, though. Given its recent PR nightmares, Samsung was touting the Galaxy S8 as a world-beater of a mobile device. And while it certainly is a spectacular piece of technology, why didn't Samsung make an all-out effort across all of the Galaxy S8's capabilities and truly make a product that permanently changes the industry? Maybe time will tell the whole story.
Galaxy S8 Accessories
Despite a wide variety of accessories that are available for use with the Galaxy S8, our absolute favorite by a very wide margin is the Samsung DeX that literally turns the Android interface into an authentic desktop environment.
Even better is the absolute ease that makes the DeX work. Simply plug the phone into its dock, connect a monitor and keyboard to the dock and you're suddenly able to edit documents or use Google and Microsoft productivity applications, including Office stored on your phone. You can also access the same function by remote desktop with services like Amazon WorkPlaces or Citrix.
The DeX is so impressive and useful it makes us wish Samsung had designed a parallel laptop shell to integrate into the system. If they had, it would have been a true game changer in the mobile device space and it's ability to maximize the user's productivity.
For those that pre-order the Galaxy S8 before the official launch date, Samsung is also including a Game VR (2017) and controller as well as an Oculus game pack.
Also, each unit ships with a set of headphones from AKG, formerly known as Harman-Kardon, a longtime leader in the high-end audio fidelity market. They're impressive with their natural tones, lightweight frame and ear-friendly balance of treble and bass.
Individual carriers might be carrying simultaneous promotions so, if interested in the Samsung Galaxy S8, it's definitely worth checking with your carrier to ask about any promotions or discounts that might be available to you.
Samsung controls its own destiny with their Galaxy S8. If they can find a competitive price point, the device should have no problem being an absolute smash hit. Between the vivid, innovative Infinity Display, the most impressive we have ever seen on a mobile phone, and a chipset that provides more than enough horsepower to give it ample speed and responsiveness, the Galaxy S8 is sure to be either at the top or very close to thee top of many best phone lists in 2017.
No, it's not a perfect device. As good as the camera is, we still would have liked to have seen at least some minor improvements from the S7 model. Similarly, an upgraded battery and charging system would've been nice but neither the camera or the battery are should be enough to dissuade anyone from buying the Galaxy S8.
Sure, the Bixby assistant, as it stands at the product launch, can't even be considered a work in progress since it's barely functional. However, assuming Samsung has big plans in store for it in the very near future, we're willing to withhold judgement on Bixby until we better see the company's vision for it.
We would also be remiss if we didn't mention the DeX dock charger for monitor and keyboard connectivity. It's a stunning piece of technology and is definitely a sign of things to come across the entire industry.
All in all, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a remarkable phone and, although the year is still young, we're hard-pressed to imagine a competitor matching it's combination of elegance, performance and innovation. Samsung has set the bar very high for 2017 mobile devices.
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