Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 (and its bigger sibling, the Galaxy S8 Plus) are designed to reintroduce the public to Samsung as the company tries to put the fiery death of the Galaxy Note 7 behind it.
And, as first impressions go, this is a doozy. If Samsung is trying to wow us into trusting it again, it’s done a pretty good job with this highly-polished, distinctive pair of devices.
The obvious star of the show here is the screen, which takes up nearly all of the front of the new smartphones. Samsung has managed to maximize the screen here by concealing the physical home button underneath the screen and using virtual buttons that can disappear when they’re not in use.Over the past few years, Samsung has put a much larger focus on smartphone design and software. Thinking back to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, both of Samsung’s 2015 flagships offered up a premium design and impressive feature set over the ill-conceived Galaxy S5.
Then in 2016, things changed… a lot. Not only did Samsung improve even more on the design and software fronts, both the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge stayed at the top of our best Android phones list for the entirety of the year. But towards the end of the year, something went wrong. Samsung released the Galaxy Note 7 to much fanfare, though the celebration was incredibly short lived. The company was forced to recall all of its Note 7 devices due to overheating batteries, resulting in what’s widely considered to be the most botched smartphone launch of all time.Now we’re getting our first look at what Samsung has to offer in 2017. With a renewed focus on quality and a new take on smartphone design, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are finally here, and we’ve got all the details. Here’s everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus!
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus design:
Ever since the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung has made it a point to offer consumers two different variants of its flagship smartphones – one with a curved display, one without. Last year’s S7/S7 Edge duo was no different, but that’s changing this year. Both the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus feature curved edges on the left and right sides of the displays. These curves are much more subdued compared to the curvature found on the S7 Edge and are also complemented by curves on the back of the handset. Samsung says both handsets provide a “natural fit in one hand”, and we’d have to agree.
Due to the curved displays, there’s barely any amount of noticeable bezel on the left and right sides of the device. You’ll also notice that the top and bottom bezels have been shrunk down quite a bit this time around, leading to what’s perhaps the most controversial design decision Samsung made with these smartphones: after all these years, Samsung has moved away from capacitive buttons and instead included software navigation buttons on the S8 and S8 Plus.
On the bottom of the display, you’ll find on-screen back and recent apps keys, which flank the home button that sits underneath the display. What exactly does that mean? Basically, when the screen is on, these on-screen navigation buttons will work just like they do on any other Android phone; they appear when you need them, and disappear when you’re watching videos or playing games. But when the screen is off, the home button will reappear, giving users an easy way to wake the phone’s screen. In fact, even if you don’t see a home button where the home button should be, you can press down hard on that spot to go back to your home screen.
Above the display, you’ll find a speaker for phone calls, a front-facing camera sensor, and an iris scanner. The iris scanner first made its debut on the Galaxy Note 7 and has been vastly improved this time around. Samsung says it’s much more accurate than before.
On the bottom of the device, the S8 and S8 Plus feature – wait for it – a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a USB Type-C port, a microphone, as well as a single bottom-firing speaker grill. The right side of the phone has a power button, while the left side has a volume rocker and a physical Bixby key.Around back, the S8 and S8 Plus look slightly different from last year’s flagships. They still feature a single camera sensor in the middle towards the top of the device, with the heart rate sensor sitting to the left. To the right, however, you’ll find the fingerprint sensor. It’s certainly an odd location for a fingerprint sensor and one that will definitely take some getting used to.
Most smartphone manufacturers that implement rear-facing fingerprint sensors tend to put them in the middle, below the camera sensors. This is because your finger normally rests in the center of the phone, not towards the top next to the camera.In terms of color options, the S8 and S8 Plus will come in Midnight Black, Orchid Grey, and Arctic Silver. Samsung also confirmed a Coral Blue color for the handsets, but we’re not sure which regions it’s going to or when. Whichever color you end up choosing, though, all Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus models will feature a unified front with a black bezel.
As expected, Samsung packed in just about every high-end specification it could with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Under the hood, both devices sport 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 64 GB of onboard storage and microSD card support for up to 256 GB of extra storage.
As is the case with most other phones in the Galaxy S lineup, Samsung is using the latest Qualcomm processor in the U.S. model, while the global variant will get the latest high-end Exynos CPU. Specifically, the U.S. model will come with an octa-core Snapdragon 835 processor, and the global variant will sport the Samsung Exynos 8895.
We’ve already talked about the curvature of the displays, but we haven’t gone into specifics yet. The Galaxy S8 features a 5.8-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display, while the Galaxy S8 Plus sports a larger 6.2-inch screen. Both displays have a resolution of 2960 x 1440, resulting in a pixel density of 570 and 529 ppi, respectively.
New Samsung Gear VR:
Samsung is, of course, still focusing heavily on virtual reality. The company has also announced it’s launching a new Gear VR headset with the S8 and S8 Plus, which will also be backward compatible with the S7, S7 Edge, S6, and S6 Edge. This is the same Gear VR with the gamepad controller that was announced back at CES but comes in a matching Orchid Gray color
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus pricing and availability:
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are slated for a global release on Friday, April 21. Samsung is taking pre-orders for both devices starting Thursday, March 30 in the U.S., with most carriers offering the Galaxy S8 for $750 i.e. approximately Rs48,000 and the Galaxy S8 Plus for $850.(58,000)
Android 7 Nougat update tracker – April 17, 2017:
The Android 7.0 Nougat update is underway! Following its release in August 2016, Nougat began its steady expansion through the massive Android ecosystem.
As it’s often the case, some phone makers are taking their time bringing Nougat to their devices, so we’re here to answer your questions about it
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the look and capabilities of the S8 and S8 Plus, and would tentatively say it’s worth upgrading from an S7. (And certainly from an S6.) That said, there’s so much about the phone that we still don’t know. Yes, of course, there’s the question of whether it will suffer the same battery problems as the Note 7 — unlikely, given Samsung’s new safety measures, but also not impossible.
It’s worth remembering that the Note 7 had rave reviews, too. Until the fires started.
And there are also some things that Samsung has promised that I’ll need to try for a while before I pass final judgment. For example, I didn’t get any real sense of how effective Bixby, the company’s new voice assistant, worked in conversation — demonstration halls are notoriously noisy. The features I did see, including its ability to search online for a product just by snapping a picture of something, were still in tightly controlled demonstration mode.
That’s a pretty important feature to try before coming to a decision on whether this is a phone I’d recommend over, say, Apple’s iPhone. Because while the new screen design is nice — and it is, it should be said again, very pretty.
You can pre order Samsung S8 and S8 plus here – http://www.samsung.com/id/galaxylaunchpack/