The Samsung S8 / S8+ is here…
Coming April 21st is Samsung’s greatest phone yet, the Galaxy S8 and S8+. Exceptionally beautiful and considerably expensive. This phone is possibly Samsung’s most important release to date, considering the spontaneously combusting Note 7 the year before. It’s an opportunity to present and best rivals such as the LG G6 and the upcoming iPhone 8, and show consumers it won’t get them booted off planes due to bomb scares.
Created with a combination of glass (Corning’s Gorilla Glass) covering the front and back, and metal holding everything together. In looks alone, the Samsung S8 is unlike its predecessors. Samsung has removed the recognizable physical home button and capacitive buttons, instead replacing them with on-screen buttons. The standard power and volume buttons are located on the right and left respectively, with an additional third button underneath the volume. This new button launches Samsung’s Siri-like AI, Bixby. More on that later.
With physical buttons removed, the Samsung S8 uses a similar haptic-feedback like Apple’s iPhone 7 for a button-like feeling. Such a large screen leaves no room for physical buttons.
The screen is beautiful
At a whopping 5.8 inches, Samsung calls the new display: “Infinity Display.” It’s gorgeous. Curved edges at the sides make it hard to tell where the metal body meets the display. Thanks to on-screen buttons and the removal of Samsung’s logo, the top and bottom have been stretched to incorporate the massive display.
A large increase of 0.7 inches in display size would mean an equally large increase in physical size, but it doesn’t. Over the S7, the S8 is hardly any bigger. The Samsung S8 and its 5.8-inch screen is equal to the S7 Edge and it’s 5.5-inch.
A Super AMOLED display is standard, but this time the resolution increases (amongst other things) to 2960×1440 pixels. Samsung says there’s room to place two apps side-by-side, so social networking and watching videos is seamless.
Don’t you go, headphone jack
To silence rumors that Samsung followed Apple and cut out the headphone jack, the new S8/S8+ keeps the 3.5mm standard. Audiophiles and consumers will be relieved to hear there will be no need to buy an adapter to plug in 3.5mm headsets.
Next to the headphone jack is a future-proof and Google-backed USB-C port. Alongside these two plugins is the speaker. Very standard.
Like all Samsung flagships of the past, the S8/S8+ stuffs the best hardware on the market into a slim, compact design. Two chipsets are offered: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-core for the US market, and Samsung’s very own Exynos Octa-core for the international market. This much power should theoretically provide a blazing-fast user experience on Android’s 7.0 Nougat software.
4GB of RAM and 64GB of on-board storage accompany an expandable SD card slot with support for up to 2TB of space. NFC and MST for secure, wireless transfer and Samsung Pay are adopted from the S7 along with IP68 certification, making the Samsung S8 pair water and dust resistant.
Battery life and the charge
S8 website screenshot
Until reviews of battery life are conducted, numbers and hope is all that is available. Battery capacity isn’t impressive. 3,000mAh on the Samsung S8 and 3,500mAh on the S8+ is a less juice than expected to supply a larger, more power-hungry display. Thankfully, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge is there in both wired and wireless charging formats. The new Snapdragon 835 chipset supports QC 4.0, which promises to be both USB-C & USB-PD compliant while delivering 50% charge in 15 minutes.
Taking a break from ogling the display and taking a closer look at the Samsung S8, the rear camera hasn’t changed. It’s the same 12-megapixel lens with OIS from the S7. However, Samsung states the camera software is better to improve picture quality and speed. The rear camera may not have changed, but the front camera gets a big improvement. It’s an 8-megapixel sensor with autofocus for those beauty shots.
New software tricks and fingerprint sensor
S8 website screenshot
Previously, S6 and S7 had their fingerprint sensor located on the home button itself. A convenient location to unlock the phone without having to punch in unlock codes or patterns. On the Samsung S8, the lack of a home button means the fingerprint sensor must be moved. It’s now located at the back next to the camera, rather than under it like other Android manufacturers. It’s not the best location as the camera will get smudged when fumbling around trying to unlock the phone.
Iris scanning is back on the Samsung S8, and is an alternative to fingerprint scanning. By using “eye-prints,” the phone can unlock the phone and make payments. Even better, Samsung improves Android’s face detect system to unlock the S8.
The most compelling software feature is DeX. By purchasing a special dock from Samsung, the S8/S8+ can be hooked up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse to get a desktop-like feel. DeX can only run Android apps, but with most desktop apps now available on Android, it’s a useful feature for those business and tech-savvy people on-the-go.
S8 website screenshot
Say hello to Bixby, Samsung’s version of Siri – or Google Assistant – or Cortana – or Alexa. Remember the dedicated Bixby button mentioned earlier? Hold that and it launches Samsung’s personal assistant. It only supports 10 built-in apps and any new apps must be coded to support it. While it’s no different (and may be lacking) than Google or Apple’s personal assistants, Bixby does have a trick up its sleeve. By using its in-camera features, point the Samsung S8 camera at any objects and Bixby will search the web for it. See a cool pair of shoes or an eclectic watch? Bixby will search the web and show where it can be bought online.
Initially, Bixby is trained to only recognize US and Korean humans.
The S8 or the S8+? Choosing is easy
Besides the screen size and battery capacity, the two phones are identical. Hardware, software and cameras come with no difference between the Samsung S8 pair. If screen size is important, the Galaxy S8+ is the way to go. But if budget is a concern, the Samsung S8 is $120 cheaper.
In conclusion, no matter the choice, it’s undeniable the S8/S8+ is the sleekest and most beautiful smartphone on the market.