UPDATE 03-29-2017: Samsung has held simultaneous events in London’s Olympic Park and New York’s Lincoln Center to mark the unveiling of the Galaxy S8. This is undoubtedly a particularly critical moment for manufacturer, as the handset represents the first major device release since the disastrous recalling of the Galaxy Note 7.
Many indeed view the next couple of mobiles from Samsung as critical to the future of the hugely successful corporation. And with Apple due to release a majorly redesigned iPhone 8 to mark the tenth anniversary of the series this year, the Galaxy S8 will be entering into a hugely competitive climate.
Ahead of the event, it was expected that the Galaxy S8 would include an edge-to-edge display, two separate models with 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch screens, the inclusion of a personal assistant for the first time in the shape of Bixby, Android 7.0, and the retention of the headphone jack, seen as a direct response to Apple’s abandoning of this common feature.
So were the analysts correct, and how did the Galaxy S8 turn out in reality?
Samsung’s mobile chief, DJ Koh, was on stage to introduce the Galaxy S8 to the world, and there was no shortage of rhetoric and hyperbole to accompany its unveiling. Koh described the Galaxy S8 as “beyond the limits of what you have known before and bring you close to the things you love. A gateway to a galaxy of possibilities”.
The executive also asserted that the new smartphone will herald “a new era of smartphone design… an era without edges or limits”, and that it will continue to extend the Samsung “heritage of great innovation and stunning design”.
This preamble led to more concrete details about the Galaxy S8, and the smartphone will indeed come in two separate sizes, with the 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch displays that were anticipated indeed emerging. The wraparound display has also come to fruition, with the new design involving a screen that occupy almost the entirety of the front of the phone; perhaps the most striking aspect of this new device.
Interestingly, the screen resolution of the Galaxy S8 range also receives a minor boost over the last generation. Both models are capable of displaying 2,960 x 1,440 pixels, meaning that the Galaxy S8 is the first mobile phone to be rated as Mobile HDR Premium. What this means in layman’s terms is that it meets a requisite standard for high dynamic range and content, meaning that colors will be more pronounced and a larger range of brightness will be present than in most smartphone products.
The new design and wraparound screen means that the Galaxy S8 handsets are particularly compact. The smartphone version of the Galaxy S8 (although arguably both devices are now sliding into phablet territory) features dimensions of 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm, meaning that the handset is 1cm shorter and narrower than an iPhone 7 Plus, despite having a significantly larger display.
It will be very much over to Apple to respond to this now, with the consumer electronics giant having already been linked with a similar screen for the next generation iPhone 8.
Samsung was fairly forthcoming with the specs of the Galaxy S8 series, with the Korean company revealing that both devices feature an octa-core chip. Four bundles of cores will be clocked at 2.3GHz in the Galaxy S8, with the other four being timed at 1.7 GHz. It is notable that the chip is also the first to feature in a smartphone that has been manufactured in a 0.1 micron production process, meaning that this is a highly refined product.
Both RAM and storage have been frozen from the Galaxy S7, with 4GB of memory and 64GB of internal flash available. However, as was largely expected, Samsung has included a micro SD card slot, enabling users to expand the storage of the device.
One difference between the two Galaxy S8 releases is that the larger Galaxy S8+ benefits from a heftier battery. The Galaxy S8+ cell is a 3,500mAh unit, with the smaller release featuring a battery of 3,000 mAh capacity.
As was entirely predictable, the Galaxy S8 will ship with Android Nougat. This is due to be replaced by the Android O release in the third quarter of 2017, with the Galaxy S8 being fully compatible with this new software.
The cameras included in the Galaxy S8 series do not diverge hugely from previous devices. A 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, with optical image stabilization, and an 8-megapixel selfie camera are included. Both are notable for possessing an f/1.7 aperture. The fingerprint sensor is also present on the back of the device, located next to the rear-camera, while a facial unlocking feature has also been implemented.
As Samsung had previously made clear, its new personal assistant Bixby does indeed launch with the Galaxy S8. The proof will be in the pudding with this particular feature, but it was announced that Bixby will deliver a multi-modal feature similar to Google Assistant. This can be operated via voice control or camera, while it is also possible to interact with items on-screen with this function.
One slight disappointment is that this feature will not launch in the United States until May, with Samsung choosing to float it initially in Korea. However, other aspects of the camera and a text service will be available from day one in North America.
Samsung DeX, Gear VR
Another major new feature that Samsung was keen to promote was the worldwide launch of Samsung DeX, short for Desktop Experience. This will enable Galaxy S8 users to dock their phones and effectively utilize them as fully-fledged desktop computing environments. Access to Office and Autodesk will then be available through a virtual desktop service, while keyboard and mouse control will also be possible.
Samsung also demonstrated a relaunch of its Gear VR headset, with a wireless gesture-based remote control unveiled. The Gear 360 camera now also has the ability to live stream 360-degrees video, which Samsung believes could be a tipping point for the widespread adoption of virtual reality.
Price and release date
The full retail price of the Galaxy S8 will be $750, with the Galaxy S8+ retailing at $850. Both go on sale on April 28.
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are going up for pre-order starting March 30th, which precedes a full release on April 21 in stores and online.
GALAXY S8 RUMORS
UPDATE 03-24-2017: With Samsung due to unveil its latest Galaxy S8 smartphone in just days’ time, leaked photos and videos have emerged displaying details of the new handset. The latest leaks reveal that the Galaxy S8 will benefit from an edge-to-edge screen, while the physical design of the device is also significantly altered from previous releases.
It seems that the Home button will indeed be removed, while the new Bixby smart assistant benefits from its own dedicated button. Bixby is also showcased in the video. Footage suggests that Bixby will feature a broad functionality, enabling users to be supported in a wide range of tasks.
The video in question is believed to display an early version of the Galaxy S8, and