The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the nicest phone I’ve ever held. It’s a beautiful combination of glass, metal, and an absolutely massive screen in a body that’s much smaller than you might expect.
There are two versions of the S8: the standard Galaxy S8 with a 5.8-inch screen and the larger S8 Plus with a 6.2-inch screen. Both are available for preorder on March 30th and will be shipping in the US on April 21st and will be offered in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue and Maple Gold colours.
Extending the screen to near the bottom of the phone means that there’s no room for Samsung’s traditional hardware home button. Instead, it uses software buttons like other Android phones. It also uses some haptic feedback like Apple’s iPhones to create a virtual feeling of pressing a home button, though it only works on the very specific spot where the software home button appears. One neat feature: some Android apps hide those main Android buttons when they go full screen, but you can still firmly press the bottom of the screen to activate the home button.
SAMSUNG BORROWS FORCE TOUCH FROM THE IPHONE, AT LEAST FOR THE HOME BUTTON
Getting rid of the physical home button also means that Samsung had to move the fingerprint sensor. It’s on the back now, right next to the camera. That’s not a very convenient place for it, honestly. It’s too high up on the phone to comfortably reach and it’s also right next to the camera module, which might mean you’l be getting fingerprints on the camera more often than you’d like.
GALAXY S8 SPECS
- US: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa core (2.35 GHz Quad + 1.7 GHZ Quad)
- International: Samsung Exynos Octa core (2.35 GHz Quad + 1.9 GHZ Quad)
- Galaxy S8: 5.8-inch OLED, 2960 x 1440, 570ppi
- Galaxy S8 Plus: 6.2-inch OLED, 2960 x 1440, 529ppi
- Rear: 12-megapixel, OIS, F1.7
- Front: 8-megapixel, auto focus, F1.7
- Galaxy S8: 3,000 mAh
- Galaxy S8 Plus: 3,500 mAh
- Galaxy S8: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm, 155g
- Galaxy S8 Plus: 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173g
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
- NFC and MST for Samsung Pay
- IP68 water and dust resistant
- Wireless charging
- LTE Cat.16
- Bluetooth 5.0, can stream to two devices
- Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac
As you’d expect, the S8 has the best specs you can get on an Android phone. Depending on the region, you’ll either get Qualcomm’s newest (and slightly rarer) Snapdragon 835 or Samsung’s own Exynos. In both cases, Samsung is touting that they’re built on a 10nm chip, which should theoretically help with power consumption. In my brief time with it, everything was whip-fast. Hopefully it will stay that way over time — Samsung phones often don’t.
The standard S8 has a 570ppi 5.8-inch screen, with a resolution of 2960 x 1440. The S8 Plus has the exact same resolution on its 6.2-inch screen, which works out to 529ppi. For my money, the standard S8 is the way to go. It still feels like a massive screen and the body is significantly smaller. The height of the screen is interesting, too: the aspect ratio is a super-tall 18.5:9, which adds a bunch of screen real estate to scroll through. I didn’t get to test a bunch of third-party apps, so hopefully we won’t see too much weirdness with the new aspect ratio. Even if we do, Galaxy phones are popular enough to prod developers to update their apps to support it.
In terms of other specs, it’s pretty bog standard stuff: 4 gigs of RAM, 64 gigs of onboard storage, and an expandable SD card slot.
BIXBY, SAMSUNG’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT
BIXBY IS SAMSUNG’S BIG BET
Samsung may not have put a ton of effort in changing its hardware design language, updating its camera, or packing in a bigger battery. But it has been focused on figuring out how to make software that people actually like, and it’s all centered on a new virtual assistant called Bixby.
As I mentioned above, Bixby is launched by pressing an honest-to-god dedicated physical button. It has basically three modes:
- A short-press of the button takes you to Bixby Home (you can also swipe over to it from the home screen).
- Long-pressing the button turns on Bixby’s voice features.
- There’s a small button on the camera app for Bixby’s augmented reality features.
At the event, Samsung stressed how the new Galaxy S8 is the “start of a new era.” The company also showcased its in-house voice-based virtual assistant named Bixby, which makes its debut on the flagship Galaxy S8. As expected, Samsung’s Bixby will be taking on other voice-based virtual assistants powered by artificial intelligence including Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. The Galaxy S8 will come with a set of pre-installed apps that will work with Bixby.