The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are now official: the biggest and most beautiful Galaxy flagships so far
After months of speculation, Samsung’s latest flagship pair, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, are finally official. They’re the company’s biggest effort to date to recapture its user base’s trust following a couple of high-profile incidents, and it shows: the S8 pair is bigger and better in almost every way, from the upgraded internals to the new software capabilities.
But the first thing that strikes even the casual onlooker is most definitely the Galaxy S8’s completely new look, which serves both as the company’s entry into the latest smartphone craze – that of the almost bezel-less screen, as well as an immediately obvious visual indicator of the new direction the company is taking.
And for the consumer who wants more than just a rehash of last year’s device, Samsung delivers a ton of new features, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Firstly, let’s start with the raw specs:
|Samsung Galaxy S8||Samsung Galaxy S8+|
|Platform||Android 7.0 Nougat||Android 7.0 Nougat|
|Dimensions, Weight||148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm, 155g||159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173g|
|Display||5.8” Quad HD+ Super AMOLED (1440 x 2960)||6.2” Quad HD+ Super AMOLED (1440 x 2960)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 / Samsung Exynos 8895||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 / Samsung Exynos 8895|
|RAM||4 GB RAM (LPDDR4)||4 GB RAM (LPDDR4)|
|Cameras||Rear: Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (F1.7)|
Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)
|Rear: Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (F1.7)|
Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)
|Storage||64 GB||64 GB|
|Battery||3,000 mAh||3,500 mAh|
|Special features||IP68 water resistance, Wireless charging, Bixby||IP68 water resistance, Wireless charging, Bixby|
The S8’s design also lacks one of its predecessors' significant features: the physical home button. And for good reason – the S8’s minimal top and bottom bezels were made to be as unobtrusive as possible, making the decision to remove the buttons a necessary one. At the top of the S8’s front sits an array of sensors, including the much-rumored iris scanner, as inherited from the Galaxy Note 7. However, this addition came at a slight cost – the large amount of sensors on the top bezel make it look slightly unwieldy, a problem somewhat alleviated by Samsung’s decision to make the front all-black in all color versions.
Moving to the back, where much less has changed compared with the S7, possibly the first thing one notices is the addition of a rear-facing fingerprint sensor, placed right next to the camera. This is a decision widely critiqued by many even before the reveal, and one that is likely to cause an avalanche of finger smudges on the camera lens. The S8's back is made out of subtly textured glass, a choice made to enable for the inclusion of wireless charging.
The sides on the S8 are heavily curved, with the biggest new addition being a fourth side button, sitting on the left edge, just below the volume controls. This is a special-purpose button for Bixby, the new AI assistant making its debut together with the S8, but we’ll get to that in a bit. The bottom of the device thankfully has a headphone jack, and beside it sits the phone’s speaker, which we would’ve liked better if it weren’t mono, but as far as problems go, this is a pretty minor one.
What's hiding inside
Galaxy S7, so we imagine we’ll get slightly better battery life this time around, which would be a good thing, as we found last year’s flagship pair somewhat lacking in this department.
Just like its predecessors, the S8 and S8+ will also come with 4 GB of RAM, which should be plenty for almost everyone. Included storage is 64 GB, which, as is traditional for the company, is expandable via microSD card.
A good but ordinary camera
Unlike many of its competitors, the S8 features almost the same rear camera as its predecessor, a 12 MP, f/1.7 shooter. Even though the image processing capabilities have improved, the camera itself has none of the flashy new dual-camera capabilities that have been gaining popularity recently. It’s worth noting, however, that, just like the S7, the S8’s sensor features the so-called Dual Pixel technology, which enables for much better autofocusing than the regular PDAF solution. Also interesting is the front camera, which has bumped up the sensor from 5 MP to 8 MP, and has also added face-detection autofocus.
Samsung's latest take on Android
While back in the day we all loved to hate on Samsung’s custom UI, TouchWiz, its recent developments, which include a name change to Samsung Experience, have helped immensely in making Samsung’s software feel less bloated. Its latest iteration, which is based on Android 7.0 Nougat, is in full view here, and offers new, better-looking iconography, which, combined with the many improvements to the user interface, give it a beautiful and uniform look, though fans of Android’s stock UI will almost certainly be displeased.
Expectations, price, and release date
The small S8 will cost $750, while its larger sibling, the S8+ will be slightly more expensive, at $850. The S8 will be available in five colors total – black, orchid gray, silver, blue, and maple gold, though only the first three will be available in the US.
The Galaxy S8 will officially launch on April 21 in the United States, but Samsung is running a massive pre-order campaign to reward early adopters. Pre-orders start on Thursday, March 30, and come with a free Gear VR headset, together with a controller. Apart from that, every S8 will also come bundled with a pair of AKG-branded earphones worth $100.