With the release of the new Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, Samsung introduces a completely redesigned phone, toting features that feel and look as if it were meant for 2020. The new, “infinity display” has the iconic edges that melts over the sides of the display, first introduced in the S6 Edge. The Korean tech giant also packs in a new Snapdragon 835 (or Exynos 8895), Bixby, and a new software redesign that pays homage to its original, colorful origins. Let’s take a look.
Samsung will sell two variants of the S8, a smaller 5.8 display, and a 6.2 in. display with the S8 Plus. These two displays are formed in a bizarre 21:9 aspect ratio, decreasing both the top and bottom bezels in favor of a taller screen like LG’s G6 introduced earlier this year. The displays are absolutely gorgeous, indeed living up to the coined, “infinity display.” Like previous handsets, the displays are pixel-loaded, packing 570 ppi in a 1440×2960 display. This ridiculously high resolution display will perform extremely well in VR applications, media consumption, and general daily use. Another quirk that long time Samsung users might notice is the lack of a home button. What? The iconic home button that mobile enthusiasts have come to love has disappeared. Instead, it’s directly embedded into the display, vibrating when pressed, much like Apple’s force touch.
As with each refresh, Samsung has installed the Snapdragon 835, a processor that is around 10-20% more powerful than the Snapdragon 821 (the international variant will feature an octa-core Exynos 8895). Paired with the new processor is 4 GB of ram and an Adreno 540 GPU, capable of pushing graphical limits in both mobile gaming and VR experiences. Obviously learning from last year’s mistakes, the S8 is powered by a 3000 mAh battery, and the S8 plus runs off a 3500 mAh battery, charged with a USB-C cable. Because of the explosive events of last year, Samsung decided not to stuff their new phones to the brim with battery life. However, batter life will be worrisome, as these batteries are powering huge high-res displays, which is hard to forget when looking at the form factor of the beautiful handhelds. Samsung, in an attempt to explain their decision, assured users that the new processors increased battery conservation.
New (Old) Camera?
Samsung has stuck to the S7’s camera, obviously picking their battles. They decided not to push the limits of an already fantastic camera, which is fine, but a little disappointing to me. Other manufactures are surely going to attack the lack of innovation in this department, but the 12 MP, f/1.7, dual pixel, 4K capable camera won’t disappoint. The new software will hopefully increase usability in the camera app, as shown in the official commercial. Overall, there hasn’t been any noticeable difference in quality within the photo-taking abilities of this device.
Bixby? Why now?
Samsung made a questionable choice when introducing Bixby to the masses. Bixby, as described by Samsung, is a “a virtual assistant that learns as you use it. It connects to apps like messaging, email, and calendar, and your compatible smart devices.” Bixby can recognize landmarks, objects, and other everyday objects using the camera. From there, Bixby can recommend famous areas around the landmarks and scan objects so that you can buy it directly from the S8, a feature reminiscent of the Amazon Fire Phone. In an age where Google Now and Google Assistant are prominent, it’s questionable whether Samsung made the right choice of investing time into a personal assistant, especially when they dedicated a hardware button to Bixby. Hopefully this will be re-mappable to assistant or other features like the camera, but if it isn’t included in the settings, my money goes to the first one who develops a third-party solution.
Samsung obviously pick and chose their battles with the new S8. However, I am very pleased to see that Samsung focused on the usability and pleasure of users instead of filling their new contenders with new hardware. The S8 will be available for preorder on March 30. The S8 comes will start at $750 (USD), and its bigger brother the S8 Plus will start at $850 (USD). If you preorder, Samsung will include the 2017 Gear VR and Controller along with an Oculus Game Pack. For 99$ (USD) more, you can grab an AKG bluetooth headphone alongside a 256 GB micro SD card.
Brought to you by Luke Choi.