After a long wait and several leaks, today Samsung has finally launched what is arguably the flagship Android phone for 2017. The Galaxy s8 and S8 + are finally upon us and Samsung as started its new era of smartphone design extending their heritage of great innovation and outstanding design. Samsung sees the s8 as a smartphone that will unlock their user’s potential and imagination with their new AI called Bixby and more.
Samsung has closely worked with Google when optimizing the new Galaxy phones especially the new screen sizes of these phones. Samsung aims to fundamentally change how we use our phones especially with its new infinity display technology. The display bezel around the screen is black, which blends into the screen seamlessly. 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. The curved edges on the phone let Samsung use those big displays without requiring a giant-sized phone.
These are the first phones to get mobile HDR certification from the UHD alliance, which means more vivid colors when watching content. To make room for more screen, Samsung moved the home button beneath the display. It’s a virtual button, but still responds to pressure. Look at it like a super localized version of Apple’s Force Touch technology. There are five colors of the S8 to choose from; Midnight Black, Arctic Silver, Maple Gold , Coral Blue and Orchid Grey.
Camera and internals
Talking about the camera now, it’s the same sensor and lens as last year’s S7. That was a great camera, but it’s a gutsy move to not use something new this year. With a 12 megapixel (MP) and 8 MP camera combo. Samsung is doing more software processing this year, combining multiple frames for more detail and sharpness. Sounds similar to what the Pixel and iPhone already do. The front-facing camera now has 8 megapixels and includes face detect auto-focus. Most front cameras are fixed focus.
The S8 is IP68 water and dust resistant just like last year’s models. This really should be an industry standard now. The processor inside the S8 is 10nm, which means it’s smaller and more efficient than before. The US will see the Snapdragon 835, but other markets will get Samsung’s own Exynos chip. The S8 has a 3,000mAh battery and the Plus has 3,500. Both smaller than the S7 Edge from last year, but include fast wired and wireless charging. In terms of other specs, it’s pretty bog standard stuff: 4 gigs of RAM, 64 gigs of on-board storage, and an expandable SD card slot.
During the launch, Samsung said that they have put the Galaxy S8 through our toughest safety testing ever. Quality and safety remains our top priority. After the Note 7 debacle, this was a necessary step.
The S8 has fingerprint, iris, and a new face recognition system to unlock your phone. Android has had face recognition since Ice Cream Sandwich, but it was bad and slow. Samsung is using a new engine and it’s FAST. The fingerprint scanner is on the back of the phone, right next to the camera. It’s a bad spot, so good thing the face unlock is there.
The fingerprint scanner is on the back of the phone, right next to the camera. It’s a bad spot, so good thing the face unlock is there.
Samsung Pass Expanded
“Our smartphones have always been the center of a connected world” Samsung said at the launch event. Talking services, highlighting Samsung Pay and its success over the past couple years. Has been used for 240 million transactions to date. Samsung Pass is getting expanded, it’s Samsung’s tool that lets you log in to apps and websites with biometric authentication. Samsung Health will now let you directly connect with a doctor to get diagnosis and prescriptions without having to leave your house. It does it through video calls.
That sounds pretty useful to be honest, but I’m skeptical it will work with many insurance providers worldwide.
Everyone, Meet Bixby
Bixby is being touted as the innovation that will “completely change the way you use your mobile phone.” It is an Artificial Intelligence system that will act as your personal assistant. It’s contextual based on your location, activity, and time of day. It learns your regular habits as well. It has four main areas: talk, touch, recommend, and home. Bixby “knows what’s happening on your screen, allows you to seamlessly move between voice and touch.” There’s a button on the side of the S8 that’s entirely dedicated to launching Bixby.
The S8’s camera is enhanced with Bixby for visual search. It sounds like Google Goggles, but right inside the camera. It can search for similar images, identify landmarks, and of course let you buy things from Amazon.
Internet of Things
Samsung Connect, is the company’s answer to managing the mess of IoT devices. It’s a single app to manage Samsung and SmartThings devices. A lot like Apple’s Home app on iOS.If you live in a bubble where every device you own and use is made by Samsung, Connect could be really neat. But I’m skeptical. Fortunately, SmartThings opens up compatibility to Philips Hue and many other things. In addition to the app, Samsung is doing a mesh router like Eero and Google Wifi. Samsung Connect Home.It supports multiple units and also acts as a SmartThings hub.
Samsung DeX, is a desktop dock for the S8 that pushes a full desktop experience from the phone. It turns your S8 into a PC. This idea has been tried A LOT, so Samsung has a lot to prove here. DeX runs entirely on Android, you’re using Android apps on a big monitor with a mouse and keyboard.
There’s a Windows-like desktop experience and multi window support. Samsung says it worked with Microsoft and Adobe to optimize apps for DeX. You can drag and drop files into apps and windows, including email, which is neat.
Availability and Pricing
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are available for pre-order starting tomorrow, March 30th. It will be available starting April 21st and comes with a set of AKG headphones in the box. (Samsung recently purchased a stake in Harman, AKG’s parent company.)
Oh and yeah, before we forget, the S8 has a headphone jack, so these headphones have a 3.5mm connector. Unfortunately, Samsung won’t confirm pricing, leaving that to its carrier partners — again, it looks like it’ll start at around $750 (above UGX 3.6 million). We shall wait for carriers like MTN and Airtel to subside the s8 after the official launch of the s8 in Uganda.