After last year’s Galaxy Note 7 catastrophe, Samsung needed something big. They needed a brand new design with cutting edge specs to reign in customers they potentially would have lost. The Galaxy S8, announced March 29, aims to be this phone, but does it live up to the hype? Stick around to find out.
This year, Samsung opted to keep the 4GB RAM also found on the Galaxy S7, but the processor has been upgraded to an Octa-Core Snapdragon 835 chipset, which will likely mean all-around snappier performance. The GPU found in this year’s flagship is the Adreno 540, which will mean faster and more fluid games. At Galaxy Unpacked, Samsung really pushed VR and 360 content, and with the combination of the Snapdragon 835 and Adreno 540, this content will be buttery smooth.
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ both pack WQHD+ (1440 x 2960) displays. The S8’s display is 5.8”, while the S8+ has a 6.2” display. Both displays are “infinity screens,” meaning that the bezels on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are incredibly small, making content more immersive. However, because the bezels on both phones are so much smaller than on previous Galaxy flagships, the overall size of the phone barely increases since last year. In fact, the width of the phone is even less than my current daily driver, the Galaxy S5. Both displays’ aspect ratios are almost 2:1 (like LG’s G6), which means Samsung will need to make some UI changes to get content to fit properly on the display. In addition, both the S8 and S8+ feature the first HDR displays in any smartphone, making colors pop even more than before.
This year, Samsung kept the dual-pixel technology found on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. The back camera is 12MP, while the front-facing camera is 8MP, a 3MP bump since the Galaxy S7. Although the back camera module stays the same, Samsung has introduced Bixby, their phone assistant, which can help take better photos.
The Galaxy S8 features a 3000mAh battery like last year’s Galaxy S7, but this choice was definitely one Samsung thought hard about. Each battery is now subject to the 8-point battery checking system, so this time around, there should be nothing to worry about. The S8+ has a 3500mAh battery, which is certainly a nice boost for power users. Overall, Samsung wasn’t messing around in the battery department this year, which is great because the batteries are non-removable in both phones.
At Galaxy Unpacked, Samsung announced their new “intelligent interface,” Bixby. On the left side of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, there is a dedicated Bixby button, so it is clear Samsung intends Bixby to be a primary way of interacting with the S8. Bixby is sort of like Google Now, in that it attempts to bring together calendar events, reminders, and notifications into one cohesive view. In addition, Bixby will be able to translate words from a photo, scan a QR code, and recognize products and landmarks. While some of these features can be gimmicky, it’s nice to see Samsung include them. Bixby also works in the camera and gallery apps, supposedly helping to take better photos.
Gear 360 and Gear VR
At Galaxy Unpacked, Samsung gave a free Gear 360 2017 to every attendee, so it is clear they are not messing around with VR content. The Gear 360 now supports 4k video, as well as live broadcasting capabilities, both of which will help more people access higher-quality video streams. The new Gear 360 is just 130 grams, so it won’t be a burden to hold, but just in case, it also includes a tripod mount. It also has battery life up to 130 minutes when recording at 2560 x 1080 @30fps resolution and up to 256GB of storage with a MicroSD card. Also, the Gear 360 now works with iPhones so more people can share what they see in 360 degrees.
There is also a new version of Gear VR. Since the Galaxy S8 box includes premium earbuds by AKG and the Gear VR includes a Gear VR controller, the Gear VR is better than ever. Plus, Gear VR comes free with every Galaxy S8 pre-order.
A complete rip-off of Ubuntu Touch, DeX is here to give you the power of a computer on the go! Well, maybe not exactly. However, for light presentation-editing and excel spreadsheet fixing, DeX is the way to go. DeX will cost $150, which is steep for a mobile phone accessory, especially when a chromebook can be had for the same price, but for users who need a desktop-like experience on the go, DeX will be a good option. Like all Windows PCs, DeX includes keyboard shortcuts, resizable windows, and right-click menus, which are nice features, I suppose. DeX will be available in late April.
What I really want to see on the S8 is simultaneous iris scanning, face recognition, and fingerprint sensing, but while this may not happen, each of these features is available by itself as a means of unlocking the Galaxy S8 and S8+. Having three biometric security features to choose from will greatly improve the security of Samsung Galaxy devices, a concern many users have. Personally, I love biometric data because it lets me unlock my phone without having to hide my screen from others while I type in a password, pin, or complete a pattern. While it may seem like a small feature, the new methods of user authentication Samsung has included in their new flagships are sure to make Galaxy devices safer and more secure.
So these are the long-awaited Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. While they are exciting new additions to the smartphone ecosystem, I wonder if they bring enough to the table to be compelling to possible Apple customers. It seems like Samsung focused too much this year on the display and didn’t focus enough on what powers the display and what surrounds it, which to me, is a bit disappointing. The Galaxy S8 will indeed be my next daily driver (I will be pre-ordering it), but I would have like to see just a bit more from the Korean tech giant. Well, hey, at least it has a headphone jack!
Stay tuned to New and Improved for an unboxing video of the Galaxy S8 coming soon, as well as a Galaxy S8 review. What do you think of these devices? Be sure to let us know in the comments!