Samsung unboxes Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets and accessories

Samsung's Unpacked presentation just came to a close in New York City, and as expected, the company announced its upcoming Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones at the event. Along with the new phones, the company also showed off its Dex desktop dock and the second-generation Gear 360 camera.

This is Samsung's first big phone launch after the disastrous Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, and DJ Koh—Samsung's President of Mobile Communications Business—immediately acknowledged the company's troubles in his opening address. The theme for the event was "unbox your phone," seemingly in reference to the S8 phones' "Infinity Display."

The new curved, near-bezel-less display is the highlight of the new design. The Galaxy S8's display is 5.8" diagonal, while the S8+ display is 6.2" across. Both displays are Super AMOLED screens in 2960×1440 resolution. That peculiar proportion works out to a 2.05:1 aspect ratio that gives Samsung room for on-screen buttons without covering up any of the 16:9 display area used by most video content. Curiously, Samsung's specifications indicate that the default resolution used by the phone will be "Full HD+" rather than the native "Quad HD+". Samsung also noted that the Galaxy S8 phones are the first ever to receive the UHD Alliance's Mobile HDR Premium certification. The certification implies that the handsets support 10-bit color and are able to reproduce at least 90% of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

The company is shy about explaining exactly what SoC is in the device. During the presentation, it stated that the S8 phones use "a 10nm processor." As it's done in the past, Samsung will offer different SoCs in different world regions. The US, China, and Japan will reportedly get the Snapdragon 835, while the rest of the world will see the Exynos 8895. Whatever the onboard SoC, it'll be connected to 4GB of LPDDR4 memory and either 64GB or 128GB of flash storage depending on the country. That storage is expandable via a hybrid UFS/microSD card slot, too.

The new fancy wireless charger

Thanks to the new big screen, the handsets' single speaker has been shunted to the bottom of the device, next to the USB Type-C connector and the 3.5-mm headphone jack. Samsung purchased Harman last year and said that it used the company's expertise to develop a high-quality pair of earbuds (with AKG branding) that will be included with the S8 handsets. Samsung will sell the earbuds separately, too. There's no need to worry about dropping your phone in the pool, either—both models have IP68 certification, meaning they can be in 1.5m of water for 30 minutes before gurgling.

The phone's front-facing camera is an 8MP shooter with an extra-broad 80° field of view intended for "wide selfies." Meanwhile, the rear camera appears to be essentially the same 12MP, f/1.7, dual-pixel autofocus unit used on the S7 and the Galaxy Note 7 phones. In its presentation, Samsung talked about the camera's ability to do multi-frame image stabilization, as well as its ability to take 240-FPS slow-motion videos. The Galaxy S8 has a 3000 mAh battery, while its bigger cousin packs a little more juice at 3500 mAh. The optional wireless charger can now prop up the phone at an angle, too.

Samsung talked a lot about device security. The new phones include an iris scanner, an inheritance from the Note 7. Shoved out of the way by the display, the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back of the phone adjacent to the rear camera. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will also support face recognition to unlock the device, akin to Windows Hello. Samsung says that Pass (the company's password manager) will also support biometric authentication, including iris and face recognition. Some third-party apps are expected to take advantage of these features, too.

An interesting device coming for the S8 and S8+ is the Samsung Dex, a dock that lets users work with the phone as it if were an Android-powered desktop PC. The demo showed person placing the phone on the dock, unlocking it with face recognition, and then editing a Powerpoint presentation and e-mailing it using a wireless keyboard and mouse. Using a smartphone in this way isn't completely novel, but Dex looks like a convenient means to do so.

Unfortunately, Samsung left out an important bit of news about the new handsets: the price. We have a release date, however. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available stateside on April 21, in a choice of five colors. A dual-SIM option will be available in some markets.

Besides the phones, Samsung also officially introduced Bixby, its answer to Cortana and Siri. Bixby aims to do be more than just a way to control your phone via voice, like a glorified Google Assistant. Instead, Bixby is a context-sensitive, meaning that it's aware of what you're doing and takes simple, natural language commands. The on-stage demonstration used a command as vague as "capture this and send it to Cindy", although the demonstrator had to clarify which "Cindy" he meant using the touchscreen. Samsung also emphasized that users can use Bixby to set context-sensitive reminders like "remind me when I get home." Similar features are already available with Cortana and Siri, but it's nice to see them become more ubiquitous.

The company says that its ultimate vision for Bixby is to have it as the user's primary interface for not only the phone, but for an entire family of IoT devices. To that end, it unveiled a device called the Samsung Connect Home, a combination of a mesh Wi-Fi router and IoT hub. Used in combination with Samsung SmartThings devices, the company says an S8 owner could do things like check the contents of their refrigerator when they're at the grocery store. The announced stopped short of saying that said user could use Bixby for this, but it appears to be the next logical step.

Finally, the company showed off its second-generation Gear 360 camera. Samsung didn't give a tremendous amount of details about the device, but it's a 360-degree camera meant for easily "capturing experiences" in up to 4K resolution. Samsung gave away a Gear 360 camera to everyone in attendance at the event, so expect to hear more about it around the web before long.

Comments closed
    • The Wanderer
    • 3 years ago

    Expandable storage? Good, that’s an essential feature.

    No mention of user-swappable battery? Sorry – that eliminates it from my shopping list.

    Now, it might seem a little odd for me to be holding hard to that requirement, given that I’ve never actually bought a second battery for my current smartphone (a Galaxy S5, bought less than two years ago), much less actually swapped out the battery.

    However, I [i<]have[/i<] repeatedly seen my phone get into a state where it's more or less "hung", where it doesn't respond to any input (including the power button) and builds up heat to the point of being uncomfortable to hold. When that happens, the only solution I've found is to power-cycle the device - and with a battery-powered device, the only ways to do that are either A: unplug the device and wait however long it takes for the battery to run all the way down to zero, or B: temporarily disconnect the battery. If the latter is not an option, that means the likelihood of unexpectedly needing to spend hours or days without access to my smartphone, for no good reason at all. This is more of a concern for me than it is for most smartphone users, since most smartphone users run the stock Android they get from their provider, whereas I ran CyanogenMod before that was pulled and nowadays run LineageOS - increased freedom and flexibility at the expense of reduced stability. It's no less of a genuine concern for all of that, however.

    • JalaleenRumi
    • 3 years ago

    So you guys are done with the “But can it play HL3?” comments? Haven’t seen them around in a while now.

      • DPete27
      • 3 years ago

      I can’t say I’ve ever heard that phrase. Perhaps you’re thinking of “can it play Crysis”?

      • Laykun
      • 3 years ago

      I think you mean the phrase “Crysis confirmed”.

    • tritonus
    • 3 years ago

    Glad about the cowardice.

    • tsk
    • 3 years ago

    Man TR is notorious for pointing out everything that’s wrong with a product. I say great phone, Apple is gonna have to so something about those fat iPhone bezels.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]pointing out everything that's wrong with a product.[/quote<]What?

    • RdVi
    • 3 years ago

    I don’t get the idea behind having a taller screen. They say it’s so the screen can be larger without sacrificing one handed use… Well, one handed use will surely suffer a lot unless the UI is altered so that you never have to interact with the top or bottom of the screen. Having the buttons on the bottom and the task bar on the top flies in the face of this. You will either need to use two hands or constantly adjust your grip.

    I’ll be sticking with 16:9 or maybe 17:9 with on screen buttons.

    • albundy
    • 3 years ago

    so…a $1000 phone that’s worth less than half that with the same features as it’s previous exploding self? i’m quite surprised. they are trying to copy apple in every way, so how come they didn’t get rid of a bunch of features? that seemed to be their goal since the end of the S5 era.

    • ludi
    • 3 years ago

    “This is DJ Koh, coming at you LiiiVVVEEE, and we’re going to [i<]Light. This. Place. UUUUPP![/i<]...err, figuratively, of course."

      • Neutronbeam
      • 3 years ago

      DJ was on FIRE!

    • Laykun
    • 3 years ago

    RIP left handed users. That fingerprint reader location sucks. Good thing I’m not in the market for a new phone as everything else about this device is really nice.

    • invinciblegod
    • 3 years ago

    My OCD really hates the off center usb-c port.

      • DancinJack
      • 3 years ago

      Not sure where you are getting that from. Looks centered to me.

        • invinciblegod
        • 3 years ago

        off center vertically.

      • Neutronbeam
      • 3 years ago

      If you were really OCD you’d spell it CDO.

    • blastdoor
    • 3 years ago

    Keeping the rear camera unchanged is certainly courageous. The camera is one of the most important features and multiple competitors include a two lens/two camera solution in their highest end models.

    The location of the finger print scanner seems destined to lead to a smudged camera lens… more camera courage.

    For things like iris/face recognition, Bixby, etc, the devil is in the implementation details. I’m skeptical that iris recognition is worth much, but facial recognition — if it works well — could be a useful feature.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      Rumor has it that they had anticipated Synaptics getting a fingerprint reader under the display but time ran out.

      Link: [url<]http://www.theinvestor.co.kr/view.php?ud=20170313000834[/url<] Putting it where it is seems to be out of necessity since the display is so long, but I agree it looks like a bug rather than a feature in its current location.

      • strangerguy
      • 3 years ago

      It’s a telltale sign Samsung rushed the S8 especially after the N7 debacle. If the rumors for the 10th anniversary iPhone are true e.g the integrated TouchID OLED it’s gonna steal all the thunder this year.

        • vshade
        • 3 years ago

        It’s well in the release date of Galaxy S phones, maybe they rushed something to focus on batteries that don’t explode

    • DancinJack
    • 3 years ago

    It’s S835 in the US, China, and Japan. This is the 2.35/1.9 variant.
    Exynos 8895 everywhere else. This is the 2.3/1.7 variant.

    I don’t believe they’re locking the SoCs to one particular model, the 8 or 8+. but rather by region as stated above.

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      We’ve clarified that bit, thanks for the heads-up.

    • EndlessWaves
    • 3 years ago

    What’s wide gamut support like on Android? With a non-sRGB display does most content display correctly or have exaggerated colours?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      This is all about exaggerated colors. Samsung has included settings to over-expose and over-saturate everything on their devices for a while now. The S7’s default mode is egregious but there’s a “professional” mode that takes all that blown-out contrast away.

    • slowriot
    • 3 years ago

    Android device makers are dropping the ball big time. I include Google with that. The iPhone has been stale or regressive in some ways and yet all the Android makers don’t seem to have much of a clue.

    S7 Edge owners my have a different perspective but the times I’ve tried them the occasionally erratic input detection was enough to keep me away from it. Seems like bad news if Samsung’s trying to push that into the entire Galaxy line.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<] The iPhone has been stale or regressive in some ways and yet all the Android makers[/quote<] would rather make iPhone clones than figure out what would surpass Apple

      • DPete27
      • 3 years ago

      The iPhone 7S is purportedly going to have a “borderless screen” but no mention of wrapping it around the edges of the device like the S7 Edge or S8. At least with a borderless device, a case can add back the border you need to actually hold the thing without accidental input.

    • DPete27
    • 3 years ago

    One reason I got the S7 instead of the S7 edge was that I’d heard reports that holding and using the S7 edge without accidental input was difficult. This feeling was reinforced when I held the S7 edge. Furthermore, because of the curved screen, it seems cases (which would help reduce accidental input) were less secure and less protective. With this generation of phones striving for greatest % screen, I just can’t help but wonder “how am I supposed to hold this thing?”

      • Peter.Parker
      • 3 years ago

      I think, whatever you do, you would hold it wrong.

      • End User
      • 3 years ago

      Seems to have been fixed in April of last year:

      [url<]http://www.zdnet.com/article/samsung-update-fixes-biggest-complaint-about-new-galaxy-s7-edge/[/url<]

        • derFunkenstein
        • 3 years ago

        They can’t fix the cases, though. Look at the Otterbox Commuter for the Galaxy S7 Edge. That rouded display has to stick out all the way.

        [url<]http://www.otterbox.com/en-us/galaxy-s7-edge/commuter-series-case/sam4-galaxy-s7-edge.html[/url<]

          • liquidsquid
          • 3 years ago

          What would be even better is if the phone was already designed rugged enough you wouldn’t need to protect it with a case! That drives me nuts to be honest. It is why I like my Motorola Turbo 2. No case required.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 3 years ago

            Moto Z Force is the spiritual successor to your phone, and I agree it does look pretty rugged. Supposedly shatter-proof display.

    • Welch
    • 3 years ago

    Glad I didn’t wait on this phone. The battery is about where my OnePlus 3t is at. USB C, got that already too. The Iris scanner would be nice, but their implementation of the finger print scanner on one side looks odd and looks to favor righties. They didn’t mention the price because I’ll bet money it is a $900 phone for base.

    Perfectly happy with my OP3t at $439, thanks. Oh and no TouchWiz to slow me down.

      • mcnabney
      • 3 years ago

      $720 base, $840 plus

        • Welch
        • 3 years ago

        So they returned to a more reasonable price range. Most likely due to competition from the likes of Google’s Pixel. If nothing else it set a precedent.

          • mcnabney
          • 3 years ago

          About $100 over S6

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