After a barrage of timely leaks and rumors, the much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S8 phones have been unveiled.
As expected, Samsung unveiled the two versions of its flagship phone, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, at its Unpacked event in New York today.
In the aftermath of the Note 7 fiasco and the scandals surrounding the Samsung brand, will the Galaxy 8 be enough to turn the company around and back to its lofty stature? Judging by the product unveiling and the company's new design direction, it could very well be.
As Samsung boldly states, this is "the new era of smartphone design, an era without edges or limits."
The Samsung S8's new-fangled revolutionary curved, edge-to-edge AMOLED "Infinity Display" is definitely the star of the show. Judging by the prior leaks, it may be the worst-kept secret in the Galaxy smartphone and it looks exactly like what we expected it to be, but boy-oh-boy, it does look stunning.
With the edgeless design, curved edges and smaller bezels, Samsung managed to fit a larger screen in a smaller form factor (compared to the S7).
The Galaxy S8 comes in two versions: Galaxy S8 with a 5.8-inch screen and the Galaxy S8 Plus with a whopping 6.2-inch screen. Both models' displays have 2960 x 1440 screen resolutions with the smaller S8 boasting a pixel density of 570ppi and the S8 Plus, 529ppi. Both displays also support HDR color.
Some earlier rumors suggested that the S8 Plus may have a 4K display but sadly, that's not the case.
No Home Button and Rear Fingerprint Sensor
As expected, Samsung removed the physical home button and replaced it with a virtual on-screen version. Although this means users can't feel their way to locate the home button, it does provide haptic feedback to simulate the physical click of a hardware button.
With the removal of the physical home button, the fingerprint sensor was moved to the rear array instead, bundled with the rear camera and the dual-LED flash.
Speaking of cameras, Samsung stuck with the old 12-megapixel/F1.7 aperture rear camera of the Galaxy S7 on both models, which may come as a disappointment to fans who are looking forward to an upgraded kit. Earlier rumors suggested that the Galaxy S8 Plus may get a dual lens array ala the iPhone 7 Plus but it turns out, it will have the same camera kit as the smaller S8. Both models will have Optical Image Stabilization built in.
Both models' front cameras were upgraded to 8-megapixel/F1.7 aperture kits with auto-focus, which should take the selfie game to the next level.
Facial Recognition and Iris Scanner
It's not just the specs of the S8's front camera that were upgraded, it now supports facial recognition too and this allows the user to unlock the phone by merely looking at it. This method looks to be much faster than fingerprint or iris unlocking but the jury is still out regarding its security.
The Galaxy S7's iris scanner for phone unlocking and folder access is also back and Samsung said that it's secure as ever, more secure than fingerprint scanning.
As a pleasant surprise, Samsung decided to put the new 2.35 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa core processor on both U.S. market models instead of just on the larger S8 Plus. The other rumored chip, Samsung's own 2.35 GHz Exynos 8895, will power the international models.
Both chips are produced with Samsung's 10-nanometer technology, which allows for better power efficiency and performance compared to its predecessor.
RAM and Storage
Earlier rumors suggested that the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will boast 6GB and 8GB of RAM, respectively. The final spec, however, for both models is a modest 4GB, instead.
Internal storage is limited to 64GB for both models but can be expanded with a micro SD.
Bixby, Samsung's Digital Assistant
Also making its big splash is Samsung's own digital assistant Bixby. Bixby is Samsung's answer to the Siris, Alexas, Cortanas, and Google Homes of the tech world.
Samsung claims that Bixby will soon allow S8 owners to completely control everything on their phones via voice but currently, it's still much like a Siri clone. It still requires a physical button press for activation, for now, and it's limited to Samsung apps and system controls. Bixby can also search for images, landmarks and translate languages.
We're hoping Bixby will evolve soon into something more than a generic voice control and search assistant, though.
Turn the S8 into a desktop computer with DeX
Samsung's phone-as-desktop solution will make its debut on the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus. This new feature allows the phone to be docked via a separate peripheral called the DeX.
The DeX will have HDMI out, USB and Ethernet ports for connecting external monitors, keyboards and mice so users can run a desktop version of Android.
With this feature, Android apps that have desktop-optimized versions can be run as if they're on a PC.
Now, the hot topic for Samsung gadgets - the battery. Samsung played it safe this time and stuck with a 3,500mAh battery on the S8 Plus (similar to the Note 7) and a smaller 3,000mAh unit for the smaller S8.
With the Note 7 debacle supposedly behind the company now, Samsung claims that it tweaked the S8's battery chemistry to help them last longer and hopefully, explode less.
The Samsung S8's will ship with Android Nougat, built-in NFC for services like Samsung Pay, wireless charging, the same IP68 water and dust proofing of the Galaxy S7, USB-C and guess what, a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack!
Connectivity options include the faster BlueTooth 5.0 protocol, LTE Cat. 16 and support for Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac.
Release Date and Pricing
Preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus start on March 30 and each pre-order comes with a free Oculus headset and games. Standard units will also ship with free AKG earbuds (valued at $99) in the box!
The official release date for the U.S. is April 21. Both U.S models will come in silver, gray and black. International models will have additional gold and blue color options.
Although Samsung has not announced the pricing yet, prices are expected to start at about $720 for the S8 and $840 for the S8 Plus.
What do you think about the new Samsung Galaxy S8 phones? Drop us a comment!