The Samsung Galaxy S8 is finally here.
After some troubled months thanks to the Note 7 fiasco, Samsung is back yet again with a refresh to the ever popular Galaxy S series.
In New York City, Samsung held their Unpacked event to unveil to the world their latest flagship, while in Singapore, we were fortunate enough to be invited to its local unveiling.
The S8 and S8+ features an all new front facade design, a departure from the traditional Galaxy S designs of old.
Gone is the physical home button, which has now been replaced with a pressure-sensitive one on the screen. That means the fingerprint sensor has been relocated to the back of the phone where the camera is.
Speaking of the camera, the 12 megapixel one from last year has been given a boost with new processing technology and algorithms to ensure you get the sharpest and most vivid photos day or night.
Say goodbye to blurry selfies, as the front camera now has auto-focus as well.
Since this is the flagship that we would expect Samsung to pack their latest and greatest innovation in, here’s what we think the defining features for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ of 2017 are.
1. The Samsung Galaxy S8 Is Going To The Infinity
No doubt the biggest change to the phone is where the screen sits. Here now lies a screen that covers almost the entire front surface.
They’ve done this by removing two things. First, the physical home button as was mentioned earlier, and secondly, the Samsung branding in front is gone to free up even more surface area for the screen to cover.
This makes the S8 have this stealthy yet unassuming look in front, with a not-so mainstream 18.5 by 9 aspect ratio. This ratio is the secret recipe to fitting a vastly larger screen into the footprint of their former devices, albeit making them a bit taller.
The S8 has a 5.8″ screen on a body the same size as an S7 which has a 5.1″ display. The S8+ on the other hand has a massive 6.2″ display in a footprint the size of the Note 7 which has a 5.7″ screen.
As with any Samsung flagship, these new devices also feature curved screens on the side as standard to further emphasise the feel of a truly bezel-less display.
2. The S8 Can Unlock With Your Face
Perhaps one of the best things about the unfortunate Note 7 was that it featured an iris scanner that lets you unlock your phone with just your eyes.
The iris scanner makes a comeback on the S8, but this time with a new friend in tow.
Additionally, the S8 now has facial recognition built into the device’s front camera. Incidentally, this is what makes that same camera a breeze to use for selfies.
The procedure to unlock your phone is as simple as lifting it up and looking at it, and you will be instantly brought to your home screen.
This new facial recognition software is a part of Samsung overall plan to bring more security features into their devices to be used in conjunction with their Knox software.
This is the kind of phone where if you lose it, no one can ever break into it unless they have your face and your eyes.
Apple has Siri, and Google has Assistant. Now Samsung too has their own AI voice assistant for its devices.
Called Bixby, it was actually announced earlier this year in January as a direct competition to Google Assistant. It forms such an integral part of the S8 that there is a dedicated button for launching it just below the volume rocker.
Bixby is designed to be a contextually aware AI assistant that constantly monitors what’s on your screen and your behaviour towards specific contents and apps.
As with any voice assistant, you can verbally instruct it to perform all sorts of actions on your phone, from searching for a nearby restaurant to sending mapped directions to a friend to that restaurant.
4. Samsung DeX
This is one feature that could potentially kill the existence of Windows-based mobile phones.
Samsung isn’t just promoting the S8 as an everyday smartphone for play, it also has enough horsepower for you to handle spreadsheets and emails.
That’s where the Samsung DeX comes in. If you know a thing or two about Window’s Continuum, it works pretty much the same way.
The DeX is a dock where you can slide in your phone, which is then can be connected to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
Once you’ve docked your phone, it will automatically load up a ‘desktop’ version of Android on your monitor in landscape orientation to make it more keyboard and mouse friendly.
Expect to be able to use full versions of Microsoft Office here such as Word, Powerpoint and Excel as Samsung is working together with Microsoft to optimise the software for this interface.
5. Samsung Connect Home
Lastly, with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is no surprise that Samsung is finally going into the Smart Home game.
With the S8, you can connect to your other smart home devices remotely to monitor what’s going on at home. Think of the S8 this way – it can also potentially be a universal remote for almost any internet connect appliance at home.
At the center of this ‘one phone to rule them all’ will be a new app called Samsung Connect. This will do things like control your smart lights to change colours or dim it, or to look at the internals of your smart refrigerator when you are out at the supermarket.
To help support this, Samsung is also releasing a special router to bring together all your smart appliances.
The Connect Home hub works with the Samsung Connect app to act as a special dedicated access point to your home to give you a more seamless control of your appliances rather than just depending on your internet router.
The Galaxy S8 And S8+ Drops On 21 April
Excited for Samsung’s latest devices?
The S8 and S8+ is slated for a 21 April global launch. Available in Midnight Black, Orchid Grey, Coral Blue, Arctic Silver, and Maple Gold, not all colours will be released at launch, though, due to demand constraints.
What you will definitely be getting though is the first product to come out of Samsung’s acquisition of Harmann.
In each box of the S8 and S8+, a pair of AKG earphones is included by default to give you an audio experience far better than the stock earbuds of old.
P.S. We had the opportunity to have a hands-on for both devices, and let’s just say that you will be missing out big time if you take a pass on this – especially if you are currently using an older Samsung smartphone.
Looking at the competition, perhaps the only phone truly in any position to beat the S8 would be the next Galaxy Note.