Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in 2017. Samsung’s new flagship Android smartphones – clocking in at 5.8-inches and 6.2-inches respectively – debut a new “Infinity Display” with razor-thin bezels, a promising voice agent called Bixby, and make the case for why a Galaxy phone should be at the center of the Internet of Things.
Galaxy S8 has abounded. It’s too soon to say whether Samsung’s promises for renewed testing and safety will counter any lingering reticence around its battery safety As expected, there are two versions of the phone. The Samsung Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch 2960 x 1440 Super AMOLED display, measures 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm, and weighs 155 grams. Its larger Samsung Galaxy S8+ sibling has a 6.2-inch display of the same type and resolution, measures 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, and weighs 173 grams.
The fix for the first challenge resulted in what Samsung is calling its “Infinity Display”, effectively a huge screen that dominates the front of the Galaxy S8. It’s curved around both edges – there’s no specific “edge” variant this time around – and Samsung has consciously opted for a black bezel so as to blur the transition between Super AMOLED and frame. A full 83-percent of the front of the Galaxy S8 is taken up by display.
By replacing the physical home button – as well as the back and task-switcher controls – from their previous spot under the display, the Galaxy S8’s screen can stretch even closer to the edges. The fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back, alongside the camera.
The Galaxy S8 is UHDA Mobile HDR Premium certified, a new standard announced at MWC 2017 in February that covers resolution, dynamic range, color space, and bit-depth on portable devices. Samsung has sensibly stuck with IP68 water and dust resistance, and of course there are no fiddly flaps or ports to close before you go for a dip. Inside, there’ll either be its own Exynos processor or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835: North America, for instance, gets the 835. Both are octa-cores built on 10nm processes, and Samsung gets to say it manufactures both too, since Qualcomm is using its fab lines. There’s 4GB of LPDDR4 memory and 64GB of storage; you can expand that with 256GB microSD cards, though the S8 and S8+.
3,000 mAh pack in the Galaxy S8 and a 3,500 mAh in the Galaxy S8+. You still get wireless charging and fast charging, though not Qualcomm’s very latest Quick Charge 3.0. It’s a Dual Pixel f/1.7 12-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization and 4K video recording, effectively the same hardware specifications but with new software for better image enhancement and blur reduction.
Samsung’s first flirtation with such technology – you might remember the little-loved S Voice on earlier Galaxy phones – but it’s definitely promising. According to the company, existing voice agents typically disappoint because they fall conspicuously short of what you can do with your phone manually. Yes, you can dictate a text message, or add a calendar entry, but anything more complex like photo editing is beyond what Siri or the Google Assistant can manage.
Bixby, in contrast, promises that anything you can do with touch, you can now do by voice. To take photo manipulation as an example, you can use any of the Gallery app’s features – like rotate and zoom – simply by pressing the new, dedicated Bixby button on the left side of the phone and asking for it. Samsung is promising context awareness, too, meaning that Bixby can intuit what you might be asking for based on what you’re currently doing or where you are. More complex tasks can span different interaction types: you could tell Bixby you want to crop a picture, adjust that crop with your fingers, ask it to add text, and then dictate or type the words.
Importantly, there’s cognitive tolerance, too. If you give an instruction that’s potentially ambiguous, Bixby won’t just throw its virtual hands up in despair. Instead, it’ll do what it can and then ask for clarification to complete the task. Samsung’s example was of asking “Send the last photo I took to my wife”: Bixby could figure out the last photo and the relevant contact itself, but would ask by which method you would want to send it.
Bixby Home card which you can see by swiping across from the Android 7.0 home screen or by tapping the Bixby button rather than holding it. There, Samsung promises information that’s relevant right now: tasks that need to be completed while you’re in a certain area, perhaps, or a shortcut to a contact if you usually call them at that time from that location. Bixby Vision, meanwhile, can translate between 52 languages if you show the camera foreign text, in addition to scanning QR codes, recognizing business cards, spotting landmarks and offering point-of-interest information, search for restaurants.