Galaxy S8 Bixby
The Galaxy S8

Samsung today officially launched the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones at their Unpack event. This comes in the wake of constant rumours, speculations and leaks of the device and their capability. Finally today all has come to pass and we now know what the Korean behemoth has been working on. So without further ado, lets get into the meat of it.

Hardware and Features

During the Unpack event, the company showcased all the features and advancements they are packing into the latest iteration of the Galaxy flagships. Claiming it to be a dawn of a new era in smartphones, the centre-stage was given to the in-house developed virtual personal assistant, Bixby. It will be going up against other artificial intelligence assistants that include Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. To bolster their claim and prove the assistants capabilities Samsung has pre-installed applications which integrate Bixby support on their Galaxy S8 devices. To make it easier to access the AI on the fly, Samsung has provided for a dedicated physical button on the side of the device.

As was rumoured prior to the reveal, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ feature iris recognition which debuted in the now discontinued Samsung Galaxy Note 7. A biometric recognition module scans the users iris to unlock the phone, verify their Samsung account and more. It is an optional security feature that users can choose to enable. Both the devices will also feature the now common fingerprint scanners on the back.

On the hardware design front, Samsung has continued to further a higher screen-to-body ratio. It has completely eliminated side bezels by placing an aggressively curved 2.5D display that is directly fused with the back of the device which it calls the Infinity-Edge-display. Moving the aforementioned fingerprint scanner to the back of the device permitted the company to cut down on the chin of the handsets as well. On the Samsung Galaxy S8 we see a 5.8-inch super AMOLED panel displaying at a 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution. The elder sibling features a slightly larger 6.2-inch super AMOLED panel at the same resolution. At the heart of the device resides either Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 SoC or their in-house Exynos 8895 SoC depending on your region. Both processors are expected to be clocked at 2.35 GHz. Both handsets feature 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage which is expandable via a microSD slot.

On the camera front, the smartphones have a 12-megapixel ‘Dual-pixel’ rear camera with an f/1.7 aperture, optical-image stabilisation and LED-flash. The selfie shooter up-front is an 8-megapixel shooter with an f/1.7 aperture. Both camera modules front and rear also support phase detected auto-focus (PDAF). And finally we come to the battery and Samsung has endowed the Galaxy S8 with a 3000mAh non-removable power-pack while the S8+ gets a 3500mAh reserve tank thanks to its slightly larger frame.

On the hardware connectivity front Samsung has given the phones a USB Type-C connector for charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack, yes, it is still there. Apart from that, the Galaxy S8 series features NFC support and MST for Samsung Pay. Wireless charging is supported  as well as 4G cat. 16 LTE. The phone’s feature Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi a/b/c/g/n/ac support and a GPS module. Other miscellaneous sensors on board include an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometer, gyroscope, heart rate sensor, magnetometer, and proximity sensor.

Samsung Galaxy S8 specs
Galaxy S8 specifications

Dimensions and Accessories

Though packing all the above hardware and a raft of sensors, Samsung has managed to keep the device’s relatively petite. This is no doubt by maximising the space-utilisation at every level. The Galaxy S8 measures 148.9 x86.1 x8mm and weighs in at 155 grams. The larger Galaxy S8+ measures 159.5 x73.4 x8.1mm and tops off at 173 grams. Even after managing such tight confines, both the handsets are water resistant and dust proof with an IP68 rating.

Along with the phones, Samsung introduced the Samsung DeX dock. This allows a user to convert their smartphones into a desktop-like configuration. Alongside this the company also launched a refreshed Gear 360 camera. This was unveiled at the Unpack event. The camera is capable of capturing 360° videos at a 4K resolution and still shots of 15-megapixel. The handsets also support the new Gear VR along with a controller. For colours, the smartphones will be offered in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver in the US and Coral Blue, Maple Gold internationally.

Samsung has also introduced the Samsung DeX dock, which allows the users to convert their smartphones into a desktop-like configuration. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ can also connect to the new Gear 360, which was also unveiled at the same event, to create 4K 360-degree videos and 15-megapixel photos. It also features support for the new Gear VR with Controller. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ will ship with high-end earphones tuned by AKG by Harman in their box. The company notes that the earphones have a comfortable hybrid canal fit for better noise cancellation and that they are composed of anti-tangle metal-fabric material.

At the Unpack event, DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics stated,

“The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ usher in a new era of smartphone design and fantastic new services, opening up new ways to experience the world, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are our testament to regaining your trust by redefining what’s possible in safety and marks a new milestone in Samsung’s smartphone legacy.”

Pricing & Availability

Samsung did not announce the pricing of the new flagships at the Unpack event but The Verge managed to source it from telecom operators. The smartphones will go on pre-order from 0001 Hours ET on 30th March from Verizon, AT &T and Sprint Mobile starting at $720 (~₹46,665) for the Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S8+ is expected to be pegged at $840 (~₹54,430). Every pre-order will be eligible to receive a free Gear VR with Contoller and Oculus content pack OR can choose instead for a $99 “experience box” with Gear VR and controller, Harmon Kardon headphones and a 256GB microSD card.