"The Samsung Galaxy S8 has officially been unveiled, bringing to an end months of leaks and speculation about the company’s first high-profile phone launch since the Galaxy Note 7.
The S8, which will go head-to-head with the iPhone 7 and upcoming iPhone 8, looks like a significant upgrade on last year’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, with Samsung making design, camera and software changes.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Design and colours
The S8 makes the S7 Edge look old, which is no mean feat. Before the S8’s arrival, the S7 Edge was arguably the most attractive handset on the market. That’s no longer the case.
Samsung’s new flagship has a very modern look, thanks mainly to its curved ‘Infinity’ display. It features a 5.8-inch, 2,960 x 1,440 AMOLED display with 570 pixels per inch and an aspect ratio of 18.5:9, making it ideal for watching TV shows and films.
That’s larger than the S7 Edge’s 5.7-inch screen, but the S8 is actually more compact and better for one-handed use than last year’s model thanks to its barely-there bezels, measuring 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm.
A bigger version of the phone, called the Samsung Galaxy S8+, uses a 6.2-inch display with the same Quad HD+ resolution. It comes in at 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm and 173g, and most consumers would struggle to use it in one hand.
Samsung decision to embed the home button in the S8’s display, which also has an inbuilt pressure sensor, helps keep the handset trim. However, this creates problems elsewhere.
The fingerprint sensor lies sits abnormally high on the back of the phone, making it awkward to reach. Further complicating things is its proximity to the rear camera, which will inevitably result in some users accidentally pressing their fingertip against the wrong sensor.
The S8 will be available in three colour options: Midnight Black, Arctic Silver and Orchid Grey.
Design aside, Samsung's new "intelligent interface", Bixby, is the S8’s headline feature. It’s like a cross between a virtual assistant and Google’s old Goggles app, and is designed to help users get things done more quickly, and without touching the S8’s display.
Users can launch Bixby through a dedicated button on the phone’s left-hand edge and ask questions in “natural human language”, says Samsung.
In a demonstration, Bixby correctly responded to orders including “Set this photo as wallpaper”, “Call Chris” and “Scan and search this wine”. It does the latter through the S8’s camera, even tracking the wine down online through price comparison site Vivino.
Similar Bixby scans for chocolates and the Shard brought up relevant results from Amazon and Foursquare.
Bixby's voice functionality will only be available in Korean at launch, but will expand to US English in May and more languages over time.
Samsung has equipped the S8 with a 12-megapixel Dual Pixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, which isn’t too dissimilar a setup to what you’ll find on the S7.
The big new addition in this department is something Samsung calls multi-frame image processing. The S8 will take three shots whenever you hit the shutter key, using the two extra pictures to reduce blur in the main shot.
We’ve already mentioned the S8’s problematic fingerprint sensor, but you can actually ignore it thanks to Samsung’s inclusion of an iris-scanner. It’s really fast, allowing you to unlock the S8 by simply gazing at it, and it only takes a minute or so to set up.
Unsurprisingly, The S8 runs the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 7.0 Nougat.
It also features 64GB of internal storage as standard, expandable by up to 256GB via the microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s IP68-rated too, meaning it’s resistant to both water and dust.
Samsung has made a big deal about its new eight-point battery safety process, which it hopes will be enough to help regain consumers’ trust after the Note 7 disaster.
The S8 comes with a 3,000mAh battery on board, while the S8+, with its larger and more demanding screen, uses a 3,500mAh battery. Both phones support fast-charging via the USB Type-C port, and wireless charging too.
Release date and price
Unsurprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S8 will be one of the most expensive handsets on the market, costing £689. The S8+ meanwhile, will set you back £779.
They'll hit the market on 28 April, but customers can get their hands on it early by pre-ordering it between today and 19 April. Pre-order customers will receive the S8 and S8+ from 20 April."
Source: Aatif Sulleyman, www.independent.co.uk