This is the new Samsung Galaxy S8

Julio Franco

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are official. Easily one of the most anticipated tech launches of the year, the Galaxy S8 is meant to lead the Android pack and innovate ahead of the next-generation tenth-anniversary iPhone coming in September. Not to mention for Samsung it also signifies putting much of the shameful Note 7 episode behind.

The Galaxy S8 is clearly an evolution of its predecessor, taking the curved display and edges to a new dimension, the screen covers almost the entire front of the phone (about 83% of it, Samsung calls it "Infinity Display") which definitely looks great but perhaps more importantly, it manages to cram more screen in a smaller footprint. Those who have had an early encounter with the phone are saying the phone is very refined, really nice to hold, "a stunning smartphone design," or "the sexiest phone ever made," so first impressions are certainly positive.

But despite all this refinement, Samsung appears to have struck a good balance of what features it's removed and which it's kept. The home button is gone, with software buttons and haptic feedback replacing it, however if you ever feel stuck with no visible buttons on a given app, just press down hard the bottom of the phone and it will function as home.

The fingerprint scanner has moved to the back, in a less than ideal position right next to the camera, but we hope once you are used to it, it'll work fine. On the bottom there's a USB-C charging port (in addition to wireless charging) and headphone jack, on the right you have your power/lock button, while on the left you'll find volume buttons and a dedicated button for Samsung's Bixby assistant, more on that below.

The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ share most specifications across the board. In the US, the phones will be powered by the new 10nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, while other regions may get either the Snapdragon or Samsung’s own Exynos 8895. Other hardware specs include 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, microSDXC support up to 256GB, a 12-megapixel dual pixel camera, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera and IP68 waterproofing. NFC and MST are available as before for Samsung Pay, Bluetooth 5 which offers better range and speed, and Wi-Fi g/n/ac. The devices will run Android 7.0 Nougat.

The only two major differences between the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are their overall size and displays (5.8-inch QHD+ 570ppi vs. 6.2-inch QHD+ 529ppi) and the batteries (3,000 mAh vs. 3,500 mAh). Clearly this time Samsung is not even attempting to push the envelope in the battery department, but capacities go in line with previous flagships, and the larger S8+ matches the battery size the Note 7 had.

Samsung has also built in a new iris/facial recognition feature. The iris scanner was first introduced in the Note 7 and can be used to unlock the phone or access secure folders. Samsung even claims it's more secure than the fingerprint sensor. While the front-facing camera has face detection that can also unlock your phone, it's faster but much less secure and meant to be a convenience feature that nonetheless can be fooled.

It should be noted that the main camera on the S8 is the same 12-megapixel sensor with OIS from the S7 (a fine phone camera, by the way), with new software improvements which may help with processing and together with the new SoC possibly a faster overall experience. The front/selfie camera has received a bump in specs however.

Bixby, Samsung's own digital assistant is debuting alongside the Galaxy S8. The assistant gets a dedicated button on the left side of the phone, just below the volume controls. Much like Google Assistant, Bixby is context-aware and is meant to combine voice and touch interactions, with Samsung intending Bixby to be able to control all of your phone's functions via voice, though right of the bat it'll only work with about 10 Samsung apps.

Samsung's vision for Bixby goes beyond the phone, eventually the assistant will be embedded within all its appliances and create an ecosystem, so you can control your air conditioner or TV through Bixby, but we'll see about that a year from now. At launch Bixby will be available in English and Korean, with Chinese and Spanish to follow later.

To round things off, there's another major feature in the Galaxy S8: DeX.

Samsung's own version of Microsoft Continuum relies on NFC and USB-C, you drop the phone into a specialized dock that connects to a monitor and keyboard and it'll transform your smartphone into a secure desktop. We've seen plenty of forgettable similar solutions in the past (Motorola Atrix, anyone?), however the idea has remained alive and waiting until a more seamless and fast enough solution arrives. Maybe the S8 will be it, considering the very capable SoC inside.

We're hearing good things about the S8 DeX desktop experience. It resembles Windows, works fast with a few optimized applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Lightroom already available, and for businesses it's ready to offer a virtual Windows 10 solution via VMWare and Citrix. The dock will cost $150 which gets you two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, an HDMI output, and a USB-C charging port. Apparently the dock will limit display output to 1080p, which might be its single major downside.

As with previous releases, Samsung is not in direct control of distribution. Pricing is up to the carriers with premium pricing expected in the order of $750 for the Galaxy S8, and $850 for the larger S8+. Major carriers including T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have opened pre-orders, with a few early offers trying to sweeten the deal. Best Buy is the one retailer that will also carry the phone on day one.

Oh, and all Galaxy S8 and S8+ will come with a pair of $99 Harman AKG earbuds out of the box.

Pre-orders begin March 30th with the phones expected to start shipping on April 21 in the US.

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Greg S

TS Evangelist
Fingerprint reader location is a major downside. Iris scan doesn't work in the dark nor if you leave your phone flat on a table. Facial recognition is so insecure it's laughable.

I think I might be passing on this one.
 
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3volv3d

TS Addict
Fingerprint reader location is a major downside. Iris scan doesn't work in the dark nor if you leave your phone flat on a table. Facial recognition is so insecure it's laughable.

I think I might be passing on this one.
Agreed with its location, on the back sure, LG G2 had its power and volume buttons there, nice, the nexus 6p has the fingerprint reader there, in the centre, nice, this, has a camera to smear fingerprints over, not so nice.

Bixby is more worrying spyware than friendly helper. But being able to unlock porn folders with your IRIS scanner when ya hands are busy reaching for the lube and unzipping the monster... sure, handy AF...

Curved infinity screen, never going to be worth it until they make a glass that won't shatter at all ever. Waiting for Gorilla glass from the year 2138 for that. Needs a case to protect it surely ? And that will end the infinity display.

Definitely a mixed bag this one for me. When your pros are shadowed by cons, you are doing it wrong. IMO the people at Samsung want to do something great, but haven't leveled up enough to unlock certain inventory items.
Grind more!
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

TS Evangelist
Am I the only one that thinks 5.8 inches being the new standard is too big??? I understand the larger screen looks nice but seriously I can barely fit my S6 into my pant pockets as is!
you are not the only one. Why are phablets the only choice?
They're not. Samsung makes the A series, the smaller, slightly cheaper sibling of the S series of which the A3 still has a 4.7" HD screen but that all depends whether they're available in your market. They are in mine.
 

Puiu

TS Evangelist
Am I the only one that thinks 5.8 inches being the new standard is too big??? I understand the larger screen looks nice but seriously I can barely fit my S6 into my pant pockets as is!
you are not the only one. Why are phablets the only choice?
the numbers are misleading because Samsung is using a tall 18.5:9 display (mostly because they removed the physical bottom button and put it on the screen and the Samsung logo from the top). the 5.8 inch phone will be similar in width as the 5.1 inch S7 which has a normal 16:9 display. the height should be similar too.
 

Panda218

TS Evangelist
More companies should put the finger printer scanner on the back of the device. I don't understand why everyone thinks its such a hassle compared to the front of the device. I didn't think I would like it on my Nexus 6p, but I adored it and was happy to see the same configuration on the Pixel.
 

hahahanoobs

TS Evangelist
Am I the only one that thinks 5.8 inches being the new standard is too big??? I understand the larger screen looks nice but seriously I can barely fit my S6 into my pant pockets as is!
you are not the only one. Why are phablets the only choice?
the numbers are misleading because Samsung is using a tall 18.5:9 display (mostly because they removed the physical bottom button and put it on the screen and the Samsung logo from the top). the 5.8 inch phone will be similar in width as the 5.1 inch S7 which has a normal 16:9 display. the height should be similar too.
I think what you're trying to say is the screen to body ratio is much higher on the S8.
 

roberthi

TS Addict
Nothing compelling in this other than (maybe) a better camera? That's about it. Need expandable memory, better battery/charging, lighter, 5 inch max (not bigger...don't want to be hauling around another tablet), faster, and less bloat (thank you Samsung pre-made apps I'll never use and can't uninstall). Most importantly though, it needs to make better phone calls and to get out of the way.

I don't (and I dare say anyone ever did) want to interact with my phone. I want it to do what I need to without me having to bother, any more than necessary.

Oh...and iris/face recognition?...Nope. I'll stick with the password.
 
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roberthi

TS Addict
Another thing...I do realize some people like putting IOT stuff in their homes, but I don't and I HIGHLY doubt anyone in a thousand mile radius of me has one of those fridges that lets you see inside it from your phone. What a joke.
 
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amstech

IT Overlord
This phone is sexy!
But not nearly as sexy as my old S5 waiting to be used after the doomed battery on my current S6 turns into a pile of flesh eating nano-probes... transforming me into a Borg and devouring my soul.
 
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Skjorn

TS Guru
When will I get a nice phone without all the bullshit? I wish I could opt out of hardware identity scanners in high end phones.

Still rocking my LG Optimus G (G1) until I get a phone that won't sell my face and fingerprints to the highest bidder. Cause you know they ****ing would.
 
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madboyv1

TechSpot Paladin
At 68.1mm wide it is virtually identical to my HTC One M7 which makes me pretty happy. Volume and power buttons are both on the left side (I'm used to volume on the right and power on the top) so if I were to get this, It'll take a while for me to get used to it. I probably won't use facial or iris recognition so I don't care too much about that. I agree with everyone else who are not a fan of the location of the fingerprint reader. I wonder if there will be a way (jailbreak or built in) to either disable Bixby and/or the Bixby dedicated button, or re-purpose the aforementioned button.

This or LG G6... hmm...
 

NoNrg

TS Rookie
Am I the only one that thinks 5.8 inches being the new standard is too big??? I understand the larger screen looks nice but seriously I can barely fit my S6 into my pant pockets as is!
As long as companies keep the screen-to-body ratio high it shouldn't increase the size of the phone too much. I read somewhere that the 6.2" version is only slightly larger than the iPhone 7 plus, which only manages a 5.5" screen
 

ddferrari

TS Maniac
More companies should put the finger printer scanner on the back of the device. I don't understand why everyone thinks its such a hassle compared to the front of the device. I didn't think I would like it on my Nexus 6p, but I adored it and was happy to see the same configuration on the Pixel.
"More companies should put the finger printer scanner on the back of the device"

Why, exactly? When the phone is sitting in front of you on a table or desk, the back location forces you to pick the phone up, turn it around, use the scanner, then turn it around again, maybe set it back down. On the S7, you just push the Home button while it sits there and you're in.

Not sure why you think the inconvenience is somehow a better idea...
 

jd666

TS Rookie
Slightly slimmer than the S7 (in width) so should be easier to grasp. But evolutionary is more like describing it than revolutionary. Does make sense for someone upgrading from a S5. But if you have a S6 (and can manage the battery life) or S7, you can eek some more life out of it. I am going to hold onto my S7 Edge for another year at least.