The just-unveiled Galaxy S8 and its larger running mate, the Galaxy S8 Plus, are Samsung’s top-of-the-range handsets for 2017. And they’re already causing quite a stir in tech circles.
They team an innovative all-screen front that’s great for watching videos and multi-tasking with better cameras and more power.
They're also the first phones to feature Samsung’s Bixby voice-activated assistant, which promises to let you do much more with voice commands than any other smartphone app.
But what else is noteworthy about the S8? Read on, as we get you to up speed fast.
1 Larger, better screens, but same size phones
The S8’s screen comes in at 5.8-inches. The S8 Plus’s display measures a vast 6.2 inches. By way of comparison, last year’s Galaxy S7 screen was 5.1 inches and its stablemate S7 Edge was 5.5 inches.
So what must mean the phones themselves are larger, right? Not at all.
On both S8 phones, the entire front of the handset is taken up by the screen.
That means there’s no physical home button, which has been replaced by a ‘virtual’ home button embedded in the screen.
However, that sacrifice wasn’t in vain. By extending the screen to the very edges of the handset, Samsung has been able to incorporate larger screens without making the phones themselves any larger.
We should also note that the screens use Quad HD+ technology, instead of the Super AMOLED display tech that has been a feature of Galaxy S phones since the very beginning.
The upshot is that videos and photos look even better on the display.
2 There’s a 3.5mm headphone port
Apple’s decision to ditch the headphone slot for the iPhone 7 was a controversial one.
Not least because it meant you had to use an adaptor, or shell out for wireless headphones.
Perhaps mindful of that, Samsung has elected to retain the headphone slot for the Galaxy S8.
Better still, it comes with free headphones from audio specialists AKG that offer much, much better and fuller sound than you’d expect from headphones that are usually bundled with smartphones.
3 Bixby voice assistant understands you better than your spouse
Like Siri and Google Assistant, Bixby lets you use voice commands to book tickets, conduct web searches and the like. So far, so familiar.
But it’s also a lot smarter than that. For one thing, Bixby is optimised so you won’t have to use very specific commands to ensure it understands you.
And more ambitious still, Samsung is aiming to allow you to do everything that you’d normally do with touchscreen, using your voice.
Initially, that’ll only apply to ten Samsung apps that come with the phone. But it’ll be extended to third-party apps later this year.
The other key thing to know about Bixby is that it’s context-aware. That means it’s conscious of your location and what’s on the screen at the time and uses that information to better understand what you’re asking it to do.
So if you’ve just taken a photo and decide you want it as your screensaver. When you issue the command ‘Make this my screensaver’, Bixby actually understands ‘this’ refers to the photo and is able to act on your command.
4 Better cameras
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have the same 12-megapixel camera as the S7. But there are some very welcome improvements this time around.
Not least the larger F1.7 aperture, which allows in more light so you get better photos in low light conditions.
It’s also equipped with multi-frame image processing. That’s a bit of mouthful.
But all it means is that each time you take one shot, the S8’s camera takes three. It then blurs them together to give you the best possible image.
5 You can pre-order it now
Networks are accepting pre-orders on the phone from today (29th March). We’ll fill you in on incentives for early birds as soon as we know more.
What we do know is that if you pre-order the S8, you’re giving yourself the best chance of getting one amid the usual clamour and supply shortages that greet the release of a major handset release.