The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are finally official. There were more leaks of these phones than most recent Samsung devices, possibly because the design is so different that it’s been hard to keep under wraps. We’ve got the official specs, and this confirms the Galaxy S8 will be the very first Snapdragon 835 device on the market. That could give it a big advantage over competing smartphone makers.
Here are the official specs.
• SoC: Snapdragon 835 (2.35GHz Quad + 1.9GHz Quad)
• Storage: 64GB with microSD card
• RAM: 4GB
• Display: 5.8-inch @ 2960×1440, 570ppi — 6.2-inch @ 2960×1440,
• Camera: 12MP f/1.7, 8MP f/1.7
• Battery: 3,000 mAh, 3,500 mAh
• Software: Android 7.0
• Measurements: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm, 155g — 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173g
There are a few things of note here. The storage in the base model is now 64GB, double what the Galaxy S7 came with. There’s still expandable storage as well. The curved displays are, of course, one of the highlights. There is almost no bezel on these phones, so the large screen sizes don’t necessarily mean the phones are larger. The regular GS8 is smaller than the Galaxy S7 Edge, but it has a bigger screen.
Slimmer device, bigger screen
No more bezels. That’s the latest design shift sweeping the phone industry. The bezel is that area outside of the screen on the front of the phone usually used to house a physical home button, cameras and sensors. Apple’s 10th anniversary phone, due likely this fall, is rumored to have dramatically reduced bezels. Even Android creator Andy Rubin’s upcoming stealthy startup, Essential, teased an image on Twitter of what appears to be a phone with nearly no bezels.
While Samsung hasn’t been able to completely remove the bezels in the Galaxy S8 phones, it comes pretty close. Very narrow bezels are left on the top and bottom — enough room for a row of cameras and sensors. With less bezel brings the remove of the home button. Samsung has placed the button under the screen.
The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch screen, which is .7 inches more than the Galaxy S7, and the S8+ has a 6.2-inch screen. Even with bigger screen, Samsung is slimming down the phone — the S8 is 1.2 millimeters thinner than the S7. Samsung has elongated the display, giving the phones an 18:9 aspect ratio instead of the traditional 16:9 ratio. That will help make the viewing experience more “immersive,” Samsung said.
A better Camera than the Google Pixel
Firstly, the hardware is excellent. It’s got the same 12-megapixel sensor and the same f/1.7 lens as the S7. This gives is a basic advantage of the slightly worse lens in the Google Pixel, which is f/2.0. This difference sounds small but it’s all about the light that gets to the sensor. More light means less noise, and a much sharper and cleaner image.
Samsung’s next trick is to use the same technique that Google does. This isn’t a hardware feature, but one that works in software. To do this, the S8 and S8+ each take three photographs in quick succession when you press the shutter button. This is done far quicker than, say, a burst frame. But it’s crucial to get good low-noise images in low light.
AI assistant wars
Last year, Google made its first major attempt at becoming a premium Android phone maker with the Pixel. Google tried to differentiate itself with the most advanced intelligent virtual assistant, Google Assistant. Instead of adapting Google’s version, Samsung has chosen to risk doing it all themselves with its own assistant called Bixby. And just to show you how much Samsung is devoted to owning its own AI assistant, the company has installed a button on the side of Galaxy S8 phones — on the left and below the volume buttons — dedicated solely to the Bixby assistant. That button is a huge risk — what if users end up not liking the feature? Then there’s just a useless button hanging out on the side of their phone.
Pressing the button activates the assistant to start listening to voice commands. Samsung said users would be able to do everything in voice they could do with touch. A demo showed how users could do simple do simple interactions like rotate an image or set a timer. At the start, only native Samsung apps will work with Bixby, but Samsung is trying to get third-party developers to integrate their apps into Bixby. Bixby can also use the camera to recognize objects in front of it and pull up information. Looking at a wine bottle, for example, connects the user to a Wine seller that presents reviews and pricing for ordering online. Bixby will connect with other online services like Amazon. There’s also a personalized home screen with Bixby that supposed to show recommended content, like YouTube videos.
Transforming the phone into a desktop computer
Lastly, Samsung is anticipating a world where all our personal computing needs will take place only on a phone. The company is introducing DeX, a docking station that connects the phone to a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Phones transforming into desktops has been played around with a bit before. HP Inc. last year announced the Elite x3 phablet that also docks into an external monitor and keyboard. For a laptop experience, HP has a 12.5-inch diagonal high-definition display that folds up with a keyboard and trackpad. The HP phone runs Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile operating system and takes advantage of Microsoft’s Continuum feature, which lets developers make universal apps that run on any screen size.
Samsung proves to be a leader in product innovation once more. Just hope this phone does burn away…