I attended the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked Live Streaming Event on 29 March, knowing that they will be announcing the new S8. Due to the numerous leaks prior to the event, there was no major surprise about how the latest S8 and S8+ looks like.
This time round, there is no more “non-Edge” version. Both S8 and S8+ look identical, with curved edges on both sides. When doing blind test, the S8 feels just like S7 Edge. Spec-wise, there are no difference other than screen and battery size, unlike Huawei P10 vs. P10 Plus.
The phones looked pretty good from the front, as the display fills almost the entire front display, leaving only thin bezels at the top and bottom. There is no brand shown in front, no home button to distract the clean full-glass.
From the back, it looked similar to previous Galaxy series. If you were to ask me, I would say the rear of the Galaxy S8 series looked boring compared to other new smartphone watches. Instead, it is the front that everyone wants to take photos with.
New features to highlight on the new S8 series:
The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch screen while the S8+ has 6.2-inch, which are just amazingly huge yet the phones are not as huge as they sound. Resolution is 2960 x 1440 for both devices.
Like the LG G6, the corners of the display is curved. And like the LG G6, the aspect ratio is almost 2:1 – the specs sheet labelled them as “18.5 : 9”, converted to “2.06:1”, slightly longer.
Pressure-sensor Home Button
The home button is no more, but replaced by a pressure sensor at the bottom middle to allow user to activate Home.
More Unlock Options – Iris Scanning and Face Recognition
Iris scanning was first introduced in Galaxy Note 7. Now, the S8 includes face recognition, a feature that was rather popular in the earlier Android versions. Given new technology and my recent experience with Windows Hello on the ASUS Transformer 3 Pro, the new face recognition technology allows unlocking of the device so much faster.
AKG Earphones Bundled
Galaxy S8 includes premium AKG earphones worth US$99. And yes, the S8 still comes with 3.5mm connectors.
Bixby is the Samsung’s equivalent to Google Assistant. It offers intelligence using voice, text, touch together to understand what you want and provide suggestions, recommendations and trigger personalised actions. Naturally, it only works with partner apps and services.
Galaxy S8 can now be docked to a DeX Station to convert the phone to a desktop. It is not a new concept and further hands-on need to be taken to determine if there are any limitations to this capability.
Companion Devices – New Gear 360 and VR Controller
Samsung revamped the Gear 360 and Gear VR while retaining the names. The new Gear 360 (2017) offers a unique design unlike any in the market, a hybrid of a sphere head and stick body, and somewhat still pocketable. The new Gear 360 now supports live streaming capability.
The new Gear VR now comes with a Controller to allow improved interaction with the VR content.
Should You Buy the New Galaxy S8/S8+?
If you judge a book by its cover, then I would say, the new Galaxy S8 offers a complete makeover to a smartphone visual experience. Having said that, Samsung is not alone, as LG similarly announced the G6 with almost-bezel-less display.
If you are an existing Galaxy S6 or Galaxy Note 6 user, then definitely I would say this is a great leap from the current device. If you are an existing S7 user, the experience might not be as mind-blowing. Plus there is some re-conditioning to the user experience, since the fingerprint sensor is shifted to the rear, and home button is virtual, make it little difference from most other Android devices out there.
After the Note 7 incident, consumers would be extremely cautious about the S8. However, from the specs point-of-view, the new S8 series remain one of the top phones. Having said that, if you needed larger storage space, then the S8’s 64GB storage might not be as convincing as the Huawei P10 Plus with 128GB storage and 6GB RAM, which will retail for S$998 in Singapore.
When comparing with LG G6, the S8 specs once again appear better in most points. However, the G6 promises a revamped UX that changes the way we capture and share content (plus I love wide-angle camera!).
So, at this point in time, I have to say that the S8 series offer promising features that are worth upgrading, providing the user experience is top-notch. Like I always share with my peers, if you are unsure about the quality and experience of other brands in the market, the Samsung Galaxy S-series is always a safe choice, no pun intended.
Get the full breakdown of the specs on Samsung’s official microsite.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available in Singapore from 29 April at S$1,148 and S$1,298 respectively. Colours are Maple Gold, Midnight Black and Orchid Gray. Telco preorders begin on 7 April, and there is a roadshow at Ngee Ann Civic Plaza from 14 April which you can try out the smartphones. Visit the Samsung Galaxy S8 Singapore Microsite for more product information.