After an unwanted interlude caused by the incendiary Note 7, Samsung returns to the flagship game with the latest in their Galaxy S line, bringing a familiar but further refined body that is edgier than ever With the new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, unveiled this morning in New York, Samsung is saying good-bye to staples like the home button and the flat screen – how passé – and is looking forward to a new AI system and other exciting features like smartphone desktop integration
Will users love these changes? Or will they revolt like they did when Samsung tried to take the micro SD card slot away? The stakes for Samsung here couldn’t be higher: the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are under close scrutiny, at a time of turmoil for the biggest phone maker in the world Find out what Samsung’s latest and greatest have to offer, in this first hands-on look at the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus Indeed, there are two versions of the newest Samsung device and the names no longer utilize the “Edge” moniker, making it clearer than ever that the curved display is the Galaxy calling card moving forward The screen edges come with the usual tropes – Edge UX and light up features, for example – but it is the curved display that helps these phones defy expectations, as these large displays are surprisingly easy to handle The smaller Galaxy S8 crams a 5
8-inch screen onto a body that feels much smaller thanks to the way the curves slide down to meet the hand Of course, this is hardly new for the Galaxy line; however, consider that the Galaxy S8 Plus does the same thing with a whopping 62-inch screen Some things had to change in order to make this display a reality – namely, a resolution and aspect ratio shift to 185:9 totaling 2,960 x 1,440 pixels, which makes for very wide screens (when held in landscape mode)
For the S8 Plus, the phone gets a bit taller than it does wider to accommodate the resolution and that helps keep it from feeling way too unwieldy The result is a phone that is actually somewhat manageable – while the S8 Plus is still a bit too big for comfortable one-handed usage, any other phone with a flat panel would be immensely tougher to handle Altogether, the S8 Plus requires a bit of work to handle, but the original S8 simply feels sublime All hand sizes are different though, so your mileage may vary Another change comes in the removal of the physical button – yes, this is actually happening – and a shift in the position of the fingerprint reader
Hardly anything is found above and below the screen now, including a logo, which will feel very different for longtime Samsung fans While this means more screen real estate, which is always welcome, this also means the fingerprint reader had to be moved to the back, right next to the camera lens, and maybe that’s a little… less welcome The positioning isn’t too bad for the Galaxy S8, but it already proved to be a nuisance to reach on the Galaxy S8 Plus Plus, putting the fingerprint scanner off-center is strange and will require different ranges of motion for left- and right-handed people The change toward larger displays also means soft-keys, which themselves have a bit of Samsung flair to them
The navigation bar is customizable, even down to the background color and the order of the function keys (stock Android fans, you can finally put the back button in its proper place) The home button can appear on the lock screen where it can be held down to unlock the phone, in case you can’t or won’t use some of the more advanced security measures, like the fingerprint sensor or iris scanner Speaking of software, the latest addition to the Galaxy suite of apps is a whole new layer of assistance called Bixby Bixby is a little bit like Samsung’s version of Google Now and Voice Search, and it can be triggered with yet another hardware change – an extra button below the volume rocker Simply press the dedicated button and speak your request: no hot word required
Our time with Bixby only really showed the splash screen, which can be accessed with a swipe to the right on the home screen The Bixby home screen shows contextual slides including calendar entries, previously shot photos, and news stories However, further functions can be unlocked via voice input – which we saw in action during a demo – including changing the screen brightness and taking a selfie.