Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ 'evolutions' unveiled
SAMSUNG prides itself on redefining technology and it certainly delivered as the electronics company launched its latest Galaxy smartphones in New York on Thursday.
The "Unpacked" launch promised a smartphone with near bezel-less design like we have never seen before. The main evolutionary step Samsung has made is to offer an ultra-thin bezel at top and bottom that delivers a larger screen but not a bigger phone.
The Galaxy smartphones will be available in two sizes - the S8 with a 5.8-inch screen and the S8+ with a 6.2-inch screen. In comparison the S7 and S7 Edge have screen sizes of 5.1 and 5.5 inches respectively.
This makes the S8 (148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm and 152g) a smaller phone than the S7 Edge (150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm and 157 grams) despite the larger screen.
With a smooth, continuous surface there are no disruptions to the customer's view with the physical home button and Samsung logo removed from the front screen.
Samsung Australian mobile division vice president Richard Fink said the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are testament to the mobile technology maker's commitment to continually breaking new ground in what it should offer its customers.
"I think the first thing that captivates you when you first see it is the size of the screen," he said. "But not the size of the phone, just the size of the screen. It's a remarkable feat of product design and engineering.
"We've seen big smartphones before but they generally tend to be quite fat. So when you pick this one up in your hand it really fits comfortably in the one hand and you can easily grip it in one hand and use it with your thumb so it's perfect when you are on the go.
"The pace of innovation is so fast and you're only as good as your last flagship handset. So everyone has to be better and better."
Other highlights include Samsung's step into artificial intelligence with Bixby and Samsung DeX, which transforms your phone into a desktop - all aimed at making the user's experience better and simpler.
Samsung has also given its camera an upgrade with an advanced 8MP F1.7 Smart autofocus front camera and 12MP F1.7 Dual Pixel rear camera for the best low-light, zoom and anti-blur photos with enhanced image processing.
"It's got the basics. Every Galaxy phone gets better and better but we've worked out what the real key aspects of a Galaxy phone is that all our customers like. Things like the fantastic camera - the Galaxy S7 had an award-winning camera so we've just built on that," Mr Fink said.
The new devices will also come with the foundational Galaxy features that Samsung users have come to love, including water and dust resistance, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back for durability and a high-quality finish, fast and wireless charging capabilities, MicroSD support up to 256GB and a headphone jack.
"Sometimes it's just the simple things you put into a smartphone that give customers options and the headphone jack is one of those," Mr Fink said. "It's got the foundations that you expect and that beautiful display that sits on top is amazing."
First incarnation of Bixby
Bixby is an intelligent interface that will help users get more out of their phone. With the new Bixby button, you will be able to navigate through services and apps with simple voice, touch, vision and text commands.
At launch, Bixby's Voice function will integrate with several Samsung native apps and features including camera, contacts, gallery, messages and settings, with the plan to expand its capabilities to include more Samsung and third-party apps in the near future.
Contextual awareness capabilities enable Bixby to offer personalised help based on what it continues to learn about the user's interests, situation and location.
Users can also shop, search for images and get details about nearby places with Bixby's image recognition technology.
As the Bixby ecosystem grows, it will connect across devices, apps and services as a ubiquitous interface, and open up new experiences and scenarios to simplify life.
"We've addressed physical usability in terms of the nice comfortable fit in the hand but then you look at all the new features and services that start getting layered into these smartphones," Mr Fink said.
"Traditionally it has only been touch and text input but what I really like about Bixby is that it has now added voice and vision. We've had Siri and Google assistants in the market before but the innovation here is how the voice, text, touch and vision work in together."
Samsung DeX turns your phone into a desktop computer
The Galaxy S8 features the industry's first 10nm processor, enabling heightened speed and efficiency. It is also gigabit LTE and gigabit Wi-Fi ready with support for up to 1 Gbps so users can quickly download files, regardless of the file size.
Leveraging the processing power of the Galaxy S8 for enhanced productivity, Samsung DeX transforms your smartphone into a desktop by providing a secure desktop-like experience.
With Samsung DeX, Samsung says users can display and edit data from their phone, making working from a smartphone faster and smarter.
"After a couple of minutes you forget you are running on a phone. It's quite seamless," Mr Fink said.
"I think until now the processing power of a mobile device has not been strong enough to get that seamless experience."
As the world's first mobile device certified by the UHD Alliance as Mobile HDR Premium, the Galaxy S8 lets you see the same vibrant colours and contrasts that the filmmakers intended while watching your favourite shows.
In addition, the Galaxy S8 offers next-level gaming experiences with vivid and superior graphic technology, as well as Game Pack, featuring top game titles, including select titles supported by the Vulkan API.
Samsung's recent acquisition of audio giant Harman enables them to offer new high-performance AKG earphones as an in-box accessory, offering unbeatable sound quality.
Beyond the Phone Experience
The Galaxy S8 unlocks the new Gear VR with controller, powered by Oculus. Enabling convenient one-handed control and navigation, the controller provides better motion interaction when accessing interactive VR content.
The Galaxy S8 will also connect to the new Gear 360 to create 4K 360-degree videos and 15MP photos.
The Galaxy S8 is built on Samsung Knox, a defense-grade security platform. In addition, the Galaxy S8 will offer a wide selection of biometric technologies including a fingerprint scanner, iris scanner and facial recognition so users can select what works best for them.
Pricing and availability
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ will have recommended retail prices of $1199 and $1349 respectively in Australia with a retail on-sale date on Friday, April 28.
Of the five global colour choices, Australian customers will be able to purchase the Galaxy smartphones in three colours - midnight black, orchid grey and maple gold. Coral blue and artic silver will not be made available in Australia.
Samsung DeX (RRP $199), the new Samsung Gear VR with Controller (RRP $199) and the new Samsung Gear 360 (RRP $399) will also be on-sale in Australia from April 28.
Pre-orders for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in Australia open on Friday (March 31) and conclude at midnight on April 27. Customers who pre-order the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+ from Samsung Australia or one of its operator or retail partners will receive a complimentary new model Gear VR with Controller and a $50 Oculus content voucher.
Customers who pre-order the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in the first few days of the pre-order period could receive their bundle from Friday, April 21, making them among the first in the world to receive Samsung's flagship device.
Operating System: Android 7.0
Dimensions: S8+ 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173g; S8 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm, 155g
Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB
Display: S8+ 6.2" (158.1mm) Quad HD+ (2960x1440), (529ppi); S8 5.8" (146.5mm) Quad HD+ (2960x1440), (570ppi)
Camera Rear: Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (F1.7), Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)
Battery: S8+ 3500mAh; S8 3000mAh
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11; Bluetooth v5.0
The writer is a guest of Samsung Australia in New York