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Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ hands-on: First encounter

Introduction

After a month of what seemed like never ending barrage of leaks, Samsung has finally (and officially) announced its Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. This marks the company’s first major smartphone release since the sad demise of the Galaxy Note7 last fall, which prompted the company to implement a new 8-point battery safety check to the S8 and all future devices.

Samsung Galaxy S8 preview

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is Samsung’s first major design change since the Samsung Galaxy S6, when Samsung went with premium materials like metal and glass to construct a beautiful device. And beautiful these devices are. Both feature curved edges on both sides so there is no longer an ‘edge’-specific model. The S8+ otherwise has the same features and specs at the S8 except for a larger display and battery.

The display is the hallmark of the two phones – tall and narrow, pixel-rich and covering as much of the phones as possible. The aspect ratio is the odd bit here, though we’ve been prepped by the LG G6’s 18:9 already – Samsung’s panels are in an even more unorthodox 18.5:9 ratio. Super AMOLEDs, the two, naturally.

Samsung is one of the first, if not the first, to launch with the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset. As every other year, there will also be an Exynos version for some markets.

The camera sensor for the S8 duo appears to come from the S7 and Note7, but with promised tweaks in processing (Pixel-like image stacking) the camera should be even better. And we’re digging the bump in front camera resolution – it was high time Samsung decommissioned those 5MP selfie shooters.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ at a glance
Body: Polished aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass 5 front and back; IP68 certified for water and dust resistance. Arctic Silver, Orchid Grey, Black Sky, Maple Gold, and Coral Blue color schemes.
Display: 5.8″/6.2″ Super AMOLED, 2,960x1440px resolution, 18.5:9 (2.06:1) aspect ratio, 571/529ppi; HDR 10 compliant (no Dolby Vision).
Rear camera:12MP, f/1.7 aperture, dual pixel phase detection autofocus, OIS; multi-shot image stacking; 2160p/30fps video recording.
Front camera: 8MP, f/1.7 aperture, autofocus; 1080p/30fps video recording.
OS/Software: Android 7.0 Nougat; Samsung Grace UX; Bixby virtual assistant; Smart Connect, Smart Connect Home
Chipsets: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835: octa-core CPU (4xKryo 280 + 4xCortex-A53), Adreno 540 GPU. Exynos 8895: octa-core CPU (4x2nd-gen Mongoose + 4xCortex-A53), Mali-G71 GPU.
Memory: 4GB of RAM (6GB option for some markets, probably later down the line); 64GB storage; microSD slot for cards up to 256GB, UFS cards support.
Battery: 3,000mAh/3,500mAh Li-Po (sealed); Adaptive Fast Charging (same as S7); QuickCharge 2.0 support; WPC&PMA wireless charging.
Connectivity: Single-SIM, Dual-SIM available in certain markets; LTE-A, 4-Band carrier aggregation, Cat.16/13 (1Gbps/150Mbps); USB Type-C (v3.1); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS, Beidou, Galileo; NFC; Bluetooth 5.0.
Misc: Fingerprint reader; iris recognition/face recognition; single speaker on the bottom; 3.5mm jack; bundled AKG headphones.

Samsung is also big on iris recognition, though it could have used a better ambassador for it than the Note 7. It is what is. Let’s hope it’s good enough for us to stop kvetching about that unconventionally placed fingerprint sensor.

A few other check boxes in the specsheet sure won’t leave us complaining – the IP68 rating (should be mandatory on flagships, really), 3.5mm headphone jack (let’s not go there again), and USB-C port (USB-C on all the things, already). AKG headphones also sound nice. Having them in the box, that is, we haven’t actually heard them play.

We got to spend a few hours in a room with a few Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ near-final units – the perks of the job. What good are those initial impressions if we don’t share them with you?