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Samsung is preparing to unveil a pair of Galaxy S8 smartphones significantly different from past models, according to someone familiar with the company’s plans. Because they lack the traditional navigation buttons found on handsets in this line’s first seven years, they will both feature displays even larger than Samsung’s traditionally oversized second-half flagship, the Galaxy Note.
The two models, with 5.8- and 6.2-inch QHD Super AMOLED screens that cover 83 percent of their front panels, were first detailed by The Guardian. Because of their unusual size, their aspect ratio — at 18.5:9 — deviates slightly from the industry-standard 16:9. As The Guardian noted, both models sport Samsung’s “edge” display, which curves downward on both sides of the handset.
While the Android Nougat-powered phones may include different systems-on-chip depending on sales region — Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in some and Samsung Exynos in others — all will have processors made using 10-nanometer fabrication methods. Performance-wise, this is said to make them 11 percent faster than the Galaxy S7 overall, with 23 percent faster graphics processing, but still 20 percent more energy efficient.
That improved power consumption will be critical, because despite the vastly increased display sizes, battery capacity is said to be a relatively conservative 3000mAh and 3500mAh for the 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch designs, respectively. And while internally the 4GB of RAM remains unchanged from the past few models, 64GB is the new baseline when it comes to internal storage (supplemented by a 256GB-capable microSD slot).
Charging is accomplished via a USB-C port, which is located on the bottom of the handsets next to — as Samsung will no doubt highlight in its presentation — an Apple-scorned 3.5-millimeter jack.
Imaging and biometrics
Moving on to imaging, neither the main 12-megapixel rear camera nor the front-facing 8-megapixel selfie camera, both of whose lenses possess f1.7 focal ratios, will see resolution improvements compared to the Galaxy S7 — but that doesn’t mean nothing has changed. [Update: the S7 models only have a 5MP selfie cam, so 8MP is indeed an improvement.]
The main camera allegedly possesses a new visual search functionality, with icons appearing on screen that allow the user to indicate the type of search to be performed (OCR-enabled web search on photographed text, for instance, or a shopping-site search for products of interest). And alongside the selfie cam is another sensor to endow the S8 with the same iris-scanning capability that debuted in the ill-fated Galaxy Note7.
With no Home button to house the fingerprint sensor, it has been moved around back — as is standard on phones from many other manufacturers — but its placement next to the rear camera lens (as opposed to underneath) may prove to be problematic for some users.
As The Guardian noted, one value-added feature is the ability to connect the handsets to a monitor for a desktop view of Android that can be controlled via keyboard and mouse, like Microsoft Continuum, called Samsung DeX — though it requires an optional, HDMI-equipped dock.
Another is Samsung’s version of the Google Assistant (and Apple’s Siri), known as Bixby. It’s said to be able to handle more complex commands than its competitors, such as multi-part instructions, and is launched by a dedicated button on the side of the devices.
Lastly, the pressure-sensitive input technology known as force touch is finally coming to the Galaxy brand, with the lower part of the display supposedly capable of distinguishing between different types of screen presses. Apple first included a similar technology on 2015’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
For the past several years, Samsung has launched the latest Galaxy S model just prior to the start of Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain at the end of February.
This year’s first Unpacked event, however, will take place nearly a month later, on March 29, and will occur in New York City instead. Following the painful Note7 recall and eventual cancellation, Samsung is taking extra time to test the critical models, as it hinted at in a public autopsy of the doomed phablet earlier this week.
Another difference between this year and last: the price. In Europe, the two Galaxy S8 models will each cost €100 more than last year’s models — the 5.8-inch model will retail for €799 and the 6.2-inch model at €899. Both go on sale April 21.
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