At its Unpacked 2017 event last week, Samsung unveiled a ton of new hardware and software products. The star of the show, of course, was the Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8+, the latest iterations of the company’s flagship smartphone.
As we approach U.S. availability, on April 21, here’s a quick recap of five notable features on the Galaxy S8 / S8+.
The Samsung S8 / S8+ comes in two chip variants — the U.S. and Chinese incarnation sports Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, while elsewhere the devices pack Samsung’s very own Exynos 8895.
Without getting into too much detail here, both chips are roughly the same, and consumers won’t experience much difference in terms of performance. However, the most notable facet of both is that they represent the first 10 nanometer (nm) chips on the market, and Samsung is among the first to adopt them in its flagship device.
The smaller size gives phone makers more space to include bigger batteries or to make the device thinner, but, more importantly, the chip’s transistors are packed in more tightly, which leads to more efficient running and lower power consumption. Ultimately, it should mean an all-round better-performing device.
2. Smart assistant
Amazon gave us Alexa, Microsoft gave us Cortana, Apple gave us Siri, and now Samsung has given us Bixby.
Officially unveiled ahead of the S8 launch last week, Samsung’s new Bixby AI assistant is aimed at mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT), but its being debuted on the Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8+.
According to Samsung, Bixby differs from the competition insofar as it will support “almost” every task that is available through the touchscreen. This is designed to avoid confusing users so that they’re not left wondering which commands are voice-enabled and which aren’t.
At the launch of the Galaxy S8, a number of Bixby-enabled apps are already onboard, including YouTube, Facebook, and Netflix. A software development kit (SDK) will be offered in the future, allowing any developer to build Bixby-enabled apps.
As with previous devices, the Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8+ has a finger print scanner, which has been moved to the back of the unit. However, the phones also come with a number of other new biometric authentication smarts, including an Iris scanner and facial recognition.
This means that in addition to PIN codes and fingerprints, you can now unlock your Galaxy device simply by looking into its eyes (well, cameras).
4. Virtual reality (VR)
Samsung’s new Galaxy-branded flagships will initially only be available through carriers, starting at around $720, but they’re expected to be made available unlocked from May. Best Buy is expected to sell them unlocked for $725 (S8) and $825 (S8+).
While the devices are not cheap, it’s worth noting here that they also come bundled with the new Gear VR headset and an Oculus-powered controller, which costs $130 if bought separately. It also comes with a free game pack.
This could be construed as Samsung’s way of expediting the hitherto slow uptake of VR by the masses.
Samsung has continued chipping away at the bezel on its flagship, and this year it’s providing what it calls an “infinity display.”
The display on the S8 and S8+ now covers 83 percent of the entire front of the device. The bezels have been most notably shrunk at the top and bottom of the screen, which also means there is no longer a physical home button.
But Samsung has managed to increase the screen size on last year’s unit without making the overall size of the device that much bigger, which is a notable achievement.