With just a few hours to go before Samsung officially unveils the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, there is a lot of hype around the phones right now. With the countless leaks that have surfaced in the past few months, we have a pretty clear idea of what Samsung’s next flagship smartphones are going to look like.
The Galaxy S8 has a lot riding on it after the fateful demise of the Galaxy Note 7. Samsung knows that it not only needs to come out with something flagship-worthy, but it also needs to be something special to win over the hearts of fans and skeptics alike. Looking at the leaks, there were a few things that Samsung seems to have been done right:
1. Break the design lull
Smartphone design has seen a bit of a stagnation over the years and Samsung has tried to break that trend in the past by launching dual-edge smartphones. Bezel-less displays are the new order of the day with Xiaomi and LG having raced ahead by launching near bezel-less smartphones with the Mi MIX and LG G6 respectively. Glass is slowly trumping metal as the new premium and if the leaks are right, the Galaxy S8 promises to bring just that – a mostly all-glass smartphone with a large display, and almost no bezels.
All the leaks and renders have shown us that Samsung is keeping the front just for the display, moving the fingerprint scanner over at the back, and ditching the Home Button and navigation buttons altogether. This leaves all the room in the front to house a large display for an immersive viewing experience. The Galaxy S8 allegedly touts a 18:9 aspect ratio with extremely slim bezels on the top and bottom. The back is expected to be all glass as well. From the looks of it, the Galaxy S8 has an attractive design and will offer something different from the current exhaustive lineup of smartphones.
However, there are some uncertainties with bezel-less smartphones and it’s still early in the day to know just how well these displays will work on a daily basis. One of the biggest concerns is the fragility of the smartphone since the front is pretty much completely exposed to breaks and shattering. Secondly, no bezels means one might need to handle the device in a way to avoid accidentally touching the display every now and then.
2. Spot on iris scanner
Fingerprint scanners are so 2014, and Samsung wants you to know just that. By now you would have spotted that the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S8 is being kept awkwardly close to the rear camera module. One concern here is you could end up accidentally smudging the rear camera every time you try to unlock the smartphone. Not to mention the placement of the sensor could also make it difficult to reach with your finger, especially on the bigger Galaxy S8+. This is perhaps why Samsung has also included an iris scanner, as per leaks.
The company wants you to make use of the iris scanner in the front. But to get this right, Samsung will need to make the technology incredibly fast and responsive. We got a taste of it with the Galaxy Note 7, but we’ll know for sure just how useful this can get with the new phones. Additionally, if rumours are to be believed, we may also see a facial recognition feature for added security with the upcoming flagship. If Samsung takes the Apple route, offering extra premium features for ‘Plus’ models, then the facial recognition feature could be exclusive to the bigger Galaxy S8+.
3. Safest Samsung smartphone ever?
It’s about time we move on from those awful “exploding Samsung” jokes and no one wants that more than the South Korean giant. This is perhaps the biggest test for Samsung, and the company would have pulled out all the stops to make sure its units are perfect. Even a single incident – be it legit or otherwise – can potentially hammer the company even worse than before.
After the massive recall of the Galaxy Note 7 that ultimately saw its end late last year, Samsung not only incurred some heavy loss financially but it also took a hit on credibility. Safety is one of the main concerns for the company, and according to reports, Samsung has upped its safety check by adding an eight-point safety check protocol, which includes x-raying the batteries.
As much as Samsung is pushing the boundaries with design, it is also playing it safe when it comes to battery capacity. From the leaks so far, Samsung will limit the battery for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ to 3000mAh and 3500mAh, respectively, similar to what was found in the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge.
4. Keeping it under $1000
With a brand new design language for the Galaxy S8 and top-of-the-line specifications and features, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ will not go easy on the pockets. As of now, the device are expected to be priced starting at EUR 799 (roughly Rs. 56,000) for the Galaxy S8 and EUR 899 (roughly Rs. 63,300) for the Galaxy S8+. However, a leak out of Italy pegs the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ at EUR 829 (roughly Rs. 58,500) and EUR 929 (roughly Rs. 65,500), respectively.
These prices are expected to be higher than last year’s Galaxy S7. But Samsung fans may be willing to shell out a little extra if the smartphones live up to their expectations. Again, a lot of it will also depend on how the new phones battle the shadow of Galaxy Note 7. Moreover, a pricing over $1000 could be a psychological barrier for fans and Samsung should not cross that bar just yet.
5. Implementing Bixby just right
Samsung will also introduce its personal voice assistant, called Bixby, with the Galaxy S8. Samsung’s AI will compete against Apple’s Siri. However, the latter has had some years to improve its digital assistant, so Samsung will mostly look to show off Bixby as a smarter version of its S Voice for now. Bixby, developed by Viv Labs, was recently unveiled ahead of the Galaxy S8. According to Samsung, Bixby will let you operate compatible apps completely by voice.
Without a live demo, we still don’t know how well Bixby will be integrated in the upcoming flagships. The company says that Bixby-enabled apps will let you complete most tasks using just your voice. Samsung also says that Bixby is more conversational, much like Google’s Assistant, and this could give Samsung the edge it needs over Apple.
Samsung Galaxy S8 specifications and features
Bezel-less display and iris scanner aside, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ is expected to pack some serious firepower under the hood. The two smartphones will be powered by the latest Snapdragon 835 SoC, but some markets will get the home-grown Exynos 8895 chip as well.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are expected to sport 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch Super AMOLED pressure sensitive displays respectively, with QHD+ display resolutions (2400×2960 pixels). The smartphones will pack 4GB of RAM with China and South Korea said to get 6GB RAM variants as well. The devices will run on Android 7.0 Nougat.
Samsung will also look to reclaim its crown in the camera department. The company has done extremely well in this area with recent Galaxy flagships sporting stellar cameras. Interestingly, reports so far tell us that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ will get a 12-megapixel dual pixel rear camera. This sounds similar to the Galaxy S7, at least on paper. But you can bet Samsung will add some touches to it that should improve the quality over last year. Samsung is also expected to bump up the front camera to an 8-megapixel sensor.
The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ will be unveiled in a few hours at an event in the US. You can catch the live streaming of the launch right here.