Samsung have chartered a bold new course with the Galaxy S8, but is it one that inspires? We dive in with our hands-on preview!
If you can forgive all the marketing rhetoric, Samsung does have a point. For years we’ve witnessed the slow evolution of brick-like smartphones, which have inexorably become slimmer and sharper. While that’s great, it’s not often we get to see a monumental change to the status quo – but with the Galaxy S8, we have a chance to head for bold, new horizons.
Gone is Samsung’s typically chunky forehead and its protruding Galaxy chin; banished are side bezels. Swept away is the protruding camera lens, and diminished is the typical S-series footprint. In its place? A delightfully sexy handset exudes ‘wow’ factor.
Let’s deal with some specs first. The Galaxy S8 runs on either Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 in the US, or an Exynos 8895 chipset in Europe. That’s made replete with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of native (expandable) storage, and a sizeable 3,000mAh battery.
Further, a dual pixel 12-megapixel primary camera is present, replete with an 8-megapixel selfie camera equipped with autofocus. Together, this makes for a serious package that’ll please prosumers and professionals alike.
While we can’t wait to dive in with a full-on camera test, early results are positive. The Galaxy S8 retains the prowess first seen aboard the S7 Edge, and thanks to dual-pixel technology benefits from refined snaps even in low light. Selfies are similarly pleasant, and the addition of autofocus will please socialites everywhere.
In the hand? The Galaxy S8 is as much a fashion statement as it is a powerhouse. This is by far one of the most comfortable handsets Samsung has ever produced; glass seemingly melts into your hand thanks to a 5.8″ display with the awkward Infinity Display resolution of 1440 x 2960. That’s important, because the S8 is more display than anything else, sporting a radical 83.6% screen-to-body ratio.
Where there are side profiles, they’re minimal – and, refreshingly, buttons remain as pleasantly clicky as they were aboard the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7. Just to confound users everywhere, the S8 includes a specialized button for summoning Bixby – more on that later – which can be all-too-easily confused for the power button.
There’s an air of lightness around the device, which is only corroborated by the fact that this is without any kind of heft whatsoever; making an IP68 dust and water resistance rating all the more pressing if you happen to have butter fingers.
While the display is crisp, vibrant and well sized – and will undoubtedly be the first talking point in conversation – it’s not without its drawbacks. Gone is Samsung’s traditional capacitive home button, having been replaced with a soft-touch trio of Android keys that sport their own design.
This matters, because Samsung has moved its fingerprint scanner opposite the primary camera; a slim, subtle piece of glass tracks one’s fingerprint, and unfortunately serves as a beautiful vehicle to facilitate smudges all over the Galaxy S8’s primary shooter.
In place of that users can expect both iris scanning and facial recognition, though the concept has its woolly points; for instance, the tricky placement of the fingerprint scanner will infuriate the left-handed, and the presence of facial recognition all but makes using the feature redundant.
The Galaxy S8’s smarts extends to the inside of the phone as well. There’s a completely new look called Samsung Experience, which brings a simple and colourful vision of Android to life. Gone are those heavy days where TouchWiz reigned supreme; Experience brings a sense of levity to proceedings, empowering users to maneuver through their device’s interface with ease.
We can’t hit on the point of interface without touching on Bixby; Samsung’s newly announced AI assistant that can facilitate actions in both native Samsung apps as well as third-party apps such as Uber and Google Maps. Bixby is Samsung’s bridge between the user and the user interface, and is an effort to combine voice and touch. We’ll have a more informed view on Bixby once we conclude our official review period.
The Galaxy S8 is available for pre-order in South Africa as of the 30th of March, and will become officially available on the 5th of May. The handset is set to arrive in Midnight Black, Orchid Grey, and Maple Gold, and will retail for the recommended retail price of R15499.
We’ll be diving in with a full Galaxy S8 review in the forthcoming weeks, but for now, we want to hear your thoughts! Can you foresee yourself picking up a Galaxy S8? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!