2017 is an important year for Samsung, following on from a fairly disastrous second half of 2016, during which it launched the Galaxy Note 7 phablet. It ultimately had to issue a global recall for the Note 7, costing it millions and losing it the trust of many once loyal customers. The Galaxy S8 is the phone which it hopes will reverse its faltering fortunes. But what does the device have to offer, and could it catapult Samsung back into the good books of its erstwhile fans?
Design & Display
The Galaxy S8 is undoubtedly a good looking device, sporting a curved exterior which has been seen on earlier Galaxy Edge models. The screen measures a full 5.8 inches across the diagonal, although it will feel slightly smaller, because of this curvature. It is also known as the ‘Infinity Display’, in reference to the way that it spills off the sides of the device, giving the impression that there is no bezel whatsoever. This has helped the designers to squeeze a sizeable panel onto the S8, without causing its dimensions to balloon, compared with last year’s S7. The fingerprint scanner is found on the rear, as necessitated by the supersized screen. There is even the S8+ making its way to market, with a 6.2 inch Infinity Display in tow, although whether this bigger model is even necessary given the impressive size of the basic S8 is up for debate.
The displays sport a 1440p resolution and are based on Super AMOLED technology, which will be familiar to any long term Galaxy aficionados. They are also equipped with a wider aspect ratio than is seen on other smartphones, which gives app designers a little more freedom in terms of what they can squeeze onto the screen. It will require third party developers to take advantage of all that is on offer, but Samsung’s commercial weight should ensure that this is not an issue.
Samsung is using its own Exynos chipset, with eight physical cores and 4GB of RAM onboard, to power the S8. The battery is a mid-tier 3000mAh cell, while the larger S8+ gets a 3500mAh battery, to support the increased power requirements of its display. Wireless charging is a standard feature, while photography and video capture are supported by a 12 megapixel rear-mounted camera, as well as a front-mounted eight megapixel snapper. All of these features are a step forward, as is to be expected from a new flagship smartphone, but Samsung’s aim has definitely been to push the design and display a lot harder than any other elements of the S8.
One benefit of this device is that it will be compatible with a brand new docking station that is designed to allow it to effectively double up as a desktop PC, complete with compatibility with popular input devices such as keyboard and mouse. For people who are not interested in having a multitude of gadgets, but would prefer an all in one solution for their computing needs, the S8 could be a worthy investment.
Android 7.0 Nougat is the OS of choice for the S8, but the real surprise is the arrival of Samsung’s answer to Siri and Alexa. The exclusive voice controlled digital assistant on this device is known as Bixby, and promises to develop significantly over the coming months and years, even if it remains somewhat stunted, in comparison with its rivals at the moment.
Samsung is obviously attempting some ambitious things with the Galaxy S8, and this range will no doubt get a lot of people excited. Hopefully, it should be enough to help consumers forget about the indignities the firm suffered last year.