Samsung's Galaxy S8 has finally arrived and while its design will come with absolutely zero surprise to those who have been following the constant stream of rumours over the last few months, it will undoubtedly still have all eyes on it.
It not only has some big boots to fill with the Galaxy S7 edge being a fantastic device, but it also has to regain the confidence lost by the Galaxy Note 7. In short, it has its work well and truly cut out.
Luckily, the Galaxy S8 holds no prisoners with Samsung pulling out all the stops. First impressions: It absolutely nails it.
Samsung Galaxy S8: Design
- Dual-edge 18.5:9 aspect Infinity Display
- 148.1 x 68.2 x 8mm, 155g
- IP68 waterproofing
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a fabulous looking device that takes the Galaxy S7 edge's stunning design and pushes all its boundaries, delivering a futuristic successor that exceeds even our expectations on first look.
The IP68-rated metal and glass sandwich, dual-curved edges and sculpted sides all remain, offering the familiar Galaxy finish we have come to know and love over the last couple of years, but there are several key design changes that set the S8 apart from the S7 and S6 edge ranges.
First and foremost is the Infinity Display that encompasses the front of the device with its curved edges, super slim bezels and not even so much as a logo ruining the finale. It isn't the first smartphone to be all about the display, with the LG G6 stealing that accolade, but both Korean manufacturers are aiming for the same goal: better screen-to-body ratios that deliver larger displays without increasing the overall footprint.
Despite the Galaxy S8's 0.3-inch larger display over the S7 edge, it is actually smaller in body and lighter, measuring just 148.1 x 68.2 x 8mm and weighing 155g, resulting in a device that is a pleasure to handle.
The home button is now pressure sensitive and built into the display, along with navigation controls, rather than a physical button sitting beneath it, while the bezels that do exist on the Galaxy S8 are now black, instead of the the same colour running through from the rear of the device.
There is something to be said for the addition of colour through bezels and some may even prefer the design of the S7 edge for this reason alone, but the black finish does put more emphasis on the lovely display, while also hiding the plethora of sensors at the top – more on those later.
The glass back of the Galaxy S8 has the square camera lens positioned centrally at the top with a flash to its left, as was the case with the S7 edge, but there is now also a fingerprint sensor to the right. Perhaps a strange position in terms of usability but in terms of design, it delivers a level of symmetry that is very pleasing to the eye like the rest of the device.
The Galaxy S8 is stunning, as far as smartphones go, with a design that makes some of its biggest competitors look boring and dated in comparison. It will be available in Midnight Black and Orchid Grey in the UK, both of which are lovely, though we do have a big crush on the grey [insert emoji with love heart eyes here]. A third colour, Arctic Silver, will also be available eventually.
Samsung Galaxy S8: Display
- 5.8-inch 2960 x 1440 pixels, 570ppi
- AMOLED Infinity Display with dual edges, 18.5:9 aspect
- Mobile HDR with Ultra HD Alliance certification
Samsung is no stranger to a fantastic display with its Super AMOLED screens leading the way for brightness, vibrancy and punch, resulting in everything looking fabulous, even if not as realistic as some of its rivals.
The Galaxy S8's screen once again opts for AMOLED and unsurprisingly, it appears to be as impressive as its predecessors and every bit as capable. It's curved like the Galaxy S8+ meaning there is no flat option this time round. A bump in resolution to 2960 X 1440 results in a pixel density of 570ppi and exceptional detail in the new device, while the aspect ratio moves from the standard 16:9 to 18.5:9, which is similar though not quite identical to LG's G6.
The taller display allows for better multi-tasking capabilities, enabling users to split the display more effectively than is possible with a 16:9 display. You'll not only be able to have different apps at the top and bottom of the screen, which is something Samsung and Android Nougat already offer, but you'll also be able to pin apps on top of each other.
The extended height does mean that notifications are a little bit more of a thumb stretch to access than they would be on the S7 edge, but as the width remains the same, one-handed use is certainly achievable and surprisingly comfortable on both the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and the larger 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+.
Mobile HDR Premium is also on board the Galaxy S8, a technology that was first introduced on the he-who-must-not-be-named Galaxy Note 7, and more recently on the LG G6 and Galaxy Tab S3. Where LG bagged the first Dolby Vision smartphone medal, Samsung has bagged the first Ultra HD Alliance certified smartphone for its Mobile HDR.
He said, she said and jargon aside, ultimately this battle for the best Mobile HDR experience should mean the likes of Netflix and Amazon will produce more HDR content in order for you to take full advantage of the technology, which is great.
Samsung Galaxy S8: Specs and battery
- Samsung Exynos 8895, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, microSD
- Iris scanning, rear fingerprint sensor
- 3000mAh battery, USB Type-C, wireless charging
- Gigabit LTE
Beauty comes from within, as they say, and luckily the Galaxy S8's beauty is skin deep. Yep, it runs all the way to the core being the first smartphone to market powered by a 10nm chipset.
The Exynos processor still needs to prove itself in the real world, but according to Samsung, the Galaxy S8 will offer over a 10 per cent improvement in CPU compared to the S7 edge, and a 21 per cent improvement in GPU.
No doubt some territories will get the Samsung-made Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip rather than the Exynos 8895, and it too will need to prove itself, but it isn't currently known which chip will be going where. We will update this preview when we find out, as well as when we have tested the performance in the real world.
What we do know for now is the Galaxy S8 will have 4GB of RAM support, coupled with 64GB of internal storage and microSD support for storage expansion. There is also a 3000mAh battery on board, which is a little smaller than the 3500mAh found in the larger Galaxy S8+, though both are charged via USB Type-C, a feature Samsung missed off the spec sheet last year. They also both have fast charging and wireless charging support.
In terms of other specs, the Galaxy S8 also offers iris recognition, which Samsung claims is now more advanced than when it launched on the Note 7 and there is also that rear-mounted fingerprint sensor we mentioned briefly earlier.
If you don't like the idea of either of these, the invisible pressure sensitive home button we also briefly mentioned can be firmly pressed to unlock the Galaxy S8, delivering customisable haptic feedback so you know it's worked. Galaxy S users, you'll get used to one of them eventually, don't worry.
Samsung Galaxy S8: Camera
- Rear 12MP f/1.7, front 8MP f/1.7
- Multi-frame image processing
- Bixby integration
Samsung upped its game tremendously in its smartphone camera department over the last couple of years, with the Galaxy S6 and S7 devices both excelling in this area putting expectations high for the Galaxy S8.
Like the Galaxy S7, the new device has a 12-megapixel Duo Pixel rear camera with optical image stabilisation and an aperture of f/1.7, while the front camera sees a bump in resolution to 8-megapixels. Samsung has also added autofocus to the front snapper, along with filters, augmented reality and stickers overall. All the fun to be had, even if a little gimmicky.
In an effort to meet those high expectations, a technology called "multi-frame image processing" has also been introduced. This technology takes three images and uses the information collected to create one better, more detailed image. It has been used in other devices in the past, so while not new, it is a useful addition that will no doubt boost performance, though we will let you know when we try it out properly.
Last but not least on the camera front, the Galaxy S8's snapper features Bixby integration, allowing you to use the Bixby Vision feature to identify things. This works in a similar way to Google Googles and the Amazon shopping app, so again, not a new technology as such, but certainly a feature worth mentioning.
Samsung Galaxy S8: Software and Bixby
- Android Nougat with TouchWiz
- Bixby assistant for US and Korea
- Google Assistant
The Samsung Galaxy S8 runs on Android Nougat with TouchWiz over the top, as we all expected. The result is a familiar experience to what is offered on the S7's Nougat software but with a few refinements and some additions from the Note 7.
It's far from the pure, raw Android experience you would find on the likes of Pixel, but for the Galaxy S users, the UX will be familiar, while those new to Galaxy will be greeted with an easy to use and pleasurable experience.
There are plenty of features and functions, including home control and integration with Samsung TVs but the most exciting of these is the company's new AI system, Bixby. Samsung launched this system prior to the Galaxy S8 so you may have already heard some murmurings about it, though unfortunately for those in the UK, you'll be waiting a little longer to try it out properly.
Samsung has said Bixby will be coming to Europe at some point before the end of the year, though didn't specify exactly when. Instead, European users at launch will see the dedicated Bixby button on the left hand side of the Galaxy S8 take you to Bixby Home. This is an area that offers a range of information cards like Google Now, as well as news and activity data.
When Bixby does eventually launch, you'll get a similar experience to Google Assistant but Bixby aims to go that little bit further, helping you control your device and find other information. Based on what we saw, Bixby seems to be very capable and worth the wait so hopefully that wait won't be too long for those of us on this side of the pond.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a stunning smartphone that seems to tick all the boxes. Yes there are some big changes, especially for the Galaxy S user, but sometimes change is great and in the case of this device, it is excellent.
Where some of its rivals have stood still, Samsung has pushed the boundaries, crossed the lines and returned with a device that is genuinely exciting and a huge step away from what may now be considered boring.
Well done Samsung. The Galaxy Note 7 may have been an exploding disaster but from what we've seen, the Galaxy S8 looks like it will be an exploding (not literally) triumph that we for one, can't wait to fully review.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 will cost £689, with pre-orders starting on 29 March. General availability will begin on 28 April. All Galaxy S8 devices will come with AKG in-ear headphones in the box.
Samsung Galaxy S8 pre-order deals
- You can get the Samsung Galaxy S8 64GB in orchid grey or black: £79.99 up front, £45.99 per month on EE for 24 months, 5GB data, unlimited minutes and texts - get it here
- Those looking to go with Vodafone, can get the Samsung Galaxy S8 64GB in orchid grey or black: £100 up front, £42 per month on Vodafone for 24 months, 24GB data, unlimited minutes and texts - get it here
- If you prefer O2, the Samsung Galaxy S8 64GB is available in orchid grey or black. You pay £100 up front, and then £44 per month on O2 for 24 months, 5GB data, unlimited minutes and texts - get it here
Samsung Galaxy S8+ pre-order deals
- If you want to get the bigger of the two new Samsung flagship devicesEE has has the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus 64GB in orchid grey or black. You'll pay £149.99 up front and then £45.99 per month on EE for 24 months, 5GB data, unlimited minutes and texts - get it here
- The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus 64GB is available on Vodafone in orchid grey or black for £169.99 up front, and then £42 per month on Vodafone for 24 months, 24GB data, unlimited minutes and texts - get it here
- The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus 64GB is available from O2 in orchid grey or black for £150 up front, and then £44 per month on O2 for 24 months, 5GB data, unlimited minutes and texts - get it here