The Galaxy S8 has been unveiled after nearly endless rumor and speculation. The leaks were solid this year — the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have curved displays with rounded corners, and essentially no bezel. Sure, they look different, but what else is new? Here are the six most interesting features of the Galaxy S8.
The “Infinity Display”
One of the Galaxy S8’s most interesting features is also one of the most prominent: Samsung’s new “Infinity Display.” That’s the fancy name Samsung has given to the curved AMOLED with rounded-off corners. Yes, the shape of the screen is different, but it affects the way the phone will feel in your hand.
You might notice all the images of the Galaxy S8 appear to be of the black phone. That’s actually just because the front bezel will be black on all models. In the past, Samsung’s phones have been the same color on the front and back. So, if you had a silver phone, it was silver on the front and back. The black front panel on this phone is intended to accentuate the look of the Infinity Display and hide the already slim bezels.
The way the screen snugs right up against the edge of the phone helps keep it compact even as Samsung boosts the screen area. The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch screen, which is even larger than the Galaxy S7 Edge last year. However, the Galaxy S8 is actually smaller than the older phone: (148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm) compared to
A new, more durable battery
Samsung had a rough end to 2016 as it scrambled to clean up after the Note 7 battery fiasco. It hasn’t pushed the capacity in the GS8, probably to make extra sure it doesn’t run the risk of predisposing them to catch fire. These batteries are different, though. Samsung says they’re more durable and should lose less charge over time.
According to Samsung, the Galaxy S7 battery retained about 80% of its capacity after one year of typical recharging. The lithium-ion cells in the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will apparently retain 95% of their capacity after a year of use. That’s great, especially considering the batteries are sealed in. If you’re the sort who wants to use a phone for years on end until it dies, you can feel more confident buying a Galaxy S8.
Samsung is debuting a new assistant platform with the Galaxy S8. It’s called Bixby, and it exists alongside the Google Assistant. There’s a dedicated button on the left side of the Galaxy S8 that will call up Bixby. What happens when you do that? It depends on the app.
Bixby isn’t supposed to answer questions or do searches for you (but it can do some of that). It’s designed to be another route for controlling the phone. Apps that are optimized for Bixby can be completely controlled by voice. At launch, it will only work with gallery, phone, contacts, settings, camera, and reminders. There are 32 apps targeted for support, and there will (eventually) be an API for third-party apps.
Samsung has made only minor changes to the layout of its navigation buttons since the Galaxy S3 debuted with the same design on all carriers. With the Galaxy S8, the navigation buttons are gone — at least the physical buttons. Samsung has moved to virtual buttons, which allows for some cool features.
Samsung’s physical buttons have always been backward from the standard Android layout. It’s supposed to be back on the left and overview on the right of the home button. That’s what every other phone does. With the move to virtual buttons, you can rearrange them to the :correct” layout.
Samsung hasn’t developed a pressure-sensitive screen like Appl (though that has been rumored for years), but there is a pressure-sensitive spot. The area where the home button appears is pressure sensitive. So, even if the navigation buttons are hidden (eg. you’re watching a video or playing a game), a hard press on that spot activates the home button.
Remember the Motorola Webdock? It was a laptop shell that plugged into the Motorola Atrix, which powered a desktop-like interface for your phone. That was a bad idea, but Samsung is trying to do it better with Desktop Experience (DeX). All you need is a Galaxy S8 and the DeX dock.
The DeX dock has an HDMI and two USB ports. Just hook it up to your monitor and some input devices, and you’re all set. The Galaxy S8 powers the interface when plugged in. That means you have access to all the data on your phone with a larger screen. It’s not clear how well apps will be supported, though. Many of them will be weirdly stretched on a large screen. Only a few of the apps on the phone have been specifically optimized for DeX.
We don’t know how much the DeX dock will cost, or if it will be available at launch with the GS8. Maybe this will finally be the Webdock done right. Historically, companies have typically killed their dock offerings by slapping purchase prices on them almost as high as buying a second phone. No one seems to realize that the key to driving dock support is to make the few bits of plastic and circuitry actually affordable.
More storage, finally
This isn’t a flashy feature, but it’s really important. Samsung has finally stopped limiting the base model of its flagship phone to 32GB of storage. The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will come with 64GB of built-in storage. The lack of storage was getting weird as much cheaper phones like the OnePlus 3 shipped with 64GB standard.
Samsung will also still include a microSD card slot for expanded storage. That’s nice if you want to carry around a lot of media, but it won’t be as fast as the internal storage. Samsung’s UFS 2.0 NAND flash is blazing fast. It’s always nice to have more of it. For more information on the phone’s hardware, check our companion piece here.