The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are the company’s latest flagship smartphones and it’s one of the most awaited products of all time. In one hand, when their Chief has been arrested and their brand image tarnished by the Note 7 fiasco, the release of S8 and S8+ is predicted to be the company’s best shot at redemption.
The S8/S8+ are crucial to Samsung’s success and continued growth. The company hence chose a formula that they know works and added some extras to please the fans; popular features like water resistance, expandable storage, fast and wireless charging and Samsung Pay. The main highlight of these phones is the massive display. Samsung is calling them the Infinity Displays as they span the width of the phones and curve over the edges to make for a truly mesmerizing look. The advantage of such a design is that the phones are much smaller than competitors with even average screen sizes yet they offer more room to play with. The S8/S8+ are also the first devices to come with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 Soc. Samsung has reportedly ordered up the vast majority of these processors meaning competitors like LG’s G6 and HTC’s U Ultra have to rely on older, slower and more power-hungry processors. The phones have also undergone an ergonomic makeover. They are symmetrical like the Galaxy Note 7 which has allowed for a more comfortable grip than the S7 Edge – a point many complain about.
On the flip side, Samsung has arguably played it safe with some key features. The one most people will point out is the camera. The S8/S8+ use a camera almost identical to last year’s Galaxy S7. The S7’s camera was undoubtedly fantastic, but by the end of 2016, the Google Pixel stole the crown for best camera leaving the S8 and S7 behind. Samsung states they have made the camera faster and better performing in low light. Image quality could be slightly improved but it is unlikely to be radically better.
Another aspect that is being scrutinised is the battery life. The new smartphones have smaller batteries than their predecessors and Samsung made no mention of their battery life. The Snapdragon 835 may be more efficient than previous SoCs, but I imagine a larger screen with more pixels will consume more power than the older smaller screens.
Following in the footsteps of Microsoft, Samsung’s new phones can be connected to a dock and used to create a Desktop-Android experience. It is called DeX and in practice, it is very similar to RemixOS – a service which lets you run Android apps on a computer with a Windows-like interface. Whether if anyone will actually use DeX is the question for another day.
Finally, let’s talk about Bixby. Bixby is Samsung’s latest AI Assistant. It is supposed to be a smart, context-aware service that can control your phone by voice and it can leverage the phone camera to identify objects and then suggest where you can purchase them. All these sound nice in theory but Samsung has not yet demonstrated Bixby in action thus leaving lots of room for doubt. Samsung added a separate button onto the phones to activate Bixby which gives us confidence that they are willing to put some serious investment behind the service. The curious thing is that you also get Google Assistant on the S8/S8+, so it shall be interesting to see if anyone chooses to use Bixby over the already highly acclaimed Google Assistant.
So far the Galaxy S8/S8+ look to be exactly what we expected. While many will be upset at some of Samsung’s safer choices, most will be pleased with what the company has put together. S7 owners would likely be unwilling to upgrade but the new flagships look like excellent options for sour Note 7 owners or those with older phones. Pricing starts at $750 for the S8 and $850 for the S8+. The phones will be available in late April/early May and the pricing in Bangladesh should be similar to what we saw for the S7 last year (~Tk/70,000).
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