NEW YORK CITY – Samsung on Wednesday unveiled its new Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones, which come with design features clearly meant to inspire – if not confidence – awe in the wake of the company’s bungled Note 7 release last fall.
Right off the bat, the S8 takes aim at a mix of style, comfort, and functionality with a new infinity edge screen that erases the bezel and drops the bumpy home button. The latter is now located under the glass of the S8’s 5.8-inch screen and the S8 Plus’s 6.2-inch display, and uses software to respond to pressure the way a physical home button would.
The S8 has also shifted the position of its fingerprint scanner to the rear of the device – a move that is meant to compel users to take advantage of the phone’s new iris scanner and facial recognition features. Samsung execs on Wednesday said the former scans your peepers to create an “eye print” instead of fingerprint, and touted the feature as its most advanced biometric authentication technology yet. Additionally, the latter facial recognition capability allows users to unlock their device hands free when tapping the screen just isn’t an option.
Speaking of no taps, the S8 is also Samsung’s first device to include the company’s new Bixby artificial intelligence assistant. The company said Bixby’s context awareness of what’s going on on screen will let users move through tasks using a combination of both voice and touch. Additionally, Bixby’s machine learning capabilities will allow it to intuitively make recommendations based on user habits. Bixby has a host of other cool features, most of which can be found here (LINK).
But Samsung on Wednesday fleshed out its vision for Bixby – and the Internet of Things – even further with the introduction of its new Samsung Connect app for the S8. The IoT-focused app aims to connect S8 users to all their connected home devices through a single platform, allowing them to turn lights on or off, check the contents of their fridge, or get the coffee brewing, in one app on their smartphone. Samsung execs said they’re hoping Bixby will take that interaction to the next level, allowing users to do all these things with voice commands alone.
Back to the S8 itself.
The device takes a swipe at Google’s Pixel smartphone with a 12 mp F1.7 Dual Pixel rear camera with enhanced multi-frame processing. There’s also an 8 mp selfie camera with autofocus, and the phone delivers crisp playback of images (and video) on its Mobile HDR Premium-certified display. The whole shebang comes with IP68-rated water and dust resistance, so you can continue to watch on rainy days with no sweat.
Samsung’s S8 will run Android 7.0 on a new 10nm octa core processor, with 4 GB of RAM and storage expandable up to 256 GB using a MicroSD card. The S8’s 3,000 mAh battery (3,500 mAh on the S8 Plus) comes with both wired and wireless fast charging capabilities, though the docks for the latter are sold separately.
Stateside, the S8 and S8 Plus will be available in three colors – black, gray, and silver – and will go up for preorder tomorrow (March 30). The phone will hit shelves at all the major U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular – on April 21.
Verizon is offering the S8 for $30 per month for 24 months (or $720 retail) and the S8 Plus for $35 per month for two years (or $840 retail). Those who trade in an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge or edge Plus, S7, S7 edge, Google Pixel or Pixel XL, or LG’s G5 or V20, or HTC’s HTC 10 can get the S8 for $15 per month.
U.S. Cellular is upping the ante with an offer of a free S8 with eligible trade in.
AT&T is offering the S8 for $750 or $25 per month for 30 months and the S8 Plus for $850 or $28.34 per month for 30 months. Two year pricing is $31.25 for the S8 and $35.42 for the S8 Plus. The carrier is also offering up to $750 in credits toward a second S8 or S8 Plus to customers who preorder the device.
T-Mobile said it will make the S8 available for $30 per month for 24 months with a $30 down payment (or $750 retail). The S8 Plus is also $30 per month for 24 months with a $130 down payment (or $850 retail).
Naturally, there are a whole bunch of promotionals for other Samsung products – like the GearVR plus new controller – out there, too. So, if you do preorder, be sure to check out those offers too.