First Look: Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

By David Flynn, March 30 2017

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 with 5.8" screen: $1,199
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ with 6.2" screen: $1,349
  • 1Gbps download speeds on Telstra 4GX network
  • Australian release date April 28

Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and S8+ will land in Australia on April 28, and the company's best-ever smartphones will come with their highest-ever price tags: $1,199 for the 5.8" Galaxy S8 and $1,349 for the upsized 6.2" Galaxy S8+.

Those screens may make the S8 siblings seem impossibly large – by comparison, the displays on the previous-gen Galaxy S7 models measured a modest 5.1 inches and 5.5 inches.

But the S8 and S8+, revealed overnight at Samsung's Unpacked launch event in New York, are almost the same physical dimension as their predecessors.

Samsung's Tardis-like trick: swap the physical home button for a touch-sensitive 'digital home key' and do away almost entirely with the bezel surrounding the screen, then wrap an edge-to-edge display around the phone.

The result is a screen which almost seems to float in your hand.

It's a design conceit which Apple is expected to follow with this year's iPhone 8, and in both cases maximises screen real-estate without making the device itself overly large and cumbersome.

There's not even room on that infinifty pool-inspired screen for the Samsung logo, which shifts to the rear along with the fingerprint scanner of the S7's home button.

Find that a bit fiddly? The front-facing 8MP camera doubles as an iris scanner to literally unlock your phone in the blink of an eye (okay, you might not want to blink).

However, the 12MP 'dual pixel' rear shooter has escaped any serious upgrade such as image stabilisation for video.

Both the S8 and S8+ share the same underpinnings: the eight-core processor which is now obligatory for any high-end smartphone, backed by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of inbuilt of storage (up from 32GB on the Galaxy S7 line) bolstered by a 256GB microSD card slot.

And they'll rocket along on Telstra's 4GX 'gigabit' network in the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane CBD areas at up to a blistering 1Gbps download speed – fast enough to gobble up your monthly data limit before you can say "excess data surcharge".

(The S8 twins will also get a gallop on the equivalent 700MHz slice of Optus 4G Plus network, although Vodafone doesn't have an equivalent at this stage.)

Upload speeds will also be as much a 50% faster than the Galaxy S7 series in 4GX coverage areas – making the S8 an ideal personal hotspot for the road warrior.

Samsung has made a play for the fashion-fascia market with an S8 colour range including blue and silver, although the Australian line-up will be limited to what the company tags as Midnight Black, Orchid Grey and Maple Gold.

And with USB-C being The Next Thing across the consumer tech spectrum, it's no surprise that the Galaxy S8 twins have ditched the familiar MicroUSB connector for a USB-C port.

Yes, that'll mean new cables or fiddly adaptor dongles – but it'll also open up advanced tech tricks such as superfast charging of the S8's batteries.

Speaking of batteries, the S8 keeps the same 3,000mAh cell as the S7 while the S8+ bumps that up to a meaty 3,500mAh.

Android on your desktop

Also new to the Galaxy S8: Samsung's DeX 'desktop experience' for Android.

Park the S8 on the compact $199 DeX Station dock (the connection made via the S8's USB-C port) and you'll be able to plug in a keyboard, mouse and monitor to turn your phone into an Android-based computer.

The apps scale well, especially Microsoft Office, while the browser automatically directs to the desktop version of a website rather than its mobile equivalent.

The DeX Station cradle packs a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a 100 Mbps Ethernet port and an HDMI port capable of driving a 4K desktop display, and even includes a tiny cooling fan inside to keep temperatures under control. 

"Hey, Bixby..."

Samsung's new Bixby voice assistant appears to roll the Galaxy's old S Voice software app with the work of Viv, a startup founded by the creators of Siri which Samsung bought last year.

But reports indicate it's still very early days for Bixby, which will also be restricted to the US at launch – Aussie S8 owners will find themselves turning to the Google Voice Assistant, and that's no bad thing.

Bixby will eventually be built into other Samsung devices such as smart TVs to become cornerstone of Samsung's nascent SmartThings networking platform.

If you're an Android user, is the Galaxy S8 or S8+ enough to tempt you to an upgrade?

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

I'm one of these people who considers an upgrade every second or third generation of a phone, currently have a Galaxy S6 and definitely going for the S8+, love the design and will probably buy the desktop dock  too, a great idea.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

Fantastic design, I hope Apple follows through with the same on the iPhone 8! I had a Galaxy Note 7, stung by the battery problems and worldwide recall but no hesitation about getting an S8 and very glad it'll have Google Voice Assist which has until now been only on the Google Pixel.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 513

Amazing release, and great to see a company willing to innovate (cough cough Apple). Thank you Samsung for pushing the envelope! However my 7+ more than satisfies for my needs and ill wait for a phone without any bezel on any of the sides. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1381

The Dex looks interesting but unless it can actually replace a PC/laptop appears gimmicky.

Love to look of the phone but ouch on the price

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

Love the DeX idea but the phone itself doesn't have nearly enough to make we want to upgrade from my S7, although that makes me think what would it take and what more can Samsung do? Maybe we have reached the edge of practical features this time around at least.

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