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2 weeks ago

How to use the blue light filter on the Galaxy S8

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Galaxy S8 quick settings

In lieu of turning off our screens altogether, we're focusing on limiting blue light.

There's a big trend in consumer electronics relating to reducing the amount of blue light we're exposed to at night, and Samsung does its part on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ with its "blue light filter." The feature tints the screen to a reddish glow in an attempt to help you transition to sleeping at night, and it offers a few settings so you can make the effect as strong or weak as you like.

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2 weeks ago

Go Rogue with these Star Wars themes

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I find your lack of Star Wars theme disturbing.

Update May 4th: We revisit these great themes for Rogue One to celebrate Star Wars Day!  

It's opening night. You're all ready for your midnight showing: got your tickets, got your perfect Star Wars shirt picked out, or maybe a whole ensemble if you're aiming to win that costume contest… but is your phone as decked out as your lovely self? No? Let's fix that.

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2 weeks ago

The many, many ways of theming your Samsung Galaxy S8

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Be different, not the same.

We strive for individuality in life, and nowhere should we strive for it more than in our phones, a digital extension of ourselves and for many an embodiment of our lives. Samsung gets this, which is why for the last few years, we've been able to theme the system and several core apps on the phone to match our tastes with Samsung Themes. This year, that theming reaches new heights and new polish, but as always, there are pitfalls.

Here's how to arrive at your perfect theme.

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2 weeks ago

How to turn off screen overlay on Samsung Galaxy S8

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Galaxy S8 screen overlay

It's an odd warning message, but it's fixable.

There's an interesting issue that crops up now and then on Samsung Galaxy phones pertaining to "screen overlay" settings preventing you from using some apps. It's an issue most people aren't used to seeing all that often, and to be fair the settings for screen overlay are deep and not explained very well.

The issue has been mitigated some in the last year, it seems, but the settings remain in the Galaxy S8 in case you're running into issues running some apps and seeing this screen overlay error message. Here's how you can fix it.

To provide a bit of background, "screen overlay" is the system by which an app can overlay elements on top of other apps. The most popular example would be Facebook Messenger's "Chat Heads" feature that lets little bubbles persist as you change apps, but other apps can use the feature in many ways. These apps need your permission to run screen overlays for security reasons — for example, an unwanted app could put a button on top of another button, unbeknownst to you, getting you to select something you didn't mean to.

You may run into situations in which you'll have to head into your settings to enable screen overlay so an app like Facebook Messenger can provide a feature, but more likely to happen seemingly randomly is the requirement to disable screen overlay so the foreground app can work properly. In either case, here's how you can manage screen overlay on an app-by-app basis so everything works.

How to turn on or off screen overlay

  1. Launch Settings from your home screen.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Apps.
  3. Tap the overflow menu button in the top-right corner and tap Special access.
  4. Tap on Apps that can appear on top.
    • See how this is confusing? "Screen overlay" wording isn't used consistently.
  5. Find the app you expect to be causing issues, and tap the toggle to turn it off.
    • Or, to keep screen overlay enabled, tap the toggle to turn it back on again.

Galaxy S8 screen overlay

Now in the case of needing to enable screen overlay for an app, you'll have a good idea of which app to toggle on. But in the case of needing to disable screen overlay to use a different app, you may have to play the guessing game a bit. Toggle off apps one by one as you go back to the primary app you're trying to use, and you'll eventually find the culprit.

Unfortunately due to the security concerns highlighted above, there's no full-on "fix" for the issue of screen overlays blocking the use of other apps. If the app you're using doesn't permit the use of screen overlay while running, you'll just have to use these toggles more frequently.

Questions?

Let us know in the comments below if you continue to have these problems on your own Galaxy S8.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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2 weeks ago

These USB-C to Micro-USB adapters are great for your legacy devices

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USB-C to Micro-USB adapter

Transitioning between standards can be tough, but you can make it easier on yourself.

It was just this time last year that the revolution of moving to USB-C was getting into full swing, and what a difference a year makes. Now just about every new phone you can buy (well, except a pretty notable one) has a USB-C port, and most new laptops have USB-C ports for charging and data.

But of course we don't all refresh every device we own every year — there are still plenty of phones, tablets, and most importantly accessories we all own with Micro-USB ports. All the while, every new device we get comes with a USB-C cable in the box.

Instead of buying new Micro-USB cables to carry around for those old devices like my Bose QC35 headphones or Anker PowerCore battery, I picked up a pair of awesome USB-C to Micro-USB adapters. Nope, these aren't the super-popular adapters that go in the other direction — these little bits of plastic and metal let you use your new USB-C cables with old Micro-USB devices!

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

How to use Media Volume Sync on the Galaxy S8

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Bluetooth blues

Bluetooth volume can be a little odd.

The volume range on some Bluetooth devices is really small; on others the steps are too far apart. Sometimes you need to adjust both volumes, and sometimes it'd be nice to only have to turn up one volume instead of two. Samsung gets this, so they have a setting for Bluetooth volume on the Samsung Galaxy S8 that makes things a little easier for most devices…

And it really messes things up for others. Here's how to get it set properly for your particular Bluetooth situation.

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2 weeks ago

Top things you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S8's SD card slot

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Galaxy S8 SD card

SD cards are mostly plug-and-play, but you should know a few things to make the most of yours.

After a short blip with the Galaxy S6 series, Samsung is back to making a microSD card slot one of its core tenets. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have an SD card slot that lets users choose just how much storage they want to add, even though fewer people will need one with the new higher default storage of 64GB internally.

Whether you've already purchased and installed your microSD card or are trying to learn a bit more about them before getting one, we have you covered. Here's what you need to know about the microSD card slot on the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

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3 weeks ago

How to use one-handed mode on the Galaxy S8

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How to use one-handed mode on the Galaxy S8

Not everyone has the same sized hands.

Samsung's move to tall and narrow displays on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ have made them even easier to use, but that doesn't mean its one-handed mode has gone away. It's still super easy to shrink down your screen to something you can easily reach with your thumb, and you have two different ways to get it done.

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3 weeks ago

How to back up photos and videos to the cloud

How to back up photos and video to your computer or the cloud

How do I back up my photos and video?

Update May 1, 2017: This article has been updated to make sure the information is fresh and works with the latest versions of the apps we recommend.

You have all these awesome photos and video on your phone, but what happens when you decide to buy a new phone or your storage becomes too full to take any more? Back it all up to the cloud!

There are a few incredibly easy-to-use apps that let you store your photos and videos in the cloud.

How to back up your photos and videos to the cloud or your computer using Google Photos

Google Photos is one of the best ways to store, backup and view your photos if you have a smartphone. It will also seamlessly upload them to your Google account storage. If you don't have it, get it. It's a free download in the Google Play Store.

Once it's downloaded, you just have to allow Google Photos access to your photo and video library, tap Backup and Sync and all of the photos and video on your phone will be copied to the cloud where you can access them from anywhere!

See everything you need to know in the Google Photos Ultimate Guide

How to back up your photos and video to the cloud using Google Drive

  1. Launch your gallery application from your home screen or from the app drawer. We're using Google Photos in our examples.
  2. Tap the photo you'd like to upload to Google Drive or tap and hold a photo and select multiple photos to upload.
  3. Tap the share button. It's usually at the top of the screen. It's a right-facing 'V' with dots on each point.
  4. Tap Save to Drive.

    Tap the photos you would like to back up, tap the share button, tap Save to Drive

  5. Tap Account to choose which Google account's Google Drive you want to save to.
  6. Tap Folder to select the folder within that Google Drive that you'd like to save to.
  7. Tap the folder you'd like to save to and tap Select Folder in the bottom righthand corner of your screen.
  8. Tap Save in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

    Tap account to select a Google account, tap Folder to select a folder, tap the folder you want to save to, tap Select folder, tap Save

Your photos will then be uploaded to that location in your Google Drive and you'll receive a notification when it's complete.

Google Drive gives you 15GB of storage for free, so depending on the size of the photos and video you're saving, you'll likely be able to save thousands of photos and hundreds of videos. The best part is you can access or download them from any device with a web browser.

See everything you need to know in the Google Drive Ultimate Guide

How to back up photos and video to the cloud using Dropbox

Dropbox is a free app that gives you up to 2GB of online storage for free. You can't go wrong with double-free! All you need to do is create an account, download the app on your phone and on your computer, and you're ready to start backing up your photos and video to the cloud where almost any device with a web browser can access them.

You'll first need to sign up for and create an account with Dropbox. You can do that through a web browser at the Dropbox website. Next, you'll want to install and set up Dropbox app on your phone. Then you can upload photos and video until your folder is full! Here's how

  1. Download the Dropbox app from the Google Play Store.
  2. Launch Dropbox from your home screen or the app drawer.
  3. Tap Sign in.
  4. Enter your email address and password.
  5. Tap Sign in.

    Tap Sign In, enter your email address and password, tap Sign In

  6. Tap the add button. It's the plus sign in the blue circle.
  7. Tap Upload photos or videos.
  8. Tap the photo(s) and video you'd like to upload to Dropbox.
  9. Tap Upload in the bottom righthand corner of your screen.

    tap the add button, tap Upload photos and videos, tap the photos and video you want to upload to Dropbox, tap Upload

Your photos and video will now be uploaded to your Dropbox folder, which you can access from just about any device with an internet connection. If you're using the Dropbox app on your computer, you can just open the file and save it like you would any other document.

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3 weeks ago

How to fix Galaxy S8 battery life problems

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Galaxy S8 power usage screen

Battery life on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ is actually pretty good — but it can always be better.

After the first couple of week using a phone where battery life seems great, things can go south as we load up our new phone with all kinds of things and turn on every last feature. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ aren't immune to battery shortcomings if you push them hard enough, and that means you'll be looking for ways to scale things back and return to great battery life.

We have a handful of solid tips here to help you get the most out of your Galaxy S8 or S8+ battery, whether you're currently happy with its longevity or not. Read on.

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3 weeks ago

What do all those networking terms mean? Network nerdery for dummies

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Making sense of those acronyms and abbreviations.

"Hey, man. Did you hear that Qualcomm's new X20 modem is rated for cat 18 LTE, carries 12 spatial streams and is 4x4 MIMO capable? Isn't that cool?"

Maybe that's cool, but really how is a regular person with a regular job or who goes to regular school and has regular hobbies supposed to know? It sounds like a secret code with all the abbreviations and acronyms, and the companies who want us to buy it aren't any better at explaining: "10 times faster" "5G" "Gigabit". Those words may convey the right message — that things will be fast — but take no time to say why or how.

A lot of tech talk is this way. Engineers are lazy when it comes to typing or writing. Things like "power over Ethernet" instantly become PoE, or "impedance" becomes Z (I is for current. Of course it is.). That's why you hear words and phrases like QAM that don't mean a thing unless you stop and look them up. And usually, the answer is filled with other acronyms and abbreviations. Did I mention that engineers are lazy typists?

Because Qualcomm and some of their partners are working on changing the whole game when it comes to better wireless networking, you'll be hearing or reading this kind of stuff a lot. Here's some help so you know wtf those nerds are talking about!

  • 4G stands for fourth generation wireless. 3G was the third generation, and so on. There are standards, but companies like AT&T are allowed to just use the G as a marketing term.
  • LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It's based on the old standards but has evolved to be faster and better at carrying data.
  • cat usually follows LTE when talking about wireless. It simply stands for category. Higher numbers are faster.
  • Carrier aggregation (sometimes LTE CA) is part of the advanced LTE standards that lets a network combine LTE signals. More radio waves equal more and faster data. You'll see it expressed as "5x20MHz" which is not an acronym and means five 20MHz signals.
  • QAM is short for Quadrature Amplitude Modulation. It's a method to take two different instances of the same shape signal wave and put them 90-degrees out of phase. Modulation and demodulation use both amplitude and phase to process the signal. Wireless networks and phones (and cable boxes and HDTV tuners) are designed to use Quantized QAM because square waves offer more bits per symbol with a lower SNR.
  • The entire section above this one is because I know there are some budding engineers that will read this and want that explanation. For everyone else, QAM is a way to send a signal that carries more data with less noise than there would be if you amplified a single "regular" signal. A higher number means more data and faster speeds.
  • MIMO stands for multiple inputs, multiple outputs. It's an antenna design that has both the device sending a signal and the device receiving the signal using more than one antenna at the same time, This means the signal can carry more data and have fewer errors.
  • Spatial streams are how a MIMO setup carries different signals on each antenna. The receiving device (your phone) puts them all together into one signal filled with lots of data. This is also called multiplexing. The more streams that can be sent at the same time, the more data is in the stream when they are put back together. 12 streams are better than 10.

This is a good start. You won't turn into a wireless engineer by reading it and there are a lot of technicalities not included here. That's by design — someone has to try and turn all this stuff into something everyone reading about it can understand.

And there a a lot more abbreviations, acronyms, and insanity when it comes to telecom terms, Toss out the ones you know in the comments so we all can have a better understanding of why our stuff is supposed to be faster in the 5G future.

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3 weeks ago

How to use Kodi to watch live TV

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Kodi is a terrific cord-cutting tool, and it's really simple to watch live TV with it on your favorite Android.

To be clear, this isn't about watching TV channels delivered over the internet (IPTV) but actual over-the-air (OTA) channels. With the right hardware and matching plugins, adding your OTA TV to the main Kodi interface is a breeze. Android TV can integrate Live TV itself, but if you're a fan of having everything inside the Kodi interface then this one is for you.

For the purposes of this guide, we're using a HDHomeRun Connect tuner, but the process is the same for other supported PVR hardware. You also must have set up your hardware first before going into Kodi.

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3 weeks ago

How to use Game Tools on the Samsung Galaxy S7

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Game Tools makes gaming easier on your Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is an outstanding phone, and our pick for the best phone for gamers.

Besides the outstanding hardware, the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge rise above the rest due to some tools designed specifically for gamers that you can activate from your phone's settings.

Here's some info about what Game Tools and Game Launcher offer, and how to activate and use these services on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

Note: These features were also retroactively added to Samsung's entire Galaxy S6 line up as well.

See at Amazon

What are Game Tools and Game Launcher?

Turning on Game Tools activates a handy floating button that provides easy access to a bunch of really important settings that are great to have on hand during a gaming marathon. This includes quick access to disabling distracting notifications, locking out the recent and back keys, and a button for minimizing the game.

You also get two tools for sharing what you're playing: Screenshot and Record. Screenshot allows you to quickly tap twice to grab a screenshot of what you're playing without resorting to awkwardly pressing the home and power button, and record lets you screen record yourself playing on your phone, with options in settings to overlay an image or video of yourself playing for recording Let's Play videos to share on YouTube, Twitch, or other social media.

Turning on Game Tools activates a handy floating button that provides easy access to a bunch of really important settings.

Game Launcher creates an icon for your home screen that, as the name implies, allows you to launch all your games from one place. It allows you to toggle the Game Tools icon without heading back to Settings, and also lets you launch a game muted if you're in a quiet place, or quickly turn on power saving modes. Ultimately, it allows you to keep an uncluttered home screen while still giving you quick access to all of your favorite games.

How to turn on Game Mode and Game Launcher

Both Game Mode and Game Launcher are turned off by default, so you'll need to go into Settings to turn them on.

  1. Open Settings from your home screen and or app drawer.
  2. Swipe up to scroll down.
  3. Tap Advanced Features.

  4. Tap Games.

  5. Tap Game Mode or Game Launcher to learn more about their features and find the toggle switch for them on or off.
  6. Tap the switch to turn Game Mode on.

It's the same process to turn on Game Launcher, which offers three pages of information on the different features included:

How to use Game Tools

Ok, so you've turned on Game Tools in settings and you're ready to play. When you load up a game now, you'll now see a floating red button along the edge of the screen. That's your Game Tools menu, and you're able to tap and hold to drag it wherever is most convenient for you on the screen.

Tap it at any time to bring up the Game Tools Menu. From there, you can quickly toggle some really handy features, such as turning off alerts while you're playing the game and disabling the recent and back buttons — a frequent frustration for some.

If you're interested in using the screen record option, you'll want to tap Settings first. It includes a bunch of important features and settings that you'll want to set up ahead of time, including setting up an avatar or live video recorded from the front-facing camera while you play, along with options to record audio from the microphone so you can provide your own live commentary as you play, or choose to only record the game audio. Lastly, you're able to set the resolution your video will be recorded at along with bitrate settings.

What are your thoughts?

Do you find these tools useful, or not worth the effort to set them up? Let us know in the comments!

Android Gaming

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3 weeks ago

Best flash drives to expand your NVIDIA Shield Android TV's storage

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Best flash drives to expand your NVIDIA Shield Android TV's storage

It's cheap and easy to expand the internal storage of your set top box.

The latest revision of the NVIDIA Shield Android TV may have lost its SD card slot, but it still has two perfectly good USB 3.0 ports that can work to expand your internal storage. You can attach just about anything to those ports, but with just 16GB of internal storage, many will want to fill one with an inexpensive flash drive that can be adopted into the system and work just as if it were internal storage.

NVIDIA actually makes a great set of recommendations for which flash drives work best with your Shield, and having done some research on them ourselves, we want to point out which ones are the drives to go with.

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3 weeks ago

The Galaxy S8 is water resistant, not liquid resistant

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Your phone has no fear when it comes to water but be careful with other liquids.

One of the features you'll find in most top-end phones in 2017 is water resistance. The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ from Samsung are no exception. Raining outside? No problem. The Galaxy S8's IP68 rating means the rain has no effect. The same goes for a splash at the sink, a dip in the pool, and maybe even a spilled soda or beer.

Yes, maybe. Not everything wet is water and even things that are mostly water might be best kept away from your water-resistant phone.

This doesn't only apply to the Galaxy S8, or even phones in general. Water resistant objects are designed to keep out water — exclusively. Because of the chemical composition of any liquid, anything water resistant might not be beer resistant. Or champange resistant, because science!

Rugged phone ratings: Everything you need to know

Liquids feel, well, liquidy. But all liquids have other things dissolved into them. Things like magnesium and calcium are in the water you drink and depending on where in the world you are you can have very hard water (lots of calcium and other dissolved minerals) or very soft water (very few dissolved minerals) or somewhere in between. The GS8 is designed to be soaked in good old tap water with no ill effects. You don't have to worry, but we don't recommend you take your phone snorkeling. (If you do, send us pics because that's pretty cool).

Other types of water, specifically distilled water and really hot water, are probably something you don't want to dunk your phone in. Science also means that distilled water is virtually free of any dissolved minerals and might be able to penetrate where "regular" water can't. Hot water, on the other hand, can loosen adhesives and gaskets.

A quick rinse to wash away chemicals or sticky liquids isn't going to hurt anything.

Other liquids like beer or antifreeze — or anything that's not just plain water — might have chemicals that can penetrate the water resistant barriers or just make a mess in speaker holes, headphone jacks, and SIM card slots. If you get something that's not water you'd drink on your phone, rinse it gently in the sink with room temperature water as soon as you can.

If you get the ports all gunked up, and it happens to the best of us, don't go jamming toothpicks or sewing needles in the nooks and crannies to scrape it out. Wipe it down with a damp washcloth and let the fabric scrub away the surface dirt and sticky stuff or take a toothbrush and gently work at it. If you do end up having to dig in any holes with anything smaller than your elbow, be super careful not to cause any damage to parts or finishes. All that is part of being water resistant and needs to stay as intact as it can.

You don't need to baby your Galaxy S8 when it comes to using it around the water. It's built for it! Just be mindful for spills and splashes of other liquids.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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