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1 month ago

Galaxy S7 review re-do: Old hotness

21

Samsung's Galaxy S8 is primed to be one of the biggest phones of the year. But at prices that reach all the way up to $850, you'd be forgiven for wanting to wait on it. That means its a good time to look at one of the hottest phones of last year, the Galaxy S7. Is it still worth putting down your hard-earned dollars for last year's leftovers?

I'm Michael Fisher, secret agent code name MrMobile, and I've spent a ton of time with the Galaxy S7. In fact, almost every handheld shot in the MrMobile YouTube library came courtesy of the Galaxy S7 edge mounted to a gyro, so you could say I know the S7 better than most phones in my library. So if you're stuck firmly on the fence when it comes to the big Galaxy S8 vs Galaxy S7 question, let's try to figure it out together. Watch MrMobile's Galaxy S7 review re-do!

Still unsure after that scintillating video? Hit up Android Central's coverage of the Galaxy S7. And don't forget to check out their coverage of the Galaxy S8 for all of the latest news!

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Stay social, my friends

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1 month ago

BlackBerry KEYone has been delayed until May

33

Don't panic, but the KEYone isn't shipping in April.

At the launch of the BlackBerry KEYone, we were all told to expect hardware to ship early April. During the BlackBerry Earnings call, right around 29 minutes based on the CrackBerry recap, John Chen had some other thoughts on when the KEYone would be shipping.

The second one, that TCL announced at Mobile World Congress which is the physical keyboard on an Android, that one is not going to be slated to ship until probably the May timeframe.

To follow up, TCL's President and head of BlackBerry Mobile, Steve Cistulli, noted that the company didn't think it could meet demand for the product if it launched in April, necessitating a delay until May.

BlackBerry Mobile never gave a firm date for the launch of the KEYone, but it sounds like the launch timeframe is shifting by roughly a month. This puts the launch of this phone dangerously close to the April 21 launch of the Galaxy S8. On the other hand, the BlackBerry KEYone is going to continue offering something entirely unique in the smartphone world right now, so maybe launching in May won't be a big deal. What do you think?

BlackBerry KEYone

BlackBerry Mobile

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1 month ago

Google Pixel: Everything you need to know

138

Google's new Pixel phones have arrived — this is what you need to know.

Google's Pixel and Pixel XL are here, and they're fantastic. These latest phones are the first made entirely under Google's control, following in the footsteps of the two Chromebook Pixels and the Pixel C tablet.

That makes these phones interesting from a hardware perspective, wearing just the "G" logo on the back and taking on some neat design cues, but also in terms of how the software and features are deeply integrated into these aluminum blocks. Here's everything you need to know about the Google Pixel and Pixel XL.

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1 month ago

In 2017, what do benchmark numbers even mean??

Numbers can mean a lot of things, but not all the things.

Update, March 2017: This post has been updated with information on the latest phones and benchmark techniques.

When it's time for Samsung to show us a new phone, talk about the hardware inevitably brings up the subject of benchmarks. The Galaxy S8, Samsung's showcase phone for 2017, is no different. And as expected, just by existing these numbers got plenty of people talking about them.

The numbers are in, but what do they mean?

Some conversation about benchmarks is just idle chatter. "Oh, cool! The Snapdragon calculates the "stuff" in a benchmark application about as well as the Exynos" is fun to talk about. it's an interesting conversation that leads to talk about how a new phone can meet or exceed our expectations because it is using state of the art hardware to do cool things. That's why most of us are here, to talk about things that run Android and how we can use them to enrich our lives.

But some folks get serious about benchmark numbers and consider them an important part of a buying decision. We all should encourage this because it's always great to have people excited about something, but we should also talk about what benchmark numbers really mean in the grand scheme of things. One way to try and put things into perspective is to compare the benchmarks of a pair of new processors that Android manufacturers will be buying to Apple's latest.

This doesn't mean that an iPhone using the A10 is automatically a better experience than a Galaxy S8 will be. There's so much more that determines which is better, and the majority of it is user preference. you like what you like and I like what I like. Numbers in a tweet won't change that and the numbers don't mean what you might think they mean.

How those numbers come to be

Benchmarks on mobile phones aren't really benchmarking any hardware, at least not the way we think they are. They don't have access to the hardware itself because they are using the operating system's application layer. They have a laundry list of things they have the phone do through the APIs exposed by the operating system, then they calculate how well it did them. There is an intermediary layer of a sort to go through to get to the "brains" behind the operating system, which is the part that controls the hardware directly. So a benchmark app is benchmarking the hardware through some software.

You might have heard iOS people talking about Metal or Android people talking about an NDK. These are ways applications can interface with the hardware, through that intermediate layer without having to go through the full software stack. Notice that the benchmark numbers for Samsung's Exynos 8895 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 are very close to each other. They both use the same software and the performance differences between them are minimized because of it.

If you buy a phone because you like to run benchmarks, you should probably buy an iPhone.

Apple's "intermediary layer" is better. Let's throw that out there right where we all can see it. Apple builds its own processor with a focus on doing certain things really well then builds software that takes advantage of it. Google has to build software that can be adapted to work with anything. It's done an amazing job and the software that powers an Android phone is a beautiful thing that's incredibly complicated. Something like a benchmarking app using Apple's interface to the hardware automatically has an advantage over Android, no matter who built it, because the interface itself is more streamlined and "faster" with iOS. That happens because the hardware and the software were designed to work with each other and nothing else.

You're benchmarking the phone as a whole, not just the processor. When it comes to crunching numbers on each CPU core the iPhone 7 Plus does it a lot better.

Let's look at those cores in Apple's A10 processor. That thing is undeniably the best consumer ARM chip ever designed when it comes to raw performance per core. That's because the hardware was designed to do just that and the software was designed to use it. We've talked about ARM architecture before, and the A10 is a great example of how you can scale ARM to do just about anything you want. So are the Qualcomm 835 and the Exynos 8895, they just were designed with different criteria in mind.

The difference in benchmark numbers isn't an accident

We compare them because they all are inside a phone, but Apple is thirsty to build one ARM processor that can power an iPhone, an iPad, and a MacBook. Qualcomm and Samsung build processors to sell to other companies for small mobile devices. Qualcomm and Samsung could build a processor that excels in the same areas as the A10 and would work great for a Windows laptop. Qualcomm is actually interested in doing it and the Snapdragon 835 is the company's first step towards that goal.

A couple years from now and we'll see a Snapdragon chip that can be worked hard enough to run a full-blown laptop and still be efficient enough to be used in a mobile device with a tiny battery. We'll also see more chips that aren't as powerful, are even more efficient when it comes to battery use and are a lot cheaper. These will be the CPUs that companies who make phones will buy.

When you take a tool designed to only do certain things in a certain order and see how "fast" they can be done, the A10 will always win. It should always win, and we should want it to always win. A CPU designed for a 13-inch MacBook needs to perform single core calculations faster than an Exynos 8895. The A10 isn't that CPU, but it is a step in that direction. And Apple is a tech company that we should want to do really cool things to drive tech forward just like we want Samsung or Google or Microsoft to do.

Qualcomm or Samsung could build an ARM processor that is as powerful as the A10, but they have no reason to do it.

The little snip of a benchmark scoreboard that has no context you see above shows the most important thing: These numbers have little bearing on how great something like a phone is to use. The user experience has little to do with the hardware because the hardware has been good enough for a while now. The innards of a Galaxy S5 or Nexus 7 or Note 4 are more than enough to do the things we expect a phone to do as long as the software is up to snuff. You don't have to take my word on that, just stumble over to XDA where people who don't want or can't afford to buy something newer have built custom software for each. We're not asking a phone to do anything complicated enough to need more processing power than these devices can deliver.

I'm convinced even mobile VR would be fine if companies cared enough to support Vulkan correctly on their older processors. We'll never know because the companies involved exist to make new things and sell them to us and that's where they focus their time and money. New chips aren't just designed to be new. They all offer small incremental increases in performance, security and efficiency and those small increases add up over time. Right now Moore's Law isn't focusing on quadrupling performance in every generation, it's focusing on using better manufacturing techniques to provide more energy efficient chips and performance gains are just natural evolution.

What we really see from these benchmarks

What we can take away from these benchmark scores is that the way a CPU core calculates things and works with GPU cores isn't broken. Numbers can be crunched a little faster with newer hardware that was designed to be more energy efficient. The way a CPU core can crunch a number is no longer the bottleneck, so these small differences and increases won't be noticed when you're not running a benchmark application. Newer hardware might be better than last year's, and one processor might be better than another. The performance increases are real, but they don't translate into a noticeable difference when you are using them and won't unless you skip a few generations. Going from a Qualcomm S4 Pro to a Qualcomm 835 brings a bump in performance that you will notice right away. Going from a Qualcomm 821 to a Qualcomm 835 doesn't.

The Galaxy S8 will bring a user experience that is better than last year's Galaxy S7. Many of us here will consider it a better experience than Apple offers with the iPhone 7 while many will feel the opposite. None of this is because of a benchmark score.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

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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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1 month ago

Moto G5 in gorgeous blue goes on sale in the UK as an O2 exclusive

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The Moto G5 gets a third color variant.

A recent leak suggested that the Moto G5 would be getting a blue color option in addition to the grey and gold color variants. The Sapphire Blue option is now official, and is already up for sale in the UK.

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1 month ago

Moto G4 Plus is finally picking up the Nougat update in the U.S.

19

Moto G4 Plus finally picks up Nougat update in the U.S.

Republic Wireless kicked off a Nougat soak test for the Moto G4 Plus a few weeks ago, and it now looks like Motorola is rolling out the update to unlocked G4 Plus (XT1644) units in the country.

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1 month ago

Nougat is officially rolling out for the Verizon HTC 10

11

Big Red finally joins the rest of 'em in updating last year's HTC flagship.

Verizon HTC 10 users, feeling a little left out? Everyone else, including T-Mobile and Sprint, have received their update to Nougat. The good news is that today is your day, as Verizon has started rolling out the update to Android 7.1.

Here's the changelog, straight from the source:

Software Version: Build Number: 2.41.605.12

Verizon Wireless is pleased to announce a new software update for your HTC 10. Android™ 7.0 Nougat improves your mobile experience with new battery-smart features and multitasking enhancements. This update also includes the latest Android security updates and bug fixes.


You should be receiving the update automatically in the next few days. If not, Verizon suggests using its software upgrade assistant tool, though you could also check under the About Phone option in the settings panel for an official update.

HTC 10

HTC Best Buy Verizon Sprint

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1 month ago

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. Google Pixel: Opposing ways to do a flagship

80
Samsung Galaxy S8

There's something out there for everyone.

Google's Pixel and Pixel XL have won over the hearts and wallets of many since their introduction, but that doesn't mean they live in a world without competition. With a lust-worthy feature set and high prices, the Pixel and Pixel XL are quite likely to be compared directly to the new Galaxy S8 and S8+ as people look to buy their next high-end phone.

Both companies give you a choice of two different screen sizes with no differentiation in core features, though those core features really do differentiate between Samsung and Google. The same goes for the hardware design and software direction, which will each appeal to different types of potential buyers.

Let's take a look at the new Galaxy S8 and S8+ alongside the Google Pixel and Pixel XL.

Hardware, specs and features

Setting the Galaxy S8 and S8+ next to the Pixel and Pixel XL shows you how there are so many different ways to build a nice-looking phone. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are even flashier than their predecessors, going with a shiny glass exterior that's now highlighted by highly polished metal as well. Both models have curved screens and tiny bezels, giving an "all screen" look that just feels futuristic.

More: Complete Galaxy S8 and S8+ specs

We all knew the Pixels had large bezels ... but they look downright comical next to Samsung's latest. While there are definitely usability arguments for not having to reach so high to touch the top of the display, most will likely look at the Galaxy S8 as the more modern phone here. In terms of usability the Pixel is actually wider than the Galaxy S8 while the Pixel XL is also wider than the Galaxy S8+. But in turn the Pixels have a fingerprint sensor placement that actually makes sense — the Galaxy S8 and S8+ can't come anywhere near that claim.

The Pixel and Pixel XL have really good displays, but you can't deny that Samsung is still leading the industry here. Whether or not you like the subtle curves on the sides of the screens, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ have absolutely amazing panels that are extremely bright and colorful. And with their 18.5:9 aspect ratio you get a bit more display to look at without making the phone itself wider.

Samsung is always going to 'win' with the number of raw specs and features.

In terms of the raw number of specs and features, Samsung is always going to "win" there. Being newer, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ get the latest processors — either a Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895, depending on region — but have also bumped up to 64GB of base storage, while still including an SD card slot, wireless charging and full waterproofing. The Galaxy S8's 3000mAh battery is a tad larger than the Pixel's 2770mAh, and the Galaxy S8+'s 3500mAh is right on par with the Pixel XL's 3450mAh.

How about the cameras? Well we don't know just how the Galaxy S8 and S8+ will perform yet, but we do know they're using the same 12MP "Dual Pixel" sensor and f/1.7 lens as last year — with improvements in software and processing, of course. And as we've seen with the Pixels, software processing can do a lot to make great photos.

Software and experience

Galaxy S8 and Pixel

In many ways the approach to software mirrors that of the hardware. Samsung offers more features and more flash, while Google exercises restraint in the name of simplicity. Despite Samsung's overall slimming down and cleaning up of its interface, the piles of often superfluous features can be annoying even if you find you like one or two of the added features. Duplicate apps and services just get in the way sometimes, and that's before you see what the carriers tack onto these phones.

You're either getting a ton of features up front, or starting clean and building up from there.

Thankfully you can replace the basics like the launcher and keyboard if you don't like Samsung's, but it won't ever match the simplicity of what the Pixels have to offer. Which one you prefer here really comes down to your preference: do you want as many features as possible that you have to trim back, or do you want to start with a clean slate and build up? That's Samsung versus Google right there.

Samsung is highlighting its new Bixby voice interface for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ launch, but out of the box it only works with a handful of Samsung apps — so it's hard to use that as a true selling point. The same goes for the DeX docking station, which has potential for a small group of users but has yet to prove itself as dramatically useful. On the other hand, on the Pixel you can use Google Assistant ... and there's no forward-looking desktop docking in any way, if that's something you really think you want.

Bottom line

Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel

In terms of performance and core features, either size of Samsung's or Google's latest will get the job done. But when you're paying top dollar for a phone, more thought goes into the decision. First, choose your size — do you want compact, or as big as you can get? The pixel is the smallest of the four, while the Galaxy S8+ is the largest. The Galaxy S8 is a nice middle ground, and the Pixel XL is starting to put it for some people's hands.

Then see which design appeals to you — is it the standout extra-flashy Galaxy S8, or the understated and sleek Pixel? Meanwhile, keep the software in mind. Samsung offers more features than you can shake a stick at, but that can make things complicated; Google is all about simplicity and speed, and it shows.

It's an argument that will continue on well past this release, but if you're honest about your needs in the above categories, you'll find one that works for you.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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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1 month ago

Microsoft is selling its own version of the Samsung Galaxy S8

59

For those looking for more Microsoft apps and products on their Android phone.

As reported by our pals over at Windows Central, Microsoft announced plans today to sell custom versions of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, called the "Microsoft Edition," exclusively from its U.S. retail stores.

While the hardware will remain identical compared to the standard Galaxy S8 and S8+, the move appears to be mostly about loading the new Samsung devices with Microsoft apps that won't come standard on the new devices, such as Outlook and Cortana. As reported by ZDNet, the Galaxy S8 will ship with Office basics such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, along with OneDrive and Skype, with the extra Microsoft apps added during the unboxing and initial device set up in the Microsoft store.

While Microsoft fans try to decipher what this move might mean for the future of Windows Mobile, this story takes a somewhat interesting turn when you consider what adding Cortana to the S8 really means.

By adding Cortana to the mix, the number of personal assistants on the Samsung Galaxy S8 Microsoft Edition suddenly jumps to three.

Google Assistant and Samsung's own personal assistant, Bixby, will already be vying for users attention on the Galaxy S8. By adding Cortana to the mix, the number of personal assistants on the Samsung Galaxy S8 Microsoft Edition suddenly jumps to three. They say two's company and three's a crowd, so it will be interesting to see which AI assistant users lean towards. Microsoft is obviously banking on its loyal fanbase sticking with Cortana and all its cross-platform convenience, but if anything it might end up making the Microsoft Edition of the S8 the de facto device to test out which Android AI assistant reigns supreme.

The two Microsoft Edition GS8s are expected to be available for pre-sale today in the company's U.S. retail stores.

Samsung Galaxy S8: Best carrier deals and where to buy

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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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1 month ago

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. LG G6: Tall, skinny and very similar

97
Galaxy S8 and LG G6

The tall phone showdown we've all been waiting for.

LG was able to get its new G6 out the door before Samsung, but it launched into a world full of Galaxy S8 leaks and expectations. Now that we have the real deal in our hands, we can set the top-end phone from LG right up against its direct competition in the Galaxy S8 to see just how they compare — from overarching looks down to minute spec differences and feature distinctions.

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1 month ago

Galaxy S8 vs. iPhone 7: Battle of the platforms

39

How do the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ stack up to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus?

Now that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are official, they will immediately be compared to the best of Samsung's chief competitor in the mobile space, Apple. While Apple is halfway through its product cycle, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are still formidable opponents, so let's take a look to see how the two sets of phones stack up against one another.

Galaxy S8 vs. iPhone 7

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Galaxy S8 next to the iPhone 7 is how much more efficiently it uses space. While nearly the same width and only a few millimeters taller than the iPhone 7, Samsung's newest flagship manages to fit a 5.8-inch screen into a compact body; the iPhone 7 still has a small 4.7-inch display.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ specs

Apple is expected to do away with the home button on the iPhone 8, but for now the Galaxy S8 just looks more space-efficient.

Moreover, Apple's 1334x750 pixel resolution, with its 326ppi pixel density, seems to fall further and further behind every year; Samsung's 2960x1440 pixel QHD+ SuperAMOLED screen is bright, vivid and color accurate while maintaining a clear advantage in sharpness and clarity, at 570ppi. This year, Samsung has also done away with its physical home button, for the first time integrating its controls into the display (as Google encourages). That reclaimed space is now extra screen, which helps with games, media and other fullscreen activities. And while Apple is rumored to do away with its own home button later this year, it's unclear how the company will minimize the impact to the way iOS works, since it has, since the beginning, relied on that single press or tap to return home.

Of course, the Galaxy S8 also sports curved glass, a move that puts Samsung all-in on a the so-called "edge display." While this may initially be seen as a controversial move, it is also one of Samsung's clearest technological advantages right now, and as limited a gain in productivity as the curved glass currently offers, it plays very well with consumers, and that's all that matters.

Around back, Samsung has moved its formerly front-facing home button to the back, next to the camera, in what is quickly becoming a very controversial decision. As Andrew Martonik points out in his hands-on preview, as much as Samsung wants you to take advantage of the integrated iris scanner to unlock the Galaxy S8, the fingerprint sensor is still the most effective way of doing so quickly, but it may take users some time to get used to the new rear placement — and cleaning the camera lens from the smudges that will inevitably accrue.

But Samsung has also taken a small page from Apple's playbook by integrating a pleasant haptic engine into the area below the virtual home button on the front, making it feel like a physical press. It's not quite the real thing, but after a while, just as you do with the iPhone 7's capacitive home button, you quickly grow used to it.

The ports and buttons on the two phones line up fairly predictably, with Samsung positioning its power button on the right side of the phone, and its volume buttons on the left. This year, though, there's an addition to Samsung's outfit: a dedicated Bixby AI button that sits just below the volume rocker on the left side, offering one-press access to dozens of on-phone features. Apple relies on a long-press of its home button to access Siri, its own AI assistant.

Moving to the bottom of the phone, Samsung has transitioned to a USB-C port, which is much more versatile and offers faster data rates and quicker charging through a compatible USB 3.1 connection. A single speaker cavity sits to its right, while Samsung has wisely chosen to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack around for at least one more year.

Both phones are made of a combination of metal and glass, but like the Galaxy S7 the back is covered with strong Gorilla Glass rather than brushed or matte aluminum. And while the Galaxy S8 looks and feels very similar to its predecessor, it the design is improved in one major way: its matte black version has color-matched metal on the sides to follow the contours of the black rear and front glass, providing an unbroken pool of gorgeous darkness. More companies have begun doing this, but Samsung still does it best.

Finally, it has to be said that as narrow as the Galaxy S8 is — which means it's usable in one hand without discomfort — it does feel much taller than the iPhone 7. That 18.5:9 aspect ratio is going to be new to Android and iPhone users alike, so if you do decide to buy a Galaxy S8 after coming from an iPhone, you're in for a small adjustment period.

Apple's A10 chip is faster than anything out there right now, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice a difference between it and the Snapdragon 835.

Internally, the iPhone 7 sports the A10 chip, a quad-core SoC that includes two high-frequency, high-performance cores and two low-energy cores for ambient activities, with just 2GB of RAM (and the 7 Plus has 3GB). The RAM deficit hasn't been a problem in years past, though, since iOS is generally more efficient than Android in its resource and RAM management.

It's already been determined that the A10 is faster in single-core activities, but both the Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 8895 best it in multi-core benchmarks — conclusions that don't really mean anything in the real world, but are interesting nonetheless. And while both Galaxy S8 models sport 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, the iPhone vacillates in storage size — and price — between 32GB, 128GB and 256GB. With the Galaxy S8's microSD card, none of that price shuffling is necessary.

Galaxy S8+ vs. iPhone 7 Plus

The screen to bezel efficiency continues with the story of the Galaxy S8+, especially when compared to the iPhone 7 Plus. While Apple's bigger phone boasts a 5.5-inch 1080p display, much more akin to most Android phones, it is very wide and extremely tall. Indeed, Samsung's 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ is considerably narrower, and only slightly longer, than the iPhone 7 Plus. Neither phone is exactly one hand-friendly, but you're definitely going to need to adjust the way you hold the Galaxy S8+ to swipe down from that notification shade without a second hand.

The Galaxy S8+ has all the same ports and button placements as its smaller counterpart, including the rear fingerprint sensor, which is even harder to reach on the larger version of the phone. Its 6.2-inch QHD+ SuperAMOLED display shares the same resolution as the Galaxy S8, 2960x1440 pixels, which makes it slightly less dense at 529ppi, but still far sharper than the 401ppi iPhone 7 Plus. As accurate and bright as Apple's screens are, they will likely never catch Samsung in the pixel density arms race — if that's a real thing anymore.

The cameras

The Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 both have single rear 12MP camera sensors with f/1.7 lenses, making them pretty similar on paper and in real-world results. While Samsung tends to go for a more exaggerated color palette and Apple for a flatter, more realistic photo, they both have the potential to take amazing photos in daylight and low light.

The Galaxy S8+ lacks a second sensor, but Samsung doesn't think it needs one.

While we haven't had a lot of time to play with the cameras on the Galaxy S8, Samsung tells us it shares hardware components with the Galaxy S7; what is different, though, is the connection to the main chip, which has been upgraded from the Snapdragon 820 to the Snapdragon 835 (and in Europe, the Exynos 8890 to the Exynos 8895). This improved ISP, or image signal processor, should have a significant impact on things like focus speed and HDR performance, but we'll see.

The one thing that the Galaxy S8 series doesn't have that the iPhone does — at least, the iPhone 7 Plus — is a second camera sensor. While the LG G6 has a second camera for wide-angle shots, and the iPhone 7 Plus uses its for additional distance and depth-of-field effects, Samsung was comfortable with the Galaxy S8+'s performance to live on its own.

We've seen plenty of good and bad photos from Apple's second camera — it lacks optical image stabilization, and has a much narrower aperture, so it lets in much less light — it's still going to be a point of comparison when shopping for a new phone. Samsung did reportedly experiment with adding a second sensor to the new Galaxy S8 lineup but felt the technology wasn't quite ready — in whatever form it was going to take — so it may be delayed a year.

Either way, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ should have amazing cameras, some of the best on the market, and we're looking forward to putting them through their paces in comparison to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Platforms

Finally, we come down to software. Samsung is shipping the Galaxy S8 with Android 7 Nougat, and while Samsung's software has improved markedly over the past few years, to the point where it can be considered neck-and-neck with the best interpretations of Android, its update record is still shoddy. Take the Nougat update on the Galaxy S7 series; it took nearly 11 months for the update to begin rolling out to U.S. carrier devices, and it's still not available on the unlocked version.

Apple, on the other hand, updates all of its devices at once, and does so with the cooperation of its carrier partners. It would be nice for Samsung to get to that point, but for now it — and Android — work differently.

As close as the two platforms are in terms of features, there's another major consideration to take into the account: the two app stores. Google Play and Apple's App Store don't have too much between them these days, but some companies, especially smaller startups, still choose iOS as a first, or even exclusive, destination when publishing their apps. So do game companies, which derive considerably more revenue from iOS than Android. That being said, most of the major titles eventually come to Android, and the delta between releases is shortening, but it's still a reality.

The other side of the argument comes in the form of continuity; Samsung relies on Android, so it's increasingly trying to find ecosystem tie-ins in other ways. Take DeX, Samsung's hardware dock that turns the Galaxy S8 into a Microsoft Continuum-like desktop experience. This is Samsung trying to exert as much control over its software as possible — this is Android, not Chrome or anything else, but it's Samsung's Android — and that's admirable.

Which should you buy?

The question of which phone you should buy largely comes down to platform preference, but you should also keep in mind that Samsung's phones are a full half-year newer than the iPhone 7 series, and benefit from a highly competitive Android ecosystem that is consistently pushing partners to develop innovations in the hardware space.

Apple feels less of a need to constantly redesign its phones because it has an entrenched and loyal user base that have, over time, grown reliant not just on the iPhone hardware but iOS as a platform, with iMessage, iCloud and many other features with which Android manufacturers can't directly compete, since Google controls Android. Samsung has tried, and Bixby is a good example of that, but it still uses Google services as its backbone.

So it then comes down to hardware. The most notable upgrade in this year's Galaxy S series is the screen — larger screens and smaller bezels make for phones that use space far more efficiently than ever before. They're also taller, thanks to the odd 18.5:9 aspect ratio. That Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 processor keep things moving at a fast clip, and bring some much-needed efficiency improvements to the table. Of course, battery life benefits from the more-efficient processor, but we'll have to wait a bit longer before we determine whether the 3,000mAh battery in the GS8, or the 3,500mAh cell in the GS8+, perform better than the equivalent cells in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Both the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 series are great, but Samsung has maximized the usable space on the front, and that makes it feel far more modern than the aging design on the iPhone.

Learn everything you need to know about the Galaxy S8!

There's lots more to know about the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, from the subtle (and not so subtle) hardware changes to the software, Bixby, DeX and more. Grab a coffee and sit back to read our full hands-on preview of Samsung's latest devices!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ preview

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1 month ago

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ hands-on preview

184
Samsung Galaxy S8

What do you do when you're already on top?

Despite 2016's late stumble with that phone, Samsung is still on top of the Android world. Part of that is due to its extreme popularity in the mid- and low-end phones that sell in dramatic numbers around the world, but it all falls under the halo of the flagship Galaxy S line. Last year's Galaxy S7 was (and still is) a great phone that cut back on gimmicks to just provide a fantastic overall experience that did just about everything the market wanted. There weren't many shortcomings to speak of — so how do you keep people interested, without giving up the things that brought you so much success?

For fear of looking like it's standing still, Samsung took a proven platform and refined it, keeping everything that made the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge so popular while adding a handful of big features that will keep people interested. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are undeniably successors to the Samsung Galaxy S line in terms of looks, but make legitimately good moves toward usability. The same goes for the software, where a couple of big features and design changes lay on top of a familiar interface to the hundreds of millions of current Galaxy owners.

It can be tough to stay on top for long, but Samsung wants to keep pushing even though it's ahead. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are how it does it — here are our first impressions of the phones.

Get up to speed

Galaxy S8 and S8+ Hands-on video

The latest flagships from Samsung are easily the biggest Android phones of the year in terms of influence and sales at the top end of the market, and that means there's a whole lot you'll want to learn. Kick it all off with our hands-on preview video, then read along for more details on what Samsung has to offer in 2017!

Samsung Galaxy S8

Gorgeous refresh

Galaxy S8 and S8+ Hardware

"Cool new Galaxy!" is a thing people say today, much in the same way they'd remark if you were carrying a fresh iPhone the day you took it out of its box. The brand identity of Samsung's last two generations of Galaxy S line cannot be overlooked, and it isn't taking this for granted. That's undoubtedly why the Galaxy S8 and S8+ look so similar to their predecessors, even if it's frustrating to the smartphone nerds among us who want to see altogether new designs year after year.

This is a distinctly 'Samsung' design, simply refined for 2017.

At a glance, from any given angle you'd be hard-pressed to immediately pick out the "new" phone between the Galaxy S8 and S7 series of devices. Yes the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are gorgeous phones, but they use the same recipe as 2016 — with just a slightly different proportion of the ingredients. Finely milled metal and curved glass are mixed together, and in 2017 there's simply a whole lot more glass.

83% of the front of the Galaxy S8 is usable screen real estate, which as you can see in the photos means there's minimal bezel to speak of on the left and right sides of the display. Even the top and bottom have shrunk, nearing the point on the top bezel where you can't go much smaller assuming you want a front-facing camera, sensors and call speaker. That top bezel is so thin that Samsung even sacrificed its bold SAMSUNG branding that has graced the top of every previous Galaxy S phone — leaving the silkscreen logo on the back to stand alone. On the bottom, the home button and capacitive navigation keys have been abandoned — perhaps the only part of this design that is a clear departure from previous Galaxy S phones.

The shrinking bezels align with the change in display aspect ratio foreshadowed by the LG G6 — Samsung has moved to a super-tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio, making the Galaxy S8 actually narrower than the Galaxy S7, but notably taller thanks to its diagonal screen measurement of 5.8-inches to the GS7's 5.1-inches. The display corners are also curved, just like the LG G6 ... which doesn't add much but a neat bit of symmetry to the curved corners of the phone. But even with much smaller bezels, both the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are still quite tall compared to traditional 16:9 phones — the GS8+, in particular, seemed tough to manage in one hand in my brief time with it.

The screens are bigger, taller and equally curved on both models.

2017 also marks the death of "edge" branding within the Galaxy line, as both the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are technically edge phones, sporting dual-curved displays of the more subtle variety closer to the Galaxy Note 7 than the more dramatic Galaxy S7 edge. And with this distinction gone, it means the two models are nearly identical — with only the size of the screen (5.8-inch vs. 6.2-inch) and battery (3000mAh vs. 3500mAh) being differentiators.

Whether flat or curved, these displays look fantastic — and you shouldn't be surprised at this point that Samsung can make an industry-leading AMOLED panel. Not having spent a large amount of time with it I can't speak to its visibility in fringe situations like harsh sunlight or very dim areas, but based on what I have seen I have no doubts about its abilities. In both screen sizes the resolution is "QHD+" which means 2960x1440 — so that's 400 pixels taller than your typical 2560x1440 screen.

More: Complete Galaxy S8 and S8+ specs

The hardware is simply wonderful, even if it isn't a massive departure from 2016.

What metal remains in the bodies of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ has been polished to a sheen rather than left in a more raw state, making for a more seamless look from the slick glass to the now-slick metal. The change is most dramatic on the black and silver color variations, in which there's little differentiation in the colors between the two materials. The colors all around are more subdued yet iterative takes on the Galaxy S7's available palette, with black, gold, silver and blue making a return — the one new color, "orchid grey," is a subtle purple-grey combo that's simply wonderful.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are really beautiful pieces of technology in either size, but much has remained the same from the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S6. Within the proper proportions, the volume and power buttons have stayed put on the sides, and the combination of a headset jack, data port (now USB-C, of course) and speaker are on the bottom.

For everything that was added, Samsung didn't take away a single hardware spec or feature.

The core tenets of what Samsung calls the "Galaxy foundation" are still here as well. That means you're getting an SD card slot, IP68 waterproofing and biometric security — all table stakes for Samsung at this point. A core point of that foundation is also the camera experience, which is big point of strength for Samsung. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have the same camera hardware as last year, meaning we're looking at a 12MP "Dual Pixel" arrangement with an f/1.7 lens, leaving any improvement in quality to the new ISP (image signal processor) of the new Qualcomm and Exynos SoCs in the phones, as well as software improvements. Samsung says it has improved blur reduction simply by changing the processing, and as we've seen recently with the LG G6 and Google Pixel, a whole lot can be done in software nowadays.

Samsung has to prove that camera processing improvements alone are enough.

On the other side of the phone, the camera is a complete overhaul. Samsung moved to a new 8MP sensor with a bright f/1.7 lens that finally includes auto focus, something that you very rarely see even on high-end phones. A welcomed improvement that will make each and every selfie look better.

The Galaxy S8's hardware runs the risk of not moving the needle those who haven't necessarily been drawn to the Galaxy S6 and S7 in the past, but it's clear at this point that there are hundreds of millions of people who over the years have decided they do indeed like the modern Galaxy styling. Samsung managed to make the Galaxy S8 bigger without making it unmanageable, and the Galaxy S8+ is a secondary option that gives people who want more screen the full experience in a larger footprint. All the while, these phones didn't lose a single feature the original Galaxy S7 and S7 edge had.

Samsung Galaxy S8+

More of the same

Galaxy S8 and S8+ Software and experience

In continuing with its messaging about the "Galaxy foundation," Samsung isn't really playing the specs game anymore — at least, it isn't marketing the specs game. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have the specs you need, but Samsung isn't adding more just for the sake of more — the focus is on providing the experience people expect from a top-end phone. You're getting top-of-the line processors in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 and double the base storage to 64GB — but at the same time, it's staying put at 4GB of RAM and battery capacities that haven't increased from the Galaxy S7 generation.

To most people, the amount of RAM and precise size of the battery don't really matter — what does matter is performance, and there's a great chance that with either the Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 paired with 4GB will do great. And doubling the base storage to 64GB while keeping the SD card slot is a nod to helping you store everything today and in a year when your apps and media appetite grow.

See everything new in the Galaxy S8's software!

Samsung always packs a ton of features in its software, and the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are no exception. To get up to speed with everything that's new in the software, be sure to read our full breakdown here!

Read our complete Galaxy S8 software breakdown!

And on the software side, Samsung is working with a known quantity, building on Android 7.0 Nougat that looks and acts much the same as the updates that have rolled out to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. (I was also told the intention is to launch with Android 7.1 — we'll see how that works out.) That means you're going to find mostly white and grey interface elements, along with pops of color throughout for icons and big touch points. The launcher has dropped an app drawer button but retained the drawer itself using a swipe-up gesture, just like Google's Pixel Launcher, and that kinda of subtlety can be found throughout the interface with a bit more transparency used all around in place of explicitly huge buttons.

Samsung's software is good, clean and fast. Let's hope carriers don't mess it up too much.

Samsung is, for the first time, using an on-screen navigation bar with soft keys, which is something I'd bet Google is happy about — this basically leaves HTC as the final "big" name that doesn't at least give you an option for on-screen buttons. To help soothe those who felt so attached to the physical home button you'll still find the home button present on the always-on display you can push to bring up the lock screen. Samsung achieves this without "accidental" touches by using pressure-sensitive technology to make you press harder to activate the button on the always-on display.

It isn't clear that Samsung intends to use this pressure sensitivity anywhere else in the interface, though, and during my brief time with the phones in the company of Samsung representatives nobody even mentioned the feature. The second part of the equation is a much-improved haptic feedback engine that gives you more of a physical feeling when pressing the button — very similarly to Apple's new iPhone 7 home button and MacBook Pro trackpad. The pressure sensitivity and improved haptic feedback are welcomed additions, but it feels a bit odd to not see the functionality expand beyond the home button. Maybe that's a sleeper feature waiting to be enabled in the future.

Pressure sensitivity and improved haptics are great — but they aren't used throughout the interface yet.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+'s tiny bezels necessitated the move to on-screen buttons, which also means it had to move its fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone. Rumor has it that Samsung wanted to get some sort of under-glass fingerprint sensing into the Galaxy S8, and when the technology wasn't ready ... well, we got this. The fingerprint sensor is placed next to the camera, which on these extra-tall phones is way up there. Those who hold their phone in their left hand are in double trouble as they have to reach up and around the camera lens to access it. It's likely to make it even harder to keep the camera lens clean, and Samsung's camera software even has a warning reminding you to clean your lens when it notices it's dirty.

Thanks to the precarious placement of the sensor, it makes sense that Samsung is really high on its iris scanning technology. Whether it's through a change of hardware or software, the iris scanner is much faster than the Galaxy Note 7's, which is a welcomed change. Of course I was using it in good lighting and for a short amount of time, but it recognized quickly and unlocked right away. Now, how will it do when viewing my eyes from the side, at night and while I'm walking down the street? Undoubtedly it will have less precision than just touching the fingerprint sensor. This is one that will take more real-world use to see how it does over time.

Bixby on the Galaxy S8

Bixby

Voice is viewed as the next big thing right now, and not to be left out Samsung created Bixby — and it was so excited about it there was actually a pre-announcement before the Galaxy S8. It's easy to initially think that because Bixby is a voice interface that it competes with Google Assistant and Alexa, but Samsung actually sees it entirely differently.

Bixby isn't an AI assistant per se, but a new way to interact with all parts of your phone.

While Bixby does do some predictive intelligence, it isn't so much an "assistant" as it is a new way to interact with your phone via voice in order to replace touch entirely. Bixby is designed to be an ever-present voice layer that you can talk to at any time and have it navigate the phone's interface for you. For example, while in the Gallery app you can hold down the "Bixby button" — a hard key underneath the volume keys — and say "show me my photos from Barcelona" to get results. When viewing an image, you could say "apply a black and white filter, and rotate it to the left." These are things you could do with touch, but you can speak to Bixby instead and have it do the actions for you — be it because you don't have the ability to touch the screen at that moment, or you just don't know how to do the function with touch.

Beyond being able to navigate through every corner of "a handful" of Samsung's own apps, the company is really bullish on Bixby because of the way it handles contextual and incomplete information. Bixby knows where you are when you request something, and can act accordingly rather than starting from scratch. If it doesn't completely understand your request, Bixby is also able to get you part of the way there rather than failing entirely and requiring another complete request.

If Samsung thinks people have trouble using its apps, maybe it should just make its apps easier to use.

Now, skeptics would say that if your interface is so hard to use with touch that you need a voice assistant to replicate those movements for you ... well, maybe your interface should be simpler. And, as a generally skeptical person myself, I agree entirely. While I immediately see the value in using Bixby for accessibility and the handful of times when you actually just can't touch the display, I see no reason why I would stand there, holding my phone, and choose to press the Bixby button to ask it to do something in the app I'm currently looking at. It would be useful in an informative tutorial sense, but ideally I would want to learn for myself how to do things with touch rather than relying on Bixby to navigate apps for me.

It's clear there's an intense amount of time and engineering being put behind Bixby, but right now it's a neat demo of voice technology and that's about it. The fact that Bixby supports over 50 languages is fantastic, and the demoes I saw did work, but I'm not quite seeing the real-world value of telling Bixby to do things rather than just using apps myself. If Samsung thinks people have trouble using its apps, maybe it should just make its apps easier to use.

Samsung Galaxy S8 DeX dock

DeX

DeX is the first big software feature differentiator on the Galaxy S8 and S8+, and it's one that leaked the least going into the phone's release. It lets your Galaxy S8 or S8+ dock into a little breakout box that connects to a traditional computer monitor, keyboard and mouse to bring your phone's power to a bigger screen for vastly improved productivity. When docked, the monitor will display a desktop-like representation of your phone screen (rather than a tablet view, as some would guess), with app icons along the left, a "start" menu of sorts with commonly used apps and a full status bar in the bottom-right corner.

The Galaxy S8 definitely has enough power for DeX, the questions are all about app support.

Android has long supported external keyboards and mice, so that's not a problem at all here. But app support is a real question. Samsung says it has designed its own apps to work in fully resizable windows, and has also struck deals with Adobe and Microsoft to make sure apps like Lightroom, Word, Excel and Powerpoint (still the mobile apps, mind you) look good on the big screen and can also be resized.

It wasn't hard to see the utility of plugging in a phone to this setup and instantly browsing in Samsung's own Internet browser while typing in a Word window and even replying to text messages. The question is, how long will it take for other app developers to get on board and make sure their apps run great on DeX? That's going to make a big difference in how much people will consider using this.

Then, of course, is the next question of how often you're going to be in a situation in which it makes sense to use DeX connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor rather than just using a computer that's likely already attached to those peripherals. While DeX running on the power of a Galaxy S8 or S8+ would absolutely do the job for casual users ... those are precisely the type of users who don't want to have a keyboard, mouse and monitor. They just want a laptop — and probably a Chromebook at that.

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Another winner, it seems

More Galaxy S8 to explore

We've only just scratched the surface on the Galaxy S8 and S8+. With the phones going up for pre-order on March 30 and released on April 21, we have a few weeks to wait before they're broadly available and can start to truly dive deeply into all of their features.

But even without seeing the phones for a deep evaluation, there's a whole lot to be excited about. Samsung continues to make some of the most gorgeous and perfectly executed hardware in the industry today, punctuated by a fantastic display that is now surrounded by even smaller bezels. You get more screen than ever before, and can choose between two sizes of phones with no differentiation in specs or capabilities aside from the battery capacity.

Samsung added to the experience without taking away a single piece of what made the Galaxy S7 great.

A year on from the all-around hit of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, Samsung added the latest top-end processors, more base storage, new iris scanning capabilities, the foundation for whole-phone voice control and a new desktop docking system. At the same time, it didn't take away a single feature that made the Galaxy S7 series great — you still get waterproofing, an SD card slot, fast charging, wireless charging, a known great camera and integration with Samsung's vast ecosystem of products and services.

Even if you (understandably) aren't entirely sold on Bixby's abilities or the idea of using DeX to replace your desktop computer, you can absolutely look past those features to see a fantastic overall phone. Fringe features aside, Samsung is still absolutely nailing the basics with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, providing the features and performance you expect out of a high-end phone while also giving you a great hardware that's wonderful to both see and hold. As always you're going to pay handsomely for Samsung's top-of-the-line experience, but as was the case last year you're going to get your money's worth here.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

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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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1 month ago

The Galaxy S8's new 'Infinity Wallpapers' are awesome — here's how they work

29

On the Galaxy S8, your Always-On Display, lock screen and home screen seamlessly flow into each other.

In the various online leaks leading up to the Samsung Galaxy S8 announcement, we got to see glimpses of the phone's new lock screen, home screen and always-on display, and it always seemed like there was something new going on with the way the GS8 handled the interaction between these three screens. Android has had animated home screens and lock screens for years, thanks to the Live Wallpapers feature, but the GS8 takes this a step further with its new Infinity Wallpapers.

And they're actually pretty neat.

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1 month ago

Galaxy S8: Will Modern Dad upgrade?!?!?

44

Will I be trading in my venerable Galaxy S7 for a new Galaxy S8? You'd better believe it.

There's something sort of liberating about no longer reviewing smartphones for a living. That is, I don't have to change phones every couple of weeks. To say nothing about traipsing the world to see them, right?

But for the Galaxy S8? (And the GS8+?) I'll gladly come out of retirement.

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It's easy to get a bit hyperbolic about any major release. Never mind the first phone that comes after the explodariffic Galaxy Note 7. Every major release is important for Samsung. But, yes. Especially this one.

But look at the Galaxy S8 in a vacuum, and you'll quickly release that it is, in fact, one hell of a phone. But it's coming after another really good phone — the Galaxy S7. So am I going to want to update?

The display — as always — is gorgeous. And curved. With rounded corners. Great.

This is one hell of a phone. But then again — we knew it would be.

The camera is still good. Really good. Better than really good, really. And still probably the best camera app out there.

The software (running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box) is still overbearing and ridiculously full of features. Some you'll use. Some you won't. (A good many are off by default and will never be turned on.) The new "Bixby" assistant feature looks promising but is untested. More important, probably, is the growing integration with all the connected devices in your home. (But while Samsung was right in showing off its own products during the launch, how many of us really have the company's connected refrigerator? Or washer? Or dryer?)

How much better is all this than the Galaxy S7? A good bit. Enough to make you effectively shell out another $1,000 (OK, probably not quite that much after tax, but still) when you're carrying around a perfectly good GS7? Quite possibly. It's that good, especially when it comes to how it feels in the hand. (It also seems faster, just to get that cliche out of the way, too.)

Me? I'm going to crack open my wallet for the Galaxy S8. Most certainly.

Modern Dad

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1 month ago

Galaxy S8's most powerful Bixby feature won't be in Europe at launch

30
Bixby

Bixby voice recognition will only support U.S. English and Korean later in the year.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 arrives in Europe on April 28, but when the phone hits European shores it'll be missing one of the key features in Samsung's Bixby AI platform.

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