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17 hours ago

Win a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ from Android Central! Enter now!

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The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ have been announced, and it's time to give one away to an Android Central reader.

The latest flagships from Samsung are easily the biggest Android phones of the year. If you haven't already, you're definitely going to want to check out our detailed hands on preview of the new phones, as well as dive deeper into all the new features that you need to know about. When you're done watching and reading all about the latest innovations Samsung is bringing to the table, come back here and enter to win one of these phones for yourself! All the details are below, so get yourself entered!

THE PRIZE: One Android Central reader will be taking home their choice of a brand new Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+!

THE GIVEAWAY: Head down to the widget at the bottom of this page. There are multiple ways to enter, each with varying point values. Complete all of the tasks for maximum entries and your best shot at winning! Keep in mind that all winning entries are verified and if the task was not completed or cannot be verified, a new winner will be chosen. The prize does not include service, and we cannot guarantee that the device will work on all carriers. International winners will be responsible for any customs fees incurred during shipping.

The giveaway is open until April 4th, and the winner will be announced right here shortly after the close date. Good luck!

Android Central is giving away a Samsung Galaxy S8! Enter now!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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18 hours ago

Your Galaxy S8 will remind you to clean finger grease off its camera lens

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Once you add a fingerprint, your GS8 will warn you to de-gunk your lens regularly.

The Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor location has been one of the more controversial elements of the phone's design, with concerns being raised over reachability, and the potential for fingerprint smudges to accumulate around that rear camera lens. And it appears Samsung, too, is aware of the potential for picture-smudging grease to build up back there.

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18 hours ago

Super Mario Run Tips and Tricks

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Best your friends in Toad Rally races with these tips and tricks for Super Mario Run.

As expected, Super Mario Run has quickly jumped up to the top of the Google Play Store app charts, as millions of Android users finally get a chance to check in with Mario's latest adventure.

Once you've completed the main story mode, Toad Rally emerges as the core mode in which you'll spend most of your time playing. Racing against other players from around the world, your goal is to collect as many coins and pull off as many epic jumps as possible. You can learn more about the basic controls in our Super Mario Run FAQ, but if you really want an edge on the competition, look no further than these seven great tips and tricks to get the most out of Super Mario Run.

Let coins and arrows to guide you to more coins

This one's pretty simple, but it's worth stating: when you see an arrow, take note and try to follow it's path. It will often lead you to new heights, more coins... and maybe even a hidden Challenge Coin.

Coins also double when you're enjoying a Coin Rush, so all the more reason to follow those arrows for maximum scoring!


Mastering the mid-air stall is key

Controls are incredibly limited in Super Mario Run, but there are a few ways you can tweak Mario's jump. Perhaps the most useful and trickiest to pull off is the mid-air stall. This special move will pause Mario's forward progress in mid-air and move you backward just a step.To perform it, touch the screen to high-jump, and then swipe to the left while in mid-air. This move is especially useful while playing as Yoshi and Princess Peach, as you can couple it with their floaty jumps to actually float a significant distance backwards. A great trick to pull in a Toad Rally if you just missed out on a treasure trove of coins.

Dying isn't necessarily a bad thing

This kinda goes against all video game logic, but dying in Super Mario Run can actually be helpful. Sure, you lose a couple of coins when you die, but it can also put you back at the very beginning of the level without resetting the content or killing clock. So, if you want to go back and get that challenge coin you missed or want to check an alternate path, you can do so with little repercussion. Just remember the further you go back, the more likely you are to run out of time, so don't dilly-dally.

Don't forget that you can tap a bubble to rewind

Instead of letting Mario fall off a ledge, you can also tap the Bubble button at the top of the screen at any time to rewind the level. Miss out on a Challenge Coin? You can bubble back and make the magic happen. Just remember that you won't get any extra time on the clock, so hurry!


Go into a boss battle powered up

Fact: It's incredibly easy to defeat Bowser with a mushroom-powered Mario. To beat him as small Mario, you have to jump over his massive shell (or time a run when he jumps into the air) and grab the axe, which falls and busts up the bridge he is standing on. It's really hard to jump over him as is, but especially when you're small mario. But if you're powered up with a mushroom, you can take a hit from Bowser and still make it to the axe. If you're playing as one of the optional characters such as Toad or Yoshi, take a minute to study Bowsers attack and jump patterns, then take advantage of their unique jump skills to coast right past him.

Play longer by turning down the graphics settings

You can lower the amount of battery power Super Mario Bros needs by lowering the rendering and graphics settings in the game. To do so tap Menu > Settings > Options. From there, you can tap the rendering and graphics settings to toggle each from high to low. We only recommend toggling the graphics setting though, since lowering the rendering is super noticeable and might throw you off while playing.

Sign up for, or log into My Nintendo

You receive extra rewards for connecting your My Nintendo account. If you played Miitomo you likely signed up then, and you can use the same account for Super Mario Run. Rewards include extra coins, Toad Rally tickets, decorations for your kingdom, and you also unlock Toad as a playable character.

Got any tips of your own to share?

Have you figured out some great strategies or discovered any easter eggs? Let us know in the comments!

Android Gaming

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19 hours ago

How to take a screenshot on the Galaxy S8

You've got two simple ways to grab a screenshot on the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus.

Your Galaxy S8 (or Galaxy S8 Plus, no judgement here) can do a lot of things no other Samsung phone has been able to do, but it's also missing the big friendly button that has always been on the front of the phone. While Samsung has replaced nearly all of the features offered in that button with other tools across the phone, taking a screenshot didn't make the cut.

Whether you're new to Samsung phones or you've only ever used Samsung phones, knowing how to take a screenshot on the Galaxy S8 will making life just a little bit easier for you later on. Lets take a quick look at the different ways you can take a screenshot on the Galaxy S8, now that there's no big friendly button on the front.

Method 1: How to take a screenshot using the button shortcut

This method works on just about every Android phone out there, but there are a few extra options on a Samsung phone.

  1. Get the app or screen that you want to capture ready to go.
  2. Press and hold the volume down button and the power button at the same time. You'll hear the camera shutter sound, along with a short flashing animation, and that's how you know you're good to go.
  3. You'll now be able to see the screenshot in the Gallery app, or in Samsung's built-in My Files file browser, or in Google Photos, if you use that instead.
  4. If you need to find the screenshots from a command line or through the Android File Transfer tool, they'll be in /pictures/screenshots.

Method 2: How to take a screenshot by swiping the screen

Samsung's got another cool feature in its smartphones for taking screenshots. And some of us think it's actually the easier way to take a screenshot when compared to the button method. (Though it does get a little more tricky if you're using the larger Galaxy S8 Plus.)

  1. Tilt your hand to the side a little, so your thumb is pointing away from the screen.
  2. Swipe your entire hand across the screen from left to right.

Just like in the other method you'll hear the shutter sound and see a short on-screen animation.

This method is enabled by default, but you can turn it off in the settings if you prefer, or if you find you're accidentally taking screenshots.

  1. Go into the settings menu.
  2. Scroll down to Motion and choose Motions and gestures.
  3. Tap Palm swipe to capture.
  4. Hit the toggle button from on to off.

Extra Credit: How to take a scrolling screenshot on the Galaxy S8

Sometimes you need to capture more than just what you see on the screen. The good news is you don't need to take multiple screenshots with the Galaxy S8. You can just take a scrolling screenshot instead and capture one giant long screenshot!

It's a feature that has been around on Samsung phones since the Note 5, but here's how it works on the Galaxy S8.

  1. Take a screenshot, as before.
  2. Tap the Capture more option to scroll down and grab more of the screen.
  3. Keep on tapping until you've captured what you need or reach the bottom of the page.

Fair warning: Scrolling screenshots can get very large. Samsung helps with this somewhat. Single-screen grabs are output at full resolution — 1440x2690. But once you start adding them, the width is downscaled to 1080 pixels wide, and the whole screenshot is saved as a JPEG and instead of a PNG. Still, be careful. It's not uncommon for these screenshots to get up to 6-7mb.

Now that you have a screenshot

You did it! Not as strange as it seems, right? Now that you have your screenshot, you can keep it for later or share it immediately.

If you want to share the screenshot immediately, tap the Share button that shows up after you capture the screenshot and choose from the list of apps that shows up how you want to deliver your photo. If you want to share it later, the Attach function in any app will be able to find your screenshot so you can add it to a social post or an email.

Once you take the screenshot it is treated like any other photo, which means it takes up space on your phone and will be added to your cloud backup through most photo apps. If you find yourself taking a lot of screenshots and don't feel the need to keep them around forever, it may be worth occasionally going through your photo gallery and cleaning them out to save yourself some storage for later. Enjoy!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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19 hours ago

How to use public transit directions in Google Maps

6

Google Maps is an amazing resource for finding public transit information.

In addition to driving directions, Google Maps offers a wealth of options if you rely on public transit for your daily commute. The service gives you a list of the various forms of public transportation for your journey, and it also offers the ability to set a departure time and see the options available at that particular time.

Google Maps catalogs public transit information — including bus, train, ferry, and tram schedules — from over 100 countries and 25,000 towns. Along with finding the optimal transport mode for your daily commute, Maps makes it easy for you to find transit information when visiting a new city.

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20 hours ago

Samsung Connect Home aims to be more than a Google Wifi competitor

3

It does more than mesh networking. Samsung Connect Home acts as a hub for all your smart home gadgets, too.

Samsung revealed its first Wi-Fi system today alongside its new flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Samsung Connect Home is a mid-tier system that comes in a pack of three, similar to Google WiFi and Eero. One unit connects to your existing broadband modem, while the other two units work in tandem as network extenders, the idea being you can create your own fluid Wi-Fi network without too much complication.

If you were a SmartThings Hub user, good news: you won't need a separate hub if you bring home the Connect Home.

The Connect Home also features its own app, just like Google Wi-Fi. You can use it to manage your home network. At launch, you will need one of the newfangled Galaxy S8 devices to use Samsung Connect Home. Towards the end of the year it should be available to other Android devices — and maybe even iPhones.

If you were a SmartThings Hub user, good news: you won't need a separate hub if you bring home the Connect Home. The device has Zigbee and Z-Wave compatibility built-in, so your house can stay smart. It's also compatible with other smart home devices, including Philips Hue Lights and the Ring Video Doorbell.

There isn't too much information about the Samsung Connect Home yet and the company has yet to settle on a release date or price point. There is a Pro version that will launch alongside the Connect Home, though as a single unit. We'll hopefully have more details in the coming weeks.

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21 hours ago

Score a free Gear VR and Controller with your Galaxy S8

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Samsung is leaning on one of its greatest hits for the Galaxy S8 launch.

If you're planning to pick up a Galaxy S8 on or near launch day, you should probably pre-order it. If you do, Samsung and its partners are going to toss in a Gear VR with the new Gear VR Controller for free.

This isn't the first time Samsung has made this particular offer, but this is the first time that deal is far too good for anyone to pass up. The Gear VR has grown into its own incredible part of the VR ecosystem, complete with compelling games you can't get anywhere else and a ton of streaming video apps for watching stuff in VR. It's the first VR headset with its own functional social platform, making it an incredibly compelling VR experience over all.

But the real add-on here is the new Controller, which saves you from needing to tap the side of the headset for interaction and eventually plans to offer Daydream-like laser pointer navigation for a bunch of VR apps. When you add that $40 accessory to the $60 headset, it's clear even if you aren't totally sold on VR just yet this is something you want to get your hands on for free with your Galaxy S8.

Here are all the places you can pre-order the Galaxy S8 and get a free Gear VR!

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21 hours ago

Samsung Galaxy S8 hands-on: The "Infinity Phone"

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Until very recently, Samsung's phones were at the top of the list for Android quality (at least in the eyes of the mainstream consumer). Now under pressure to bounce back from the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Samsung doesn't just have to make the Galaxy S8 a success; it has to make it a resounding one. Today, we finally get to see Samsung's version of the comeback. This is my first Galaxy S8 hands-on, and there's a lot to get ahold of.

I'm Michael Fisher, AKA MrMobile, and yes, I've held the S8 and S8+ in my hand. I've tried their new cameras, I've played with DeX and Bixby, and I've clicked the new home button (that's not a button at all)! Now, it's time to tell you all about it. This hands-on is the beginning of our journey with the Samsung Galaxy S8. Start with the video above, and then check out all of Android Central's coverage as I prepare the full MrMobile Galaxy S8 Review, coming soon!

Stay social, my friends

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21 hours ago

Samsung announces Galaxy S8 and S8+: Here's everything you need to know

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Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

We knew this was coming, but now it's all official.

A continuous flow of leaks and speculation came to an end today as Samsung announced the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ on stage at its event New York City. Naturally they confirmed plenty of what everyone speculated to be true about the latest flagships from Samsung, but there are a few details and subtleties we didn't know until now.

Here's everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

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21 hours ago

5 things to know about the Samsung Galaxy S8's DeX dock

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The Galaxy S8's hidden feature is desktop-style operating system you can use in lieu of a laptop.

If you could hook up your Android smartphone to an external monitor to unlock a desktop mode, would you? Samsung is making a major play towards its truly mobile users with a desktop-style operating system embedded into the software of the Galaxy S8 and S8+. Here's what Samsung DeX is, and why it might make Samsung's new flagship appealing to those with bonafide on-the-go lifestyles.

You need the dock to use DeX

To even access Samsung DeX, you need the DeX dock, which is sold separately. The dock itself is cheaper than, say, an Asus Chromebook Flip, but you'd still have to adopt one of the Galaxy S8 smartphones for it to work.

Once the Galaxy S8 is plugged in, you can hook up peripherals as you please.

But of course you need all of the other things to plug into the dock as well. Once the Galaxy S8 is plugged in, you can hook up peripherals as you please to start the computerization process. The DeX dock comes with an HDMI port, two USB ports, and Bluetooth connectivity. It also keeps the Galaxy S8 charged while it works, so you don't have to worry about running down the battery. And there's a built-in fan (don't worry, you won't even notice it's there) to keep the smartphone cool as you're operating in DeX mode.

It's (kind of) like a Mac or PC

DeX Start menu.

Samsung DeX offers a Start menu.

Samsung's desktop experience isn't too different from what you're used to.

Samsung's desktop experience isn't too different from what you're used to. There's a start button of sorts that offers quick access to compatible apps and you can minimize and maximize individual windows or close out of them like you would on a Mac or PC. Oft-used commands are available, too, and there's a dock where you can pin your favorite apps. The notifications and status bar from your phone appear along the bottom of the desktop, just where you'd expect them to be, so you always have access to your typical "phone" functions while in the DeX dock.

The Samsung DeX also features a lock screen — think of it as a screensaver. You can secure the DeX with a passcode or facial recognition to keep peering eyes out of your secret stuff.

But it doesn't run Windows or Mac apps

If you're thinking that the Samsung DeX sounds a bit like Microsoft's Continuum with Windows 10, you'd be on the right track. It's essentially the same concept, with the main appeal being that DeX offers a scaled-up desktop when the Galaxy S8's comparatively smaller display is simply not enough.

The DeX is a bit like Continuum.

So because this is just Samsung's Android build scaled up to a larger screen, you can't use any Windows or Mac apps on this computer wannabe — but there are compatible Adobe and Microsoft apps, including Adobe Lightroom and Microsoft Word, that are designed specifically for the big screen. DeX also supports virtual desktops like Citrix, Amazon Workspace, and VMWare, so you can actually get some work done if you need to. And if you wanted access to any of your Android apps, those are also compatible.

It's unclear exactly how normal Android apps and the DeX apps will work in tandem, and how the system handles apps that aren't designed to run on a larger display or in a windowed environment — right now, Samsung is (understandably) only talking about its own apps.

DeX is not a laptop replacement

Samsung doesn't appear to be positioning the DeX dock towards those looking for a laptop replacement — and certainly not in the way that the Chromebook has been positioned.

The DeX is something you'd bring with you on a business trip.

Instead, it seems the DeX is something you'd bring with you on a business trip, particularly if you knew there was a monitor hookup already waiting where you're headed. It could also be a useful accessory for the frequent traveler — it can be hooked up to any television with HDMI — or exist as an on-the-go photo editor.

Sadly, this isn't a spiritual successor to the Motorola Atrix.

We still have a few questions

There's got to be more to the Samsung DeX.

Is there more to the Samsung DeX than just a blown-up phone screen to a desktop interface? Well, software support from other apps will be extremely important for the experience. The existence of different docking options would be fantastic, and of course the general availability of the DeX dock in the places you want to work would be the key to unlocking the power of this platform.

We're not sure about many of the details, but Samsung is excited about the possibilities of DeX.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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21 hours ago

Galaxy S8 vs. iPhone 7: Battle of the platforms

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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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21 hours ago

Everything you need to know about the Galaxy S8's cameras

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The 12-megapixel 'Dual Pixel' rear-facing camera is back and paired with a better front-facing camera and a tweaked camera interface.

Samsung doesn't seem to be making too much of a spectacle of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+'s main camera, and that's likely because it hasn't changed the hardware. The flagship duo come equipped with the same camera hardware as their predecessors: a 12-megapixel "Dual Pixel" sensor that was often heralded as the best before the Google Pixel.

But regardless of the reprise, there are some new camera features to check out in Samsung's new smartphones. Let's take a look at the new additions, including new photo processing, a better front-facing camera, Snapchat-like features, and a slightly tweaked camera interface that makes it easier to multitask between camera modes.

Rear camera

gs8

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ feature a 12-megapixel "Dual Pixel" rear-facing camera with an f/1.7 lens. Like its predecessor, the Galaxy S7, it's equipped with OIS (optical image stabilization) and PDAF (phase-detect auto focus), as well as auto HDR and a manual mode that enables you to shoot in RAW.

There are no new camera modes.

There are no new camera modes to the Galaxy S8, but you'll see all the usual suspects in the interface, including a Panorama mode, Selective focus mode (akin to the iPhone 7's Portrait mode), and Hyperlapse mode. The same live colored filters made popular in older Samsung phones are included here, too, and there's also a new feature that brings Snapchat-like augmented reality filters to the viewfinder. You can use them as you're recording video or while snapping photos. I'm not sure if the filters will work with multiple people in the shot (like some of Snapchat's filters do), but they did work on Mr. Mobile.

A few snapshots of the Galaxy S8's camera interface.

The camera app interface also remains relatively unchanged. It's simple to use; a quick swipe to the left starts up the video recording mode, and a swipe to the right brings you to the different camera modes. There is a slight tweak this time around in that you can slide the shutter key up and down to digitally zoom — way quicker than pinching on the viewfinder to zoom.

We obviously haven't used the camera in any sort of extended period where we can evaluate its quality, but this will of course be the biggest question. How much has Samsung improved in software to make a step up over last year's quality? Though the Galaxy S7's camera was really good, in this industry if you're standing still you're falling behind — new camera firmware and improved processing from the new ISP (image signal processor) should improve things, but we don't know how much yet.

Front camera

You can use the silly Snapchat-like features here, too.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+'s front-facing camera is a complete revamp: 8 megapixels with auto focus and an f/1.7 lens. You'll get decent low light photos just as you would with the rear-facing camera, and the Galaxy S8 will have a simpler time attempting to keep your face in focus — most phones today, even in the high end, still don't have auto focus on the front-facer. You can use the silly Snapchat-like features here, too, and there is a beauty mode that buffs out your imperfections and makes you look like the freshly airbrushed model you wish you could be. The filter also works on your friends in group selfies.

There's so much more to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ than just its cameras. Be sure to read our full rundown of the devices and breakdowns of the various features from Samsung's latest flagship family!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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21 hours ago

What is Bixby and is it like Google Assistant?

6

Bixby isn't a search engine. It's the Galaxy S8's live-in assistant.

Virtual assistants are all the rage, and with the success of services like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, it's no surprise that other companies want a go at it, too. Samsung's trying its hand in the AI space with the launch of Bixby, the virtual assistant that comes baked in the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Unlike the competition, Bixby isn't a search engine. It's an assistant that's there to help you navigate through the phone itself. Samsung's invested quite a few resources into Bixby and its capabilities, and plans to make it a major part of the Galaxy S8's marketing story. If you're wondering what's in store, here's what we learned about Bixby from our brief time with it on Samsung's new flagship smartphone.

What Bixby aims to do

Bixby Home

Earlier this month, Samsung made a point to lay out what Bixby is and how it will live alongside the rest of the virtual assistants making headway in the tech world. Bixby was heralded as a "conceptually new philosophy to the problem [of virtual interaction]," Samsung wrote. "It is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us."

"A conceptually new philosophy to the problem of virtual interaction."

That's a powerful statement, but that's exactly Bixby's aim: to learn what you like to do with your smartphone, and then adapt itself to cater to those particular actions. It's not a search engine like Google Assistant; it is an assistant, and it can navigate around your smartphone the way that you normally would with your own fingertips. Bixby will support almost every task you ask it to do, like cropping a photo, applying a filter, or sharing it with your favorite social network. Eventually, you'll be able to talk Bixby through your process without looking at the screen at all.

Bixby.

Bixby stands by in anticipation of your next command.

Bixby is also supposed to complete tasks, even if you don't shout out the entire command. The idea is that as it's learning what you do with your device, it's also learning how to stay three steps ahead in anticipating what's next. And if it doesn't understand everything that you asked, it can get you most of the way there instead of failing and asking you to try again.

What we've seen it do

Bixby's primary method of contact requires you to press and hold the physical "Bixby button," which resides on the left side of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ — essentially, your own "push to talk" for artificial intelligence. Samsung did say that Bixby would work with hot word detection, but most of the devices laid out for our demonstration were offline. Regardless, if you don't feel like drawing attention to yourself by shouting out "BIXBY!" in the middle of the grocery store, that's what the hardware button is for.

If you don't feel like shouting out "Bixby!", that's what the hardware button is for.

Bixby also offers its own live feed of sorts, akin to Google Now. It's a bit redundant alongside Google's offerings, though it does sort of lay out the kind of data it's aggregating on you. You can check in on things by scrolling to the left-most home screen of Samsung's launcher like you would on the Pixel Launcher. It's not entirely clear how Bixby pulls in all the information — whether it's hooking into apps, or whether it's only limited to the apps that have opted in — but we do know it looks at location data to find the context of where you are, to offer you actions based on whether you're at home or at work.

When is it available?

The bixby feed.

There is quite a bit of nuance behind Samsung's Bixby. We'll be curious to see how it fares against Google Assistant in the long run — particularly after millions of Galaxy S8 and S8+ phones are sold and Bixby gets put to use.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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21 hours ago

Samsung has fixed the biggest problem with the Gear 360

4

You might as well forget the original Gear 360 ever existed.

Samsung has refreshed the Gear 360 with a design that eliminates the one real problem with the original — stitching. This new design shrinks the top sphere by moving some of the important bits down to the handle, which means the two fisheye lenses are now much closer together. Closer 8.4 megapixel sensors means the software doesn't have to work so hard to make the two images come together as a single sphere, which means your Gear 360 photos and videos won't have that weird seam splitting the world in half.

Actually, there's quite a bit different about this new Gear 360. Lets dig in!

While the original Gear 360 offered a neat tripod you could add to the bottom of the least pocketable 360-degree camera ever, the new Gear 360 has a base that can't be removed. Samsung moved the battery and display from the sphere into the base, leaving the top to just the sensors and buttons. Instead of a tripod, you get a rubbery base that is wider at the bottom than the top so it's not as easy to knock over accidentally. That base offers a standard camera screw mount, so you can attach this camera to just about anything and start recording.

Not only are you getting a sphere without stitch lines but the image and video quality will be greatly enhanced.

The sensors have been upgraded so the cameras can capture video in 4K at 24fps and photos at 15MP, which means not only are you getting a sphere without stitch lines but the image and video quality will be greatly enhanced. If you want to do more than just capture and publish, the camera can also stream 360-degree video to YouTube from both a mobile and a PC connection. We don't have any compare samples to share just yet, but the demos shown at the reveal looked much better than the original Gear 360.

Speaking of a mobile connection, this new Gear 360 is compatible with any Samsung phone running Android 5.0 or greater, as well as anything running iOS 10 or greater. Want to know where support is for the rest of the Android ecosystem? So would we, but it's Samsung so SSDD. Basically, don't count on an update adding support for anything other than new Samsung hardware.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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21 hours ago

Should you buy the Galaxy S8 or the Galaxy S8+?

44

The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are great phones, but the differences this year as narrower than ever. If you have to choose one, which would it be?

Are the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ two distinct phones, or one phone in two sizes? Last year, there were clear demarcations in Samsung two-phone strategy; in 2017, that delineation is a bit more diffuse.

This is especially true because both phones are basically just massive AMOLED panels covered by curved glass and surrounded by metal. Gone is the distinction between flat and curved screen, between value and premium. The most important, and popular, high-end Android phones in the world are now separated merely by 0.4 inches in diagonal screen real estate and 16.6% of additional battery.

So, who should buy the Galaxy S8 and who should opt for the slightly larger, longer-lasting Galaxy S8+? Let's take a look.

First, the specs

Category Galaxy S8 Galaxy S8+ Operating System Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat Display 5.8-inch AMOLED
2960x1440 (570 ppi) 6.2-inch AMOLED
2960x1440 (529 ppi) Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
or Samsung Exynos 8895 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
or Samsung Exynos 8895 Storage 64GB (UFS 2.1) 64GB (UFS 2.1) Expandable microSD up to 256GB microSD up to 256GB RAM 4GB 4GB Rear Camera 12MP Dual Pixel, f/1.7
1.4-micron pixels
OIS 12MP Dual Pixel, f/1.7
1.4-micron pixels
OIS Front Camera 8MP, f/1.7
auto focus 8MP, f/1.7
auto focus Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC, GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou
LTE Cat.16 Wi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC, GPS, Glonass, Galileo BeiDou
LTE Cat.16 Charging USB-C
Fast charging
Qi wireless
Powermat wireless USB-C
Fast charging
Qi wireless
Powermat wireless Battery 3000mAh 3500mAh Water resistance IP68 rating IP68 rating Security One-touch fingerprint sensor
Iris scanner
Samsung KNOX One-touch fingerprint sensor
Iris scanner
Samsung KNOX Dimensions 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm Weight 155 g 173 g

As you can see, the only notable differences between the phones are in the screen size, battery size, and overall footprint: the Galaxy S8+ is 10.6 mm taller and 5.3 mm wider than the Galaxy S8, to accommodate the 6.2-inch screen over the other's 5.8 inches, and has a battery 500mAh larger. It also weighs a scant 18 grams more, at 178g.

A few words on size

Unlike previous Galaxy devices, this year's models have a strange-sounding 18.5:9 aspect ratio. In real-world terms, all that means is that they're unusually tall, and at first feel odd to the average smartphone user accustomed to a particular weight distribution. The change also means that the screens can have larger surface areas without necessarily needing to be widened, something that we see in its extreme with the larger Galaxy S8+.

Who should buy the Galaxy S8+?

Because of what we said above, those looking into the Galaxy S8+ should keep in mind that the phone is unwieldy in its tallness, and the fingerprint sensor, which is already difficult to reach on the regular Galaxy S8, uncomfortable to access.

If battery if your primary concern, the Galaxy S8+ is your safe choice.

But in that compromise you get a phone that is, in relation to other phones with 6.2-inch screens, relatively compact. While 16:9 media will either need to play with bars on the sides, or be cropped slightly to fit the new aspect ratio, there aren't many other phones on the market right now that offer the sheer level of screen-to-body efficiency as the Galaxy S8+. This is practically a small tablet in the frame of a moderately-sized phone — and some will gravitate to it just for this.

The Galaxy S8+, with its bigger body, also fits a larger battery: inside is a 3,500mAh cell that matches the Galaxy Note 7 (RIP), and comes in 3% smaller than the Galaxy S7 edge. Still, with a more efficient chip, this will be the longest-lasting Galaxy device to date (barring some unforeseen hardware anomaly), and therefore the one to get if uptime is paramount.

Of course, with those extra powers come extra dollars, and the Galaxy S8+ will be at least $100 more expensive than its smaller counterpart. Last year, the Galaxy S7 edge justified its additional expense, but with both the Galaxy S8 and S8+ sporting curved glass screens and big, high-resolution displays, it may be more difficult to do so in 2017.

Who should buy the Galaxy S8?

Most people. Everyone. You.

Last year, the Galaxy S7 edge had clear advantages over the S7. This year, not so much.

We don't want to undermine the attractiveness of the Galaxy S8+ — it's a great big phone with lots going for it — but unless you absolutely need the additional battery capacity, the Galaxy S8 is the phone to go for.

Not only is it more much compact and one hand-friendly than the S8+, but it's cheaper. And the Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor, despite being located in an awkward position around back, is not as difficult to reach.

Last year, the Galaxy S7 had clear disadvantages over the S7 edge: it was considerably smaller, and lacked a curved display. And while the compact phone was easy to use in one hand, it was to many people too small to fulfil the phablet aspirations so many early adopters crave. The Galaxy S8 checks all of those boxes, sharing the same basic platform as its larger counterpart.

A 5.8-inch display is larger than nearly every Android phone on the market right now, but Samsung manages to do so without increasing the overall size of the phone beyond a typical 5.2- or 5.3-inch device. (Of course, a 5.8-inch phone in an 18.5:9 aspect ratio isn't exactly 5.8 inches diagonally, but it's close enough that we shouldn't quibble.)

Wrapping it up

This year, both the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are fantastic phones. Really, they are largely without compromise. But it's clear from the get-go that there are fewer reasons than ever to spring for the more-expensive Plus variant, especially since, at 5.8 inches, the regular Galaxy S8 has more than enough screen real estate for most people.

The person who should buy the Galaxy S8+ is someone who needs his or her phone to last as long as possible, who may not have access to a charger — wireless or wired — throughout the day. Or, it's someone who requires as much screen real estate as possible, perhaps to replace a small tablet.

For everyone else, we recommend the Galaxy S8.

Everything you need to know about the Galaxy S8 and S8+

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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