The Galaxy S8 comes in two sizes — the 5.7-inch S8 and the 6.2-inch S8+ — and will hit store shelves in the U.S. on April 21. Pricing varies depending on carriers — AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Sprint, Straight Talk Wireless, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon will sell it — but T-Mobile and AT&T, for example, will sell the S8 for $750 and S8+ for $850. Both devices are available for pre-order on March 30.
The most noticeable new S8 design feature is the lack of bezels on the front of device and removal of capacitive buttons, giving users a more clean surface area with slightly-curved corners. The home button is invisible, and the fingerprint reader has been moved to the back of the phone. Samsung calls this “Infinity Design.”
“It is a new era of smartphone design,” Samsung Mobile Chief DJ Koh said at a launch event in New York City.
One key part of the new design is how it allows a larger display without increasing the overall size of the phone.
“The S8, for example, is smaller than an S7 Edge but not much bigger than an iPhone 7 — despite the fact that it has a bigger screen than both of those phones,” The Verge noted.
Also unique to the S8 is Samsung’s new digital assistant Bixby, which is built into the device and can perform tasks within apps via voice commands. Bixby features context-aware functionality that lets it utilize voice and touch. It will rival Apple’s Siri; Amazon’s Alexa; Microsoft’s Cortana; and other digital voice assistants powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, though Bixby is different because it is built to help users navigate around the device itself.
The S8 has several Bixby-enabled apps. Samsung plans to open up the digital assistant to third party developers in the future. The company also has plans to expand Bixby to everything from TVs to appliances.
Other specs for the S8, which comes in midnight black, orchid grey, coral blue, arctic silver, and maple gold:
- 8MP F1.7 autofocus front camera and 12MP F1.7 Dual Pixel rear camera
- 4GB RAM (LPDDR4), 64GB (UFS 2.1)
- Iris scanner
- 10nm processor
- IP68 water and dust resistance
- MicroSD support up to 256GB
- Always-on display
- Fast and wireless charging capabilities
Here are some initial reviews from around the web:
- “The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the sexiest phone ever made, and it also looks to be one of the smartest” — Tom’s Guide
- “The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the nicest phone I’ve ever held … and that might not be enough to make it stand out anymore.” — The Verge
- “But elegant as it is in metal and glass, the S8 (and CNET ) is also the first marquee Samsung phone in a long time that leaves me with uneasy doubts.” —
Samsung also on Wednesday unveiled the new Gear VR with Controller, which will sell for $129.99 on April 21; the motion-sensing controller will also be sold separately for $39.99. Those who pre-order the S8 will receive the Gear VR with Controller for free.
Samsung will hope that this smartphone launch goes more smoothly than what happened with its Galaxy Note 7 device, which was recalled globally this past October after battery issues caused the phone to catch fire. In addition to costing the company more than $5 billion, the disaster tarnished some consumer trust. Still, Samsung posted record earnings for Q4 2016, thanks in part to its chip business.
The Verge reported that Samsung expanded its battery-testing processes in the wake of what happened last year.