Before we go any further, I must admit that personally, I have never been a fan of A) Samsung handsets or B) the Android operating system. It could be argued that I have been indoctrinated into the cult of Apple. Nevertheless, let us leave this information at the door and move to more pressing matters.
A week tomorrow (21/04/2017) Samsung will unleash the newest version of their Galaxy handsets on the U.S. and a week later should hit our shores. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have received both hardware and software upgrades and an aesthetic redesign compared to their predecessors, the S7 & S7+ as part of Project Dream (Samsung’s code name for the development project).
The first thing you will notice about the new device is what Samsung are calling the Infinity Display. This is a huge 5.8 inch 1440p Super AMOLED display (6.2 on the S8+) that extends around the devices minimal, bevelled edges. Samsung state that the S7 Edge was so well received that they have made the curved display the standard for this year’s devices. In order to maximise the screen size, Samsung have refrained from including physical Home and Navigation buttons and instead, have incorporated these into the display itself.
By losing the home button, Samsung have had to relocate the fingerprint scanner onto the rear of the device. A choice that seemingly is growing in popularity with LG, Google and even ZTE handsets employing a rear mounted scanner. However, Samsung have attempted to increase the security of their device by adding a feature straight out of a science fiction movie, Iris recognition. I will be intrigued to see how effectively this works for users who wear glasses when the device is launched or if it will be more of an inconvenience for my bespectacled brethren.
Talking of features that have been seen entering the market on other devices, Samsung are to launch their own AI assistant who goes by the name Bixby. Bixby will sit alongside Google’s Android offering users the option to access their device’s data using voice commands as well as to help them search and categorise photographs. Unfortunately, it was announced yesterday that the devices would ship without the English voice control and would be updated to include this in the full version of Bixby late Spring.
Hardware wise, you get a huge 4GB of RAM (double that of the latest offering from Apple) with an Octa-core (4x2.3GHz & 4x1.7GHz) processor meaning that you should see an improvement in browsing speed and app responsiveness. For those of you who, like myself, use your phone as your primary camera, with 64GB of internal memory AND a micro-SD card slot you can take full advantage of the 12MP HDR enabled camera. The camera has not been revolutionised but small upgrades to pixel size and focal ratio will improve night shooting meaning what you see with the naked eye will look much more like the image you take. Oh, and did I mention it records in 4K? So, you can remember every wrinkle on that chimps face on that trip to the zoo or the flickering of the candles at a family birthday. But, to watch your videos back in 4K you will be limited to your phone if you don’t own a 4K TV or PC monitor. And for those of you wondering, the device is available in a range of colours including Black, Orchid Grey and Silver.
One of the smallest changes fixes something that has bugged me about most modern devices. The charging port is now a USB-C port meaning that, like the Lightning connection of the iPhone, you can plug the wire in either way up and it will just…work. No more trying to plug in, turning the wire over, still not fitting and a final flip back to the original orientation. Nonetheless, the device also features wireless charging like its predecessor so this isn’t too much of an issue for those who have adopted wireless technology already. But despite the efforts of IKEA to incorporate wireless charging stations into a range of furniture not everyone has made the transition, so this small detail will be a welcome change to many.
All in all, I must admit that despite being a huge fan of Apple devices I am intrigued by the new Galaxy. The infinity display and iris recognition seem to me to be features for the sake of features. However, the expandable memory, RAM and camera capabilities are all drawing me towards a conversion to the Galaxy range soon.