Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+ Handsets Debut With Larger Screens, Thin Bezels

The Galaxy S8+ has a 6.2-inch display, while the S8 has a 5.8-inch screen. Both will run the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core CPUs in the U.S.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Handsets

Samsung introduced its latest flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S8+ and the Galaxy S8, on March 29 with large displays with almost no bezels, powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 64-bit octa-core processors and still-developing integration with Samsung's new Bixby virtual assistant.

Both phones use what Samsung is calling its new "infinity" displays, with the new S8+ handset featuring a 6.2-inch Super AMOLED quad HD display (2960x1440 resolution, 529ppi) and the S8 getting a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED quad HD display (2960x1440, 570ppi).

The infinity displays feature scaled-down bezels, leaving most of the screen area on the handsets dedicated to the screens. According to Samsung, 83 percent of the S8+ and S8 handset fronts are now dedicated to the actual display by using shrunken bezels.  

"People love a big screen but not a big phone," Drew Blackard, a Samsung senior product marketing spokesman told eWEEK at a briefing about the new phones prior to their unveiling.  To accomplish this, the bezels were scaled down while opening up more screen space and the entire phones were redesigned from inside out, he said.

Other big changes for both new models include the deletion of the front-mounted home button found on earlier Galaxy models, which provided more room to enlarge the screens. There are also facial and iris recognition security capabilities to supplement the fingerprint scanners that are a holdover from the earlier Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets.

The home button for the phones is now located under the glass at the bottom of the displays and offers haptic feedback when pressed by users.

The new 4G LTE phones include the same high-resolution 12-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel autofocus front camera used in the previous Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones and both run the Android 7.0 Nougat operating system. The new phones also include the fast charging and wireless charging capabilities from the earlier models.

The S8+ includes a 3,500mAh rechargeable battery, while the S8 uses a 3,000mAh battery. Both models include 4GB of LPDDR4 memory and 64GB of built-in storage, which can be expanded to 256GB of storage through a microSD card. Both models also include Bluetooth V5.0 connectivity as well as WiFi capabilities and are covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back of the devices.

The handsets are also IP68 water and dust resistant and include Samsung Knox security capabilities for enterprise users. The phones will be available in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray or Arctic Silver colors in the U.S.

Preorders for both Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ will begin at 12:01 EDT on March 30, 2017, according to Samsung. The handsets will be sold through a wide range of carriers, including AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Sprint, Straight Talk Wireless, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless starting on April 21. Prices are in the $750 to $850 range depending on model and carrier.

The handsets will also be sold in Best Buy stores as well as BestBuy.com, Target and Walmart.

The handsets are the first new top-of-the-line smartphones from Samsung since the release and eventual global recall last fall of the company's Galaxy Note 7 phablet.

Samsung is depending on the success of the new S8 models to regain confidence with consumers and prepare for what will likely be a release later this year of the Galaxy Note 8 to replace the troubled Note 7.

The lessons learned from the Note 7 battery fires and explosions were examined closely to prevent such issues in the design and construction of the latest S8 Galaxy models, said Blackard. "These were setbacks that frankly we took very seriously," he said.

Introducing Samsung's Bixby Virtual Assistant

One of the most promising features of the latest devices is their integration with Samsung's new virtual assistant, called Bixby, which is being developed to give users a wide range of capabilities through voice, touch and text commands, Mok Oh, a Samsung vice president of service strategy, told eWEEK.