Samsung announced the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones on Wednesday, two devices that are identical save for their screen sizes. They're loaded with all of the latest tech features, and we had a chance to check out both phones during Samsung's event. Here's a look at some of the features that matter most.
Samsung is known for having some of the best displays in the business. It steps up the game this year with a new display that runs almost the full length of the smartphone. The company calls this an "Infinity Display" and indeed believes it will usher in a new era of "Infinity smartphones." It supports the latest video standards that have so far only been limited to televisions, including HDR, for a more accurate picture.
Since the display stretches nearly to the bottom of the smartphone, where a home button used to live, Samsung employed special technology that allows the user to press into the display. This serves as the actual home button, returning users to the main screen whenever it's pressed.
The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are chock full of biometric technology. There's a fingerprint reader on the back, an option that has become standard on even the most affordable smartphones. There's an iris scanner on the front, a feature that was also present on the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. Finally, there's a new face scanner, which Samsung hopes folks will use to quickly unlock their smartphones.
Samsung acquired Viv Labs, started by the creators of Apple's Siri. They're working with Samsung's new Bixby artificial intelligence team, but they haven't built anything in the Bixby you'll see on the Galaxy S8. Bixby can be called up through a dedicated button on the left side of the smartphone, or by speaking "Bixby."
The AI can be used for standard things, like asking the weather or sports scores, or even for identifying a bottle of wine or a book through the Galaxy S8's camera. Bixby can also be used to help place phone calls, manage appointments, present relevant information based on the time of day and more. Is it better than Siri or Google Assistant? We'll need to test it more to find out, but the good news is the latter still comes pre-installed.
The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ offer IP68 ratings. That means they're resistant to up to 30 minutes in 5 meters of water, more than enough protection for anyone who's vulnerable to getting tossed in the pool this summer. The dust resistance should help protect your phone from sand, too, in case you're planning a visit to the beach.
The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ support Gear VR, Samsung's virtual reality platform. It's one of the coolest virtual reality platforms out there, largely because it works well and it's practically free to own. In fact, Samsung frequently offers promotions where it includes a free Gear VR with the purchase of a Galaxy smartphone. The company has confirmed it will offer its new Gear VR with controller for free with each eligible purchase of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. Not bad!