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The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+ (shortened to S8 and S8+, respectively) are Android smartphones produced by Samsung Electronics as part of the Samsung Galaxy S series. Unveiled on 29 March 2017, they succeed the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, with a North American release on 21 April 2017 and UK availability on 28 April 2017.

The S8 and S8+ contain upgraded hardware and major design changes over their predecessors, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, including larger screens with a taller aspect ratio and curved sides on both the smaller and larger models, iris and face recognition, a new suite of virtual assistant features known as Bixby (along with a new dedicated physical button for launching the assistant), and a docking station accessory that allows the phones to be used with a personal computer-styled desktop interface with keyboard and mouse input support.

The S8 and S8+ received mostly positive reviews. Their design and form factor received praise, while critics also liked the updated software and camera optimizations. They received criticism for duplicate software apps, lackluster Bixby features at launch, for the placement of the fingerprint sensor on the rear next to the camera and for poor biometric options for unlocking the phone. Videos published after the phones' release have proven that the devices' facial and iris scanners can be fooled by suitable photographs of the user.

The S8 and S8+ were in high demand at release. During the pre-order period, a record one million units were booked in South Korea, and overall sales numbers were 30% higher than the Galaxy S7. However, subsequent reports in May announced sales of over five million units, a notably lower first-month sales number than previous Galaxy S series models.

History Edit

Prior to its official announcement, media outlets reported on rumors and information from industry insiders. In December 2016, SamMobile reported that the Galaxy S8 would not feature a 3.5 mm headphone jack,[10] later reported to be a false rumor.[11] In January 2017, The Guardian reported on bigger screens for both of the two phone sizes, with edge-to-edge "infinity" displays and very limited bezels, and an iris scanner.[12] Additionally, The Guardian stated that the phones would come with 64 gigabytes of storage and support microSD cards, use USB-C connectors, and feature a "Bixby" intelligent personal assistant.[12][13][14] Soon after, VentureBeat revealed photos of the phones and additional details, including the lack of physical navigation and home buttons, in which the fingerprint sensor was moved to the back of the phone.[15][16][17] Evan Blass tweeted in mid-March about color options for the phones.[18][19]

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ were officially unveiled on 29 March 2017, with pre-orders beginning 30 March and official U.S. release on 21 April 2017.[20][21] In the United Kingdom, pre-orders began on 29 March and lasted until 19 April. The first pre-ordered phones were sent out on 20 April, with general availability scheduled for 28 April.[22] In India and the Philippines, the phones became available starting 5 May 2017.[23][24] Following Best Buy retail listings in March,[25] Samsung opened pre-orders for unlocked U.S. handsets on 9 May 2017, with availability starting 31 May.[26][27]

Specifications Edit

Hardware Edit

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ both feature 1440p Super AMOLED displays, with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio taller than the 16:9 ratio used by the majority of smartphones; the S8 has a 5.8-inch panel, while the S8+ uses a larger 6.2-inch panel. The displays are both curved along the side bezels of the device, with minimal bezels that Samsung markets as an Infinity Display, and the display panel itself has rounded edges.[20] They use DCI-P3, offering what screen-testing website DisplayMate describes as the largest native color gamut, highest peak brightness, highest contrast rating in ambient light, highest screen resolution, lowest reflectance, and highest contrast ratio.[28][29] The S8 features an octa-core Exynos system-on-chip and 4 GB of RAM; models in North American markets utilize the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 instead. Both chips are manufactured by Samsung with a 10 nm process.[20][30] They contain 64 GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD card.[20] The Galaxy S8 is one of the first smartphones to support Bluetooth 5, supporting new capabilities such as connecting two wireless headphones to the device at once.[31] It is also bundled with Harman AKG earbuds.[32][33] Both smartphones have improved satellite navigation over the predecessors by including Galileo receivers.[5] In the United States, the devices are available in black, gray and silver color options, whereas gold and blue are available internationally.[20] The blue option was made available in the US in July 2017.[34][35]

Unlike past Galaxy S series models, the S8 does not feature physical navigation keys, electing to use on-screen keys instead.[20] However, unlike other implementations, the home button can still be activated if it is hidden or the screen is off. The S8's display features pressure sensitivity limited to the home button.[36] To prevent the home button from burn-in damage, its position moves slightly.[37][38] The S8 features a new 12-megapixel (Sony IMX333) rear camera sensor. The front-facing camera was upgraded to an 8-megapixel sensor with autofocus ( Sony IMX320).[20][39] [40]The S8 features fingerprint and iris scanners; the fingerprint reader was located to the rear of the device, next to the camera, due to the removal of the physical home button.[20] In addition to an iris scanner, the S8 also features face-scanning as an option to unlock the phone.[41][42] Face recognition technology had previously been implemented in earlier models like the Galaxy S III[43] and Galaxy S4.[44]

The S8 and S8+ use non-removable 3000 and 3500 mAh batteries respectively; Samsung stated that it had engineered the batteries to retain their capacity for a longer period of time than previous models.[39] The S8 supports AirFuel Inductive (formerly PMA)[45] and Qi wireless charging standards.[20] Due to the recalls of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Samsung said in a press conference it is committed to stricter quality control and safety testing procedures on all of the company's future products.[46]

Samsung also launched a Galaxy S8+ with 128 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM exclusively in China and South Korea, and a bundle offer in the countries provides both the exclusive model and the Samsung DeX docking station.[47][48] The unique variant was also released in India in June 2017.[49]

Software Edit

The Galaxy S8 runs Android 7.0 "Nougat" with the proprietary Samsung Experience (formerly TouchWiz) user interface and software suite.[39] The software features a suite of assistant functions known as "Bixby", which is designed primarily to interact with Samsung's bundled applications and other supported services. The feature allows the use of voice commands to perform phone functions, can generate cards shown on a home screen page (replacing the Flipboard integration formerly featured) based on a user's interactions, and perform searches utilizing object recognition via the camera.[20]

Bixby will support third-party integration via an SDK.[39] The S8 supports the use of a docking station known as Samsung DeX to access a PC-like desktop environment on an external display, with support for mouse and keyboard input.[50] On 21 April 2017, coinciding with the phone's official retail date, reports surfaced that the default music player on the Galaxy S8 would be Google Play Music, continuing a trend that started with the S7 in 2016. However, for the S8, Samsung partnered with Google to incorporate additional exclusive features into the app, including the ability to upload up to 100,000 tracks to the service's cloud storage, an increase from the 50,000 tracks users are normally allowed to upload. Additionally, new users get a three-month free trial to the service, the same as given to users who purchase Google's own Pixel smartphone. Furthermore, Google stated that more Samsung-exclusive features will be added to the app in the future, and that the Bixby assistant will also be supported by the app.[51][52] Bixby replaces S Voice, the voice recognition technology previously found in Samsung Galaxy models.[53]

In May 2017, Google announced that the Galaxy S8 and S8+ will support the company's Daydream virtual reality platform after Samsung rolls out a software update scheduled for mid-2017.[54][55] In July 2017, Verizon began rolling out an update for its devices, with support for Daydream.[56][57]

Reception Edit

Dan Seifert of The Verge praised the design of the Galaxy S8, describing it as a "stunning device to look at and hold" that was "refined and polished to a literal shine", and adding that it "truly doesn't look like any other phone you might have used before". The hardware of the device was described as "practically flawless". Seifert also liked the new software, writing that "Samsung is known less for polish and more for clumsiness. In a refreshing change of pace, the software on the S8 is, dare I say, good [sic]". However, he criticized the Bixby assistant, writing that "in its current state, it doesn’t do much at all", and also criticized the amount of duplicate apps. Regarding performance, he wrote that the S8 was "fast and responsive, but so is virtually every other premium phone you can buy, and the S8 isn’t noticeably faster or quicker than a Google Pixel, LG G6, or iPhone 7".[58] Fellow Verge reporter Vlad Savov felt that the placement of the fingerprint sensor was "a perplexing decision if we consider it as a deliberate design choice", but noted reports from Korea claiming that Samsung had originally intended for the fingerprint reader to be built directly into the screen, but was unable to reach a desirable implementation in time for release.[59]

Chris Velazco of Engadget similarly praised the design, stating that "from their rounded edges to their precisely formed metal-and-glass bodies, they feel like smaller, sleeker versions of the Galaxy Note 7", and also praised the display as being simply "awesome". Velazco also praised the software, calling Samsung's added interface "subtle and thoughtful in its design choices". While noting that the Bixby assistant wasn't ready yet, he did compliment the promised voice features as being more granular than those offered through Siri or Google Assistant, and wrote that "With that kind of complexity involved, maybe it's no surprise this stuff isn't done yet". Also praising performance and the camera, though noting that "The 12-megapixel sensors on the back haven't changed much since last year. That's not a bad thing since they were great cameras to start with", Velazco summarized his review by writing that the devices "aren't perfect, but they're as close as Samsung has ever gotten".[60] Brandon Russell of TechnoBuffalo claimed that the camera could not beat Google's Pixel smartphone.[61]

Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica noted that the device's unusual aspect ratio resulted in pillarboxing when watching 16:9 video without zooming or stretching it. He complimented the feel of the S8, calling it "perfected", but criticized the glass back for being "more fragile" and that "Glossy, slippery glass doesn't feel as good in your hand as metal does, either. For the top-tier premium price tag, we'd prefer Samsung to put in the extra work and use a metal back". He criticized the biometric options for unlocking the phones, writing that "There's an iris scanner, a fingerprint reader, and face unlock. The problem is none of them are any good", and also criticized duplicate apps, writing that "most of which can't be removed and aren't very compelling". Additionally, he criticized Bixby, calling it "an odd addition" due to the phone's Google Assistant functionality already present.[62]

Prior to the phone's official announcement, reports suggested that Bixby would support "7-8 languages" at launch.[63] Later reports after the phone's announcement clarified that Bixby would only support Korean and American English languages at its release, though noting that more languages would be coming "in the following months".[64][65] In mid-April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bixby would be launched without support for American English.[66][67] On 19 July 2017, Samsung announced that Bixby had begun rolling out to Galaxy S8 users in the United States.[68][69]

Sales Edit

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ broke pre-order records in South Korea, with more than 720,000 units booked in one week, a notable increase from the 100,000 units of the Galaxy S7 and 200,000 units of the Note 7.[70][71] By mid-April, the number had increased to one million pre-orders.[72][73] On 24 April 2017, Samsung announced that sales of the Galaxy S8 was its "best ever". Although it did not release specific sales numbers, it announced that sales of the S8 were 30% higher year-over-year than the Galaxy S7.[74][75] Subsequent reports in May announced that Samsung had sold over five million units.[76][77] Jon Fingas of Engadget wrote that, although Samsung advertised its pre-order records, sales comparisons to other models on the market were difficult due to unannounced sales figures.[78] However, a report from AppleInsider took a comparison look at previous Galaxy S models' first-month sales, writing that the Galaxy S7 saw 7-9 million units shipped in its first month, and the Galaxy S4 sold 10 million. The publication further wrote that "Each year since reaching Peak Galaxy in 2014, Samsung has floated the idea that its new model has outpaced sales, shipments (or sometimes "preorders") of the previous edition, but in reality Galaxy S sales--and subsequently Samsung Mobile profits--have actually never recovered since the Galaxy S4".[79]

Issues Edit

White balance Edit

Prior to the official release, it was reported that some Galaxy S8 displays had a bad white balance, causing them to exhibit a reddish tint.[80] Samsung stated that the Galaxy S8 was "built with an adaptive display that optimizes the colour range, saturation, and sharpness depending on the environment", but noted that the device's operating system provides settings for manually adjusting the display's appearance and white balance.[80][81][82] On 21 April, Samsung stated that the red tinting was purely a software issue, and would be patched in a future update.[83] The Investor reported that Samsung would replace the affected devices if a software update did not fix the issue.[84] Updates in various regions started rolling out in early May, fixing the issue.[85][86][87]

Random restarts Edit

Reports surfaced at the end of April that some Galaxy S8 devices were "restarting by themselves". Samsung has not yet commented on the issue.[88][89]

Insecure facial recognition Edit

Shortly after the phone's unveiling, bloggers produced a video showing that the Galaxy S8's facial recognition scanner could be tricked to unlock the phone by showing it a photo of the user.[90][91] In a statement to Business Insider, a Samsung spokesperson stated that "Facial recognition is a convenient action to open your phone – similar to the 'swipe to unlock' action. We offer the highest level of biometric authentication – fingerprint and iris – to lock your phone and authenticate access to Samsung Pay or Secure Folder".[92]

Insecure iris recognition Edit

In May 2017, researchers from the Chaos Computer Club posted a video showing that the S8's iris recognition system can be fooled with a contact lens and a suitable photograph of an eye.[93] Samsung told BBC News that it was "aware of the issue", and stated that "If there is a potential vulnerability or the advent of a new method that challenges our efforts to ensure security at any time, we will respond as quickly as possible to resolve the issue".[94]

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