The Samsung Galaxy S8 is finally here. We reveal what you can expect from the upcoming flagship, and bring you all of our live coverage from the Unpacked event.
Samsung chose Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for its grand unveiling in London – a building dedicated to technology and innovation that’s almost entirely covered in glass. How appropriate. Arriving to a throng of excited journalists and Samsung spokespeople, the anticipation was palpable – the long wait was finally about to be over.
We were led to our seats in a room dominated by subtle blue light, large screens, and the expectant but prescient murmurings of attendees – after months of endless leaks and unconfirmed rumours, would Samsung finally be able to deliver the goods?
It has to. After the flammable Galaxy Note 7 debacle, a new hero was needed to not only steady the ship, but deliver enough innovation to justify the hype. As the South Korean company’s new flagship, the S8 should be that phone – but there’s a lot of weight on its curved metal shoulders.
Below we lift the curtain with our live video from the event, all the key features and our live blog, so you can follow all of the announcements as they happened.
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Were the rumours true?
|Rumour||True or false?|
|The S8 will have a 5.8-inch screen||True|
|It won’t have a physical home button||True|
|The screen will have a 18.5:9 aspect ratio||True|
|The fingerprint sensor will be on the back||True|
|It will have an iris scanner||True|
|Samsung will stick with a 12Mp rear camera||True|
|But the front facing camera will get a bump to 8Mp||True|
|It will have a 3,000mAh battery||True|
|It will have 6GB of Ram||No, only 4GB|
What’s new on the Galaxy S8 and S8+?
Samsung had a lot to say about the screen and with good reason. It’s got no bezel, so the curved glass runs seamlessly from the left edge to right edge of the handset. It’s one piece of glass, which means the home button is hidden under the screen. The resolution is 2960×1440, which is more than high enough for a screen this size.
Colour has been improved, too. The screen has earned a HDR Premium badge, the first mobile phone to do it. That means that when you stream a film or TV show on your S8 you’ll be watching it more closely to the way the director envisaged.
Not much has changed on the camera. It’s still 12Mp, but the new multi-frame processor will boost brightness. The front-facing camera has received some attention. It’s now 8Mp and has automatic face detection – because what else would you be taking a selfie of?
Samsung’s personal assistant was the most interesting new feature and it’s one we already knew about. It’s Samsung’s answer to Google Assistant, but with a focus on context. Bixby always knows what’s going on on the screen, so when you ask it to do something it can relate that to what you are doing on your phone. If you want to share an image with a friend, for example, you can just say “Share it with Michael” – Bixby will know that you’re talking about the picture because that’s what’s on screen.
Bixby will synchronise with your life and calendar. It knows where you are and can see through your camera, which adds to Bixby’s smarts. It can tell you about your local area, recommend restaurants and local landmarks – as well as provide translations. Using the camera, Bixby can even buy things online if you take a picture of it.
Unfortunately it only works with a select few Samsung apps for now. These include gallery, camera and contacts.
What about inside the phone?
Samsung made a lot of noise about its new 10 nanometre processor. It’s an industry first and, of course, it’s Samsung fastest, most efficient chip yet. There’s also 4GB of Ram in the phone. We hoped for six, but there’s no doubt that this phone will be quick.
The battery seems a little small at 3000mAh, but if Samsung’s claims of efficient chips are to be believed then it won’t matter too much that the S8’s battery can’t match the 4000mAh ones we’ve been seeing in other Android smartphones. As for storage, both handsets are 64GB and you’ll be able to use microSD cards up to 256GB.
New levels of security
If you like the idea of being a secret agent then the first thing you’ll want to do with your S8 is activate the iris scanner. Phone unlocking can also be done with facial recognition, your fingerprint and, if you’re feeling old-fashioned, a pattern or pin number.
When can you buy it, and for how much?
The Samsung Galaxy S8 will be released on April 28 and you can preorder it now. The S8 will cost you a hefty £689, while the S8+ will set you back £779. Both handsets will be available in three colours: midnight black, arctic silver and orchid grey. If you pre-order before April 19 you’ll get it eight days early.
What else did Samsung show off?
It wasn’t all about the S8 at the event, Samsung also found the time to introduce an update to the Gear 360 camera, the Gear VR headset and a totally new product, Samsung Dex.
The updated 360 degree camera is much smaller than the original. So much so that it looks like it could easily slot into someones pocket whereas the original was much more bulbous. It shoots in 4K and you can use it to live-stream.
The headset itself is the same as the one introduced last year, but now it has a new accessory in the shape of a Bluetooth motion controller. It looks a bit like the one Google introduced with its Daydream VR and it will let you interact with games and software in new ways. Previously, control was done by tapping the side of the headset.
Speaking of games and software, Samsung is partnering with Oculus to bulk out its VR software library.
Ever wish your smartphone could be a PC? No, neither have we, but with a Samsung Dex dock you can get a desktop version of your phone onto any connected monitor. You still have access to all your Android apps, but you now you get full mouse and keyboard support. All the processing is being done by the phone and since you’re working on the S8 all the edited documents, presentations and pictures you’ve been working on will be there when you take your phone out of the dock.
Samsung Galaxy S8 live launch blog
If you missed our live coverage you can read it all here.
17:04 – That’s it for the live blog. Thanks for sticking with us. You’ll get information on price, colours and availability just as soon as we get it and we’ll have a first look video live on this page later on. Good evening everyone.
17:00 – DJ Koh is back for a sign off. He’s taken his jacket off – it must be hot in New York. The S8 is a ‘Gateway to mobile life’ according to Mr Koh presumably referring to Dex and the Gear VR, which both use the S8. One more video to see us home. An ostrich has popped a Gear VR headset on and we’ve got Rocket Man by Elton John. The ostrich is trying to fly now, it’s inspired by what it’s seeing on the headset (a video of fighter jets). Come on little ostrich, you can do it. It’s flying! We’re just seen some speedy evolution, folks.
16:54 – Samsung Dex makes your phone into a computer. Slot your phone into a dock and you’ll get access to a desktop using your phone on a connected monitor. There’s a full suite of apps available including Microsoft Office and Android apps that you have installed on your phone. There’s full keyboard and mouse support. The demo really stresses how much you can use it like a standard PC and it’s that powerful 10NM processor that makes it all possible.
16:48 – We’re getting some information on Samsung’s other mobile devices now. The S8 will work with the Gear VR and there’s a new motion-sensing Bluetooth controller. No more tapping the side of the headset.
Oculus is making VR games and you’ll be able to relive scenes from Ghost in the Shell movie in VR. More lifestyle apps, too as well as live streaming of UFC matches and the X Games.
Gear 360 is getting some air time, too. There’s a new smaller version that looks easier to hold and it shoots in 4K. It actually looks like you could fit it in a pocket and you can live-stream from it, too. Facebook Live, brace yourself.
We’ve got some lovely examples of the Gear 360 in action. It’s a live-stream of Tom who is standing motionless. Technical problems!
Hurray, don’t worry, he’s awake and he’s excited about the new Gear 360. So are we, Tom, so are we.
16:43 – Looks like we’re getting some launch details. The S8 and S8+ will be available on April 28 a week behind the US.
The phone will come bundled with “top of the line” AKG headphones. Samsung bought that company recently if you remember?
16:41 – Samsung Connect sounds like Apple Homekit. It’s an app you can use to control your smart home devices. Samsung wants Bixby to work with Samsung Connect so you can control smart devices with your voice. Samsung already has the SmartThings app. Maybe Connect won’t require any first party Samsung devices to work?
16:37 – And now we’re talking about Bixby. Samsung’s version of Google Assistant is voice controlled and Bixby contextualises what you say by recognising what’s on the screen. According to Samsung this lets you move between voice and touch seamlessly. Bixby can help you search for local restaurants and translate things for you, too. Bixby won’t be available in the UK at launch
You can use Bixby with apps. Ask it to play certain songs or set up a reminder of when a new album is available. It can set contextual reminders, too. For example, it won’t remind you of what you need from your local supermarket until you arrive at the store.
16:36 – A new app, Samsung Pass, lets you log on to your favourite sites with an iris or fingerprint scan.
16:35 – Iris scanner and face recognition can be used to unlock your phone. The latter doesn’t require any button presses just pulls up your homescreen automatically.
Fingerprint sensor is on the back of the phone and don’t worry, you can still use a pattern or standard password.
16:30 – Samsung’s new 10 nanometre (NM) processor is it’s fastest ever and it’s more efficient. Wireless charging is still a thing and it’s faster. The new dock allows you to lay it flat or prop up your phone.
The 8-point battery check is back. Mr Notton is stressing safety. Samsung doesn’t need another immolating phone.
16:25 – On to the camera now. Multi-frame processing takes multiple images, which boost brightness. You’ll never miss that perfect shot apparently. The S8 has the same dual-sensor as the Galaxy S7.
Front-facing camera is now 8Mp and it automatically detects your face because what else would be taking a selfie of?
S8, like the S7 is IP68, which means it’s dust-proof and waterproof to a depth of 1.5 metres.
16:21 – New larger screen has a Mobile HDR Premium badge, which means what you see on the screen matches the Director’s vision. Home button is now under the display and it’s pressure sensitive just like a normal button.
16:17 – Mark Notton takes the stage. He’s talking about how smartphone screens haven’t changed in years. Until now! The curved Infinity Display on the two phones has no visible bezel. S8 is 5.8-inch, S8+ is 6.2-inch. Samsung has made the internal components smaller to allow for the bezel-free screen. Hopefully that doesn’t mean a smaller battery.
16:15 – That’s it from Mr Koh, for now. We’re back to a video. Galaxy S7 morphing into an S8, parts breaking off reveal the new curved device. S8 and S8+ confirmed. We’ve got a curved back and display. There’s no home button in sight, but we still have volume and power switch on the side. They’re a pair of stunners.
16:10 – New phone has ‘Infinity Display’, iris scanner and facial recognition unlock feature. Hopefully infinity display means no bezel.
16:08 – Mr Koh acknowledges a tough year for Samsung as he hails the consistent innovation of mobile phones in a ‘New era of design’. Quality, safety and craftsmanship are Samsung aims for its products.
16:04 – After a video giving a few glimpses of the phone in action DJ Koh President of Samsung Mobile takes the stage. Mr Koh wants a London pint, too bad he’s in New York
16:00 – And we’re off. Everyone has taken their seats and Samsung is ready to wow us. Will the rumours be true? Will Samsung bring up its extensive battery tests again? Will you need to remortgage your house to afford an S8? Let’s find out.
15:50 – Good afternoon everyone. It’s launch day for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and hopefully there will be some surprises in store after the many, many leaks.