This is it. The moment Samsung and its fans have been waiting for. The latest flagship Galaxy phones are here. As rumours suggested, there are two models, the S8 and the larger S8+, and as you’d expect from a pair of devices intended to silence critics and reassure the faithful, they look downright amazing.
When and how much?
First up, the really important bits. Both of the new handsets will go on sale in South Africa on 5 May 2017. The S8’s recommended retail price is R15,500 while the larger S8+ is priced at R17,500. Pre-orders for both open tomorrow, and preview kits for customers wanting to handle the good before committing will appear in retailers tomorrow, too.
And what do you get for preordering? If you’re a Vodacom customer you’ll get a wireless charger, a screen protector and a clear back cover. MTN customers, meanwhile, will get a battery pack, screen protector and back cover. Telkom and Cell C subscribers will get a unique accessory, a new portable wireless charger Samsung announced alongside the new devices.
Big and bigger
The S8 and S8+ are both “edge” devices, so you get the curves (and the accompanying boosted price tag) whether you want it or not. Instead, the decision now comes down to how big a curved screen you want. Both handsets have minuscule bezels, as is the trend for 2017 handsets — think LG’s G6 and Xiaomi’s Mi Mix.
Both devices offer AMOLED displays with 2960×1440 resolution. Samsung’s calling the new screen an “Infinity Display”. The S8’s is a 5.8in screen while the larger S8+ boasts a 6.2in version. And a new partnership with Amazon Prime Video means Samsung joins Sony in bringing HDR content to mobile phones.
Home is where the button, um, isn’t?
As expected, there’s no physical home button (or any others) on the front of the new devices. Instead, there’s a virtual home button along with on-screen back and app-switching buttons. This means there’s no fingerprint sensor on the front, either. Instead, that’s now been moved to the rear next to the camera. And speaking of cameras…
Not interested in the multi-camera malarky as favoured by rivals Apple, Huawei and LG, Samsung’s stuck to a 12MP primary camera for the S8 and S8+, but with “dual-pixel” technology and plenty of other tinkering, we expect it to be class-leading. If there’s one thing Samsung knows it’s how to make a killer camera.
Selfie fans get a more explicitly upgraded front shooter, with both devices now offering an 8MP front-facing camera and software trickery that’ll sort out bendy faces at the edges of the frame.
In addition to the fingerprint scanner, Samsung’s also put an iris scanner in its new handsets, giving users another option for unlocking their device or accessing secure apps.
Of course, the elephant in the room with the new Galaxy devices is what Samsung’s done to ensure there’s no repeat of the battery disaster that befell the Note 7, ruining the entire 7 Series’ reputation in the process. To this end, Samsung’s promising a new eight-point battery safety check has been implemented to make sure portable, unscheduled immolation is a thing of the past.
We’ll have a hands-on for you a little later today. [UPDATE: Read the hands-on over here].