back to article Samsung Galaxy S8: Slimmer bezels, a desktop mode – and yet another me-too AI pal

Samsung arguably made the best Android phone last year – but it lost any bragging rights by committing one of the biggest consumer electronics PR disasters in history. The South Korean giant has responded to that exploding battery crisis by doing something nobody expected. It's cramming even more new technology into its Galaxy …

  1. Bob Vistakin
    Facepalm

    What shape are it's corners?

    These things matter.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: What shape are it's corners?

      These things matter???

      Only if you are holding it wrongly...

      Coat with a copy of Bradshaws 1885 guide in the pocket. (Big pockets)

  2. regprentice

    Lg G6 dead already?

    Been waiting for LG to release more information in the last month since they launched the G6….several kicks in the teeth for us in the UK…

    · Still No UK release date

    · No audio DAC for UK

    · No wireless charging for UK

    · No promo offers (free Google home, free lcd tv) for the UK

    LG managed to keep a unique USP (a virtually bezelless 2:1 screen) for 4 weeks, during which time it failed to ship a single UK unit. Now LG have lost my sale to Samsung, and potentially 000's others.

    IMHO The only compelling reason to buy the LG G6 vs the S8 now is on price ( presuming LG have the sense to price low, no idea yet) and potentially as an option for people who don’t want to be forced to have a curved screen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lg G6 dead already?

      LG lost me as a customer when they stopped updating the phone after 14 months, even with the basic Android security updates. My other half's Sony Xperia z5 is still getting timely security updates.

      Not updating the core OS is one thing, but not providing the security updates for at least a couple of years is not on. So, I liked the LG, but this is a deal breaker.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lg G6 dead already?

      Hardly surprising, though, is it? LG have produced some really good G series handsets, but they've never made it far enough up the best seller list to actually make any money. And without the profits, the cost of country customisation and marketing has to be constrained.

  3. The Original Steve

    Nice

    Been using WM for the last few years and reluctantly have accepted it's game over so looking for a non- Apple device soon...

    Shame it has yet another AI and no physical camera button. Also the camera still doesn't look like it can touch the high end Lumias like my 950 XL. Although they get points for a microSD slot. Is the battery removable?

    But the price is very steep...

    1. Sampler

      Re: Nice

      The article says the battery isn't removable.

      My hope is you can disable the AI and adjust it's button to be a shutter release, maybe an official option is too much to hope for, but maybe one of the genius's over at XDA Devs..

    2. Geoff Campbell

      Re: Nice

      The camera on the S7 was absolutely beautiful, and possibly just edged the 950XL on usability and picture quality, so I'm guessing that the S8 camera will be at least as good.

      But I would suggest that you are perhaps choosing just the wrong time to switch away from Windows Mobile. I've just switched to it in the 950XL fire-sale, and there's lot to like about both the current offering, and more importantly the roadmap of coming features.

      GJC

  4. djstardust

    Hmmmm

    The fingerprint scanner is in a stupid location, it almost seems the design was a botched mess. I can understand if the scanner had been under the display as originally planned however it wasn't ready in time but someone decided to keep the bezel-less display leading to confusion. Also reports are saying it's exactly the same camera module as the S7/Edge and the battery life will be a bit less so that's not really innovation or worth another £120/£140 on last year's models. A dedicated button for Bixby is a joke .... surely.

    The prices are up again, probably a bit of Brexit tax and some let's copy Apple tax. For comparison the top of the range handset in 2000 was the Nokia 9110i at £300. This would now be £463 after inflation.

    Even given all the problems with the Note 7 it seems that this has been rushed out without a coherent strategy. Nothing seems to change at Samsung.

    I'm still using the Note 4 and apart from higher DPI settings and a slightly better camera there's absolutely nothing to make me want to upgrade. And the Note 4 has a removable battery too.

    1. Sampler

      Re: Hmmmm

      Note 4 needs a removable battery as it drains so fast (or, at least mine does now it's a few years old).

      I had a Sony Z1 prior to the Note4 and it had no hardware button at the bottom of the screen, worked fairly well, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt on this, and, as I've mentioned above, hopefully there'll be a way to re-assign the bixby button to shutter release.

      The 9110i might only have been £463, but, you're not buying something that can do what a 9110i can do are you? From the looks of it, it's not far off a desktop PC from the same era - how much did that cost and it was how much bigger?

      1. psychonaut

        Re: Hmmmm

        yup, im keeping my note 4 too. just get a new battery....20 quid or so. im on my third now. lasts all day with everything turned on and nigh on constant phonecall use.

        i still cant find a replacement for the note 4. there are 3 phablets on gsm arena with removable battery, one of which is the note 4. still, its a decent phone, even if the camera could do much better in low light. plus my tarrif just got miles cheaper as i dont need to pay into a hardware fund.

        shame really, i would have bought it if the 8 had a removable battery. maybe next time,...

        1. Brenda McViking

          Re: Hmmmm

          I too would have bought one had it had a removable battery. I'm on my 4th battery in the Galaxy S4 now.

          It seems the only manufacturer to bother with making batteries removable nowadays is LG, which is a pity because whilst their hardware is nice, their software isn't and they cripple themselves by supporting things for a week before giving up.

          I don't think we'll ever see removable batteries again from Sony or Samsung, high Ingress Protection ratings sell phones better than removable batteries. and apparently we can't have both. It has been years since they produced a flagship with a battery that could be removed.

          Ironically, had the Note 7 had a removable battery, I reckon they'd have gotten away with a far cheaper, far simpler product recall and not lost 20 gazillion and their brand image in the process. If the S8 starts exploding too, they might be forced to re-think the stupidity of having an irreplacible low-cyclic-life consumable component. (Then again a counter argument is that if you make batteries replacable, people will replace them with the cheapest and most dangerous ebay combust-o-matic they can find, so maybe Trump is right and it actually IS all China's fault.)

          1. psychonaut

            Re: Hmmmm

            yeah, but you can make a device which is waterproof and has a removable battery. watches for instance. for some value of waterproof, like, dropped in bath / swimming pool / beer / toilet, which frankly, is all its likely to be with a phone. they can, they just dont, the cynic in me says its because then yo have to upgrade every 2 years (or replace battery every 9 months in my case)

    2. GingerOne

      Re: Hmmmm

      "The fingerprint scanner is in a stupid location"

      Or, the fingerprint scanner is in the correct location. I have a Nexus 5X with the fingerprint scanner on the back. When you use it becomes apparent that it is the obviouc place to have it. Pick the phone up and unlock it in one motion. Where the S7 has it means holding in an unnatural way which leads to an increased chance of dropping and breaking.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmm

        "the S7 has it means holding in an unnatural way which leads to an increased chance of dropping and breaking"

        Or, with my S6, a guarantee of dropping and breaking. The 2nd day I had it.

      2. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmm

        I have a Nexus 5X with the fingerprint scanner on the back. When you use it becomes apparent that it is the obviouc place to have it.

        Doesn't the case get in the way ... I mean, you do keep your phone in a case, don't you?

        Pick the phone up and unlock it in one motion.

        That must be awfully inconvenient whenever you want to pick up your phone without unlocking it, which I have a feeling I do more often than I pick it up and want it instantly unlocked.

        I suspect our mileages vary ...

  5. bobsmith2016

    Anyone know if it will get wireless charging in the UK?

  6. Keef

    Off topic, well there's a name I've not seen for a while...

    Steve Ltichfield, what a guy.

    There was a time when Symbian/Psion was my world of toys.

    He was my hero, great website, great device advise, superb help for OPL code.

    I'd forgotten about him, good to know he's still around.

    However:

    'A UK SIM-free S8 costs £689 and the S8+ £779'

    No thanks..

  7. DrXym Silver badge

    Ugh

    A dedicated button for Bixby - a feature no one asked for and nobody is likely to use much, button or not. Samsung can be their own worst enemy sometimes - good hardware and then they fill the phone with so much crap. I definitely agree with the sentiment that if it were stock android it'd be a way better, cleaner experience. I wouldnt be surprised if Google is on the cusp of rolling out something akin to DeX too and Samsung knew it.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Ugh

        They already have, it's called Google Assistant and been out some time.

        DeX is desktop mode…

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds good

    `Considering that the Note 4 is antiquated now, the big mistakes seem to have been avoided.

    I did wonder about the CPU though, 10nm isn't much larger than some of the new Intel CPUs.

    How does this benchmark against say an IP6, or even a high end laptop from 2015?

    Also it appears that the screen is more efficient, they've solved the overheating problems from what I can find out by adding additional heat spreaders absent from earlier phones and reformulated the blue OLED so the long term reliability will be better.

  9. Crazy Operations Guy

    I wish someone would make a simple smart phone for once

    I wish that Samsung, or someone else, would make a phone using current parts, but with the features of an older device. I've been looking into ditching my old Laptop I use for personal items (basic document creation, some web browsing, a couple simple games, etc.) but every phone I've tried tends to come up short in performance and battery life.

    The problem seems to be a combination of always-on and always-useless pre-loaded apps as well as the thousand and one sensors crammed into the device wasting RAM and CPU, as well as the limited amount of built-in storage (Seriously, why does the Google Search app take up 250+ MB of storage?). I would kill for a basic device that has a moderate display (1920x1080 is enough for me) but with a modern CPU and a couple GB of RAM powered by a battery using modern processes, but the size of an older battery, and a decent amount of storage or multiple MicroSD card slots.

    1. GingerOne

      Re: I wish someone would make a simple smart phone for once

      Get yourself on to XDA developers. Find the best ROM to suit your needs and then source the appropriate hardware...

  10. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Coat

    Bixby

    Sounds like a Banner day for Samsung, in my opinion. Hopefully the assistant doesn't become agitated and explode out of its containment.

    Also, I agree with the sentiment that I would be much more likely to buy a Samsung again if they ditched TouchWiz, especially if they guaranteed OTA updates to Android in a timely fashion.

    1. VinceH
      Thumb Up

      Re: Bixby

      "Sounds like a Banner day for Samsung, in my opinion. Hopefully the assistant doesn't become agitated and explode out of its containment."

      I see what you did there, and it's... so incredible I'm green with envy (rather than anger). ;)

    2. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Bixby

      "especially if they guaranteed OTA updates to Android in a timely fashion."

      Ah.. if only...

      I'll wager the updates for the S7s will stop any day now (and the S8s when the S9 arrives...)

  11. James 51

    Given how powerful modern handsets are and you can buy Windows 10 2-1 tablets/laptops for £150, why can't we have something that will run desktop applications in a dock? I am not talking big games but stuff like scrivener, the best reason I have (along with a little DRM stuff I need) to use Windows. I'd've bought a 950xl last year if continuum could do that.

    1. Geoff Campbell

      It's coming. Windows on ARM will support full Win32 applications.

      GJC

  12. Down not across Silver badge

    Ok so now we know

    Presumably Note8 (or whatever they will call it given the clash with names) will be similar (as in same way as in the past Note n has been to Galaxy Sn) and released later in the year. To be fair I think I'd rather have one of the refurb Note 7s thank you.

    Whilst fingerprint sensor at the back is undoubtedly handy for single handed operation, I'd rather keep the physical home button and the fingerprint sensor on that.

    And I don't want some annoying "digital assistant" thank you very much.

    1. GingerOne

      Re: Ok so now we know

      I think the Note is dead. The S8+ seems to be the replacement.

  13. Chris Miller

    They look very nice bits of kit, but what puts me off Samsung (and other Android phones) is the availability of updates. They take ages to appear (long after Google releases), and peter out altogether soon after the next model appears. This particularly important for (increasingly frequent) security updates.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      While Samsung is pretty poor at providing updates, it also makes phones that are easy to root and hence install other ROMs on. This isn't for everyone but worth considering if you've had a Samsung for a while (updates generally stop appearing after 18 months) and would allow you to reassign the assistant button to do something useful.

  14. Badger Murphy
    WTF?

    Vanilla Android?

    Someone help me out here; what do these phone manufacturers get out of spending time and money making modded OSs, particularly when a large portion of users either do not want these mods, or are too non-technical to know or care about the difference either way?

    It seems to me, by no means a cell phone enthusiast, that these vendor-specific Android flavors are all downside for both the user and the vendor. Hopefully someone's got some insight; thanks!

    1. Lou 2
      Facepalm

      Re: Vanilla Android?

      Easy! Buy a stock phone.

      Your are not the target demographic. Stick with your Nokia.

    2. Sampler

      Re: Navel Gazing

      From the outside, yes, from in the inside, they're viewed as "differentiators" and help retain customers by putting them off switching to an identical Sony, Motorola etc..

      They're wrong imho, but, that's what they're thinking.

    3. ecarlseen

      Re: Vanilla Android?

      From a corporate asset standpoint, Android without Samsung KNOX is somewhere between an absolute mess and complete impossibility to manage. It's one thing when you're making sure your cell phone is patched and has the correct apps (and app versions) installed, but when you have to deal with hundreds or thousands of phones and tablets then full automation is an absolute necessity.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vanilla Android?

      I agree - they are always looking for a way to gain market share and that would be a good move.

      The iphone interface was designed with my mum in mind, so not for techies.

      Most brand name android devices are better for techies but they mess with the software too much.

      If they just made a decent phone with vanilla android then their costs would be lower, their retail price could be lower, and they would sell more.

      Just that and an SD slot would have meant buying another Samsung when my S2 broke instead of buying an Oppo (the phone ships with ColorOS (immensely crap) but you can d/l and flash Spectrum from their site, which is basically vanilla android & much better).

    5. analyzer

      Re: Vanilla Android?

      I don't like the way iPhones work but I can see why people like them.

      I don't like the way Win phones work, but I can see why people like them.

      I don't like stock android but I can see why people like it.

      The only phone OS I have really liked as a stock install was Sailfish on the Jolla /me sobs in a corner.

      I had HTC because I liked the Sense overlay until it turned into an MS mobile copy.

      I now have a One+ 2, and the overlay there is acceptable *for* me.

      Horses for courses my good commentard, horses for courses

    6. Alumoi

      Re: Vanilla Android?

      They get they own data mining. Google is not playing nice with other companies and doesn't share.

    7. Christopher Rogers

      Re: Vanilla Android?

      Just had a play with a Google Pixel and the S8. The s8 experience is just nicer.

  15. sanwin
    Coat

    Simpler/cheaper/better anyone?

    How much was that new 3310?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Simpler/cheaper/better anyone?

      3310 isn't coming until June, and might even get delayed because it's GSM/EDGE and much of the world is switching off these prehistoric networks.

      I really like this new S8 hardware. Real shame about the Android though, can't live with it. No deal.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Removable battery : -1 *

    SD slot : +1

    Voice assistant : -1

    Price : -1

    Sploding battery : who knows

    Overall : -2

    Thanks but I think I'll pass.

    * Normally not a consideration, but probably a good idea with Samsung kit.

  17. Martin Summers

    Digital Assistants

    Just a thought, might be quite a fun idea to get all of these digital assistants to talk to eachother now yet another "me too" assistant has arrived from Samsung. I wonder what kind of conversation they would have trying their very best to help each other. Could be quite entertaining to witness.

    1. Wibble

      Re: Digital Assistants

      Will they both call random people from your address list?

  18. Captain DaFt

    Huh?

    After all the cash lost last time, you still can't remove the battery?

    And added an AI assistant you really, really don't want to get angry!

    They love tempting Fate, don't they? ☺

  19. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Facepalm

    Bixby?

    Didn't Bixby have problems with changing colour and destroying his outer casing? This will not end well.

  20. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Such a waste of a button

    The assistant itself probably is a USP in Korea if it supports Korean usefully, as I bet Cortana, Siri and Google don't.

    But blowing a button on it is a complete waste in the rest of the world.

    And putting the fingerprint sensor on the back sounds like a good idea - until you try to use it. I don't know about you, but I look at my smartphone from the front, and don't have x-ray vision.

    1. It Is Me

      Re: Such a waste of a button

      The Nexus 5x has a fingerprint sensor on the back and it is very easy to find and place my index finger on as I pick it up.

      It is possible the silicon case helps me to find it as it would otherwise be almost flush with the rest of the back.

    2. nijam

      Re: Such a waste of a button

      > ... I look at my smartphone from the front, and don't have x-ray vision

      But why do you want to look at your own fingerprints?

  21. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Continuing to innovate

    The desktop mode is really interesting, possibly even compelling. If this works well then it will justify the price and really shake the market up. Will Apple be able to respond by the time these, and related ecosystem become available in volume?

    For the time being I'll be sticking with my second-hand S5, which recently got a new battery, but I am definitely tempted by this.

  22. BigAndos

    Why is everyone obsessed with these virtual assistants? I don't want to walk around shouting at my phone in public, rather just use the screen thanks. Back when I had an iPhone I did very occasionally use Siri to set up reminders but that was it.

    I'm also not a fan of fingerprint sensor being on the back. Feels a bit unnatural to me somehow. However, Dex looks pretty handy although I'm not sure how many Android apps I would want to use with a keyboard and mouse apart from Google docs/sheets perhaps.

  23. Bob Rocket

    Mint

    DeX looks good, if I could put Linux Mint on it (and ditch fingerprint and Bixby) I'd buy one today

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Mint

      Don't know about putting Linux on it but some version of AOSP is bound to be available. However, DeX is most likely to Samsung only for a while.

  24. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Time for a deathmatch?

    So who is going to get all these virtual assistants together in a room and have them "fight" between themselves.

    "Bixby: which is better, you or Siri?"

    "Siri, what do you hate most about Cortana?"

    "Alexa, Bixby says Amazon sucks"

  25. Alan Sharkey

    The S7 looks really good

    I'm looking for an update to my LG G3 - I was waiting to see what the S8 came in at - but I can get an S7 for around £400 which last year was the king of the hill. Not sure the S8 gives me anything I need right now.

  26. thegambles

    GearVR and hand control

    Ya know, I have loved my Note4 and was eager to get a Note7. I was put off before the exploding battery issue by what seemed like little extra function and indeed some lost capability.

    I have had two iPhone 5s affected by the failed batteries. In the end, they both had replacements which failed (one one, the screen kept lifting which the Apple Store accepted instantly as poor services) and good old Apple gave me brand new devices as a result. The point here though is that I keep a high end device for 3-4 years (probably unusual these days) and even a good battery will not be working well if charged daily after 2-3 years. With the Note 4, I replaced with an Anker battery at just over two years because the original just wasn't holding charge. I had a choice of keeping a device which others have made clear is still able to run everything as well as any current device.

    What's more, whilst the Note 7 had a newer camera, when looking at good and low light stills that may be printed to A4, the Note 7 wouldn't have been an improvement. Video was also excellent - no no practical improvement there.

    The Note 4 had IR which has been very useful to me when in hotels around the world. Why remove something so clearly useful for some (if not all) ?

    Screen was the same on both.

    Retina scan a little superfluous as most will use finger print or code anyway. Always happy to have new toy, but not as beneficial as IR.

    Clearly Note 7 would get Nougat (contrary to what most say, the Note 4 came with KitKat (v4.x) and was update through 2 major versions (i.e. 5 and 6). At least those updates worked unlike iDevices which lose much of the new iOS version function on updates for purely marketing purposes and older devices stop performing altogether.

    Only real plus of Note7 aside from cosmetics was the water proofing. On it's own, that just wasn't enough.

    With the S8, I hoped it was going to be good. In the main, it is. It loses IR still and doesn't have stylus which has been very useful on perhaps 10 occasions in 3 years. The lack of the removable battery (which I know is the way things are going so manufacturers are unlikely to listen - especially when including water proofing) is a major concern as I know this very expensive device will need a new one within 3 - 4 years and the lack is therefore built in obsolescence which drives me mad.

    Whilst I may still get it, it is the staggering lack of respect Samsung are showing. With previous devices the UK got the Gear VR bundle.

    This time around, in the US, they get the new VR and hand controller for pre-orders. In the UK, we get (possibly) an 8 day earlier delivery. That is just taking the piss and may encourage me to wait for something else. After the issues they have had and problems they caused many loyal customers, by maintaining this insanely high price point and having different 'rewards' regionally, they are doing themselves no favours.

    Paul.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on Apple...

    Do your stuff later this year when Samsung will become irrelevant again in the mobile phone race.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fingerprint scanner - why so many complaints?

    Why is there so many complaints about the finger print scanner location?

    Most will not be using it anyway, what seems to be omitted from this article, is there are TWO cameras on the front of the S8, one is a 8mp 'selfie' camera, the other is a dedicated IRIS/Face recognition scanner/camera with built in IR (to work in the dark). This camera is the new way to unlock the device, no need to scan your finger print, pick the device up and boom it opens. (YMMV but that is the idea at least)

    The fingerprint scanner is only fitted to support 3rd party apps that still want to authenticate against a finger print (for my usage at least, that appears to be just PayPal and the EE app, both of which are rarely used)

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Fingerprint scanner - why so many complaints?

      Because, for example for me, it is in the wrong place. I prefer it on the front.

      You, and most (if you say so) might not use it but I did, and it worked a treat on the Note 7.

      Iris recognition is less great if you wear glasses or are a person who suffers from seizures or epileptic symptoms. Can't speak for S8, but in Note 7 fingerprint wasn't "just for 3rd party apps" but was one of several authentication methods for unlocking the phone.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mixed feelings

    I despise all AI virtual assistants (e.g. Cortana), I hope Bixby can be disabled, and someone can release a case which covers up the Bixby button to prevent accidental pressing.

    The fingerprint sensor is very close to the camera, so there's the potential annoyance of smudging the camera lens. Then again, I never lock my phone, especially with biometric stuff.

    I can't wait to go abuse the S8 phones at the nearest Samsung store.

    P.S: A moment of silence for Microsoft's Continuum.

  30. naive

    Too expensive

    It is weird why a phone costs as much as a, almost gaming worthy, laptop with discrete graphics card.

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