At last, after endless leaks and lots of speculation, the has been revealed. Much of the leaks turned out to be true, but there were still surprises to be found.
The first impression when you see it is how little it is for a 5.8-inch screened phone. Which is when you’re told that this isn’t the S8, it’s the S8 which has a 6.2-inch display. It’s hard to get over how much screen there is, without too much phone around it. When you pick either phone up, it fits the hand easily.
That’s partly because the front is almost all screen – Samsung has been aiming for the perfect screen to body ratio and a sign of how much screen there is comes when you notice that there’s not enough room left even for the company name, which is consigned to the back.
It’s also partly because the screen ratio is slightly different from the 16:9 format found on many phones. This one has a 18.5:9 screen, which means it’s longer without being quite as wide, which certainly helps to not stretch your fingers.
And it’s finally because the edges of the phone fit so comfortably into your hand. The sloping edges that have been a Samsung feature since the S6 Edge are at their most expertly sculpted here, front and back, so that the handset is extremely manageable.
In other words, this is a big-screened phone that feels like anything but oversized.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy S8
The display looks great: vivid, colourful and appealing, especially when you watch video on it. The curved edges add a distinctive style which make the handset easily recognisable as a Samsung.
The fingerprint sensor is no longer on the front of the phone – again, there’s no room thanks to that display. Instead, it’s moved to the rear where it sits – a little uneasily, I have to say – just to the right of the camera.
Although it fell under my finger easily enough with a little practice, my worry is that it is just as easy to plonk your digit on the camera lens, which can’t be good.
It’s about the biggest drawback to the new phone.
Never mind, you may hardly use it. That’s because this phone has an iris scanner, like the previous phone, the Note 7, did. What’s more, this scanner is significantly faster than the previous one, so you may find you use that instead of going anywhere near the fingerprint button.
Although there’s no room on the front of the phone for a separate home button below the display, Samsung has an innovative, and decidedly cool, solution.
There’s a virtual home button beneath the glass of the display. Touch your finger in place and you’re rewarded with a haptic feedback response which tells you you’re in the right place. This works extremely well and is an indication that this is a pressure-sensitive screen. This feature is also one of the few elements the leaks mostly missed.
The new phones are waterproof (IP68) and have built-in batteries. There’s a slot for a microSD card so you can expand on the built-in 64GB storage if you wish. Operating memory is a decent 4GB.
The phone comes in three colours, midnight black, arctic silver and a rather fetching orchid grey.
The rear camera is a 12-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilisation. It takes three photographs in quick succession – Samsung calls this multi-frame image processing. Where some manufacturers use this process for High Dynamic Range effects, here it’s being used to make the photograph extra-sharp, Samsung says.
At first sight, there’s an awful lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 handsets. They look and feel just great. The features, on paper at least, are absolutely cutting-edge and put Samsung ahead of the game. To know how successful they make the phone, I’ll be reviewing it in due course. But first impressions are excellent.