Samsung officially unveiled its flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, at events in New York and London in April 2017. The phones both have edged displays with rounded corners and faster, improved processors. Also see: Where to buy Galaxy S8
The main camera on both models is the same sensor found in the S7 models, but both front facing cameras are upgraded, and placed alongside an infrared sensor for iris scanning capabilities.
The S8 phones also join the recent Galaxy A series and the doomed Galaxy Note7 in having USB-C ports for charging and data transfer. Said doomed phone is actually being resold, but realistically has meant the Galaxy S8 phones now take on even more importance for Samsung. They must succeed.
Also see: Galaxy S8 Active latest rumours
Here’s everything else you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.
When is the Galaxy S8 release date?
Customers who pre-ordered the S8 or S8 Plus in the UK started getting their phones from 20 April, ahead of the official UK and Europe launch date of 28 April.
You can now buy the devices direct from Samsung here, and from other major retailers and networks such as Carphone Warehouse, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. You can find our pick of the best Galaxy S8 deals here and the best Galaxy S8 Plus deals here.
EE has an exclusive deal to sell the Arctic Silver version of the S8 and S8 Plus.
You'll be able to pre-order this colour starting on 23 June 2017 from EE's website
How much does the Galaxy S8 cost in the UK?
The handset-only price of the Galaxy S8 is £689, and the S8 Plus is £779. This is lower than expected but still higher than the cheapest iPhone 7 (£599).
What colours does the S8 come in?
The fancy-named Midnight Black (like the OnePlus 3T), Orchid Grey and Arctic Silver are the UK colours of the S8.
Initially only the black and grey versions were available, with the silver model go on sale soon (EE hasn't yet said when pre-orders will ship.)
However other regions are getting gold and blue, and the UK may well see these colours later too. Also see: Samsung Pay is now available in the UK!
What models are available?
The Galaxy S8 comes in two versions: the standard model with a 5.8in screen and 3,000mAh battery, and a Plus version with a larger 6.2in screen and 3,500mAh battery.
In the US there will reportedly be a special Microsoft edition of both the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus on which Microsoft's apps and services including Office, OneDrive, Outlook and Cortana are preloaded. These customised handsets will be available to pre-order from the US Microsoft store later today.
Although both models now have the curved edge screen and other key features, Samsung has reportedly increased production of the larger S8 Plus. Due to unexpected popularity, the firm has ramped things up 5 percent to 45 percent.
What are the Galaxy S8’s specifications and features?
Both have the edged display first seen by the S6 edge and S6 edge+, and continued on last year’s S7 edge. There is no ‘regular’, flat-screen variant of the S8. The new models have a pressure sensor buried at the foot of the screen that acts as a home button; a physical button is not present in order to give the phones larger screens with smaller bezels.
The S8 has a 5.8in quad HD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2960x1440 and 570ppi, while the S8 Plus has a huge 6.2in display with the same tech, resolution, and 529ppi.
The S8’s regular 16:9 aspect ratio was expected, but the S8 Plus has an 18.5:9 display, slightly taller and similar to the 18:9 screen of rival LG’s G6.
The ‘edge’ aspect of the displays, pioneered by Samsung and copied by many, has dropped the inline clock and text features of previous models than ran ticker tape style along the edges. Here, the dip of the edged screens is slight less severe, so that functionality is lost but edge panels remain – the handy swipe to use tray that displays customisable apps, contacts and shortcuts.
The edge's best feature is simpler - it means the display is completely immersive.
Dimensions and weight
The Galaxy S8 measures 148.9x68.1x8mm and is ever so slightly taller next to a regular S7. The S8 Plus measures 159.5x73.4x8.1mm, but importantly doesn’t feel ridiculously huge in the hand. In fact, both models can be used one handed fairly comfortably, and continues the trend started by the G6 of smaller bodied phones with taller, larger screens.
The S8 weighs 155g while the S8 Plus weighs 173g.
Processor and graphics
The much-touted Snapdragon 835 processor has not been confirmed by Samsung, and looks as though it may have opted to go with its own Exynos range of chips for the European models of the S8 and S8 Plus.
We think they are packing the Exynos 8895 chip because Samsung has already announced it, and also because the 8895's specs match with Samsung’s quoted EU specific octa-core specs - split between 2.3GHz and 1.7GHz. They are, Sammy claims, the first mobile HDR devices ever.
The company also claimed the CPU has a 10% performance gain from previous models, while the unnamed GPU benefits from a 20% lift. We’ll be sure to test these claims to the max when we review the phones in full.
Storage and RAM
Both S8 models are only available with 64GB of on board storage, but are both expandable via microSD up to 256GB. This is paired with 4GB RAM app use and multitasking.
According to The Verge, Samsung has made a version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage but only for the Asian market.
The S8 has a 3,000mAh non-removable battery while the S8 Plus has a 3,500mAh power pack. Given that we found (as did many other journos and users) that the S6 and S7 had significantly worse battery life after a year or so of daily use, we hope Samsung has improved things, particularly on the smaller model.
They come bundled with a wired fast charger, and also are compatible with fast and regular wireless charging, though you’ll have to fork out for a charging pad.
The rear facing cameras are the same on both S8 models, and are in fact also the same on both S7 models: 12Mp lens with an f/1.7 aperture.
The S7 had phenomenal camera performance, so it’s not a huge surprise nothing has changed here, but it’s worth remembering that smartphone manufacturers normally go out their way to bump camera specs to encourage sales.
Therefore, perhaps, we have updated front facing cameras, the same on both S8s: an 8Mp lens with f/1.7 aperture. It can take three shots uses all three to lessen blur and perfect the shot for you.
We discussed Samsung's Galaxy S8 launch in our podcast - listen below.
Connectivity and extras
The S8 models use USB-C for the first time on a Galaxy S smartphone. Also on board is NFC, LTE Cat16 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Just like the S7, the S8 and S8 Plus are IP68 water and dust resistant. Basically, very everything-proof.
A final cool extra for the S8 and S8 Plus is compatibility with DeX, a new dock and desktop conversion system similar to Microsoft's Continuum. Simply plug your S8 into the (optional, expensive) dock and you can use apps on a monitor, keyboard and mouse set up.
You can run either a virtualised Windows 10, using a system like Citrix for example, or a desktop version of TouchWiz - the option of both is actually very clever indeed, and welcome. Let's wait and see how well it works in real life.
What software does the Galaxy S8 run?
Android Nougat 7.0, with Samsung’s updated TouchWiz skin. There are some cool little touches, including Snap Window, which allows you to pin content such as video to the top of the screen while running other apps in a multitasking effort.
You will also find the usual array of Samsung's own apps - just about the right side of bloat. As you can see in the above image, icons have been redesigned and updated.
What is Bixby?
It’s a new kind of virtual assistant, and yes, it is on the S8 and S8 Plus. It is however different to the likes of Siri or Google Assistant, as it can, Samsung claims, actually operate your phone rather than scan your files or search the web.
Samsung said it uses natural language recognition, rather than requiring the user to use robotic set phrases, to better understand the context of commands. For instance, when viewing a photo in the Gallery, pressing the dedicated Bixby button under the volume rocker and saying ‘set as wallpaper’ will do just that. Other assistants, in this situation, are incapable of this.
It can intelligently suggest actions as it learns your habits, via Bixby Home. Pressing the mentioned button takes you to this screen, which can suggest certain actions at certain times. As shown on YouTube, it's possible to change what the button on the side does via an app called All in one Gestures.
It can use the phones’ cameras to identify popular landmarks, bring up search information on an object or tell you where is good to eat near where you are, while also suggesting online prices of things after you scan a barcode.
Bixby’s information is sourced from Samsung’s own server, Google, and other partners.
One downside for UK users is that Bixby will only understand Korean and US English at launch – early buyers will have to switch language to US English and speak in American accent. We’re not kidding.
The S8 and S8 Plus also run Google Assistant, if Bixby isn’t your thing. The only way to find out is to buy one.
Was anything else announced?
Yes! It was a veritable Samsung party.
There will be an updated Gear VR headset with controller built for the S8 and S8 Plus, but Samsung said it'll be backwards compatible with the S7 and S6 series.
An update that adds Daydream support to the Galaxy S8 is also reportedly rolling out now.
Also coming soon is a new Gear 360 video camera, which is actually pretty awesome, much like the older one.