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Samsung finally unveils Galaxy S8

Posted March. 30, 2017 07:06,   

Updated March. 30, 2017 07:12

Samsung Electronics revealed its latest flagship smartphone GalaxyS8 and GalaxyS8 Plus Wednesday (local time) at Lincoln Center in New York, its first strategic phone after killing off fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 in October last year.

S8 adopted an iris scanner and edge-to-edge curved displays, features that had made Note7 irreplaceable for some users. In addition, Samsung added new features, including face recognition abilities, edge-to-edge “infinity” display, and its new artificial intelligence assistant Bixby.

The biggest difference of S8 and S8 Plus compared to previous Galaxy S models is the display. Both the 5.8-inch S8 and 6.2-inch Plus version shaved bezels of all four sides making the display become larger by 18 percent.

The longer screen enables users to read more information on the web browser or instant messenger apps by scrolling down more freely. For example, while users accessed Facebook they were not able to find the Like button below the messages posted in S7, they can now with S8.

Infinity display can be best enjoyed when viewing videos. The big screens have an unconventional aspect ratio of 18.5:9 compared to the existing 16:9 ratio and the screens are not cut off. When the user chooses the 21:9 ratio, the contents become bigger by 36 percent compared to the previous model.

Samsung has eliminated its home button for the first time. When the screen is off, it looks as if the front part is covered with only display. In order to address complaints by consumers who are not familiar with soft keys, Samsung has replaced home button with a pressure sensor, which users can press hard to function. The phone can't be unlocked by a simple touch.

Face recognition procedures were more simple than expected. As with registering fingerprints, the user can take a selfie which is then automatically scanned. Then the user just has to face the screen as if taking a selfie to unlock the phone. It also worked while wearing glasses. Face recognition, however, is less safe than iris scanning or fingerprint recognition, and thus doesn't support security and payment services.

Bixby, which drew most of the attention, was still in its infancy. The user should keep pressing the side button to make orders such as "Show me the pictures I took today." The function can be used only on phone apps such as gallery, contact numbers and text message. Third party apps such as Kakao Talk messenger and food ordering functions will be available later. Functions are limited, in other words.

"We applied deep learning technology which means that data will be accumulated as various users use it repeatedly," a Samsung staff said. Samsung plans to encourage third party apps' participation by introducing a software development tool.

The Galaxy S8 has new processor that significantly lowers power consumption, this time built on the company’s 10nm technology making it one of the first to do so. S8 Plus has a 3,500mAh, the same as Galaxy Note7. Capacity is lower than that of Galaxy S7 Edge by 100mAh.

S8 comes in five colors of midnight black, orchid gray, arctic silver, coral blue and maple gold, and will be on sale starting April 21 in Korea and elsewhere.

Ji-Hyun Kim jhk85@donga.com