Galaxy S8 escapes the sea of sameness

Samsung's rebound from the Note 7 carries forward the best of its past, separates it from the iPhone, and has features that put it ahead of LG.
Written by Ross Rubin, Contributor

With Samsung Pay, Bixby, Gear VR, and the niche DeX dock, Samsung has a strong package for those considering a flagship Android smartphone that boasts a new aspect ratio.

While Samsung supposedly has a wild smartphone design in store for us later this year, it addressed its upscale flagship this week. The company has shown it is ready to move on from the woes of the Note 7 with the Galaxy S8,

That said, it has spun the maturing smartphone market by grouping a number of features it's brought forward as the "Galaxy foundation." These have included niceties such as wireless and fast charging, water resistance, and expandable storage, as well as tweaks to its well-regarded rear camera and a resolution and autofocus upgrade to its front camera.

The addition of the iris scanner that debuted on the Note 7 also rounds out a trio of biometric options that include fingerprint scanning and face unlock with the front camera. Not only has Samsung included the headphone jack, but it is tapping into its recent Harman acquisition by bundling a pair of AKG earphones with the Galaxy S8.

At least until the entry of the Pixel phones last year, the Galaxy S series has been seen as Android's best answer to the iPhone. And while their looks diverged more after the introduction of the Galaxy S5, Samsung was the only major vendor that clung to a physical home button (although others such as HTC and Motorola placed fingerprint readers below the screen). But with Samsung striving for maximum display-to-surface ratio, the button had to go. Samsung, like others, has moved the fingerprint reader to the back of the device.

But there is a new button, one to activate Samsung's promising Bixby voice agent. And particularly for those willing to purchase Samsung's DeX dock, a desktop experience just waiting to be connected to a large display, and full keyboard and mouse.

The Galaxy S8 no longer looks like the iPhone. Indeed, save for its now-standard curved edge display that further minimizes bezel appearance, it looks very much like the recently introduced LG G6. That's certainly no surprise to LG, which expects to see a wave of smartphones with a wide 18:9 aspect ratio and for good reason.

Holding even the larger Galaxy S8 Plus is nowhere near as awkward as such giant phones as the old Nokia Lumia 1520 and the Lenovo Phab Pro 2. The high display-to-surface ratio makes phones with larger chins and buttons look dated (and has even proven more amenable to other mobile devices).

LG may have beaten Samsung to the punch, and on a larger global stage, with its new screen dimensions. But even without many of Samsung's duplicative Google efforts such as Samsung Pay, Bixby, Gear VR, and the niche DeX dock, Samsung has a stronger package here for those considering a flagship Android smartphone that boasts the new aspect ratio.

VIDEO: Check out the Galaxy S8: Samsung's new flagship

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