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Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8 and accessories hands-on: A powerful ecosystem that shows why Samsung rules

Samsung is the world's most popular smartphone manufacturer and after being sent a back of Samsung gear to test with the new unlocked version of the Galaxy S8 it is clear that it has everything to support a powerful ecosystem.
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1 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Samsung offers a plethora of accessories for the Samsung Galaxy S8

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is an excellent smartphone, arguably the best current smartphone. I am enjoying my own orchid gray Galaxy S8 Plus from T-Mobile, but wanted to try out the unlocked variant as well.

Carrier phones are launched first by Samsung and the past has shown these phones also get updates first. Samsung just launched an unlocked version of the Galaxy S8, with black as the only available color. The price is about the same as the carrier models, but you will not find any carrier bloatware on this unlocked device.

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2 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Testing different SIMs with the unlocked model

I currently have access to SIM cards from T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. For some reason the Sprint SIM would not work with the unlocked S8 as a warning kept appearing that it was not provisioned for the device.

Testing with the T-Mobile SIM showed 64 Mbps down and 14 up while at my house. Verizon showed 10 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up in my testing. Both had a signal strength of about -103 dBm.

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3 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Software recognizes SIM changes

When you insert a new SIM into the unlocked Galaxy S8 a pop-up appears that confirms your service provider settings will be updated to reflect the SIM properties.

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4 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

New Samsung Gear VR

Samsung was offering the new Gear VR for free with the purchase of a Galaxy S8 device. The regular price is $129.99.

This new Samsung Gear VR has an improved strap and a wireless controller. With the controller, the headset offers more than the Google Daydream headset with Samsung continuing to provide new software experiences.

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5 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Gear VR wireless controller

The controller connects via Bluetooth and gives you the ability to easily control the VR experience. It is much improved over the previous touchpad on the side of the headset.

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6 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Convertible wireless fast charging pad

One of the great things about Samsung smartphones is the support for fast wireless charging technology. It is convenient to simply place your phone down on a charging pad and not worry about touching wires.

The new convertible fast wireless charging pad switches from a typical flat horizontal pad to one that is angled so you can use your Galaxy S8 display while charging.

The charging pad has a soft leather-like material that provides a textured finish that grips your phone and keeps it from sliding off the pad.

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7 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Convertible fast wireless charging pad

The wireless charger is connected to power via a USB Type-C cable, which is the same standard cable now used to charge up a Samsung Galaxy S8.

The convertible charging pad is available now for $89.99 and comes in black and white colors.

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8 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Galaxy S8 S-View Flip cover

The Samsung Galaxy S8 S-View Flip cover is a much better case than I anticipated. It is available for $59.99 in black, blue, orchid gray, and silver.

You can use your phone through the case. For example, press the power key to check the time, weather and other status items like missed calls and texts with cover closed. Accept or reject incoming calls with just a swipe.

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9 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Using the S-View Flip cover in media viewing mode

The handy flip case can be used to enjoy media content by rotating it into landscape orientation and sliding out the left side, now bottom, of your phone.

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10 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Galaxy S8 silicone cover

The fingerprint scanner on the back of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is poorly positioned so using a case can help you more accurately target the scanner.

The new Galaxy S8 silicone cover is a fairly simple cover case, available in blue, green, pink, purple, silver, adn white for $29.99.

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11 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Silicone case has ample openings and textured finish

The Galaxy S8 silicone case is form fitting and doesn't take away from the cool design of the Galaxy S8. It provides excellent grip so that the S8 won't easily slip from your hand.

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12 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Fast charge portable battery pack

Samsung's new Fast Charge Portable Battery Pack has a capacity of 5,100 mAh and is advertised as providing up to two full battery charges. It is available now for $59.99.

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13 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Two male ends for charging devices

A short cable comes with the battery pack so you can charge devices with a microUSB port or USB Type-C port.

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14 of 14 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Two ports and a carrying handle

There is a standard USB port on the top, along with a USB Type-C port. The battery pack supports fast charging technology so you can top up your compatible device quickly.

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