One of the benefits to living in New York is access to new technology. If you know the right people. Wil took me to lunch and let me hold a Samsung Galaxy S8 on loan to his IT group. Frankly, it’s a nice phone, but in much the same way the Galaxy Note 7 was a nice phone. Except in this instance I kept touching the back to see if the case was getting warm to the touch.
Samsung products explode into flames, you know.
The Galaxy S8 is a bit smaller than my iPhone 7 Plus, seems to weigh about the same, it’s still ugly on the backside, but at least the overgrown Samsung logo is off the front of the phone. What? No logo? Not on the front. It’s almost all screen on the front; a tiny micro-bezel on the left and right, and a tiny chin and forehead, bottom and top. You know what an iPhone’s front display looks like, and this is visibly different.
The physical Home button is gone, too; well, not so much gone as out of sight; right under the phone’s display and with haptic feedback similar to what iPhone users have had for a few years. The fingerprint sensor, oddly enough, is on the back. Just above Samsung’s ugly overgrown logo.
The S8 has a few features we can expect in iPhone 8 (or, 7s or 7s Plus, or whatever name Apple gives it as 10th anniversary gift), including the micro-bezel display design. Samsung also moved the iris scanner ‘eye print’ technology into the S8. I didn’t see it working any faster than the Touch ID on my iPhone, but it works.
One of the more interesting new features in the Galaxy S8 is the Bixby digital assistant. Think Siri, from Siri’s original creators, but made for Samsung. Bixby and Siri work much the same way and each has tricks the other cannot perform. There’s also a thing called Bixby Vision which seems much like an augmented reality scanner. Scan something with the camera, and Bixby will match the image and give you information about it.
If Amazon still had a smartphone to sell, I suspect Alexa would do the same thing. Take a photo, and Amazon would overlay augmented reality stickers so you could tap and order it online.
As is usual, the Samsung display is too bright for my eyes and the colors often seem more like a reflection of a Technicolor movie from decades past, or Kodachrome slides. Samsung seems to love oversaturated colors and the Galaxy S8’s screen and camera do not disappoint.
As is also the case, the S8 launches about six months before the next iPhone, which, when launched, gives Samsung another six months to put the finishing touches of Apple-inspired design goodies into the next version. Still, all things considered, the Galaxy S8 felt good in the hand, the camera took rich, vibrant photos, and the screen is to die for.
Speaking of dying, I just couldn’t help but touch the case and check for the warmth of an overheating battery. And I’m relieved that Wil wouldn’t let me take it back to the office for the day because I would have had to carry it in my back pocket.