Samsung announces Galaxy S8 and S8+: Here's everything you need to know

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We knew this was coming, but now it's all official.

A continuous flow of leaks and speculation came to an end today as Samsung announced the
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on stage at its event New York City. Naturally the released confirmed plenty of what everyone speculated to be true about the latest flagships from Samsung, but there are a few details and subtleties we didn't know until now.

Here's everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

Get to know the Galaxy S8 and S8+


The two phones, which are only differentiated by their screen size and battery capacity, come in at 5.8-inches and 6.2-inches with extra-tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio displays. That battery difference is pretty subtle: 3500mAh for the Galaxy S8+ and 3000mAh for the standard Galaxy S8.


Though the batteries haven't increased in size
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, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help — that'll be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or the Samsung Exynos 8895, depending on the region. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM, an increase to 64GB of storage, and of course a microSD card slot. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but will have improved processing thanks to new software and a new ISP (image signal processor).

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The overall design for the phones is identical on both sizes, and is still shimmering glass and metal much like the previous generation. It's punctuated by the long edges of the displays curving subtly off the side, more so like the
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than the more dramatic Galaxy S7 edge — and to that point, there is no "edge" model here, as both phones sport the curves.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall while staying relatively narrow. Samsung has also moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That necessitated the movement of the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7 to hopefully pick up the slack.

Get familiar with all of the Galaxy S8's specs


Samsung is trying to drive a narrative that we've moved beyond specs (and you can definitely argue that we have), but the enthusiasts will always want to know the details of what's powering the latest phones. You get just about everything in here that you'd expect — basically, think of a Galaxy S7, and bump up a few areas to 2017 standards. That means you're getting 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage with an SD card slot, QHD+ resolution AMOLED displays, USB-C, fast charging, wireless charging and the latest Qualcomm or Samsung processor inside.

As for the two different models, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are identical internally aside from the batteries and of course screen sizes.

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Explaining the Galaxy S8's camera setup


On the face of it, the spec hounds among us won't be satisfied with the fact that Samsung has stuck with the same camera hardware from the Galaxy S7 in the new Galaxy S8. Yes that means we're looking at a 12MP "Dual Pixel" camera with an f/1.7 lens — but remember that the software and ISP (image signal processor) have been improved since last year, and this was arguably the best camera of 2016. Let's see how it all comes together.

On the other side, Samsung has completely revamped the front-facing camera to an 8MP unit with auto focus — all the better for your selfies of all types.

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All of the new software features in the Galaxy S8


As Samsung often does, we got a good sneak peak at the Galaxy S8's software experience in the form of the Android Nougat update for the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. What you'll find on the Galaxy S8 is very similar in terms of its design, core apps and behaviors, but you'll also find a new launcher layout, new icons, on-screen buttons and of course a bunch of new features. Not the least of which being Bixby, DeX, S Pen-styled note taking features and more.

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This is what we know about the Bixby voice assistant


Even though Samsung came out and announced its Bixby voice assistant before the Galaxy S8 was even released, we still don't know all of the details here. But we do have the gist of the situation: Bixby isn't so much a head-to-head competitor with
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and Amazon Alexa, but instead an assistant for the phone itself. That means Bixby is designed to help you — via voice — navigate throughout the Galaxy S8's software.

Right now Bixby is only enabled for a handful of Samsung's own apps, but what it can do in those apps is very interesting. It can basically respond to any command and perform actions within whatever app you're using as if you tapped though the software yourself. Samsung also claims Bixby can fail more gracefully when it doesn't understand your query entirely, getting you through the answer as far as it can before asking for more information. Samsung is betting this is the next interface paradigm, and it's exciting to watch the developments on the Galaxy S8.

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This is Samsung's DeX desktop dock for the Galaxy S8


Far on the other end of interaction from Bixby is the new "DeX" desktop docking system for the Galaxy S8. It's a little piece of hardware no larger than a wireless charger that lets you plug in your Galaxy S8, attaching it to a keyboard, mouse and monitor to transform it into a desktop-like environment. The Galaxy S8's interface scales up gracefully to fill the large monitor, and Samsung's own apps have been designed to be resized and operated with a keyboard and mouse.

Samsung has also struck deals with Adobe and Microsoft to bring their most popular apps to the big screen — the only question is how it works with other non-optimized apps, and who will invest in these docks and this setup to use DeX on a regular basis.

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Compare the Galaxy S8 today's hot devices


Plenty of people will just pick up the Galaxy S8 or S8+ because Samsung is the brand they know, but many of us will comparing it head to head with other leading devices. To help you make up your mind on which phone is right for you, we've compared the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ to the likes of the Pixel and Pixel XL, LG G6 and of course the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

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Which one should you buy?


So now that you have all the information, which one should you buy? You have a big phone and a bigger phone; one with a big battery and a bigger battery. There are so few differences between the Galaxy S flagships this year that it comes down to size and battery preference alone, and that may make your decision even harder.

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When and where you can buy a Galaxy S8


Here's what we know: the Galaxy S8 and S8+ will go up for pre-order from just about any carrier and retailer you can think of starting March 30. They will subsequently become available in stores and online for everyone on April 21. In the U.S., you'll have your choice of the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+, both in 64GB storage configuration, in one of three colors: black, gold or orchid grey.

Samsung has a pre-order incentive for those who want to drop the money early, offering up a new Gear VR with Controller for free. Other retailers are sure to get in on the freebie game as well, so keep your eyes peeled for good deals.

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