Samsung's new Galaxy S8: 8 reasons to salivate

OPINION: Samsung should allow itself to feel a little smug now the wraps are off its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8. 

The tech giant had much to prove and plenty to lose after last year's exploding Note 7 debacle and the S8, unveiled in New York this morning, might just offer redemption. It's even more powerful, highly unlikely to catch on fire and with its bezel-less design, is really rather beautiful. 

"This is definitely the best product we've ever made in terms of design, functionality, software and specification," Todd Selwyn, Samsung's head of mobile portfolio for NZ, told Newshub.

He's confident Kiwis will love the Galaxy S8, when it goes on sale here on May 5.

"New Zealand is growing, bucking the trend internationally both in value and volume... Kiwis love their tech and they love to upgrade and be on top of things and they love to innovate."

A Galaxy S8 was brought into Newshub on Thursday morning for a quick once-over and here are my top eight need-to-knows.

No home button but humungous screen

It's called an 'Infinity Display' on the S8 and with good reason. A 5.8-inch (or 6.2-inch for the bigger model) Quad HD display, yet the same footprint at the Galaxy 7. The bezel-less design and curved edge is an amazing combination and it's also tough, with Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back.

Crazily good camera

The Galaxy S8 has a 12-megapixel f/1.7 Dual Pixel camera. The front camera has got a resolution bump to 8 megapixels with an f/1.7 aperture, as well as a new autofocus mechanism. Google's Pixel  better watch out.

Powerful performance

It's very powerful. The Galaxy S8 features the industry's first 10nm chip for heightened speed and efficiency. It is also gigabit LTE and gigabit Wi-Fi ready with support for up to 1 GBPS so users can quickly download files, regardless of the file size.

Iris scanner

Some might say a bit gimmicky, but I like it. The S8 is built on Samsung Knox, a defence grade security platform. It's also useful because the fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back of the phone, which I'm not so keen on.

Hello Bixby!

Bixby Samsung's new voice assistant, or should I say, 'intelligent user interface', can be activated via a dedicated button. It will be aware of what you're doing on the phone and suggest different actions depending on what's on screen. It integrates with several Samsung native apps and features including camera, messages and settings and the plan is to include third-party apps in the near future.

Cool colours

Midnight Black, Orchid Grey and Maple Gold.  Okay, I'm shallow but colours matter and these are very pretty.

Headphone jack

Yes, it's kept the headphone jack and even better it will come bundled with a pair of wired Harmon AKG headphones in the box.

Best of the rest

Did I say 8 points? Just the read the rest of this without taking a breath... It can transform into a desktop with a DeX dock, it's water-resistant, and it has a USB C charging port, to make those late night fumbles easier. Now breathe.

While the Mobile World Congress in February saw some decent offerings from Huawei, Sony and LG, Samsung's real competitor again this year will be Apple. It's been 10 years since the first iPhone was launched and Apple will be going all out to impress.

Samsung isn't worried.

"It's going to be the best device you'll see this year," said Mr Selwyn.

"We feel that we are well ahead of Apple in terms of innovation - things like fast charging, wireless charging, we've had for three generations on our devices."

As for being safe? Samsung has made much of its new eight-step testing process for its battery, but will the S8 be allowed on planes? Let's hope so. 

"I would assume so but given what's happening around the world with laptops [being banned on certain flights]," said Mr Selwyn.

"It's totally safe to use for travel, safe in terms of all the specification and meeting the global requirements of FAA, no problem."

The Galaxy S8 goes on sale New Zealand on May 5 - that's two weeks after the US and Korea. It will cost $1299 for the basic S8 and $1499 for the larger model, which is slightly more than last year's phones.

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