Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus: Specs and reviews

New handset packs a 'glorious display', but critics struggle with rear-facing fingerprint scanner

Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung announces its Galaxy S8 smartphone 
(Image credit: Drew Angerer / Getty )

Radical new smartphone features a bezel-less display and can be turned into a desktop computer

After months of rumours and leaked images, Samsung has finally unveiled its iPhone-rivalling Galaxy S8 smartphone.

It's a radical step for the Korean tech giant, with an all-new design and a host of additional security features that go beyond the once high-tech fingerprint scanner.

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

It features a completely new design

Samsung has overhauled its flagship Galaxy smartphone with a bezel-free display and a fingerprint scanner located at the rear.

Alphr thinks the S8 is "something practical for everyday use" thanks to the "dramatically rounded corners, familiar curved screen edges that taper into nothingness, and the ultra-thin 8mm [0.3ins] profile".

The fingerprint scanner has been relocated from the front to the right-hand side of the rear-facing camera, "something that will take some time to get used to", the website says.

The screen packs more pixels

The Galaxy S8 features a 5.8ins display boasting a resolution of 2960x1440, the same as the 6.2ins screen on the S8 Plus, ArsTechnica reports.

It's a marginal jump over the Galaxy S7's 2560x1440 screen resolution and isn't the full 4K front panel mentioned in early rumours.

Samsung has also moved away from a 16:9 aspect ratio to 18.5:9, adds the site, which means the S8 "should be about the same width as the 5.1ins, 16:9 display on the Galaxy S7". The S8 Plus is expected to have to the same width as the 5.5ins Galaxy S7 Plus.

It can be unlocked using your face

Samsung has introduced a host of biometric security features on the S8, including a facial scanner housed in the front-facing camera. Users will be able to unlock their device without scanning their finger or inputting a pin, although these options are still available.

It also sees the return of the iris scanner that debuted on the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 last year, meaning buyers can use their eyes to unlock the phone or make purchases on the Google Play Store.

It's also a desktop computer

While an outpouring of leaks all but confirmed many of the Galaxy S8's features, Samsung's DeX desktop hub was a surprising new addition. It's a dock-style accessory that can be plugged into a monitor, keyboard and mouse for a desktop experience.

The Verge says it "comes with an app drawer on the side, and supports Android apps with full access to notifications and resizable windows".

DeX is similar in appearance to Google's browser-based Chrome OS, adds the site, although many apps from the Google Play Store "simply aren’t optimised for this type of usage".

Galaxy S8 Reviews

Compared to the outgoing S7, the Galaxy S8's design is "particularly beautiful", says Alphr.

It's "quite a bit taller than its predecessors", which makes it "extremely comfortable in the hand", and while it isn't much wider or thicker, it "uses its space much more effectively with around 84 per cent of the front occupied by the screen".

The longer panel, however, is "not always fully utilised", says the Daily Telegraph. For instance, some videos on Netflix and YouTube will have "black bars" running across the top and bottom of the screen due to the handset's curved panel.

Nevertheless, the paper says the AMOLED display is "glorious" and packs improved contrast ratios over previous entries in the Galaxy range.

One of the more substantial changes on the S8 is the absence of any buttons on the front panel, with the smartphone's fingerprint scanner relocated next to the rear-facing camera.

ExpertReviews warns users may "struggle" reaching it, while readjusting your grip to use it can make the icons at the top of the screen "unreachable".

It also criticises the phone's £679 price tag, saying it "doesn't represent good value no matter which way you slice it" and concluding that while it's a clear step forward over the S7, the Galaxy S8's advancements "just aren't enough to warrant that sort of money".

S8 Plus impressions

With a screen size of 6.2ins and 18.5:9 aspect ratio, the Galaxy S8 Plus "isn't a particularly pocketable phone", Alphr says, adding that at 6.1oz (173g), it's also quite heavy so users might want to store it in a sturdy jacket pocket.

However, it "isn't as unwieldy as it could have been" and "is reasonably practical to wield one-handed", adds the website, although it feels the phone is "a step too far in terms of its size" compared to the 5.8ins Galaxy S8.

Stuff says the S8 Plus has "the same huge 2960x1440 resolution as the S8", but its larger panel means it "has a lower pixel density of 529ppi, compared to the S8's 570".

This "isn't discernible unless you have microscopic vision" and it's "perfectly for reading long paragraphs of text", adds the site.

While the spilled-over bezel-less Quad HD+ AMOLED display raises the "legitimate concern" of accidentally activating features on the sides of the device, it was never an issue during Stuff's review of the device.

Price and release

Carphone Warehouse is offering the Galaxy S8 with 64GB of storage for £689, with phones expected to reach buyers on 20 April.

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