Samsung highlights AI assistant, edge-free display in official reveal of Galaxy S8

After back-to-back quarters defined by exploding phones, the launch of a shiny new rival, and a high-profile investigation that resulted in the arrest of its de facto CEO, Samsung Electronics Ltd. took a few steps to regain its footing in the crowded mobile device market by officially revealing the Galaxy S8 today.

As expected, the new device features a curved, edge-free “Infinity display”; headphone jack; support for Samsung’s new digital assistant, Bixby; and, like Apple Inc.’s iPhone 7, replaces the physical home button with a pressure-sensitive sensor underneath the screen.

“As you all know, it has been a challenging year for Samsung,” D.J. Koh, president of the company’s mobile communications business, said during the device’s March 29 launch event. “A year filled with valuable lessons, hard decisions, and important new beginnings.

“Today, we are here to celebrate our new milestone,” he continued. “Not just the launch of a great device, but the beginning of a new way to experience the world. A world where boxes no longer define us, and barriers that once stood in the way have been removed.”

In addition to the previously-leaked features, Samsung executives highlighted the Galaxy S8’s new fingerprint, iris, and facial recognition software; desktop-quality performance exemplified by the DeX Dock, which essentially turns the device into a desktop computer complete with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard; and low power consumption.

The device’s glass screen, 5.8 inches for the vanilla Galaxy S8 and 6.2 inches for the S8-Plus, is designed in a way that appears to continuously connect with its aluminum shell, senior vice president of product strategy Justin Denison noted during his portion of the event, while the curved display and a series of redesigned components allowed the company to produce a large-screen display without an equally large body to accommodate it.

Its processor, for example, has a 26 per cent more powerful CPU yet spans only 10 nanometres, which means that 10,000 of its transistors could fit on the width of a human hair.

“Where there used to be bezels, now there’s only screen,” Denison said.

Sriram Thodia, Samsung’s senior director of intelligence & IoT, highlighted the device’s Bixby-powered features, which have been designed to give users control over connected devices at their home and office, and help users identify landmarks, translate signs, and shop online for interesting-looking items based on a photo.

The S8’s front-facing camera has received an upgrade too, utilizing an 8 MP-sensor and the device’s facial detection software to produce auto-focused selfies; and in another cue taken from Apple, its rear camera utilizes multi-frame processing to improve picture quality, shooting several images at once before blending them together. (Though neither model features a dual-lens camera.)

Like its predecessor, the S8 is also water and dust resistant, while its battery size remains unchanged at 3000 mAh (the S8 plus battery, at 3500 mAh, is actually smaller than the S7 Edge).

More importantly, however, Samsung emphasized the new device’s eight-point battery safety check, with Koh referring to the company’s recent controversies – particularly the oversized and poorly tested batteries that led to the Note 7 fires – during his portion of the presentation without naming them directly.

“Through 30 years we have been delivering meaningful progress through mobile innovation,” Koh said. “We must be bold enough to step into the unknown, and humble enough to learn from our mistakes. This is how new doors are opened, and the impossible becomes possible.”

Delivering on Samsung’s mandate of creating exciting new consumer experiences, he said, requires not only creating devices they love, but products they can trust.

“This is why our most important commitment is to quality, safety, and craftsmanship, all driven by a passion for constant improvement,” he said. “This commitment is a foundation for every step that we take. We are honoured that millions of people around the world trust Samsung Galaxy phones to organize their lives, store their memories, and manage their work.”

The Galaxy S8 is expected to be released on April 21.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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