“It has been a challenging year for Samsung,” acknowledged Samsung’s mobile business president DJ Koh at the company’s Unpacked event in New York Wednesday. These challenges included the Note 7 debacle, which resulted in a worldwide recall of the device.
But on Wednesday, Samsung tried to close this chapter with a new flagship — the Galaxy S8, which will be available in two sizes: The regular S8 will ship with a 5.8 inch screen and the S8 Plus will come with a 6.2 inch screen. The price for the device will start at $750 for the smaller model, with the Galaxy S8 Plus costing $850.
Both phones will be available for pre-order on March 30, and land on shelves in the U.S. on April 21. They will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-core processor, feature a 12-megapixel camera as well as an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, pack 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage, which is expandable with an SD card slot.
Unlike in previous years, Samsung isn’t offering an Edge version of the S8. Instead, the company is introducing something that it is calling an “infinity display,” which extends to the edges on both sides. “You can barely tell where the screen ends and where the frame begins,” said Samsung’s SVP of product strategy Justin Denison.
The screen of the S8 features 2960×1440 pixels in both sizes, which results in a slightly higher pixel density on the S8 (570ppi) vs. the S8 Plus (529ppi). Both screens also are certified for HDR by the UHD alliance, and Denison said Wednesday that the company is cooperating with Amazon and others to bring HDR content to mobile.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 also is the company’s first device to use Bixby, the company’s new smart assistant that aims to compete with Siri, Google and Alexa. Samsung even introduced a physical button to offer quick access to Bixby. Interestingly, a promotional video published by Samsung on Twitter Wednesday mentioned that English-language recognition would be available later this year.
One interesting twist about Bixby: It is closely integrated with the S8’s camera. This makes it possible to point the camera at a product, and then ask Bixby to buy it, thanks to the power of image recognition.
Samsung also used its event to introduce revamped versions of its Gear VR mobile virtual reality headset and Gear 360 video camera.