People “aren’t excited by new phones anymore.”
That’s the first thing Samsung’s product manager said to me before introducing the company’s new flagship Galaxy S8 last month. He’s not wrong: the modern concept of the smartphone has been around for a decade now, and the differences between devices are exceedingly incremental. It doesn’t help that virtually every smartphone looks the same, too.
So for the Galaxy S8, Samsung made an effort to do something different. It combined everything it did in the past few generations of its phones and added some new ideas to produce something different from everything else on the shelf of the average phone store today.
Of course, Samsung had to do this, because for the past six months it’s been dealing with the biggest public crisis any electronics company has faced in modern times. The Note 7, the last major phone it released, had a crucial design flaw that caused its battery to spontaneously catch fire. Samsung had to recall the phone twice and then was finally forced to cancel the Note 7 entirely.
Now Samsung faces two challenges with the Galaxy S8: create a new phone that will get people excited, and at the same time make them forget about all of those other phones catching fire just last year.
After using both the $720 to $750 Galaxy S8 and its larger sibling, the $840 to $850 Galaxy S8 Plus, for the past week, I can say with certainty that these are phones worth getting excited about. They are easily the best phones released so far this year, and may turn out to be the best phones of the year, period.
They might even be good enough to make you forget all about the Note 7 and its fiery batteries.
DESIGN AND DISPLAY
The most common reaction I heard from people who saw the S8 units I’ve been testing is “wow.” That’s because the S8 is a stunning device to look at and hold. It truly doesn’t look like any other phone you might have used before, and it’s refined and polished to a literal shine.
The big reason the S8 looks so different from any other phone is its new screen, which Samsung has dubbed the “Infinity Display.” It features a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio that’s similar to the 18:9 screen on the LG G6, but taller and skinnier than the traditional 16:9 screens the vast majority of other smartphones have. On the Galaxy S8, it measures 5.8 inches diagonally from rounded corner to rounded corner; on the S8 Plus it expands to 6.2 inches in the same dimension.
The taller aspect ratio means that in terms of raw screen area, the S8 and S8 Plus aren’t as big as their diagonal measurements imply. But don’t let the complicated math take away from the bottom line: they are huge screens in very small bodies. Putting an S8 side-by-side with an iPhone 7 almost feels unfair to the iPhone — the Samsung’s screen is just so much larger, yet the phone’s overall dimensions are practically the same.
That screen is pushed to the outer edges of the phone’s frame, taking up 83 percent of the front panel and leaving very little bezel above and below it. In addition, the sides are curved, finishing off the infinity pool effect and making it feel like you’re holding just a display. Samsung is going all-in on curved screens this year — it’s the company’s big differentiator — and you can’t buy a “flat” version of the S8 at all.
Read More: theverge.com