GALAXY S8+ welcomes Bixby the butler
By PAISAL CHUENPRASAENG
At your service, the personal assistant will make a call, tidy up the phone, even explain unfamiliar surroundings
GORGEOUS to look at and boasting excellent cameras, fast Internet connections and a personal voice assistant named Bixby, the Galaxy S8+ from Samsung is going to win a lot of fans in the smartphone market.
Clever designers have managed to pack a 6.2-inch display into a phone that feels small in the hand. It is in fact around 160 millimetres in length and 73mm across, but seems smaller because there’s no bezel and the screen runs edge to edge.
Further clearing space is the removal of the usual mechanical home button. Instead you’re using AOD (Always On Display), which feels like an actual hardware button because there’s a pressure sensor underneath.
The curved edges front and back make both sides look similar, and the effect is heightened on the glossy Midnight Black model I got to test. The dark tone offsets locked-mode AOD displays of time and date, battery status and alerts.
The display is Super Amoled with vibrant colours, good brightness and high resolution of 2,960×1,440 pixels, which is categorised as Quad HD. You won’t believe how good your high-definition videos and photos look.
The phone’s impressive performance comes from a Samsung Exynos octa-core 8890 64-bit processor with four cores running at 2.3GHz and four others at 1.7GHz. It has a generous four gigabytes of working memory along with 64GB of expandable storage.
The processor uses “10nm” technology to use 20 per cent less power than Samsung’s S7edge. The CPU is 10 per cent and GPU 21 per cent more powerful than those in the S7edge.
I ran the S8+ fast and smoothly through HD video clips and game applications like “Need for Speed No Limits”. I could play high-quality 32-bit PCM audio files and high-resolution music tracks in DSD64/128 format and High-Res FLAC 24bit/192kHz files. The tunes I tested using Sony MDR-1ABT headphones, and the music was crisp, detailed and powerful in the lower range.
The S8+ is ready for Gigabit LTE and Gigabit Wi-Fi Internet hook-ups, and with the Wi-Fi you can get 1024-QAM modulation, 20 per cent faster than the 802.11ac Wi-Fi on the S7edge. I put it through a Linksys EA8500 router and was instantly connected, and then tested the LTE 4G connection on TrueMove H’s LTE network and was online just as fast, backing up my photos to the cloud and downloading applications quickly. The Speedtest app measured the download pace at 111.02Mbps and uploads at 35.40Mbps.
Samsung’s Bixby personal assistant is akin to Apple’s Siri. It responds to voice commands and mainly works with email and message apps. You can use it to remind you about stuff and help figure out your various phone settings.
You activate Bixby by pressing a button below the volume controls on the left edge. It’ll take both voice and written commands. Tell it to make a phone call, send a text, change your settings, find a photo or set your alarm, among other things.
The S8+ main camera features Bixby Vision, which will help identify an object or a place. Take a picture of an unknown landmark and you can ask Bixby Vision what it is, and even if there’s a good restaurant nearby.
The main camera is excellent with its 12-megapixel Dual Pixel Sensor, f/1.7 aperture lens and 1.4-micrometre pixels that bring in more light. With Dual Pixel, auto-focus is quicker, putting 12 million pixels to work as phase detection auto-focus (PADF) agents. Every single pixel on the image sensor is capable of detecting phase differences in the perceived light. Dual Pixel also allows the S8+ capture fast action in 4K video.
Apart from Auto, there are several other useful shooting modes, including the Pro, Food and Selective Focus. Use Pro to adjust ISO sensitivity, exposure value, white balance and colour tone. With Selective Focus you can fix the focus in pictures already taken.
I got great shots with the main camera and Selective Focus blurred the background to add glorious depth. The bright lens ensures sharp and clean shots at night as well.
The front camera with 8MP resolution, f/1.7 aperture lens and Smart Auto Focus that tracks facial features does a wonderful job on selfies.
The S8+ has good security, with several methods to lock it and hide secret files. One way to lock the phone is using the irises of your eyes. Let it have a close look with its iris-detection LED and scanner at the front, but you also need to choose a PIN, password or drawn-pattern screen lock in case your irises fail to unlock the phone.
But I never had a problem scanning my eyes to open the phone – and it’s fun to use.
Once your eyeballs are officially registered, you can use iris verification to verify your Samsung account and those covering any supported apps.
There’s a fingerprint scanner at the back too if you prefer that means of unlocking the device, but Samsung isn’t too confident about the face-recognition function on the S8+. It says it’s less secure than “pattern, PIN or password” because anyone who resembles you might be able to get into the phone. So that future has not yet arrived.
If you flip to the phone’s Edge screen, you find Edge Panels, each containing a useful tool for notifications, information feeds and timekeeping. Use them to access apps, tasks and contacts and view news, sports and other stuff. You can pick which Edge panels stay active by swiping upwards to scroll through the ones available. The panels can appear on the left or right side of the screen.
Battery life is good thanks to improvements in power consumption since the S7edge. The 3,500mAh battery can be fast-charged, and wirelessly if you have the gear.
The Samsung Galaxy S8+ has a suggested retail price of Bt30,900.
– Operating system: Android 7.0 (Nougat)
– Network: 4G LTE
– Processor: Octa-core (2.3GHz quad + 1.7GHz quad), 64 bit, 10nm processor
– Memory: 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
– Storage: 64GB, expandable with microSD by up to 256GB
– Display: 6.2-inch Quad HD+ Super Amoled, (2,960×1,440 pixels), 529ppi
– Cameras: 12MP Dual Pixel AF main camera with f/1.7 aperture lens, 8MP f/1.7 aperture wide-angle lens
– Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz + 5GHz), VHT80, MU-MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 5.0
– Audio: Supports UHQ 24-bit audio and DSD (Direct Stream Digital) 64/128
– Water and dust resistance: IP68
– Battery: 3,500mAh, supports ultra-fast charging, fast wireless charging
– Dimensions: 159.5×73.4×8.1mm
– Weight: 173 grams
Republished with permission from The Nation