Every new Samsung flagship phone comes packed to the gills with a number of new innovations, but the Galaxy S8 seems more focused than previous handsets. There's a real emphasis on design, intelligence and being more connected. Here's a guide to all the new features Samsung has included on the new Galaxy S8 and S8+ that have made Samsung's new handsets our pick for the best smartphones available right now.
MORE: Galaxy S8 Review
People are constantly demanding bigger and bigger displays, but at some point, that size becomes a serious detriment to easy one-handed operation. That's why the Galaxy S8 features a screen with an extra wide 18.5:9 aspect ratio, which offers considerably more real estate compared to similarly sized devices, but without requiring two hands all the time to control the phone. And since S8's Super AMOLED screen sports a resolution of 2960 x 1440, you know pictures and videos are going to look super sharp, too.
Samsung's new Bixby assistant can tell you the weather or who won the latest baseball game, but its real purpose is to serve as an extension of your phone's interface. Pretty much anything that you can touch or tap on your phone, you'll be able to control through Bixby with your voice. You can say "send this picture to my mom" and Bixby will know exactly which photo you're talking about, and even ask which messaging service you'd like to use. Voice-control features were missing when the S8 arrived in April as Samsung tried to iron out some kinks with Bixby's voice-recognition features, but we soon will be able to talk to Bixby: Samsung's launching a Bixby Voice preview for current S8 owners. Until those features can appear, you can still use capabilities like Bixby Vision, in which you point the S8's camera at something and Bixby uses image recognition to look up all sorts of contextual information about that item, including where you can buy it.
With Samsung's elegant and simple DeX dock, you can turn the S8 into a mini desktop PC for much less than what you'd pay for the real thing. All you have to is hook the $150 DeX up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and then set the S8 onto the built-in USB-C connector — you're ready to go. In use, the DeX offers a surprisingly clean and simple interface, while also giving you the flexibility to multi-task as you use multiple windows or full-screen apps, though our DeX review found the device to be a work in progress. The DeX dock even has Windows 10 virtualization options, making it potentially attractive for business use.
With the new Samsung Connect app built into the S8, your phone can be the control center for many of your smart home devices. All you have to do is pull down from the top of the screen to see a list of all your connected devices. Since Samsung Connect includes support for third-party gadgets, it's not limited only to Samsung products. However, you will need the Samsung Connect Home, a combination Wi-Fi routher and SmartThings hub, to control third-party devices. The $169 Samsung Connect Home hub is now available for pre-order from Best Buy.
Qualcomm announced its latest flagship mobile system on a chip back at CES, but we've been waiting for a phone maker to actually go an put the Snapdragon 835 in an actual device. The wait is over with the S8, and based on our testing, Samsung's new flagship is faster than every other Android phone on the market. (The iPhone 7 Plus does give Samsung's phone a run for its money, particularly in single-core testing with the Geekbench 4 measure of overall performance.) Even better, the Snapdragon 835 is more power efficient, too, which helps explain the Galaxy S8's strong showing in our battery testing.
Although the back 12-MP camera on the Galaxy S8 hasn't changed much from the S7 (though software improvements are apparently leading to some sharper-looking images), Samsung boosted the phone's front camera from 5-megapixels to 8-MP on the S8. Smart autofocus features will help your selfies look even sharper than before.
While it almost goes without saying that launching a new flagship phone without the latest version of Android would be a big mistake, we're glad to see Nougat running smoothly on the Galaxy S8. The biggest feature in 7.0 is of course the Google Assistant, which works seamlessly alongside Bixby to let you search for almost anything just by using your voice. It's also worth noting that you don't have to press a separate button to see all of your apps; just swipe down on the home screen.