With Samsung’s Galaxy S8 finally stepping out of the shadows, tech journalists across the world have been quick to issue early judgements on the new smartphone.
Overall, critical reception seems to be positive – though Samsung’s claim that the move towards minimal bezels represents a new era in smartphone innovation and design has encountered a healthy dose of skepticism from some.
Max Parker at Trusted Reviews came away from his hands-on time with the device pretty impressed, particularly when it came to the S8+’s display. Calling it ‘absolutely stunning’, he says “the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is a gorgeous phone and comfortably one of the slickest I’ve ever used, but I still prefer the smaller S8.”
Gizmodo’s Campbell Simpson says that, at least when it comes to design, the S8 puts its rivals to shame.
Meanwhile, coverage out of CNET seems to be more of a mixed bag. Jessica Dolcourt highlighted the appeal of the Infinity Display, saying “it’s hard to explain exactly why the S8 feels more polished and luxurious than any other perfectly nice flat-faced phone. It just does.”
However, she does cast a little bit of doubt on the reality of Bixby. She says “it’s confusing, limited and, at this admittedly embryonic stage, very incomplete.”
“This is up in the air right now, but there’s a chance that Bixby may not come preloaded on the S8” Dolcourt wrote.
She was also quite critical of the Galaxy S8’s camera, as was The Verge’s Sean O’Kane.
“Much like its competitors, Samsung over the years made an increasingly bigger deal about its smartphone cameras. In the previous four Unpacked events, the company spent anywhere between five to seven minutes talking about the newness of the cameras on its smartphones. For an event that typically ranges between about 45 minutes to an hour, that’s a big chunk.
“At yesterday’s S8 unveiling, the company only spent two minutes. Two minutes devoted to what has been a major selling point for smartphones after the spec war of the late 2000s reached a detente. It was a jarring contrast to past Samsung press conferences, which were always heavy on specs and especially gimmicky camera features.”
Business Insider also have their doubts about Samsung’s voice assistant.
Writing for the site, Steve Kovach says that “without enough third-party support, Bixby will fail to fulfil its core promise: full control of your phone with just your voice. If most of your apps aren’t Bixby-compatible, you’re going to find yourself using your phone the old-fashioned way more often than not. That alone would be enough to kill Bixby.”
Finally, Engadget’s Sean Buckley didn’t buy into Samsung’s pledge to ‘Unbox Your Phone’.
Calling the South Korean company’s pitch hyperbole, he says “Don’t get me wrong, the Samsung Galaxy S8 looks like a nice device. Really nice. But it’s not the revolution the company claims it to be. It’s an amalgam of the best features from previous devices with a screen that takes curved display technology to the next logical iteration. That’s something to be proud of, but it’s nowhere near the same leap forward in design and technology as the flip phone was to the smartphone.”