It's a brilliant new phone with an edge-to-edge screen (almost).
There's an A.I. assistant on-board called Bixby that can identify objects when you use the camera--say, if you want to find out about local places to eat.
It goes on sale on April 21, and it could be the first phone that finally makes you wonder if your Apple iPhone has a shelf life.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are remarkable devices. The S8 ($720 with no contract) has a 5.8-inch screen and the S8+ ($840 with no contract) has a 6.2-inch screen.
Both use powerful new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processors and have 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and can charge using USB-C cables. The S8 weighs 5.2 ounces and the S8+ weighs 6.1 ounces. The most innovative features, other than the gorgeous screens, are related to security. You can look at the phone to login without using a password, and there's an iris and fingerprint reader as well.
But what impressed me most is the new Samsung Dex docking station. (No word on pricing or availability yet.) I remember trying out the Motorola docking station for the Moto X and Moto Atrix a few years ago, and also the Microsoft Lumia models which let you connect to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. The one main takeaway from that testing is that the phones were still not powerful enough for real desktop apps.
More than anything, it felt a bit like you were connecting a phone to your monitor, with all of the implications that entails--such as a jerky mouse, slow apps, and frequent pauses. It all felt a bit too early, and the processors were not "desktop class" in any way.
There's some good news with the S8 and S8+ for power users, however. You can read all about it, but the basic idea is that the mobile processor has the chops to keep up with powerful productivity chores like editing photos and videos. Samsung also explained in a demo today that there will be apps designed for real work in the desktop mode, including the Microsoft Office suite and Adobe Lightroom for photo editing and management.
In the demo, the Samsung Dex looked like it could benefit startups that need to keep things lean and mean. Why bother handing out laptops? Your own mouse, keyboard, and monitor all connect into a wireless charging base for the phone. (No word yet if the mouse and keyboard also charge using the dock--they probably use normal batteries, like most Bluetooth devices.) You can connect to a monitor using HDMI, which is the standard option for any laptop or desktop these days.
It was pretty obvious from the demo that this is designed for basic productivity. They showed how someone might edit a slideshow using drag and drop with a mouse and then attach the presentation to an email. We've seen this before from Moto and Microsoft, but there's a good chance it will work as expected due to the faster processor and custom apps. (I'll do a hands-on as soon as possible.)
Of course, the new features, like the dock and the facial recognition, are meant to take on Apple, but they're also designed to make you forget all about the Samsung Note 7 disaster from last year. And it's hard to know if consumers will wonder if the new models will also catch on fire or if they can bring them onto an airplane.
Let's clear up any confusion about the dock, though.
This will be a bridge to the future, one way or another. Your phone will become your computer. Eventually, we won't need a keyboard and mouse because we'll dictate messages and have a bot process our email. Airports will eventually install monitors so you can sit and do real work in a desktop mode. Companies won't bother deploying laptops. It's inevitable. What we won't know for a while is whether the Samsung Dex will actually work fast enough or whether people will use the device that way.
For now, it's a great start.