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Review: From more screen to price tag

aP: Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 phone is stunning. But its $100 (Dh367) price hike is hard to swallow.

The S8 is for those who want elegance – and are willing to pay for it, with several refinements that, totalled up, are indeed worth more than $100.

SCREENS TO THE EDGES

After spontaneous fires that forced the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 , Samsung is playing it safe on the battery and subjecting the S8 to tighter inspections.

Instead, it’s pushing the boundaries on the phone’s display. Samsung minimized the phone frame and got rid of a physical home button to free up space for an “infinity display,” a screen that seems to flow right into the phone’s curved left and right sides.

The 5.8-inch S8 and the 6.2-inch S8 Plus both have nearly 15 per cent more display space than last year’s comparable models. But the phones themselves aren’t wider. In fact, the phones feel more comfortable thanks to sides that curve around to the back; last year’s curved S7 Edge model feels boxy by comparison.

ALL ABOUT THE BATTERY

The S8 and S8 Plus have more physical space inside, but Samsung used it to give the battery more breathing room while keeping its capacity roughly the same as last year.

Though a larger display drains the battery faster, my tests of streaming video found that the new phones consumed power more slowly than last year’s models. And even with constant use — taking photos, watching video and playing music and podcasts — the new phones still made it to bedtime with power to spare. Samsung credits software and chip improvements.

UNLOCKING THE PHONES

Like the doomed Note 7, the S8 has an iris scanner to let you unlock the phone by looking at it — at least in theory. But you have to swipe the screen first and position it from your face at just the right distance.

The fingerprint scanner was faster and more convenient for unlocking the phone. But you have to be careful not to smudge the adjacent camera lens by mistake now that the scanner has been moved to the back.

FIRE THE ASSISTANT

Samsung is introducing a digital assistant called Bixby, but voice features intended to rival Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri aren’t ready yet. A reminder feature works, but seems paralyzed without voice dictations. Bixby will highlight appointments, trending stories and app suggestions, much as existing features on iPhones and other Android phones already offer.

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