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printed May 28, 2017
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Review: VRS Design Cases for Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Wednesday, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 2:00 PM

Smartphone cases must outnumber smartphones 10 or 20 to 1. Finding the right combination of style, usability, protection, and price takes more than just a few moments thought. If you're exploring less expensive alternatives to what's available in most carrier stores, VRS Design has a wide variety of cases to protect your Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+. Here are our thoughts on a few options.

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Samsung Itself Offering T-Mobile Galaxy S8 BOGO

May 22, 2017, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has rolled out a simpler and more direct buy-one, get-one offer for the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Under the terms of Samsung's deal, customers must buy two Galaxy S8 handsets for full price and activate at least one on T-Mobile's network via Samsung.com. Samsung will then issue a rebate for up to $750 to cover the cost of one Galaxy S8 within seven to 10 days after the purchase is made. The rebate is applied as a refund directly to the original payment method, excluding taxes, shipping, or other fees. T-Mobile's buy-one, get-one offer, in comparison, requires new/upgrading customers to sign up for its monthly installment plan for both devices and wait up to eight weeks for a rebate card that can be applied to the second device. Samsung's offer lets customers pay off the second phone almost immediately. Moreover, it can be combined with the free entertainment kit offer, which includes the Gear VR with Controller headset and six free months of Netflix.


T-Mobile Rolls Out Buy-One, Get-One Galaxy S8 Deal

May 12, 2017, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 13, 2017, 4:02 PM

T-Mobile today introduced a buy-one, get-one promotion for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. Customers who add a line and finance both phones on an equipment installment plan will receive a gift card for the value of the second phone. The S8 costs $750. T-Mobile is asking for $30 down followed by $30 per month for 24 months. The larger S8+ costs $850, and for that model, T-Mobile is asking for $130 down followed by the same $30 per month for 24 months. In order to score the deal, customers may be hit with a $25 SIM starter kit or $20 line upgrade fee. T-Mobile says sales tax on both devices is due at the time of purchase. The prepaid MasterCard rebate may take as long as eight weeks to arrive and customers will be responsible for making all device payments. Customers who leave T-Mobile before the end of the 24-month financing program will need to pay the device balance. The BOGO deal is available starting today.


Samsung Says Unlocked Galaxy S8, S8+ Go On Sale May 31

May 9, 2017, 7:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said unlocked versions of its flagship Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones will be available online later this month. People interested in the unlocked phones can pre-order them from BestBuy.com and Samsung.com beginning today. Samsung says the unlocked variants of the S8 and S8+ are compatible with most wireless networks around the world, including those operated by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Samsung says its own apps and services will be aboard the unlocked S8 and S8+, but carrier-branded bloatware will be absent. Both Best Buy and Samsung will allow phone trade-ins, as well as 24-month financing, to help defray the cost of the device. The Galaxy S8 costs $725 and the Galaxy S8+ costs $825. Samsung expects the unlocked phones to begin shipping May 31.


Samsung Rolls Out Bixby Voice In Korea; U.S. Launch Still Unknown

May 1, 2017, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today began distributing the Bixby Voice user interface to Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets in its home market of South Korea. Bixby was included on the S8/S8+ at launch without support for the voice functionality. For the moment, Bixby is limited to generating information cards and creating reminders. Once Bixby Voice is installed, Galaxy S8 owners will be able to talk themselves through the entire user interface of select apps, rather than just issue short commands for one-time actions. Bixby Voice fully supports 10 apps at launch, including the gallery, messages, settings, phone, contacts, weather, calculator, reminders, Bixby Vision, and the camera. Samsung says people will be able to test Bixby with 20 more apps through its Bixby Labs program. Some of those apps include Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, notes, My Files, email, and the internet browser, and third-party apps such as WhatsApp, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and YouTube. Applications still in the Bixby Labs will come to Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets over time. Samsung did not provide details concerning the U.S. launch of Bixby Voice. For now, the launch is still slated for later this spring.


Review: Samsung Gear VR with Controller

Apr 28, 2017, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's new virtual reality headset adds a controller, which dramatically helps improve usability. Together with a Galaxy smartphone, the Gear VR and controller will allow you to dive headfirst into exciting virtual worlds. Here is Phone Scoop's in-depth review.

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AT&T Says '5G Evolution' to Reach 20 Markets This Year

Apr 25, 2017, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 25, 2017, 10:56 AM

AT&T said customers who own the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will have access to enhanced wireless service in Austin starting today. Austin serves as the first market for what AT&T is calling "5G Evolution" service, an effort to modernize and improve its network ahead of the official adoption of the 5G specification by international standards bodies. AT&T plans to take advantage of improved LTE 4G network technologies such as small cells, network densification, carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM to provide real-world speed and latency improvements. The company didn't provide any guidance on what sort of speeds S8 and S8+ owners in Austin will actually experience other than to indicate 5G Evolution will be up to twice as fast as its existing LTE 4G service. AT&T will light up 5G Evolution in Indianapolis this summer with markets including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, San Francisco, and others to go live by the end of the year. Further, AT&T said it will have "numerous other" 5G Evolution-capable devices available by the end of the year. All four major carriers are moving forward with 5G technology trials despite the fact that the final standard has not been ratified. AT&T's so-called 5G Evolution is "5G" in name only.


LG G6 vs. Samsung Galaxy S8: Buying Points to Consider

Apr 24, 2017, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Can't decide between the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8? It's a tough choice, to be sure. These appealing Android smartphones represent the best from LG and Samsung by breaking new ground in design and refining core features along the way. Here are how these two phones compare head-to-head on a handful of essential buying points.

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Samsung to Issue Software Patches for Galaxy S8

Apr 24, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it will push two software updates to its Galaxy S8 smartphone to resolve issues with screen tint and WiFi connectivity. Some S8 owners claim their devices have a reddish tint to the screen, while others say they cannot connect to WiFi networks. Samsung insists there are no actual defects in the device itself and that the updates are being distributed "for consumer comfort." The first patch will address the tint issue, giving consumers "a further enhanced ability to adjust the color setting to their preference." The second patch targets phones sold by a specific carrier in South Korea and will be only be issued there. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ went on sale in the U.S. on April 21 and in S. Korea a few days before that. Samsung says pre-orders for the device have been strong, particularly in its home market of Korea. The company did not share first-weekend sales figures. The phones are the first high-end devices to ship from Samsung after its failed Note7 last year, which was recalled due to battery problems.


Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Amp Prime 2 Available from Cricket

Apr 21, 2017, 9:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today added two new Samsung handsets to its list of devices. First, the Galaxy S8 is available for purchase from Cricket stores. Cricket is charging $699.99 for the handset, a $50 savings off list price, when the S8 is activated on a new line. Second, Cricket debuted the Galaxy Amp Prime 2 (pictured), a low-cost Android phone. The Amp Prime 2 features a 5-inch 720p HD screen with a 1.35 GHz quad-core processor and 16 GB of storage. The phone includes 5- and 2-megapixel cameras on the back and front respectively, and a 2,600 mAh battery. Other features include LTE, Bluetooth WiFi, and support for memory cards up to 256 GB. The Samsung Galaxy Amp Prime 2 runs Android 7 Nougat and costs $150.


Google Play Music to Be Default Music Player on All Samsung Devices

Apr 21, 2017, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google and Samsung today said starting with the launch of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, Google Play Music will be the default music player and music service on Samsung phones and tablets globally. Consumers who buy the S8 or S8+ will receive a free three-month trial of Google Play Music, which offers ad-free access to some 40 million tracks. The trial also includes YouTube Red, an ad-free version of YouTube. Moreover, Samsung device owners will receive special features from Google. To start, S8 and S8+ buyers will be able to upload up to 100,000 of their own tracks to Google Play Music for safekeeping (double the standard amount.) Google says more custom features for Samsung phones are on the way. Last, Google Play Music will be compatible with Samsung's Bixby voice assistant when Bixby launchers later this spring. Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners will be able to ask Bixby to play their favorite song and it’ll start playing on Google Play Music instantly. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ go on sale today.


Sprint Offering Two-For-One Lease On Samsung Galaxy S8

Apr 20, 2017, 11:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today finalized its retail plans for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and there's good news for consumers. The company is offering a two-for-one lease deal on the S8 with a new line activation and one upgrade, or two new line activations. New and existing customers can lease the S8 for $31.25 per month and receive a second leased phone at no additinal cost. The second monthly lease payment will be credited to the account each billing period. The Sprint Galaxy Forever lease program allows people to trade the phone in for the newest Galaxy handset after making 12 lease payments. The S8 and S8+ are both compatible with Sprint's new HPUE technology, which makes them perform much better on the company's 2.5 GHz spectrum. Sprint says this two-for-one lease deal for the Galaxy S8 is good only from April 21 through April 27.


Samsung's 2nd-Gen 10nm Process Delivers Performance Boost

Apr 20, 2017, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung this week said it has finished testing its second-generation 10nm FinFET process and is ready to produce the silicon in volume. The 10LPP (Low Power Plus) technology, used in conjunction with 3D transistors, improves speeds by about 10%, or power efficiency by about 15% when compared to the first-generation 10nm process. Some variants of the Samsung Galaxy S8 rely on the first-gen 10nm process in the Exynos 9 processor, though the U.S. model relies on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835. Samsung expects to begin producing the new 10nm 10LPP circuitry by the fourth quarter. The company didn't say what mobile processors might make use of the new technology.


5 Things to Like About the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Mar 31, 2017, 2:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 2, 2017, 9:52 PM

Samsung announced the Galaxy S8 and S8+ this week, its flagship smartphones for 2017. These powerful handsets arrive with new screen shapes, slim silhouettes, and bulked up specs. Here's what we like most.

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Microsoft to Sell Customized Versions of Galaxy S8 and S8+

Mar 30, 2017, 10:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft will sell the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in its brick-and-mortar retail stores beginning April 21, reports ZDNet. Microsoft will customize the S8 and S8+ by adding a number of its own apps and services, though Microsoft declined to state exactly which ones. Likely contenders include OneDrive Cortana, Outlook, and MSOffice. "The new device customization is an example of bringing together Microsoft applications on more devices so customers can work, play and connect from their pockets," said Microsoft in a statement provided to ZDNet. Microsoft has preinstalled its software on Samsung handsets in the past. Microsoft will charge the same $750 and $850 retail prices for the S8 and S8+, respectively, as Samsung and other retailers. Microsoft did not say if the customized phones will be sold unlocked.


Galaxy S8 to Cost $750, S8+ to Cost $850: Carriers Share Launch Details

Mar 29, 2017, 11:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:29 PM

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones will cost $750 and $850, respectively. The phones share almost all features other than size and both ship with 64 GB of internal storage. All carriers are bundling in the new Gear VR with controller at no added cost ($129 value), and will upgrade the bundle to include a 256 GB memory card and Harmon Kardon headphones for $99. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available for preorder starting March 30 and should reach stores April 21.

  • AT&T: AT&T is offering a buy-one, get-one deal with the S8 and S8+. Monthly prices range from $28 to $36, depending on the length of the installment plan. Further, AT&T is selling the Gear S3 for $50 with an S8/S8+ purchase, provided the customer signs a two-year agreement. Last, AT&T is offering either the Galaxy Tab E or Gear S2 for 99 cents with a service agreement.
  • T-Mobile: The S8 will cost $30 month on a T-Mobile installment plan, and the S8+ will cost $30 per month, too, with a $130 down payment. T-Mobile says MetroPCS customers will have access to the Galaxy S8 when it reaches stores April 21.
  • Sprint: Sprint plans to lease the phones. The S8 will cost $31.25 per month for 18 months while the S8+ will cost $35.42 per month for 18 months. Customers will be able to upgrade to a newer Samsung phone after making 12 payments. People who preorder the phones from Sprint will be entered into a sweepstakes that includes prizes such as television sets. Sprint says Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile will offer the phone on April 21.
  • Verizon Wireless: Verizon is offering the S8/S8+ for as low as $15 per month with an eligible (flagship-level) trade-in. Without a trade-in, the S8 will cost $30 per month and the S8+ will cost $35 per month for 24 months.
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have 5.8- and 6.2-inch screens, respectively, Snapdragon 835 processors, 12-megapixel cameras, and Samsung's Bixby voice interface.


Samsung Galaxy S8 to Be First Gigabit LTE Phone

Mar 29, 2017, 10:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:23 PM

Samsung and Qualcomm today said the Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be the first handsets to ship with Gigabit LTE capabilities. The high-speed data connection is possible thanks in part to the Snapdragon 835 processor and accompanying X16 LTE modem. Together with Qualcomm's TruSignal adaptive antenna tuning technology, 4x4 MIMO, carrier aggregation and 256 QAM, the S8 and S8+ will feature the fastest-possible cellular data speeds. AT&T and T-Mobile said the S8 will be able to take advantage of these higher speeds on their pre-5G networks later this year. Sprint, also indicated that its variant of the phone will support HPUE for better 2.5 GHz LTE performance.


Samsung DeX Turns Galaxy S8 Into an Android Desktop

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:38 PM

Samsung today announced DeX, a desktop accessory for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ that allows them to function as computers when attached to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. DeX is similar in concept to Microsoft's Continuum product. For the S8 and S8+, the DeX includes HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and cooling functions. The software relies on features baked into Nougat to help scale the Android user interface for desktop screens. It supports full multitasking with moveable windows and runs most standard Android apps. Phone apps, text messaging, and other essential mobile communications will all function normally. DeX and the S8/S8+ support Microsoft Office, with Adobe Lightroom and PhotoShop Express coming soon. A special Samsung browser provides a full desktop internet experience. Pricing and availability of the DeX are to be announced at a later date.


Samsung's Bixby Is Far More than A Voice Assistant for the Galaxy S8

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones feature Bixby, a voice-based user interface developed by Samsung. It's more advanced than a simple voice assistant, as it voice-enables every function of an app. At its core, anything you can do with touch on the phone you can do with voice through Bixby. That means opening apps, but then also selecting menu items or other on-screen controls within those apps. Bixby is also able to take advantage of the camera for what Samsung calls Bixby Vision. It can translate languages, read business cards, recognize landmarks, and read QR codes. Samsung said it developed Bixby in order to minimize friction between the user and the phone in terms of how voice commands are issued and understood. Samsung calls Bixby a user interface that relies on artificial intelligence. Samsung adapted Bixby's ability to listen and understand commands based on how people speak, rather than force people to issue specific commands. Bixby embraces something it calls "completeness" — meaning if an app is Bixby enabled, Bixby will be able to interact with nearly every task that app is capable of completing. Bixby is contextual, which means it will work seamlessly in voice mode or touch screen mode without forcing people to start over or lose their place within a command sequence. Last, Bixby will include cognitive tolerance, or the ability to "understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge." The Galaxy S8 and S8+ each include a dedicated Bixby button. Owners can press the Bixby button and issue the command they want without first unlocking the phone. Samsung says a small subset of apps on the Galaxy S8 are Bixby-enabeld at launch, though it expects to add more over time. The company will release an SDK so third-party developers can add Bixby functionality to their own apps.

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Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 30, 2017, 11:58 AM

The S8 is Samsung's flagship phone for 2017, and it combines absolutely every idea Samsung has ever come up with for a high-end phone, plus a couple of new ones. From the extra-tall curved display to the iris scanner, to a new voice assistant, Samsung is throwing down the gauntlet. It aims to be a sexy, no-compromise monster. How well does it deliver? We find out in our hands-on. Read on.

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Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ Go for Broke

Mar 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 4:00 PM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy S8 and S8+, its flagship smartphones for 2017. The phones marry aluminum frames to curved glass panels as they adopt what Samsung calls its Infinity Display. The Infinity Display moves from the industry standard 16:9 aspect ratio to a taller 18.5:9 ratio with 2,960 by 1,440 pixels. The devices share nearly all features other than size and battery capacity. Where the S8 has a 5.8-inch display and 3,000mAh battery, the S8+ boasts a massive 6.2-inch screen and 3,500mAh battery. The phones see Samsung drop the physical home button that has long adorned the front of its handsets in favor of on-screen controls and a virtual home button that's unmarked in the area below the screen. This allowed Samsung to reduce bezels along the top, sides, and bottom edges, meaning the front is 83% display. Samsung says the displays are mobile HDR certified and offer more room for multitasking. Core features include Snapdragon 835 processors with 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, and support for memory cards. The phones are rated IP68 for protection against water and dust. They include rear-mounted fingerprint readers, front-mounted iris scanners, as well as wireless and rapid charging. The main camera has a 12-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization and an aperture of f/1.7. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and also an aperture of f/1.7 with autofocus and face detection. Ports include USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ run Android 7 Nougat with Samsung's new Bixby voice-enabled user interface, as well as improved Samsung Health, Samsung Connect, and Samsung Knox apps. The U.S. version will come in black, silver, or purple. The phone is expected to go on sale next month. Pricing will be set by carriers.


Samsung Galaxy S8 to Include 'Bixby' Voice-Based User Interface

Mar 20, 2017, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 20, 2017, 9:29 AM

Samsung today announced Bixby, a new voice-based user interface that will mark its debut on the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Samsung said it developed Bixby in order to minimize friction between the user and the phone in terms of how voice commands are issued and understood. Samsung calls Bixby a user interface that relies on artificial intelligence. it is not a personal assistant, per se, though it includes those functions. Samsung adapted Bixby's ability to listen and understand commands based on how people speak, rather than force people to issue specific commands (such as "Hey, Bixby") to get the interface working. Samsung is targeting a handful of core behaviors with Bixby. For example, it is embracing something it calls "completeness" — meaning if an app is Bixby enabled, Bixby will be able to interact with nearly every task that app is capable of completing. Bixby is contextual, which means it will work seamlessly in voice mode or touch screen mode without forcing people to start over or lose their place within a command sequence. Last, Bixby will include cognitive tolerance, or the ability to "understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge." The Galaxy S8, which Samsung plans to announce at a March 29 event in New York City, will feature a dedicated Bixby button, something Samsung says will reduce friction in calling upon Bixby for help. Galaxy S8 owners will be able to press the Bixby button and issue the command they want without first unlocking the phone. Samsung says a small subset of apps on the Galaxy S8 will be Bixby-enabeld at launch, though it expects to add more over time. Further, the company will release an SDK so third-party developers can add Bixby functionality to their own apps. Samsung intends to push Bixby across most of its products tline, including tablets, PCs, and even appliances.


FCC Reveals Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Edge

Mar 9, 2017, 3:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC recently published a few details about two unreleased Samsung phones that are likely the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 edge. The FCC approved the SM-G950 (S8) and SM-G955 (S8 edge) and confirmed some features shared by the handsets. For example, the phones include wide support for U.S. 4G networks, including LTE Bands 29, 30, and 66, which are among the newest used by AT&T and T-Mobile. The FCC shows two versions of the phones so far, one with CDMA and one without. The CDMA variant is compatible with the networks operated by Sprint and Verizon Wireless, but also includes LTE support for AT&T and T-Mobile. The FCC confirmed additional radios, including NFC, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Photos and detailed specifications of the phones remain unknown. Samsung plans to unveil the Galaxy S8 and S8 edge at an event in New York City scheduled for March 29.


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