Live from Samsung’s Galaxy S8 press conference

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Today’s the main event for Samsung. It’s been well over a year since the company unveiled its last flagship and, well, a lot has happened to the company in the interim. After several months of recalls and some bizarre executive scandals, this is the moment where the company needs to dust itself off and show the world what helped make it such a smartphone powerhouse in the first place.

From the looks of the leaks over the past few months, there’s not likely to be much in the way of surprises — at least so far as the Galaxy S8 and (its rumored bigger sibling) the Galaxy S8+ are concerned. Since Mobile World Congress in February, we’ve seen leaked shots of the handset from all angles, spec sheets and some quick videos.

The handset looks to take the company a step closer to its dream of edge to edge displays, even going so far as ditching the physical home button in the process. And the company has already offered up a fair bit of information on its forthcoming Bixby smart assistant, which enters a crowded market with a few cool tricks.

But Samsung’s never been one to focus on a single product. The company likely has plenty more up its sleeve at today’s event, particularly given how much good will it’s looking to engender among a wary public that’s gotten used to hearing its name over pre-boarding announcements.

We’ll be following along live right here, starting at 8AM on the West Coast and 11AM out east. Stay tuned.

Brian Heater March 29, 20179:07 am

And that’s all she wrote. Stay tuned for our full review of the new phone. Thanks for tuning in!

Brian Heater March 29, 20179:06 am

Samsung staff members are standing up now with S8 units for demo. Of course, we’ve already spent some time with the device. You can read all about it here: https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/29/samsung-galaxy-s8-reveal/ It’s a compelling new phone from the company, one that doesn’t hold back on new features, while not pushing the boundaries on things like battery life for obvious reasons. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20179:06 am

Samsung staff members are standing up now with S8 units for demo. Of course, we’ve already spent some time with the device. You can read all about it here: https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/29/samsung-galaxy-s8-reveal/ It’s a compelling new phone from the company, one that doesn’t hold back on new features, while not pushing the boundaries on things like battery life for obvious reasons. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20179:03 am

“Do What You Can” is the new strangely humbling tagline for the company. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20179:02 am

And now (and I’m not making this up) there’s a video of an ostrich running through the savannah in a Gear VR headset to the tune of Elton John’s “Rocketman.”

Brian Heater March 29, 20179:01 am

And it’s S8 video time. So, some details — date (April 21), but no pricing. That will be up to carriers to decide. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20179:01 am

Looks like we’re wrapping up. DJ Koh is back onstage, with a bit more humbleness. And just as he was wrapping things up — a brief screen error. Because it wouldn’t be a Samsung event without a technical difficulty or two. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20179:00 am

I will say that it’s one of the best demos I had of a device in this strange hybrid category. Plugging the S8 into the desktop turns the Android experience into a more full desktop experience augmented by a curved monitor and a bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Even so, it’s hard to image too many real world case uses for a product like this — as many other fail hybrid devices and concepts have shown us in the past. Pour one out for the dearly departed Palm Foleo. 

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20179:00 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:59 am

The crowd is disproportionately excited about this one.  

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:56 am

The company is embracing the long standing niche dream of powering a desktop with a phone. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:55 am

And now it’s time for the weirdest announcement of the show. Samsung DeX. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:55 am

Everyone is holding up their new 360 camera, like the world’s dorkiest rock concert. Look for about eight million versions of this moment coming to a YouTube tech channel near you. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:55 am

“At Samsung, we believe that 360 is the future of storytelling.”

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:54 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:52 am

And Samsung’s going all Oprah, handing out units to the press.

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:51 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:51 am

We’re getting a livestreaming demo. A bit of a delay and the content certainly doesn’t look like 2K, but it’s a pretty impressive live 360 demo for what will likely be a relatively inexpensive camera. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:50 am

The new camera can shoot in 4K and can livestream in 2K. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:50 am

The company’s Gear 360 VR camera is getting what looks like a pretty substantial update, however. It’s got a new form factor that moves the battery down to the larger grip. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:50 am

The company’s Gear 360 VR camera is getting what looks like a pretty substantial update, however. It’s got a new form factor that moves the battery down to the larger grip. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:48 am

Otherwise, it seems like the headset remains unchanged. 

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:48 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:48 am

Samsung is also working with content providers like Buzzfeed to bring new video content to its VR ecoystem. 

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:48 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:47 am

Oculus is also working with the company to develop apps for the headset that take advantage of the new motion controller. 

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:47 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:47 am

The company is adding a motion-sensing controller to the headset. We saw the peripheral announced back at MWC. The company has created it in tandem with Oculus (like the headset itself). 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:46 am

And it’s accessory time. Looks like we’re getting a peak of the new Gear VR offering. 

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:45 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:45 am

Those headphones arrive as a result of the company’s recent acquisition of Harman. And, of course, it means that the S8 and S8+ have a headphone jack. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:44 am

The S8 is arriving on the 21. And the handset will ship with AKG headphones (a $99 value according to the company).

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:44 am

All right, time for launch info!

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:43 am

The company is also launching a Connected Home Router as part of that play. A Bixby-enabled Echo-competitor can’t be too far behind. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:42 am

The company has created Connect, an app that finally begins drawing together the company’s myriad connected devices and appliances in an attempt to create a cohesive ecosystem. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:42 am

Bixby’s real play, however, is the connected home. This is the beginning of the company’s play at things like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home.

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:41 am

Bixby will also be heavily integrated with third-party apps like Google Music. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:41 am

Bixby’s Home feature is a pretty standard notification center, though it utilizes users’ habit to offer up the most relevant info via cards — things like weather, traffic, news, etc. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:41 am

Bixby’s real killer feature in this early stage, however, is actually image related. The company has been working with third-party developers to offer up image search with the camera. Users can take a photo of something and Bixby will go to work looking for it, similar to technology Amazon has offered in the past  — and the forthcoming bane of brick and mortar shops’ collective existence. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:37 am

Bixby will prompt the user when it needs more contextual information beyond what’s already offered in the app, serving up different choices related to a command. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:36 am

“Bixby understands context. It know what’s happening on your screen, which allows you to seamlessly move from voice to text.

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:36 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:36 am

Remember, the company acquired Viv last year to build its own Siri competitor.

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:35 am

All right, now it’s time to talk Bixby, the real star of these new handsets. 

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:35 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:35 am

“Technology should make your life easier.” Maybe let’s work on that press conference WiFi first, Samsung. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:34 am

Samsung is bringing back iris scanning from the Note. And has moved the fingerprint scanner to the rear. There’s also face scanning, which unlocks the phone with a quick snap of the user’s face.

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:34 am

And just like that, the company has moved from safety to security. Really blowing past the Note 7.

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:33 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:33 am

The processor, naturally, has been bumped. This time out, it’s 10nm. The company is referring to it as “our” processor, seemingly to imply that it was created in house, though keep in mind that the company worked with Qualcomm on the new Snapdragon chips.

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:27 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:27 am

The processor, naturally, has been bumped. This time out, it’s 10nm. The company is referring to it as “our” processor, seemingly to imply that it was created in house, though keep in mind that the copany worked with Qualcomm on the new Snapdragon chips.

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:26 am

Again, the handset is water and dustproof, rated and IP68.

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:25 am

The front-facing camera, on the other hand, has been bumped up to 8MP. Yes, for better selfies. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:25 am

The rear-camera is largely the same as the last generation, but the company has added some software enhancements, like multiframe processing for more photo options.

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:24 am

The device has the blessing of the UHD alliance, promising video closer to what publishers intended. The home button, meanwhile, isn’t gone entire. it’s just moved beneath the display, still responding to pressure. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:24 am

And the S8 and S8+ are surprisingly comfortable in hand, in spite of their enormous screen size. Samsung’s gotten quite good as jamming a lot of screen into limited real estate. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:22 am

And the S8 and S8+ are surprisingly comfortable in hand, in spite of their enormous screen size. Samsung’s gotten quite good as jamming a lot of screen into limited real estate. 

Bryce Durbin March 29, 20178:21 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:21 am

We got some hands on time with the device, and indeed, the company has gone a ways toward advancing the technology it introduced in the Edge. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:18 am

Seems like a pretty big stretch to suggest that the S8 is a “new kind of smartphone.” Certainly this isn’t the kind of jump we saw between the flip phone and touchscreen phone. Still, it’s pretty nice. 

Bryce Durbin March 29, 20178:17 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:17 am

Again, the company is looking back through the evolution of the smartphone through the decades, from Zack Morris phones, to flip phones to touchscreen devices. “And then time just stopped.”

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:16 am

“The Galaxy S8 will fundamentally change the way you interact with your phone.”

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:16 am

Now it’s time for SVP Justin Denison to dive a bit deeper into the device. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:16 am

And Samsung just revealed the device in all of its glory on the stage. It’s pretty much exactly what the leaks suggest. Really slick, with nearly edge to edge displays. And yes, the physical home button is gone from the front of the device. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:15 am

Video time. Actually, it’s a video of a video on a phone with a whole bunch of bezel. What will we do? Thankfully, it’s the S8 to the rescue with its bezel free phone. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:13 am

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to your phone, unboxed.” 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:13 am

And the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are finally official after much preamble. “Today it is my great pleasure to unveil a phone that will take you beyond the limits of what you have known before and bring you closer to the things that you love.”

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:12 am

Koh is discussing the company’s partnership with Google — likely a bit of a defensive stance given the fact that it’s eschewing Assistant for Bixby. 

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:11 am

Stefan Etienne March 29, 20178:10 am

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:10 am

Also a brief mention of the camera, but it’s clear the company is going to be focusing big time on Bixby, Samsung’s new smart assistant.

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:09 am

Koh is discussing the new “infinity display,” which mostly removes the bezels from the new handset and seems to be notably lacking a physical home button.

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:09 am

Koh has run down the history of the company’s phone and given its briefest safety update yet, moving right along to the promise of a “world without boundaries” (read: bezels).

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:08 am

Sorry about that. A bit of a WiFi hiccup, but we seem to be back.

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:08 am

“As you all know, it’s been a challenging year for Samsung…And today we are here to celebrate a new milestone. Not just a great device, but a new way to experience the world.”

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:04 am

“It’s great to be here in New York City and thank you to everyone joining us in London.”

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:03 am

DJ Koh is taking the stage to a very enthusiastic crowd. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:01 am

Second video is full on nostalgia. “Across the Universe” cover and small children playing, with parents capturing everything on Samsung devices. Consider your heart strings plucked. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:01 am

The crowd’s already going nuts. Samsung loves packing these things full of fans. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:00 am

Lights are down and some sort of crazy drumbeat is playing. The company’s show a bit of a retrospective of past devices. “This was a phone.”

Brian Heater March 29, 20178:00 am

All right, here we go!

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:59 am

“Ladies and gentlemen, the show is about to begin. Please take your seats.”

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:59 am

T-Minus two minutes — assuming, of course, that we don’t run into the same sort of technical difficulties as Barcelona. At the very least, at least there’s AC in here. Too early for an open bar, though (I’m told).

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:56 am

Also, better WiFi. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:54 am

Oh, and you can follow along right here: http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/events/unpacked/ Pop on a Gear VR and it will be just like being here in person, only with more elbow room. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:52 am

Veanne and Stefan will be helping out on the photo front, by the way. We’ve managed to elbow our way up close, with a good view, assuming our friends at Mashable sit down and stop livestreaming the lead up before the show starts. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:51 am

At the very least, the company seems to have nipped the whole protest thing in the bud by acknowledging earlier this week that it’s currently looking into refurbishing the Note 7. MWC’s big press conference was hit by a protester, who unfurled a banner in front of the stage a few minutes in, protesting the company’s waste policies. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:49 am

And, of course, we’ll likely kick things off with a final apology and highlighting of the company’s newly stringent safety policies. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:49 am

But the company always has a few surprises up its sleeve. Some leaks have pointed to a new version of Gear VR, which wouldn’t be a surprise, given the fact that the last model was designed specifically with the Note 7 in mind. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:48 am

Don’t expect too much in the way of surprises, so far as the Galaxy S8 is concerned. Seems like we’ve already seen the phone from every angle since the company announced its announcement back in February at MWC. 

Brian Heater March 29, 20177:44 am

And we’re in. Much, much larger venue than the last couple of Samsung events. We’re at the ultra-classy Lincoln Center in Manhattan. They usually have operas here — perfect for the dramatic events of the last several months.