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Samsung Galaxy S8 tidbits: Pre-order deals, unlocked model, camera smudges, Google Assistant, Bluetooth 5.0, and more

Yesterday Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ impressed us in a lot of ways, but when so much information hits at one time, it’s easy to miss some of the smaller details. So, let’s take a look at some of the bits of information you might have missed regarding Samsung’s latest devices.

Pre-order deals

In case you missed it, today is pre-order day for the Galaxy S8. All major carriers and many retail outlets already have the phones up for order ahead of the April 21st release. In an effort to get you to buy from one and not the other, most outlets have their own set of deals to go with your order.

Regardless of where you buy, Samsung will throw in its updated Gear VR headset with its controller — a $129 value. The company is also including the option to add $99 to the price to score a pair of premium headphones by AKG (on-ear, not earbuds like the included ones), as well as a 256GB microSD card.

Then, there are carrier deals. Most are offering up the same Gear VR bundle or $99 add-on, but Sprint is also cutting $30 off the price for anyone who pre-orders.

Lastly, there’s the best deal available, via Best Buy. The retailer will be offering most major carrier variants of the two phones, but at significantly lower prices. If you’re looking to get the standard S8, Best Buy will cut the price by $50 on the spot (including with monthly financing). That brings the price down to $699 on AT&T and Sprint, and $669 on Verizon. If you’re considering the S8+, Best Buy is chopping off $100. That’s $715 on Verizon and $750 on AT&T and Sprint.

Unlocked units are coming, in May…

If you have your heart set on an unlocked Galaxy S8, you’re in luck, sort of. Samsung has confirmed (via CNET) that the company will indeed be offering an unlocked version of the S8 and S8+, and just like the unlocked S7, they’ll be compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks.

Unfortunately, those units won’t be available until May 9th. If you’re planning to pay full price anyway, it’s probably worth waiting since carrier unlocked phones are pretty awesome…

Battery life actually looks pretty decent

Without a doubt the biggest concern surrounding the Galaxy S8 and S8+ is battery life. Both phones pack respectable battery sizes at 3,000 mAh and 3,500 mAh respectively, but that’s on phones with 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch displays. Traditionally, phones with displays that large have much bigger batteries (see Mate 9 with 5.9-inch and 4,000 mAh).

However, according to Samsung’s own estimates, battery life won’t be much different from the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. SamMobile put together an excellent comparison looking at the battery stats side-by-side, and while the S8 series loses in some areas, it’s on par for the most part.

Samsung has a new, very satisfying launcher

As we covered in another article yesterday, Samsung’s new launcher on the Galaxy S8 family is like a really weird version of Google’s Pixel launcher, and in just a few minutes I totally fell in love with it. It’s clean, easy to use, and it’s a smart way to hide the app drawer from plain sight.

“Gigabit” speeds on T-Mobile LTE

T-Mobile is of course carrying the Galaxy S8, and it’s very proud to say that the phone is one of the first capable of achieving “gigabit-class” speeds on its network. As you can see in the video below, the S8 peaks with speeds as high as 950mbps, just shy of gigabit speeds. Unfortunately, the average users won’t really be able to take advantage of this yet.

The S8 hit these speeds in T-Mobile’s testing, but even in the heart of T-Mobile coverage, you certainly won’t see the same results. It is great to see, though, that the phone is capable of such astounding speeds, as we’ll eventually see those in the real world.

Yes, Google Assistant works on the S8

One of Samsung’s big announcements with the Galaxy S8 is Bixby, its new digital assistant. As good as it does look, this is still Android, which means many users will want to tap into “the power of Google” with Google Now and Google Assistant. While the demo units we played with didn’t have Google accounts running to test them out fully, we were able to confirm that, yes, Google Assistant is available out of the box on the phone. Simply long-press the home button and you’ll be greeted with the Assistant, just like on any other Android phone.

Samsung knows you’ll use the camera as a fingerprint sensor by mistake, so it built an alert to clean it

One of the biggest items of controversy on the Galaxy S8 is the location of the fingerprint sensor. There’s nothing wrong with it being on the back, but by placing the sensor so high on the phone and so close to the camera sensor, Samsung is just begging for frustrated users — and it knows it.

As spotted by Android Central, the Galaxy S8’s camera app can actually recognize when there’s a smudge on the camera sensor from when you mistakenly put your finger there and will tell you to clean it off. It won’t show up every time, but enough to where you’ll never forget to keep the lens clean. It will also only occur after you’ve set up the fingerprint sensor. Coincidence? I think not…

This is the first phone with Bluetooth 5.0

The Galaxy S8 has a few firsts for Samsung, but it also has a couple for the industry as a whole. For one thing, it’s the first mass-produced device with the Snapdragon 835. It’s also the first device with Bluetooth 5.0, and that’s awesome for a few reasons. It has better range, improved speeds, and wider device support. One of the features it also includes is support for streaming to two audio devices at once.

Apps like YouTube can be adjusted to fit the funky aspect ratio

The last little detail we picked up from spending time with the S8 in person is its special capabilities with video playback. The phone has a funky 18.5:9 aspect ratio, and apps aren’t always going to play nice with that. YouTube, for instance, has black bars on either side of the video. However, Samsung has a quick fix for this with a button that can adjust the size of the video to fit the display entirely. It’s a nice feature to have for sure.

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Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

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