The most important and, arguably, the best Android smartphone right now is available in stores starting today in select markets.

Samsung announced that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are shipping today in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and South Korea. More markets will get the devices “in the weeks ahead,” but Samsung offered no specifics about it.

In the above countries, you can walk into a store and buy your own Galaxy S8 today. In many other places from around the world, you can currently pre-order one. So here’s what you need to know about it!

1. Check out the review

My colleagues Nirave and Josh did a wonderful job breaking down all the important things you should know about the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. Watch the video below or read our in-depth take on the Galaxy S8 here.

2. The competitors

Your money is important, so why not take a look at what other devices you can get in the same range as the Galaxy S8? The LG G6 is probably the best alternative, as it offers a similar large screen in a compact build. Sony’s latest premium smartphones offer the same Snapdragon 835 processor. If you’re living in one of the countries where Xiaomi is selling devices (or willing to brave an import), you could also wait for the Mi 6 to be released – after all, it’s only half the cost of the Galaxy S8, with similar specs. And HTC is gearing up to launch their own 2017 flagship on May 16.

Plus, here’s a specs-based comparison between the Galaxy S8/Plus and their competitors.

3. Is it worth an upgrade?

You’re not missing a ton if you have a Galaxy S7/Edge and decide to wait out for another year. That said there are some aspects that makes the Galaxy 8 very tempting.

You could also wait for the Galaxy Note 8…

4. How is it better than the iPhone?

As Android fans, and mobile tech experts, we think the Galaxy S8 beats the latest iPhone in more than one way. Read our full comparison here or watch the video below.

5. Availability

Here’s a roundup of all the major places you can buy a Galaxy S8 from, along with key details like price, plans, and freebies. Expect to pay around $700 for the Galaxy S8 and add an extra $100 for the large-screened Galaxy S8 Plus.

6. The colors

In the US, at this moment, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus is available in black, silver, and a light purple called Orchid Gray. Here’s a video comparison to help you make an idea, and also read our impressions.

Note that color availability might differ depending on where you buy the device from. And Samsung said that more colors will be released in the future – and in other markets – but who has time to wait?

7. The screen

Dat screen, right? However, the beautiful curved displays of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus raise some questions. First off, their size can be deceptive – as Kris explained here, the extra tall format of the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus (and the LG G6) means we need to rethink what “big phones” mean. Don’t let that 6.2-inch screen size scare you!

The 18.5:9 display might cause some nuisances, because most video and app content out there is designed for “shorter” 16:9 screens. Expects some pillar-boxing.

By default, the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus comes with its Quad HD+ screen set to Full HD+. But it’s super easy to change it.

Finally, there’s been some chatter about a mysterious red tint on the displays of some Galaxy S8 units. Samsung is apparently working on a patch to fix it, but there’s always the option to request a refund.

8. New controls

Goodbye, home button! Samsung has brought the Galaxy S8 in line with most other Android smartphones, meaning you will control the phone with soft keys. The fingerprint button has also been relocated to the back, but more about that below.

9. Security

You can unlock the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus with a password, a PIN, a pattern, but also with your fingerprint, your face, or even your iris! We really do live in the future. However, know that only two of the biometric security features of the S8 are truly secure: the iris and the fingerprint sensor. The face unlock can be easily deceived.

10. Bixby?

Meet your new and indispensable virtual assistant, Bixby! Oh wait, no – Bixby is available on the Galaxy S8, but it’s quite dispensable for now. That’s because it’s most important feature – voice controls – is only available at launch in South Korea. The dedicated button on the side brings up a Google Now-like collection of more or less useful information. Too bad Samsung decided to block any attempts to remap the button to other apps.

 

11. Is it safe?

We can’t skirt around this issue. After dozens of fire incidents forced Samsung to recall the Galaxy Note 7, some customers are wondering if the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are actually safe. And rightly so; no one wants a potential dangerous device and no one really likes to go through the hassle of a recall.

The answer, as far as anyone can tell, is yes, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are safe – we have no reason to think otherwise. Samsung was vocal about they improved the safety of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, and given the huge cost of the Note 7 recall, we’re inclined to believe them.


Stay tuned for more!

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
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