Early this morning, we sat bleary-eyed in a giant theatre in New York City to meet the Samsung Galaxy S8. This is how it all went down.
1:00AM: HI EVERYONE. Oh, god. I'm so tired. I was up until 4AM. (It's 10AM here in New York now, if you're interested. I got four hours of sleep. I am the walking dead.)
We're T-minus one hour until Samsung kicks off Unpacked 2017 in New York City, an event where it promises to "unbox your phone" and show the world a brand new device. Is it the Galaxy S8? Of course it's the Galaxy S8.
Less than 24 hours from now, Samsung will reveal the Galaxy S8 to the world at its Unpacked event in New York. We'll be live blogging from the event, but you should also watch along with the live stream — so here's where to find it.
1:05AM: And a reminder, we already know all about Bixby, Samsung's interactive voice agent and what it wants to be the future of AI across its entire suite of 'net-connected devices from the Galaxy S8 onwards.
As we hurtle towards the imminent launch of Samsung's not-really-very-secret-any-more Galaxy S8 at full speed, we're already learning more and more about one of the phone's most important features. Bixby, a new voice-controlled assistant that will replicate just about any command you could tap in with your fingers.
1:10AM: Rumours? Yeah, we've had a few. In fact, we've had more than a few. We've had a whole cascade. Read all about them here.
1:15AM: We're waiting in the line for Samsung to open the doors and let us into the Lincoln Center to find our seats and watch the unveiling. It's cold. It's so cold. My hands are blue. Send help. Call the marines.
1:20AM: We're inside! It's very slightly less freezing than outside here in the theatre. Now all I need is a seat so I can stop one-handed typing on my laptop.
1:40AM: OK, so, we're finally seated, with 20 minutes until kick-off. It's very... blue in here. There's a catwalk, too.
Why is there a catwalk?
2:00AM: OK, we're off! Wi-Fi died so I'm on my phone. Apologies for any typos. It's a Samsung, by the way.
We're just being treated to a lovely intro video showing lovely people having a good time, holding a distinctive new phone...
Samsung boss DJ Koh is up on stage, talking about Samsung's difficult year.
2:10AM: So, it's no surprise that Samsung is here to introduce the Galaxy S8. Here it is:
The brand new Samsung Galaxy S8, just introduced to the world at Unpacked in New York, is Samsung's best phone ever. It's the most powerful, with an innovative screen and a design that's incredibly refined. It has Bixby, a voice agent that wants to be just as useful and integral to your phone as touch already is. It has a new motion-sensitive Gear VR headset and works with a new high-resolution Gear 360 camera.
At the same time, there's no one standout feature or gimmick with the new phone from the world's largest phone maker that makes you go wow — after travelling the rocky road paved by the Galaxy Note7, Samsung is concentrating on getting the basics right with the S8 and larger S8+.
Want to know how much it costs and when you can get hold of it in Australia? From $1199, and from April 28:
The Samsung Galaxy S8 has been introduced to the world, along with the supersized Galaxy S8+. Want one? Here's exactly how much you'll pay, and when you can get a hold of it, and what you get as an incentive to pre-order early.
2:15AM: The wi-fi here is awful, guys. But Samsung Electronics America's boss is on stage introducing the Galaxy S8 to the world. At the moment, he's talking about the phone's massive infinity display: with rounded corners, curved edges and a new screen ratio of 18.5:9.
More screen means more room for multi-tasking, he says. The phone's screen is also HDR Premium certified, so Netflix and Amazon Prime Video content will be delivered to your mobile with HDR support — as long as you're in an area with fast enough 'net to stream it, of course...
2:25AM: We're on to the Galaxy S8's camera. It's largely the same as the Galaxy S7, but has new multi-frame processing tech that analyses the best part of different photos in a burst and stitches them into one that's the best of the lot.
The front camera is the biggest improvement since the last generation, though, with an 8-megapixel sensor and autofocus, rather than the fixed-focus lenses that most competitors use.
2:30AM: The fingerprint sensor has moved to the back of the phone, and it's joined by both face unlocking and an iris scanner for three different levels of biometric security. That's pretty cool — having redundancy in these things is important.
2:35AM: Samsung is now talking about how we use our phones these days — we tap at them a lot, to type and navigate through menus. Samsung has something different, though: "an innovation that will completely change the way you use your mobile phone." Meet Bixby.
Bixby is Samsung's voice agent. an AI, or assistant, or bot, or whatever you want to call it, that the company wants to work alongside touch input on your smartphone and be every bit as seamless as typing already is. It has big aspirations for its virtual assistant, and its debut on the Galaxy S8 is only the start.
2:40AM: If you're thinking of buying the Galaxy S8 on a plan — and, let's be honest, not too many of us have $1199 or $1349 spare to drop on a new phone outright — here's our list of all Australia's major telcos' plan pricing for the S8 and larger S8+.
Looking for a complete list of Australian mobile carriers' pricing for the Galaxy S8? Well, you've come to the right place.
2:45AM: Here's a great extra included with the Galaxy S8: a bundled pair of "top-of-the-line" in-ear headphones from AKG. Samsung recently purchased Harman, the parent company of AKG and a bunch of high-end audio brands, so it looks like that partnership is paying off.
2:50AM: Launching alongside the Galaxy S8 is an updated version of the Gear VR, which also includes a motion-sensitive wireless controller. It's long, long overdue — and it's awesome. We've tried it out and it actually makes gaming on the mobile VR headset enjoyable for more than a couple of minutes at a time.
Samsung's Gear VR has always been one of the most accessible and more popular platforms for virtual reality, but it's been hampered by a lack of any reasonable input method for too long. Until now. Launching alongside the new Galaxy S8 and S8+, Samsung's refreshed Gear VR includes a wireless, motion-sensitive controller with a trigger that seems to be screaming out for a virtual reality reimagining of Time Crisis or Point Blank.
2:55AM: An updated version of the Gear 360, too, is a significant improvement from the original. It shoots 4K video and can also live broadcast to Facebook Live or YouTube. Samsung gave one out to everyone in the audience, too, so we'll have some 360 footage from it up on our Facebook page very soon.
Like regular action cameras, 360-degree video is slowly coming to life around the world. The second iteration of the Gear 360 supports a significantly higher video resolution than the original, and when paired with a recent Samsung smartphone it can live broadcast 360-degree video to Facebook and YouTube.
3:00AM: Oh, and this is cool. The DeX Station accessory is a dock for your Galaxy S8 that converts it into a full desktop PC experience, complete with Microsoft Office and Adobe apps.
Samsung's brand new Galaxy S8 is a very powerful smartphone. It's powerful enough that Samsung thinks it can replace your PC — especially if you don't have incredibly demanding tasks to run. With Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom support, the Galaxy S8 and DeX could be the ultimate solution for any corporate road warriors out there.
And that's a wrap! We just saw an awesome ad for the Gear VR that we're going to have on telly here in Australia. We're now heading off to get our hands on the Galaxy S8. Stay tuned for our hands on! Thanks for tuning in.