Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – April 22, 2017

A vocal review of the Galaxy S8 (so you don’t have to read our 5400 word review), Nikon drops the price of 4K DSLRs, and a new HTC is on the way. This is The Wrap.


Starting the Wrap off this week is what the main week’s story was for every technology journalist around the world: a review of the Galaxy S8.

Yes, the reviews are out, and based on what we’re tracking on the Pickr tracking system, everyone seems to think pretty much the same thing: Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is a hit, and will impress customers alike.

You can read our five-thousand word review, but if you just want to gloss over the specifics, we’ll do that here, because it’s clear from this evolution of Samsung’s curved design that the company has mostly nailed it, and that’s a great feeling.

Samsung has been dabbling in the whole curved screen longer than anyone else, and in the Galaxy S8, the design really comes together with a metal frame that just fits beautifully in-line with the glass on each side, with the whole thing feeling like one piece of glass that somehow strangely has electronics in. It’s easily the nicest feeling phone we’ve held, and the more we hold it, the more we like it.

It’s like having the internet in the palm of your hand, and the screen melts away into your grip.

Granted, the mostly glass design can be slippery, but given what’s inside, you’ll keep your mitts on it as often as you can.

Under the guise of glass and metal, Australian Samsung owners will see the Samsung-made Exynos 8895 processor inside, different from what American buyers will find in the US editions with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor inside. They should be similar, though with out high-powered 4G networks, staying on the Exynos has boasted solid results, with very very very fast 4G speeds that can theoretically reach 1 gigabit connections if you’re in the right place, and a battery life supporting roughly a day, though if you switch the phone into a special battery saving mode, we found two were possible.

For us, the biggest deal about the Galaxy S8 is just how complete the phone feels, with a camera that may not have seen a tremendous amount of upgrades but still works well, a design that works, an up-to-date set of connections, and even a pair of earphones made by AKG that actually sound pretty bloody good.

There’s also support of an entire ecosystem of gadgets here that the Samsung S8 will work with, including wireless charging, VR headsets, and the DeX desktop conversion device that basically turns your phone into a desktop computer, plus the ability to upgrade the memory inside the phone with microSD cards.

In essence, it’s about as perfect an Android phone gets, though it does come with something it doesn’t need: a virtual assistant made by Samsung.

Called Bixby, it’s a neat idea and you even get a physical button to call Samsung’s version of Siri up, but it’s clear Bixby is by no means ready, and it really doesn’t do anything.

Honestly, we gave the Galaxy S8 4.75 stars, and if Bixby wasn’t there, or if it did something, or if you could even remap and change that Bixby button to do something else, we’d probably have given it the full five stars, because it’s just that good a phone.

But Bixby isn’t ready, and while you can get over this minor issue, it does let down our score just a fraction.

And yet it’s amongst the best news of the week, and when the Galaxy S8 makes its way to store shelves on April 28, other phone makers are going to have problems, because the S8 is clearly a big deal.

HTC seems to be aware of that, too, because at the end of the week, the company that only recently released a flagship, the U Ultra, announced that something else would be coming in May.

We don’t know much about the phone, but there’s definitely something different on the way, with a frame that will allow you to squeeze the phone as a unique way of controlling it.

As interesting as that is, our only hope is that HTC doesn’t end up releasing four or five flagships this year. If that’s really a strategy, you’d hate to be a buyer of HTC phones, finding out that there’s a new phone on the way just weeks after grabbing what was called the “new phone” then.

We’ll find out what the new HTC is on May 16, and if you’re keen on the HTC U Ultra right now, it’s hard not to say “wait”, because with an announcement this close, your best bet is to hold off for the moment.

With cameras, the story is a little different, and while these get updated on a semi regular basis, it’s usually a few new ones per year in the mid-range to high-end part of the market, and that’s really for everyone.

Nikon this week has signalled a new camera is on the way, and it looks like it could be an interesting update for people, with the D7500 bringing 4K video to enthusiast-level interchangeable lens cameras.

For this camera, Nikon is using its popular APS-C format, so it’s not “pro level”, but with a sensor not too distinct from its D500, a 51 point auto-focus system, and a colour sensor from that bigger camera, it’s hard not to view the D7500 as sort of like the beginner’s guide to pro-level cameras.

And it will capture 4K video, something DSLRs below the $2500 mark don’t often see.

The catch is the price, because while Nikon doesn’t set locally suggested pricing, the $2200 body only price locally isn’t far off from the three grand ($3000) body-only price of its superior sibling, the D500.

If you can somehow get that camera for a little less, we’d probably nab it, otherwise wait for the review of the new D7500 and see if it’s worthwhile.


Join us next week for more news and hopefully a review where we wrap up the week in technology news as fast we possibly can, and throw in an opinion or two. Until then, have a great week.

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