Galaxy S8: More screen and elegance, but a hefty price tag NEW YORK, N.Y. – Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 phone is stunning. But its $100 price hike is hard to swallow.That’s how much extra you’ll shell out for the S8, which starts shipping Friday for about $750 — $100 more than the iPhone 7 and last year’s Galaxy S7 when it launched. A larger sibling, the S8 Plus, goes for about $850.True, the S8 phones come with several refinements that, totalled up, are indeed worth more than $100. But it’s hard to recommend an all-frills phone when many cheaper phones do just fine. The S8 is for those who want elegance — and are willing to pay for it.SCREENS TO THE EDGESAfter spontaneous fires that forced the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 , Samsung is playing it safe on the battery and subjecting the S8 to tighter inspections.Instead, it’s pushing the boundaries — so to speak — on the phone’s display. Samsung minimized the phone frame and got rid of a physical home button to free up space for an “infinity display,” a screen that seems to flow right into the phone’s curved left and right sides.The 5.8-inch S8 and the 6.2-inch S8 Plus both have nearly 15 per cent more display space than last year’s comparable models. But the phones themselves aren’t wider. In fact, the phones feel more comfortable thanks to sides that curve around to the back; last year’s curved S7 Edge model feels boxy by comparison.The bigger screen fits more lines of text, but doesn’t necessarily make video more immersive. While video on YouTube and Facebook gets automatically adjusted to fill the space, Netflix and Hulu movies just leave wasted black space on all four sides. You can tinker with that manually — but for $100, you shouldn’t have to.ALL ABOUT THE BATTERYThe S8 and S8 Plus have more physical space inside, but Samsung used it to give the battery more breathing room while keeping its capacity roughly the same as last year.Though a larger display drains the battery faster, my tests of streaming video found that the new phones consumed power more slowly than last year’s models. And even with constant use — taking photos, watching video and playing music and podcasts — the new phones still made it to bedtime with power to spare. Samsung credits software and chip improvements.UNLOCKING THE PHONESLike the doomed Note 7, the S8 has an iris scanner to let you unlock the phone by looking at it — at least in theory. But you have to swipe the screen first and position it from your face at just the right distance.I’m sure Samsung, a South Korean company, meant no offence, yet I was ticked off when the phone instructed me, an Asian-American, to “open eyes fully.” Oh, and the scanner doesn’t work if you’re wearing glasses.The fingerprint scanner was faster and more convenient for unlocking the phone. But you have to be careful not to smudge the adjacent camera lens by mistake now that the scanner has been moved to the back.FIRE THE ASSISTANTSamsung is introducing a digital assistant called Bixby, but voice features intended to rival Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri aren’t ready yet. A reminder feature works, but seems paralyzed without voice dictations. Bixby will highlight appointments, trending stories and app suggestions, much as existing features on iPhones and other Android phones already offer.One promising feature aims to provide translations and product information using the phone’s camera. It’s like the Firefly feature on Amazon’s derided Fire phone , and it makes the same types of dumb mistakes — it identified a can of Diet Coke as four other sodas instead. And the translation tools were incomplete at grabbing passages and failed to automatically detect the language you’re translating from.CALCULATING THE VALUESamsung throws in a pair of AKG premium headphones, valued at about $100. My ears weren’t good enough to discern a difference, but it’s nice to get headphones when many phone makers have stopped including them. The phone also comes with 64 gigabytes of storage, which frequently jacks up the price of other phones by $100. Those curved edges? Those also previously cost an extra $100.The S8 seems like a bargain for only $100 over the S7 at launch.But do you really need these goodies? The main camera on the S8 is about the same as last year’s, so you can still get amazing photos with the S7 . (You can pick one up these days for as little as $576.)There’s speculation that Apple will come out with a pricier, feature-rich iPhone for its 10th anniversary this year — but it’s expected to update the existing iPhone 7 line as well. Those who can’t live with yesterday’s technology won’t be disappointed with the S8. But for everyone else, Samsung could have also offered a lower-priced alternative with fewer goodies. by Anick Jesdanun, The Associated Press Posted Apr 18, 2017 9:17 am MDT Last Updated Apr 18, 2017 at 11:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake visits a recreational activities session for children in a shelter for displaced families in Homs. He is accompanied by UNICEF staff and volunteers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (March 2014). Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0292/Sanadiki “Senior Government officials in Damascus have agreed that together with WHO [World Health Organization] and our partners, including the Ministry of Health, we can go ahead and immediately plan and seek to implement a nationwide immunization programme against childhood diseases,” UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Anthony Lake said yesterday in Homs. “This will require sustained access in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, and that both government and armed opposition groups facilitate access to all Syrian children,” he said. Possibility of Peace He said his previous trip had come on the eve of the third anniversary of the Syrian war, after two years of people suffering. This time, he completed the visit on the eve of the fifth anniversary, amid a ceasefire, which offers the Syrian people “the possibility of peace.” “Everywhere I have visited – in Damascus, Homs, Hama and Al-Salameya – people spoke of hope,” Mr. Lake said. “Hope that there will be peace, hope that peace can be found in more than a diplomatic piece of paper, hope that peace will return in their daily lives. The children I met in their class rooms spoke of their hopes for their futures – as doctors, engineers, teachers.” He visited the encircled neighbourhood of Al Waer, where he saw things that he had not seen two years ago, such as shops open for business, people walking freely, children learning in classrooms above ground instead of huddling in basements for fear of snipers. Even in the shattered old city of Homs, people displaced by the fighting are returning.Signs of Havoc But with that hope, there were still signs of havoc and harsh evidence of the toll the war has taken on children, he said. Entire neighbourhoods have been flattened. A children’s centre in Al Waer, formerly an orphanage, was struck by a mortar attack two years ago, killing eight children and injuring 30 more. In Homs, doctors took him into a surgical ward as they treated a victim who had just been shot in the face by a sniper. The doctors had only old surgical instruments with which to remove pieces of the patient’s shattered jawbone. The anaesthetic medicine was past its expiry date. He said that the doctors, nurses, and especially the father of the victim, expressed their anger – not only at the Government, which continues to deny access to surgical and medical supplies to such areas, but also at the United Nations and the whole world. “We can’t blame him because the world has allowed this suffering to go on for five long years,” Mr. Lake said. Over the past five years, with our partners such as the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, UNICEF has reached more than 10 million people, mostly children, with water, health and nutrition services, education and supportive counselling. But there are so many more children to reach, he said. There are more than eight million children who need assistance: six million inside Syria and more than two million who have fled the violence to neighbouring countries. “For every time we educate a Syrian child, wherever she may be, we are helping build Syria’s future,” he said.UN and Inter-agency Humanitarian Convoys reach Moadamiyeh Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today that medical supplies that were initially not allowed to be included in convoys for Moadamiyeh in Syria by security services on the 29th of February have been delivered today. However, some surgical items were still rejected from entering the area. OCHA also reported that inter-agency humanitarian convoys to the Kafr Batna sub-district in East Ghouta are planned for tomorrow, Thursday. The convoys are expected to be carrying food, nutrition and health supplies for an estimated 20,000 beneficiaries. Further convoys to reach additional areas in East Ghouta are planned for the coming days. The second round of inter-agency humanitarian convoys to the Four Towns – Madaya, Zabadani, Foah and Kafraya – is tentatively scheduled for Saturday. The Four Towns were last accessed on the 17th of February, when three joint convoys reached approximately 60,000 beneficiaries.