Samsung plays it safe as it reveals first smartphone since disastrous Note 7

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Associated Press

Samsung seems to be playing it safe - at least with its battery - as it unveils its first major smartphone since the embarrassing recall of its fire-prone Note 7.

The Galaxy S8 will come in two sizes, both bigger than comparable models from last year.

To maximize display space, there's no more physical home button. The S8 also sports a voice assistant intended to rival Siri and Google Assistant.

But battery capacity isn't increasing, despite the larger sizes, meaning more breathing room for the battery.

Samsung had pushed the engineering envelope with the Note 7 battery, which contributed to spontaneous combustions. 

The phone, announced Wednesday in New York, will come out April 21. 

Samsung has blamed the Note 7 fires on multiple design and manufacturing defects in its batteries. Inspectors concluded some of the batteries were too small for their capacity, putting pressure on the internal structure.

The S8 phone's display measures 5.8 inches diagonally, compared with 5.1 inches on the S7. The S8 Plus will be 6.2 inches, compared with S7 Edge's 5.5 inches and the Note 7's 5.7 inches. 

Samsung claims its new voice assistant, Bixby, will do much more than rivals from Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon. For one thing, Samsung says Bixby will be able to handle any smartphone task currently managed by touch.

When viewing a photo, just say "send this to Bob" to pull up messaging options and contact information for the Bobs you know. Bixby will also offer information on books, wine and other products scanned with the phone's camera.

The front camera is getting a boost to 8 megapixels, from 5 megapixels, while the rear one stays at 12 megapixels.

The S8 will get an iris scanner to let people unlock the phone by looking at it; the feature was new in the ditched Note 7 phone.

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