Device maker hopes to consign Note 7 woes to history with new flagship handset.

Samsung ushered in the era of the Gigabit Class LTE smartphone on Wednesday, with the unveiling of the Galaxy S8 and big-screen S8+.

As well as supporting the latest 4G technology, the handsets also support Gigabit WiFi, allowing customers to download at high speed, irrespective of the air interface.

As expected, the devices come equipped with Bixby, Samsung’s recently-launched rival to Siri and Google Assistant.

At launch, customers can use Bixby’s voice commands to interact with various native Samsung apps and features, including the camera, contacts, image gallery, messages and settings. The plan is to extend Bixby’s capabilities to include more Samsung and third-party apps.

Like Siri and Google Assistant, Bixby is designed to be contextually aware, offering personalised help based on what it knows about the user’s interests, situation, and location.

On the hardware side, the 5.8-inch S8 and 6.2-inch S8+ feature bezel-less HDR screens, and the cases are protected by scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 5.

"The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ usher in a new era of smartphone design and fantastic new services, opening up new ways to experience the world," proclaimed DJ Koh, president of Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business.

Samsung is also keen to point out that its new flagship phones work with a whole raft of other Samsung products and services, including its Gear VR virtual reality headset, and its Gear 360-degree camera. Compatible services include, but aren’t limited to Samsung Connect, which enables users to access and manage other Samsung devices from a single app, and its Samsung Pay m-payment/wallet service.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available in select markets from 21 April.

Of course, all eyes will be on whether Samsung’s new smartphones consign to history the flaming battery fault that led to the untimely demise of its last flagship, the Galaxy Note 7.

Following that debacle, Samsung has taken several measures, including an eight-point safety check, in order to mitigate the risk of batteries spontaneously smouldering, smoking, and catching fire.

"Every aspect will be under the microscope following the Note 7 recall," said Geoff Blaber, vice president of research, Americas, at CCS Insight, in a research note.

"If Samsung can deliver a faultless Galaxy S8 launch there’s every indication that the Note 7 recall will have little lasting impact on consumer sentiment," he said.

DJ Koh said Samsung aimed to regain consumer trust with the Galaxy S8 and S8+ "by redefining what’s possible in safety."

The devices mark "a new milestone in Samsung’s smartphone legacy," he said.