Samsung Galaxy S8 – The Flagship That Could Change The Company’s Future

In 2016, Samsung managed to land itself in hot soup due to the catastrophic failure of the Note 7. Widely considered to be one of the biggest scandals in the tech industry, Samsung’s good reputation took a beating over the Note 7’s failures. Now, with the Korean company officially launching the Galaxy S8, the question becomes this: will the S8 allow Samsung to move on from the Note 7 fiasco, or will the S8 continue to lead the Korean company down a dark path?

Before I talk about how the S8 will affect Samsung as a whole, let’s take a look at the phone itself. The Galaxy S8 comes in two variants:

  • The regular 5.8-inch S8.
  • Bigger 6.2-inch S8+.

Both variants sport what Samsung is calling an “Infinity Display”, near-bezelless Super AMOLED screens that curves towards the metal band of the phone and take up much of the phone’s front side real estate . The screens operate on Quad HD+ resolution, which is 2,960 x 1,440.

Samsung removes the home button ahead of Apple

To accommodate the new “Infinity Display”, Samsung has removed the physical home button/fingerprint scanner that can be found on previous S series phones. Instead, Samsung has opted for a pressure-sensitive button that is hidden under the screen, making it functionally similar to Apple’s Force Touch, albeit limited to just a particular section of the screen.

As for the fingerprint scanner, it has been relocated to the rear of the phone, placed directly beside the rear camera. Needless to say, veteran Samsung S Series users will need to get used to the changes that Samsung has made with the S8.

rear camera

On the performance side of things, the S8 will be powered by either Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 processor, or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 system-on-chip. Alongside the processor, the S8 will be accompanied by 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot.

For the camera, Samsung has opted to reuse the 12MP dual-pixel f/1.7 rear camera that was first featured in the S7. Meanwhile, the front camera gets upgraded to an 8MP snapper with autofocus. The S8 will come with a 3,000mAh battery, while the S8+ will have a bigger 3,500mAh battery.

This is what you can expect from the Galaxy S8 and the S8+:

Samsung Galaxy S8
  • 5.8-inch Infinity Display Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440.
  • Exynos 8895 processor or Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC.
  • 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM.
  • 64GB internal storage with microSD card slot.
  • 12MP dual pixel f/1.7 rear camera; 8MP front camera with autofocus.
  • 3,000mAh battery.
Samsung Galaxy S8+
  • 6.2-inch Infinity Display Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440.
  • Exynos 8895 processor or Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC.
  • 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM.
  • 64GB internal storage with microSD card slot.
  • 12MP dual pixel f/1.7 rear camera; 8MP front camera with autofocus.
  • 3,500mAh battery.

Moving on to the features, the S8 brings with it a bag of old and new tricks. With Samsung’s newest flagship, the company has brought back the Iris Scanner that first debuted on the Note 7. New to the S8 however, is the facial recognition technology that lets the S8 user unlock his or her phone just by looking at it.

Now that you know what is behind the S8, let’s talk about how this phone can dictate the course of Samsung’s smartphone future.

The S8’s first few months will matter greatly

The first and most obvious way that Samsung could face yet another serious blow to their reputation is if history repeats itself. Coming into the S8, many people still have the reports of the Note 7 bursting into flames fresh in their minds.

As such, you can expect almost everyone to put the S8 under the microscope. Should a report of an S8 unit failing hits the internet, everyone would surely wonder if Samsung has truly learned their mistake from the Note 7. And if the S8 fails yet again, you can be sure that Samsung’s user base will not be as forgiving to the company.

03-samsung-base

Meet Bixby

Perhaps the biggest feature that the S8 has is Bixby, Samsung’s own virtual assistant. Judging from the short demonstration that was shown of Bixby, it appears that the assistant is capable of doing almost everything that other virtual assistants in the market can do.

Samsung’s introduction of its own virtual assistant Bixby is an interesting one. It is pretty obvious that Samsung wants to cut itself a slice of the A.I. pie alongside the likes of Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. Besides that, the introduction of Bixby also shows that Samsung wants to connect its ecosystem via a digital assistant. While the idea behind it is sound, the execution won’t be easy on Samsung’s part.

bixby

So why will Samsung’s Bixby push not play out as smoothly as the other digital assistants? Well, the first factor you can take into account is time. Samsung has entered the digital assistant market relatively late when you consider the fact that Siri and Cortana has been out for a while now, while the Google Assistant has had a year’s start ahead of Bixby. With that being the case, Bixby will need to convince the market as a whole that it is an assistant worth using.

google assistant

The second factor that can dictate whether or not Bixby succeeds or fails lies in Samsung’s ecosystem. Unlike Google, Apple or Microsoft, Samsung is mainly an appliance/hardware maker. Also, keep in mind that Bixby, as it currently is, would be limited strictly to Samsung’s ecosystem for now, while Google and Microsoft’s offerings can be found across platforms and competitors. While Apple’s ecosystem is mostly insular, Apple at least has the advantage of establishing a full ecosystem of products at an earlier pace than Samsung.

samsung smart house

Long story short, I do not foresee Bixby having as good an adoption rate as the other digital assistants currently available. It is possible that Bixby will be able to take off in its home country of South Korea, but when you look at things on an international level, the potential for Bixby is rather bleak at the moment.

contextual understanding

Its competitors and market share

Despite the Note 7 mishap, Samsung remains the top Android smartphone brand in 2016. However, Samsung could ill afford to rest on their laurels in the smartphone market, and it is all thanks to a single word: Pixel.

samsung pixel

Google’s own entry into the smartphone market is a direct competitor to the Samsung’s flagship smartphones, and judging by how well the Pixel is doing, it is entirely possible that Samsung may be kicked off the Android throne within the coming years.

Another upsetting fact is that China-based vendors such as Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo are slowly gaining more market share, possibly at the expense of Samsung. While these three companies still have a long way to go before they’re able to trump Samsung, every inch of the Android market taken by them chips away at Samsung’s dominance.

Those are the three key factors that I believe will dictate Samsung’s future in the smartphone market. While most of the points I raised above are merely speculation, one thing that I am certain of is that even if the S8 turns out to be yet another failure, the company as a whole will still continue to exist.

After all, Samsung’s smartphone division is just one small part of a larger company that manufactures a myriad of appliances and devices across both the civilian sector and the military sector.

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