2016 wasn’t a good year for Samsung and 2017 hasn’t started off well. Last year they had the amazing exploding Galaxy Note 7 that got recalled, re-released and recalled again. This year there’s been a perhaps more important development in Korea with the head of the company as well as the country’s President embroiled in a corruption scandal. Through it all they’ve kept their heads down and aside from a couple of low key events announcing chromebooks and tablets at Mobile World Congress haven’t shown us anything new.
To prevent the slide turning into a long term trend they had to pull something special out of the hat today with the release of the S8. Did they manage it?
The event was very thoroughly leaked – probably partially by Samsung themselves. As expected there are two versions of the S8 – one with a 5.7 inch screen and one with a 6.2 inch version. The screen is bezeless and Samsung have dropped the physical button on the front that has been part of the Galaxy line since it was launched. The fingerprint reader has been moved to the back and an iris unlock has been added. Internally Samsung have decided to go with the new Snapdragon 835 CPU and have bought up stocks of every one made for the next few months.
The GearVR headset has been one of the most popular simple simple VR solutions and there was a new version announced for the S8. Slightly larger and crucially now including a motion controller to give a better way to interact. They also showed off an updated version of the Gear360 Camera.
To differentiate the software onboard they launched a new virtual assistant called Bixby that is supposed to pull together all of your devices and make your phone ‘the gateway to your home’. It integrates visual search – point it at something and it lets you know what it is and possibly how to buy it. It’s got a Google Now style card interface that’s supposed to be contextual.
Finally a new product – Samsung Dex was launched which lets your phone be the heart of a computer. Plug a keyboard, mouse and screen into the dock and you’ve got a full side computer.
The S8 will be launching on the April 21th starting at $750 and the S8+ will start at $850. All in all it’s an interesting couple of phones and Samsung make much of the reduced bezels – effectively making all the phones like the previous year’s Edge models. Chances are this is going to do well for them and if they keep going along this way the Note 7 should fade into memory.