Life Tech Samsung banking on Galaxy S8 to restore its reputation
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Samsung banking on Galaxy S8 to restore its reputation

Galaxy S8
Samsung hopes the Galaxy S8 will restore its reputation after the disastrous Note 7 recall. Photo: Getty
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Samsung took the first step toward putting its disastrous recall of the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 behind it on Thursday with the launch of the bigger, and hopefully safer, Galaxy S8.

Boasting a wraparound display, super slim top-and-bottom bezels and a rear fingerprint sensor, the S8 is a step up in design for the South Korean electronics giant, which is desperate to restore its reputation and the market leadership it lost to Apple with the Note 7 recall.

Samsung halted sales of the Note 7 in 10 markets after the September recall, prompted by a tendency of the phone’s battery to explode.

While retaining some familiar characteristics from the Note 7, including a 12-megapixel camera, water-resistant body, wireless charging and … a headphone jack, the S8 has enough new features to please dedicated fans.

The S8 is the first phone to feature Samsung’s new Bixby AI assistant and the first operating off the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip. Iris scanning and facial recognition are also on board to allow users to unlock their phones by looking at them.

Two versions of the Galaxy S8 will go on sale from April 21, with 6.2-inch (15.75cm) and 5.8-inch curved screens – the company’s largest to date.

Galaxy S8
The Galaxy S8 will come in two sizes. Photo: AP

Key Features

  • Comes with either 6.2-inch or 5.8-inch curved screens
  • Bixby AI assistant
  • Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon chop
  • Iris scanning and facial recognition
  • 12-megapixel camera
  • Water-resistant body
  • Wireless charging

Samsung’s head of mobile technology Koh Dong-jin acknowledged the company had experienced a challenging year with the Note 7 cancellation and recall cost, which is estimated to have cost the manufacturer at least $5 billion.

“We must be bold enough to step into the unknown and humble enough to learn from our mistakes,” he said at the New York launch of the S8.
Samsung's Koh Dong-jin
Samsung’s Koh Dong-jin said the company had had a challenging. Photo: AP
While Samsung’s phone sizes are increasing, its battery capacity is not after inspectors decided the Note 7’s compact battery was asked to deliver too much.
The company says the S8 will go through multiple inspections, including X-rays and stress tests at extreme temperatures.

Analysts say Samsung is hoping the S8’s design update and the new features will be enough to revive sales in the year Apple is expected to mark the iPhone’s 10th anniversary with major changes to its iPhone 8, including its own Samsung-style curved screens.

The S8 is also crucial for Samsung’s image as a maker of reliable mobile devices.

“The Galaxy S8 is the most important phone for Samsung in a decade and every aspect will be under the microscope following the Note 7 recall,” Reuters quoted smartphone industry analyst Ben Wood as saying.

Hello, Bixby

The Bixby artificial intelligence service is a voice-commanded assistant system similar to Apple’s Siri.

Samsung claims Bixby will do more than similar assistants from Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, including managing any smartphone task currently managed by touch.

However, Bixby will work only with selected Samsung apps, including the photo gallery and messages, along with Google Play Music. Not all touch commands will have voice counterparts right away.

More upgrades

Along with the new S8, Samsung unveiled upgrades to several of its major technogies.

The Gear 360 virtual reality camera will now accommodate the higher 4K resolution and will now work with iPhones.

The S8 phone will have the ability to turn into a desktop computer when connected to a regular TV, allowing users to resize windows and work with several apps at once.

The previously announced Gear VR headset upgrade, which now includes a hand-held controller, was announced to be available in April.

Samsung
The S8 was one of several new technologies unvieled by Samsung. Photo: AP

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