The Samsung Unpacked event being held today is due to see the South Korean Mobile giant announce the company’s latest flagship handsets, the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 plus.
There is a lot of buzz around these coming announcements and, given the deluge of negative press Samsung has recently received, the public is eager to see what the company has up its sleeves.
Rumours of the product have been circulating for some time now and whilst some of these seem a dead cert, others seem a little outside the realms of possibility. By the end of the day we will all be able to either confirm or deny exactly what Samsung’s new device can offer and what that could mean for the market.
Smartphone announcements are, naturally, something of a spectacle but in a world where smartphone sales are stagnating, this Samsung Unpacked event, that will be attended by CBR, seems to carry significantly more weight than others in recent memory.
The Galaxy S8 has been seen by many as Samsung’s chance at a big comeback, the company’s last flagship product, the Galaxy Note 7, saw massive recalls and eventually discontinuation after malfunctions led to handsets overheating, and even igniting.
Samsung conducted a full investigation into the incident, releasing a report in January, and found that faults in the devices lithium-ion battery were to blame. Though the company accepted full responsibility for allowing it to happen, the incident certainly made people question the mobile company.
Similarly, the company has also been involved in an intense legal battle in their home nation of South Korea which has seen the Samsung Group heir, Jay Y Lee, charged by prosecutors in an bribery and embezzlement case. A case which has also led to the impeachment of Korean President Park Geun-hye
With all of that said, a Reuters and Ipsos study found that 26% of American consumers would purchase a Samsung phone whilst 23% said that they would not. In this study 44% believed that Samsung were no different from any other phone company in regards to safety, and nearly 30% believed that Samsung offers more features than its competitors.
In the face of all of this bad press, the public doesn’t seem to have changed their mind on Samsung, and consumers remain loyal, share prices actually increased and the company saw a 50% increase in profits over the last 3 months of 2016.
However, given Samsung’s recent failings this launch is going to be thoroughly scrutinised for any failings, perceived or real.
The context surrounding the launch is an important factor, but what about the actual phone itself? What do we know for definite, and what is up for debate?
A lot of speculation has been flying about regarding the upcoming device due to a large series of alleged leaks, including one today in which the company accidentally uploaded the user manual onto the official Samsung site.
One of the biggest features to be confirmed is the addition of new AI, Bixby, Samsung’s challenger to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana. Bixby will be capable of all of the usual virtual assistant tasks, such as search queries, phone navigation, and calendar events. But what Samsung says will separate Bixby from the pack is its ability to converse with multiple devices outside of the phone itself, which seems likely given that Samsung also develops smart fridges, TV’s, and other consumer electronics.
The Galaxy S8 is also expected to upgrade from a 5.1 inch display to a 5.6 and 6.2 inch 2K display, for both the standard and plus versions respectively, and both will be using Samsung’s curved SUPER AMOLED screens. These screens, if confirmed, will make the display one of the sharpest currently available.
Among the rumours from the leaked user manual earlier today, the phones are expected to have a multi display option, allowing users to view two apps simultaneously without having to switch between the two. The devices are also rumoured to have an always on ‘infinity display’ which will always display various information on the screen, even when the screen is off.
There have also been reports of upgraded security features including several new methods of locking and unlocking the handsets. The Galaxy S8 will allegedly utilise iris scanning technology, to recognise your eye in order to verify yourself, facial recognition to do the same, and finger print recognition, a feature made popular by Apple’s iPhones.
Yesterday, a Vodafone employee allegedly revealed that the Galaxy S8 would be equipped with a 3D capture ability which, using two cameras, will allow an image to be viewed from two different perspectives. The Vodafone employee also stated that the phones would have no button and infinity screen display.
The phone’s RAM is rumoured to be 4GB whilst internal storage could be as high as 256GB with the use of a micro SD.
So far all the rumours point to an April release, and pre-orders could start as early as this evening. The future of Samsung remains to be seen, but hopefully that vision of the future will be a little bit clearer in the next few hours.