Maybe we should lower our expectations for the Galaxy S8
With the Galaxy S8, Samsung’s biggest task is reminding consumers that its smartphones are still safe to use, that the battery issues that plagued the Galaxy Note 7 and made it prone to burning up are something that will never be repeated. Samsung has revealed its plans to perform extra testing on the Galaxy S8 before unleashing it on the market, which is the reason why the flagship won’t be unveiled at this year’s Mobile World Congress.
But more than reassuring consumers about the safety of its smartphones, Samsung has two very crucial tasks at hand: differentiate its next flagship from the competition in just the right way, and catch up in areas where its competition has left it far behind. The catching up will no doubt be done in the field of artificial assistance, with Samsung’s Bixby made out to be the company’s answer to the likes of Google Now (which was recently rebranded as Google Assistant) and Apple’s Siri.
The differentiation? That comes in the form of large curved, near bezel-less displays in what are supposedly handsets similar in size to the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. Quite a few Chinese manufacturers have gotten on-board the dual-edge smartphone bandwagon, so simply riding out the wave with another Edge smartphone like the S7 edge or the Galaxy Note 7 wouldn’t be enough for the Korean giant. The Galaxy Note 7 was as close to perfection as a smartphone can be, and maybe there isn’t a lot Samsung can do to make the Galaxy S8 a force to reckon with in such a short while.
A lot has been said about the Galaxy S8 (and the Galaxy S8 Plus). They said it would have 6GB of RAM, but that’s not confirmed for every market. A fingerprint sensor under the glass up front? Nope, Samsung seems to think an out-of-reach position beside the rear camera module is a better idea (although this might be a deliberate decision). Dual cameras on the back? Please, why should Samsung go through the pain of taking another major step forward in smartphone imaging, when it already has a top-notch camera on its flagships, one that hasn’t been beaten by the competition in any meaningful way? Just forget about larger batteries, as it seems manufacturers are simply not interested in offering more than a day’s worth of battery life on their flagship smartphones.
Where am I going with all this? There was a report earlier today saying that Samsung’s Bixby is possibly based on S Voice, and one of our readers wondered why the price of the S8 is expected to be higher than previous flagships if the company isn’t bringing us the innovation that has been hinted by the leaks and rumors. That got me wondering: maybe we are all getting too hopeful of what Samsung has in store for us.
I’ll say it again: The Galaxy Note 7 was pretty much a thing of perfection, and expecting Samsung to hit it out of the park with the Galaxy S8 just six (or eight) months later would be rather unfair. When you have a device that can take on everything else on the market and come out on top all things considered even a few months later, it isn’t wrong to step back, focus on improving things that aren’t up to the mark (like that iris scanner), and aim for a galactic leap at a later time.
Even if the leap doesn’t come with the Galaxy S8, the device will bring a couple of important changes to Samsung’s smartphone lineup. Samsung is finally moving to on-screen buttons (necessitated by the larger screen), and the device will reportedly feature a level of voice control not seen on any other smartphone (or mobile operating system), with Bixby expected to have a dedicated button on one side of the device.
The Galaxy S8 will also put an end to flat screens on the company’s flagship line, and maybe even bring the S Pen out of its Galaxy Note exclusivity. In fact, even the camera experience might be drastically improved or different. There is next to no information available on what Samsung is doing with the cameras on its next hero device, except that it will add autofocus to the front camera and might not adopt the dual camera trend that has permeated the market.
It’s very easy to think that Samsung could pull off the feat of adding so many new features and improvements to the Galaxy S8, but perhaps we should be realistic in our expectations for the upcoming device. Samsung could very well be focused on just a few things instead of aiming for everything the rumor mill has churned out. I’m not sure even the placement of that fingerprint sensor is final despite the barrage of leaked images, as it would be a defiant move on the company’s part to make such an important function hard to reach for many users.
Without a look at the final product, or a leak that puts an end to all speculation, the least we can do is to temper our hopes that the Galaxy S8 is going to be the one device to rule them all. Bixby might not be anything more than a glorified S Voice that still can’t properly understand your accent, the camera could simply receive improvements to the image processing algorithm, and that iris scanner might just continue to be as imperfect as it was on the Note 7. Harman Kardon audio? That’s probably a ways off from being properly implemented in Galaxy smartphones.
There’s no telling what will go down, and it would be best for everyone to calm down now than be disappointed by what Samsung shows off a couple of months later.