The new Samsung Galaxy S8 is more than just a smartphone. This is also the phone that Samsung needs to get its good name back. Samsung also needs to show it can bring more features to the table than Apple has with the iPhone 7.
The task that may be hardest to accomplish may be to convince customers to trust Samsung again after the Galaxy Note7 combustible battery debacle. While Samsung loyalists will continue to buy the company's mobile devices, Samsung also needs to attract people who aren’t Samsung loyalists to keep sales growing.
The Galaxy S8 is certainly moving the boundaries of technology. The new phone includes features such as facial recognition that are intended to make the S8 easier to use. This phone bases its security on Samsung Knox, which the company says is a defense grade mobile security system. Like the iPhone, the S8 supports fingerprint scanning, but it will also support iris scanning.
Of course, the first thing you’ll notice when you see one is the Galaxy S8 display. Samsung has the brought what it calls the "infinity" displays from the S7 Edge—with a screen that curves around the sides of the phone—to the Galaxy S8. While there are borders at the top and bottom of the display, they’re very thin resulting in a display that looks huge.
But they are in fact huge for a mobile handset with the S8 coming in at 5.8 inches and the S8+ at 6.2 inches. But the lack of a bezel accentuates the size. Those screens are both quad-HD, with significantly higher resolution than the Apple iPhone or iPhone Plus.
Equally interesting, the Galaxy S8+ appears to be designed to take over some of the niche of the Galaxy Note. The S8+ is actually larger than the ill-fated Galaxy Note7. The most obvious difference is that there’s no sign of the Note7’s stylus, which was mounted in a socket in that device.
So whether the Galaxy S8+ is intended to be a Note7 replacement or not, one thing that’s sure to be a subject of scrutiny is the phone’s battery. Samsung has been sending out press releases for the past few months explaining how the company has amped up its testing procedures to catch bad batches. According to Samsung, the testing is more exhaustive, and even a minor deviation in test parameters can result in an entire batch of batteries being rejected.
The 3000 mAh on the Galaxy S8 and the 3500 mAh battery on the S8+ are larger than the batteries on the competing iPhones. Perhaps more important is that Samsung has changed its processor design to use a 10 nm 8-core Snapdragon 835 CPU, which should allow for lower power use and improved cooling.
One area where Samsung is breaking new ground is with its docking station, which will allow the use of an external keyboard and monitor. The DeX turns the S8 or S8+ into a secure desktop, according to Samsung.
In addition there’s the new digital assistant, Bixby. This assistant is really designed as a sort of user interface helper rather than as a competitor to Apple’s Siri. The idea is that you can ask Bixby to help you perform a task on the phone, such as uploading a photo after taking it, which might otherwise require several steps.
Enterprise users may also welcome something called Samsung Connect, which is included in the S8 capabilities. Samsung Connect is intended to allow the phone to connect with and manage Samsung and SmartThings internet of things devices. They’ll probably also like Samsung’s wireless charging, which is continued in the S8.
We could make this a list of all of the new features that Samsung is bringing to the market in the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but there needs to be some context. This new phone is so important to Samsung and its future that the company delayed the normal announcement that would have taken place at Mobile World Congress in February until a month later. Even more significant, the company delayed the time when the device would be shipped until late April.
Those delays gave Samsung the time it needed to make sure the phones were as near to perfect as possible. The company has probably managed to find a way to keep their phones from exploding. Now the company needs to find ways to make the phones so extraordinary that smartphone users will want to drop the phones they’ve been using and move to Samsung.
That additional step is going to be a tough one. Samsung has plenty of competition from companies whose phones didn’t explode or at least exploded rarely, and which offer a lot of new features that serve to differentiate themselves from the run of the mill handsets.
Fortunately, Samsung has worked hard to eliminate the problems that were hurting the company and its customers. The company has also worked to make their phones easier to use and more functional. The DeX docking station may be an important answer for users that only want a single device instead of two or three. It may also be an important feature for enterprise users who are concerned about their security and their productivity.
At this point, Samsung has announced some ways to make sure that the Galaxy S8 is a strong contender for enterprise dollars. If it all works out, then Samsung will once again be on the rise.