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Samsung launches Galaxy S8

By Fan Feifei in Beijing and Amy He in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-31 08:01

Samsung launches Galaxy S8

A woman takes a picture of the Samsung Galaxy S8+ smartphone with a Galaxy S7 during the Samsung Unpacked event in New York City, March 29, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

After months of dealing with the fallout from its Galaxy Note 7-which burst into flames and harmed users in cases reported-Samsung Electronics Co Ltd unveiled the Galaxy S8 this week, aiming to restore consumer confidence and rejuvenate sluggish sales.

The new Galaxy S8, with prices starting at $720, comes in two sizes at 5.8 inches and 6.2 inches, with a bezel-less and curved screen. Samsung will start taking orders in the United States on Thursday, with shipments scheduled for April 21.

The handset offers a wide selection of biometric technologies, including a fingerprint scanner, iris scanner and facial recognition. However, Samsung did not elaborate on the safety of its new handset's batteries.

"The humbling recall of its Note 7 not only tarnished the company's hard-won reputation for quality and reliability, it also knocked a huge hole in its finances," said Peter Richardson, a research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

"The launch of the Galaxy S8 is especially important for Samsung. The S8 needs to rapidly win the hearts and minds of consumers and channels alike," Richardson said.

Richardson said he expects sales in the first year to top those of the S7, which was launched in February last year in Barcelona. He added Samsung has done enough to get its ship back on to an even keel.

The consultancy also estimated global shipments of Samsung S8 will reach 60 million in the first year.

The S8 features Bixby, Samsung's new artificial intelligent digital assistant, which responds to spoken commands, allowing users to control their phones with their voices alone. It will go up against Apple Inc's Siri and Google Assistant.

However, Samsung claims that Bixby offers a "deeper experience" than other voice agents or assistants in the market.

James Yan, a research director at Counterpoint, said the S8 will not give a big boost to the South Korean tech giant's overall China sales.

The company still faces fierce competition from local rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co's P10 and P10 Plus, which feature great picture-taking functions, he said.

"Samsung hopes to push the sales of its medium-and low-end smartphones in China with the help of the S8 launch," Yan said.

According to research company IHS, shipments of the S7 and S7 Edge will reach about 48 million units this year. Total shipments of all Samsung's smartphones will reach 331 million.

Jin Di, research manager of IDC China, said Samsung has introduced some innovative upgrades and new functions in the handset, such as AI technologies, aiming to capture a higher share in the high-end market.

The industry highly anticipated the launch of the Galaxy S8 following the mishaps in October with the Note 7, which had a faulty battery that would spontaneously burst into flames on airplanes and while charging.

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