China / Across America

Samsung looks to rebound with new Galaxy S8s

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA) Updated: 2017-03-30 10:57

After months of dealing with fallout from its Galaxy Note7 that burst into flames and harmed users, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S8 on Wednesday in New York to enthusiasm from analysts.

Samsung's Sweet Galaxy S8 Will Make You Forget All About the Note 7, was the headline on a review by WIRED. "Samsung needs the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus phones unveiled today to make you forget all about the Note 7 debacle. And there's a good chance they will, because these phones are pretty dope," the review said.

Galaxy S8, starting at $720, comes in two sizes at 5.8 inches and 6.2inches. Samsung will start taking orders in the US on Thursday, with shipments scheduled for April 21.

The S8 has Bixby, Samsung's new artificially intelligent digital assistant, which responds to spoken commands, allowing users to control their phones with their voices alone. It will go up against Apple's Siri and Google Assistant. However, Samsung claims that Bixby offers a "deeper experience" than other voice agents or assistants in the market.

The phone also comes with a Gear 360 VR headset and AKG Harman Kardon headphones. It is thin and bezel-free.

"There's a design language that's coming out that's very distinctively Samsung," said Wayne Lam, principal analyst of technology and telecom at IHS Markit. "In the years passed, you can argue that the industry always followed whatever Apple did. There's a part of that now that Samsung can stake for their own."

The Galaxy S8 also contains technology that can scan a user's retina and iris, eliminating the need for passwords or passcodes.

"People are tired of entering information and complain about having too many passwords to remember," said William Stofega, program director of mobile phones at International Data Corp. "I think this is a great feature."

The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 had been highly anticipated in the industry after Samsung's incidents in October with Note 7, which had a faulty battery and would spontaneously burst into flame on airplanes and while charging. For months, airlines have restricted use of the phone during flights and stories of the phones catching on fire often went viral on the web. There is no increase in battery capacity for the S8, according to WIRED.

"We're in the process of earning back that trust," said Drew Blackard, a senior director of product marketing for Samsung, told The Los Angeles Times.

Products aside, the Seoul-based company founded in 1938 has also been in the spotlight for the arrest of the company's chief and heir Lee Jae-yong in a bribery probe connecting him to the South Korean president, who was impeached for connections to a bribery scandal.

"Assuming there are no fires or other issues with this phone, I think it should do a lot to restore confidence in Samsung's devices among anyone who was put off by the Note 7 problems, and it should provide a nice positive news cycle for Samsung for the first time in ages," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.

Neil Mawston, director of the global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics in the UK, called the launch the company's "most important smartphone in years - perhaps of all time".

Paul Welitzkin contributed to this story.


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