Samsung Hopes to Rekindle Its Fortunes with Infinity Display on New Flagships

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By David McQueen | 2Q 2017 | IN-4526

Late March (2017), Samsung launched the latest update to its line of flagship Galaxy phones with the launch of the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+. As expected, the devices came packed with new design features and functionalities that bring noticeable improvements over its predecessors, although only incremental changes were made to their cameras. The new smartphones retained the microSD card slots that were reintroduced back into the lineup in the Samsung Galaxy S6, but Samsung resisted the temptation to dispense with the 3.5 mm headphone jack (for the time being at least).

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Samsung Is Out to Rebuild Consumers' Trust in the Brand


After the torrid time Samsung had after its Note 7 debacle, and the delay of its new flagship models beyond Mobile World Congress (MWC), the company has been clamoring for a much-needed boost to its smartphone lineup in an effort to win back consumer trust while hopefully leaving the past firmly behind. In many ways, Samsung achieved this aim with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, but it may have also lost a little ground to its competitors along the way. Following on from its highly successful Galaxy S7 range, this time around, the company decided to dispense with an ‘edge’ model as, in effect, the new devices are now both de-facto edge phones, as they sport minimal-bezel designs with larger edge-to-edge curved Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screens. Samsung terms this as its Infinity Display, which allows for a much larger display relative to the body size.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are also gigabit class LTE smartphones, utilizing Samsung's first chip built on 10-nanometer technology. While they may be the first smartphones to use 10-nanometer technology, they are not the first gigabit class LTE; that distinction goes to Sony with the Xperia XZ Premium revealed at MWC 2017. However, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ could quite easily be first on the shelves and, as a leading smartphone brand, will provide some much-needed traction for the technology, which will be a welcome sight to many carriers globally. The boost in downlink speeds through the introduction of gigabit class LTE on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will undoubtedly be substantial and noticeable to the end user, enabling the introduction of more data services and applications exploiting these enhanced speeds, including premium 4K content, connected cloud computing, fast caching, plus virtual and augmented reality services.

Differentiation to Prove a Point


While touted as a new design paradigm, Samsung’s use of its Infinity Display is not totally unique, as something similar has already been seen on Chinese vendor Xiaomi’s Mi Mix smartphone, albeit accomplished through different underlying means. In this respect, Samsung created its display effect through the miniaturization of components and moving the fingerprint sensor to the rear of the phone, while Xiaomi implemented ultrasound technology based on an Elliptic Labs solution. Both methods have their advantages but what is clear is that this new design trend is sure to provide a significant point of differentiation when set against future launches in 2017 and beyond.

By utilizing the Infinity Display into its phones, the screen size on the Samsung Galaxy S8+ has now been pushed to 6.2 in with minimal change in the overall dimensions, putting it at a size beyond that of the Samsung Note. Admittedly, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ appears more elongated but it shows that there may be cannibalization between the two models with those users looking for a phablet experience, which could signal the end of the Note as a product line.

Where Samsung managed to prize away effectively from the competition is in the use of smart biometrics, adding both an iris scanner (originally used on the ill-fated Note 7), and enhanced facial recognition, in addition to a re-housed fingerprint scanner. The latter, along with integrating the home button functionality onto the display, have been necessary improvements owing to the use of the Infinity Display. The further announcement of its own digital assistant, Bixby, gives Samsung its own vision of the future for intelligent mobile interaction, moving seamlessly between voice and touch, and is clearly there to create differentiation against those offered on the Android platform. However, time will tell if Bixby is to be the preserve of its high-end smartphones, keeping it as a differentiating point, or is to be rolled out across the whole of Samsung’s product line, including those devices in the home.

Worthy Successors


Ultimately, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ stand as worthy upgrades to their predecessors, showcasing an extremely tactile feature in the use of the Infinity Display and greatly enhanced interactivity with the devices through the use of both smart biometrics and Bixby, its own vision of intelligent mobile interaction. While Samsung may not necessarily have been first to market with a number of these latest functionalities that it has packed into its phones, the company has not only beaten Apple to the punch, but is also now very much back on track to help usher in a new era of smartphone design and interfaces that can help stimulate the replacement market once more.


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