Samsung Electronics

Hype builds, rumours swirl ahead of Samsung’s launch of Galaxy S8 – next generation of its flagship smartphone

Tech giant aims to bounce back from massive Note 7 recall with new premium handset expected to sport bigger, almost bezel-free screen, iris-recognition security and a voice assistant, Bixby

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 March, 2017, 7:46am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 March, 2017, 5:44pm

Samsung Electronics’ mobile unit hopes to bounce back this year, with expectations running high over its upcoming flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone, with a bezel-free, larger display.

The new premium handset will debut on March 29 to fill the void left by the global recall of the Galaxy Note 7 over a series of battery fires late last year.

The company has yet to confirm any specific features of the new device, but a series of specifications have been leaked in recent months.

In particular, the company is known to have focused on improving and enlarging the display size, in an apparent bid to meet growing demand for larger smartphone screens combined with a minimised handset size.

Earlier this month, Samsung was confirmed to have filed a trademark for an “Infinity Display” to be featured on the new Galaxy device, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The new edge-to-edge display features an almost bezel-free design.

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According to a number of reports, the company is expected to launch two flagship devices tentatively named the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, equipped with 5.8- and 6.2-inch displays, respectively.

“The larger and wider screen is not aimed at maximising revenue, as this is the first time for Samsung to manufacture the unprecedented OLED display size,” a company official said. “If revenue maximisation had been the core strategy for Samsung, the firm would have opted for the existing smaller display size, which does not require a big investment.”

Another feature will be its much-hyped AI voice assistant, Bixby, which came in partnership with its recently acquired AI software firm Viv Labs, a startup formed by the creators of Apple’s Siri personal assistant.

Late last month, Samsung Electronics executive Rhee In-jong said the move came as part of efforts to build an open AI platform where the internet of things can be interconnected through voice control.

The G8 is also expected to come with iris-scanning security software that was unveiled in the Note 7. Samsung said in mid-August that the iris scanner will provide higher security than the existing fingerprint system.

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The company, however, will not adopt dual-camera modules for the S8. Instead, it will focus more on a high-end, sleek design with the immersive display feature.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) that ended on March 2, LG Electronics and emerging Chinese counterparts counted the improved dual-camera functions as a key marking point for their new smartphones.

“Dual cameras have been among the basic features for LG and other Chinese handset makers at the MWC 2017, but Samsung is unlikely to follow the same path,” said Park Gang-ho, an analyst at Daishin Securities. “The firm will instead focus on form-factor changes with the bezel-less design and edge-to-edge, flexible OLED displays.”