Samsung hopes Galaxy Note 8 phablet can erase the memory of its phones catching fire
Samsung Electronics set out to wipe the slate clean in New York on Wednesday with the new Galaxy Note 8 phablet, hoping features like dual rear cameras and its biggest-ever screen will extinguish memories of its fire-prone predecessor.
The world’s largest smartphone maker by market share debuted the phone-cum-tablet as it gears up to compete for pre-holiday season sales with a widely expected 10th anniversary iPhone from US rival Apple.
The unveiling came five months after the release of the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Analysts said brisk sales of that device indicate recovery in Samsung’s standing after battery fires prompted the October withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 just two months into sales at an opportunity cost of US$5.48 billion.
Safety concerns briefly cost Samsung its number one rank, according to researcher Counterpoint. It has since regained ground, with Strategy Analytics putting its second-quarter market share at 22 per cent, more than Apple and China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd combined.
“Of course no one will forget what happened last year, but we also won’t forget the millions that stuck with us,” DJ Koh, the company’s mobile chief, said at the launch event.
The Note 8 will be sold starting September 15, Samsung said, without elaborating on place or price. Verizon, the largest US wireless carrier, said it will begin taking pre-orders on Thursday for the phone that has a retail price of US$960.
Samsung’s Note series usually sport bigger screens than the S series and come with a removable stylus. The trademark curved screen of the latest incarnation measures 6.3 inches corner to corner, just 0.1 inch bigger than the S8+.
The South Korean company has been a main driver of growth in handsets with 6 inch-plus screens, a category Strategy Analytics expects to grow 10 times faster than the overall market next year.
Samsung has also installed dual rear cameras on a handset for the first time, which promises improved photographic control and picture quality.
Other features include security technology, such as facial recognition and fingerprint and iris scanning, and artificial intelligence in the form of Samsung’s Bixby voice-command assistant.
Samsung also took a jab at Apple at the launch event, mentioning its new phone will have a standard headphone jack, unlike the iPhone 7 which has a single jack, a feature that has been criticised by some users.