Can the Samsung Galaxy S8 Win Back the people?

by Nicole on March 30, 2017

There is no doubt that Samsung makes some of the best phones on the market, but anyone that flies still has a chance to be reminded of the battery fire fiasco that consumed the news last year. A lot is riding on the Galaxy S8, this is the first flagship the company has launched since the recalled Note 7 and the big question is: Is the Galaxy S8 enough to win the confidence of the people?

Samsung did a great job of messaging at the launch of the Galaxy S8, it was full of “Re”: Reimagining the smartphone or Reinvented the way you used it, they were Redesigning it from the ground up, This idea that they’ve completely done away with the old and have innovated through to the next level is how they rehabilitating their brand. By the end of the hour, I did find all the Re’s Re-diculous, but I was sold on their message, my image of Samsung has been Rehabilitated.

I didn’t expect Samsung to be so humble in acknowledging the hard year they had and they did mention more than once that they are focused on quality, assurance, and safety. What is very smart about their campaign is connecting the infinite possibilities of Virtual Reality to the overall vision of Samsung.

What happens if you refuse to listen to what “can’t be done?” Samsung believes the only way to achieve the impossible is by refusing to accept anything is.

They’ve reinvented themselves after a traumatic year and their vision is still about leading innovation. I’ll admit it, the dreaming ostrich captured my imagination, but after the warm and fussies cleared away I’m left with the question: Was this perfect smartphone launch is enough to switch Regain the confidence of the people? The perception is that not only was there some serious bad luck but that there were faulty quality control processes and a lack of Quality & Assurance is actually much more damaging.

Forget about the messaging, what about the phone?

What makes the Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus better than the S7?

Samsung has made the smartphone more symmetrical so it feels even more friendly and comfortable in your hand. They also added a new AI assistant named Bixby, a bigger and better display, and a sleek, new button-less design. The camera is still top of the line and they’ve stuck with the same battery size as the S7 so there is no experimentation there.

If Samsung’s plan was to make the best Smartphone on the market better, they did that, but that’s not what this is about. The technology purist will wonder at anyone who wouldn’t make the call to pick up this top of the line handset. That’s not what this is about, Samsung has to regain the confidence of the ecosystem and from here it looks like their plan is to carry on business as usual. Samsung is showing confidence by staying steadfast to their plan which was to jam some advanced features into their phones so that everyone new they are leading the market.

I expected to see a more conservative Samsung, one that reviewed process and quality assurance, when we went to see the LG G6 factory, for the first time they showed off the battery testing lab. Everyone who is looking pick up the sales from the lack of confidence is playing to this weakness. At MWC the rest of the industry decided that this year flagship devices would focus on more durable designs and making the perfect smartphone. LG is the best example of that, they looked at what they thought the consumer needed and just tried to make the best phone possible.

Samsung is well known for its feature creep, adding in too many features just to prove that they’re the most innovative. They’ve gotten better at slowing it down over the years, but it hasn’t really gone away. I thought the Galaxy S8 would follow suit and focus on durability and reliability and though they have talked about it, the star of the show are their new features.

The problem with the new features

I get it, adding an AI makes you futuristic, the new DeX dock lets you use the smartphone like a desktop and the invisible home button is really cool, but I have concerns.

Bixby feels rushed, unfinished and it’s not available in German. It’s raw and it feels like it’s there just to say that this phone is leading the pack with new technology.

Bixby Demo:

DeX is a dock that is exactly what Windows Phone promised with Continuum, you can dock your phone and any compatible android app can help the phone feel like a desktop.Ok, so it’s not really a problem, it’s actually totally awesome, but we’ve heard it before and the concept failed once. The difference is that when Microsoft came out with it no one supported it, Android has a stronger base so this has the potential to be a much different story.

My other concern is that the invisible home button has quite a strong tactile feedback, I like that they’ve tried something new, but a feature that constantly vibrates through the display feels like it could cause issues. Removing the home button also leads me to another issue with the design, that the fingerprint reader on the back is in the wrong spot and my finger smudges the lens. The second is getting rid of the buttons is also a trend we’re seeing overall in Android. Praising this as listening to the consumer feels less like a response to feedback when it’s just keeping in line with what’s happening with Android.

Is the S8 Plus a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 replacement?

Releasing a handset that’s 6.2 inches is much larger than the 5.7 inches of the Note 7, but the bezel size and thickness of the Galaxy phones is so much slimmer than their competitors. Those that love the Note line love the stylus, but would the larger S8 capture that market of phablet-loving users? It could. It will be interesting to see if the S8 Plus ends up as a Note 8 replacement.

Redirecting the conversation isn’t a bad plan, it will probably work, those millions of dollars on brand equity do have a lasting effect. BUT, this will only work as long as the S8 is flawless. The pre-orders are going to be aggressively promoted and they will obviously be lower than previous years but people will wait for the extended reviews.

My hat is off to Samsung, the event was perfect, and the message is perfect in continuing to position the brand as a leader while subtly reminding the public that they are a new Samsung. A Reimagined, Reinvented, and Redesigned Samsung that has nothing to do with the problems of last year.

There is going to be unbelievable scrutiny on the build quality of the Galaxy S8 and if one button doesn’t work perfectly or it gets even a little too warm.Even with a flawless launch and great rehabilitation campaign everything could instantly turn against Samsung.