Samsung will announce their new Galaxy S8 in a few weeks. While Apple needs to make a splash with their upcoming iPhone because it is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Samsung has even more at stake with their new phone. Samsung is fighting for its reputation after the $6 billion debacle of the fire-prone Samsung Note. It is also trying to show itself as a trustworthy company in spite of the arrest of its de-facto leader, Jay Y. Lee who is currently on trial in a large-scale corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of the Korean president.
Will the upcoming Galaxy S8 be their much-needed savior? They are betting on it and a big part of that bet hinges on the anticipated AI assistant that is to be built into this phone. There is little doubt that there will be a new Samsung assistant since Samsung bought Viv Labs last year, a company founded by the creators of Siri.
Samsung also recently trademarked two names, “Bixby” and “Kestra” which the world is taking to be the male and female names for their new assistant. Personally, I love the name Bixby. It sounds like a butler. And who doesn’t want to have their own personal butler? While Samsung could use Bixby as a female voice, I think that breaking the female tradition of Cortana, Alexa, and the Google Assistant would be a wise move.
Samsung is in a great position to incorporate Bixby not only into its phones, but also into its Samsung SmartThings home products. This would make them the first to have a smart TV with a proprietary assistant. It would, of course also be able to control other Samsung devices including wearables, like the Gear watch.
If rumors are correct, the Galaxy S8 might have a dedicated button for launching Bixby. And that Bixby will be able to control almost all native apps preinstalled on the S8, perhaps even the camera. Perhaps Bixby will also be able to process payments through Samsung Pay. Rumors abound about the S8 having the ability to blend together fingerprint, iris, and facial detection to verify a user for Samsung Pay. Some previous Galaxy phones were unlocked with facial recognition. You may also remember that the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 had an iris scanner. Neither of these, however, was previously used for payment verification.
Bixby might also be integrated with the Galaxy S8’s camera app. If that’s true, Bixby could help you take a picture of something and search for that item on the web. In that case, there is little doubt that Bixby like Alexa, the Amazon assistant, will also be able to help you purchase that item. It is also possible that he or she could also process text to both read it and translate it into other languages.
The trend that Samsung started with the Galaxy Edge, will no doubt, continue with the Galaxy S8. Both the S8 and S8 Plus will probably have edge-to-edge screens with little or no bezel and rounded edges. There will be a few changes to accomplish this. Samsung will most likely move the home button to the screen. They will move the fingerprint to the back, as found on several other phones. This accomplishment will enable Samsung to give the screen more real estate without increasing the size of the phone.
Both models of the S8 should be comparable to those of the S7 with similar sizes and the same 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. They will most probably to continue to have the excellent OLED screens found in the S7. They will also have support for microSD cards up to 2TB in size.
The phone will also have a 3.5 mm headphone jack. This would put it in a good position to go against the iPhone. The iPhone eliminated the headphone jack and never supported external storage.
The Galaxy 8 phones will surely be IP68 rated for water and dust resistance (Up to 30 minutes in 5 feet of water.) This gives them more water resistant than the IP67-rated iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The charging port will be a USB-C port. Colors will probably be similar to last year’s models. Samsung will no doubt follow Apples’ lead in releasing a glossy black finish. They might also release a bright blue model to match that of Google’s Pixel phones. Or perhaps they will go off the chart with one or two other bright colors.
Samsung has also recently announced that will affect the S8. From now on Samsung will release security updates for unlocked Galaxy devices in the U.S. on a monthly basis. This will be a small plus for sales of the Galaxy S8. The slowness of updates has been a sticking point with some perspective Galaxy purchasers.
The Galaxy 8’s will be announced on March 29, 2017. The global launch will be sometime in April. This is a chance for Samsung to redeem themselves for the flaming Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. So we can expect some WOW features, perhaps some spectacular surprise.
If both Samsung and Apple deliver spectacular phones this year, it will really be the Clash of the Titans. Now that will certainly be something to watch.