Hype builds up for next Samsung phone

By Lee Min-hyung

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

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

Before launching the device, the Seoul-based company is gaining the spotlight here and abroad thanks to growing attention on the specifications of the new smartphone.

The company has yet to confirm any specific features of the new Galaxy 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 large-size smartphones combined with a minimized handset size.

Earlier this month, Samsung was confirmed to have filed a trademark for an “infinity display” to be featured in the new Galaxy device, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The infinity display refers to an edge-to-edge display with an almost bezel-less design.

According to multiple 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.

“The larger and wider screen is not aimed at maximizing revenue, as this is the first time for Samsung to manufacture the unprecedented organic light-emitting-diode (OLED) display size,” a company official said.

“If revenue maximization 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 artificial intelligence (AI) voice assistant, Bixby, which came in partnership with its recently acquired AI software firm Viv Labs.

Late last month, Samsung Electronics Vice President Rhee In-jong explained the move came as part of efforts to build what it calls an open AI platform where the internet of things (IoT) can be interconnected through voice control.

The G8 is also expected to come with iris-scanning security software, which was unveiled for the first time in Samsung’s ill-fated Note 7. In mid-August, Samsung wowed customers by equipping the scrapped device with the world’s first iris scanner, which the firm said comes with higher security levels, compared to the existing fingerprint handset unlocking system.

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

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

“Dual cameras have been one of 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.”

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