Exceptionally dull Galaxy S8 leaks highlight smartphone stagnation

Samsung has given the mobile industry a whole month extra to obsess about its new flagship smartphone but despite numerous leaks little of interest has emerged.

The S7 saved Samsung’s year in 2016, with strong sales throughout the year partly compensating for the Note7 disaster. Since Samsung is apparently taking the risk of sticking with the singed Note brand for its likely autumn phablet launch, the S8 could end up having to do all the commercial heavy lifting this year too.

That’s presumably one of the main reasons Samsung decided not to launch the S8 at MWC, as it traditionally does, but instead give itself another month to make sure absolutely everything is perfect. Occupying the lull after MWC has also meant the gadget press have little else to write about other than S8 leaks, which makes the lack of anything juicy so far even more noteworthy.

9to5Google has seen a research note from KGI Securities Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has established a reputation for getting choice iPhone morsels from the manufacturing supply chain prior to launch. The sum total of Kuo’s big revelation seems to be that the two devices launched will be around half an inch bigger than the two S7s and both will have the ‘edge’ curved glass design.

That’s it. They don’t transform into killer robot drones, there’s no AI-driven telepathy that performs functions before you even know you want them. There aren’t even go-faster stripes. The headline feature of the biggest smartphone launch of the is that it’s a bit bigger.

Even that has the potential to complicate matters. Phablets, of which the Note range is Samsung’s flagship, are generally defined at 6-7 inch smartphones. The larger of the two S8s, according to the leak, will be 6.2 inches so surely that makes it a phablet. If so what is Samsung going to launch in the autumn that will be materially different? Trying to rescue the Note brand will be difficult enough without having to compete with its own launch six months earlier.

Another leak at AndroidCentral would have us believe that the battery will not be growing proportionally to the size of the screen. While battery caution is understandable, this runs the risk of shortening the battery life even further since the screen tends to be the main drain on power.

One thing Samsung seems to have got right is design, with the all-glass front and curved edges shown in leaked photos obtained by BGR producing a modern, aesthetically-pleasing look. Samsung has been banging on about curved/flexible displays for at least a decade so it’s good to see some of this promise making its way into products. Having said that the desirability of bendy smartphones remains very open for debate.

We knew MWC was going to be underwhelming for handsets and so it turned out to be, with the nostalgic resurrection of an old basic phone providing the main handset headline for the show. It’s not for want of trying that the likes of Samsung and Apple are providing so little innovation of note (no pun intended) with their new devices, it’s just that the category matured very quickly. Samsung may have a well-hidden ‘one more thing’ up its sleeve (see video), but any surprise at all would be… surprising.


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