There’s a new smartphone in town – and it’s called the Galaxy S8. Or, at least, it will be when it launches very, very soon.
Chief rival to the iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy S-series handsets have long been front-runners in the race for smartphone supremacy, with stacks of power and ahead-of-the-curve features, such as the Edge display.
With this latest iteration, though, Samsung will need to pull out several stops to retain – or, indeed, regain – the top spot.
See, with contemporary mobiles growing ever closer in appearance, specs and performance, not to mention the raft of budget machines taking the fight to flagships, Samsung has a tough job on its hands if it wants to stand out from the crown.
Here are the things that the Samsung Galaxy S8 needs to do to reclaim the flagship crown.
1 – LOOK THE PART
Samsung mobiles have long been good looking bits of kit, from the smooth curves of the S3 the, err, smooth curves of the S6 Edge.
Nowadays, though, it’s much harder to stand out. Where glass backs were once the preserve of Galaxy gear, for example, they’re now a commonplace addition on many a mobile.
Thankfully, there’s an obvious thing to trim: bezels. Just look at the reaction to phones such as the LG G6 and Xiami Mi Mix. Phones that are all screen stand out like nothing else.
Even with its Edge display tech, Samsung phones generally have heavy top and bottom bezels; cut these, and Samsung will have served up a phone that properly breaks the interface barrier between man and machine. If leaked images turn out to be real, that could be exactly what Samsung has done.
2 – SHIP WITH STORAGE TO SPARE
Price often revolves around two things when it comes to phones: screen size and storage space. Apple, in particular, has been guilty of forcing the matter on the latter in the past, making iPhone buyers choose between inadequate capacities or painfully inflated prices.
If the S8 were to take a leaf out of the OnePlus 3T’s book and serve up a 128GB model at a reasonable price, things might well turn around for Samsung.
Present information indicates that the S8 will pack 64GB of internal storage, alongside microSD expandability – but more space, at the right price, could set it in good stead.
3 – ALL DAY BATTERY LIFE
Features, features, features. A better camera, a faster processor, a bigger, brighter screen. All things we see on every new smartphone – but the one thing that’s frequently forgotten is the cell inside, and making it big enough to get you through a full day of normal usage.
With smartphones such as the Huawei P10 Plus packing batteries that can go for days, the S8 needs to ship with enough juice to do a good 24 hours on a single charge if it hopes to get close to the flagship crown. The Galaxy S6 wasn’t great; the S7 was better; the S8 has a chance to put paid to mid-table longevity – and trump Apple in the process.
Leaks suggest a 3000mAh cell on the S8, and a 3500mAh pack inside the larger Plus model – but real-world conditions will be the real test.
4 – BANISH THE BLOAT
A regular – and regularly unwelcome – feature of Samsung Galaxy smartphones is the bevvy of bloatware apps bundled in on top of the skinned Android interface.
While there’s very little chance that we’ll see the S8 hitting shelves with stock Android 7.0 installed, Samsung would do well to cut back on a few of the apps you’re usually forced to carry on a Galaxy phone – including the likes of S Health, S Voice, Samsung Gear and Samsung’s own suite of everyday apps.
While Apple does something similar, it’s less noticeable – and ditching them would illustrate a commitment to a better user experience.
5 – DON’T EXPLODE
This one had to make it in: Samsung can’t afford another explosive PR scandal like the one that hit the Note 7 and its, erm, exploding battery.
Samsung responded to the Note 7 drama, rightly, by recalling every device and launching a raft of TV ads to reassure consumers, and there’s every chance that the S8 will still sell in droves – but, all the same, the company’s reputation (and bank account) doesn’t need another dramatic, dangerous flop.