The Samsung Galaxy S8 is now available to buy at Vodafone UK! We've been chatting to the team behind the device to learn how it came to be, and what's coming next...
It only takes one glance at the new Samsung Galaxy S8 to know that it’s something special. The design, with its tiny top and bottom bezels and the ‘Infinity Display’ oozing over the sides, is unlike any smartphone before it – which is why it’s already making a splash with tech experts around the world.
But how did it come to be, and what else sets it apart from the pack? We recently caught up with Samsung UK’s Head of Technology, Kyle Brown, to find out – and to learn what’s coming next. Read on for the inside story…
Infinity (and beyond)
“Back in 2015 when we launched the Samsung Galaxy S6 we introduced the first dual-edged screen,” Kyle begins. That screen marked a step change in smartphone design, so our question? How did we get from the design of the Galaxy phones of old, to now?
“We built on that original framework in the S6 when we made the Galaxy S7,” Kyle explains, “and sought to bring back some of the features we knew our customers wanted. We know how important it is to give our customers what they want, while still innovating, so now we’ve taken everything we’ve learned with the S6 and S7 and applied it to the new the Samsung Galaxy S8, making it even thinner and narrower in order to improve a user experience.”
The result? A phone that’s much more comfortable to hold but – because of the bezel less design – one that doesn’t compromise on screen size. That means you get a smaller phone which feels big, something Samsung’s been edging towards (pun very much intended) for years:
“We know that big screen phones really resonate with our customers, but traditionally the downside with a big screen is the size of the overall device, so the sensible thing for us to do next was to try and make the phone itself as small as possible, without compromising on the quality of the screen.”
With that being the case, is Samsung’s ultimate goal to create a smartphone with no bezels at all – just an edge-to-edge sheet of glass? In a word: yes.
“Removing the bezels is our end game,” Kyle tells us. “It’s something we’ve been working towards for a long time, to give consumers what they want. You’ve got to factor in what the best use case is, of course; we’ll still want to have a front facing camera, for instance so you have to think about how that would fit in. But, ultimately, our aim is to give the best screen experience with the smallest device possible, so a completely bezel-less design would be great, provided we don’t lose any functionality with it.”
The Galaxy S8’s headline-making display and design isn’t the only thing worth shouting about, though; Kyle says there’s just as much to look forward to using underneath the hood:
“We’ve really improved things in all areas,” he says. “It’s the most powerful phone we’ve ever made, for example. It’s really efficient thanks to the world’s first 10-nanometer processor, which means your device will work faster, and be more battery friendly. And there’s the addition of some great new features and services like Samsung Connect – which allows you to control all your devices from one app – and Samsung Pass – which allows you to log into specific apps using your fingerprint or Iris.”
And then there’s Bixby…
Mixing in Bixby
Bixby, which is launching in earnest soon in the UK, is Samsung’s new voice assistant, baked into the Galaxy S8 range so firmly that it even has its own button on the left side of the device. So what’s it all about?
“The main reason for introducing Bixby is that smartphones are getting more and more complicated,” Kyle explains, “which can make it harder to learn everything your phone’s capable of. With Bixby we’re trying to flip things around so that the phone learns you, rather than the other way round.
“So Bixby looks at what you do regularly and tries to proactively give you relevant information, without you having to ask for it. That way, it can remind you of things or automate certain tasks, such as turning your heating on at home when it knows you’ve just left work for the day. There are lots of contextual features like that, which have never been done before on a smartphone.”
What’s interesting here is that because the Galaxy S8 is built on the latest version of Android, you’ll get the benefit of not one, but two voice assistants: Bixby and the inbuilt Google Assistant. But do the two compete against, or compliment, one another?
“The Google Assistant is still part of the S8, and still has a lot of great features,” Kyle says. “Bixby’s definitely there to compliment it, as it’s very much focused on what’s on your phone [versus Google’s, which is built more around search]. Bixby’s functionality will grow over time, but you don’t have to choose one over the other.”
What’s even cooler, Bixby’s built to go beyond simple question/answer situations; it wants to do anything you can…
“You should be able to use your voice to do anything that you can with touch or typing,” Kyle tells us, “and Bixby’s the first assistant to be able to make that promise. The way we see it, you should be able to control your whole device with your voice, but it all depends on the situation you’re in. If you’re at home, using your voice to control anything and everything makes sense, whereas if you’re at work or in public you’re more likely to use touch. We want to give people that choice.”
The most exciting news? Kyle believes that the Galaxy S8 range is just a sign of things to come:
“We’ve stepped forward a huge amount with the S8,” he says in closing, “and hopefully we’ll be able to bring some of the S8’s best new features to the rest of our smartphones over time. But we’re all about innovation, so I’m personally really looking forward to what we can build on this year and the next.”