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Samsung Galaxy S8 to be launched this week

If you ask me, I’ll say that Samsung badly needs a break from the barrage of misfortunes that have plagued the company in the past year; creating a host of messy public relations challenges for an otherwise great company. It’s now old news that the first female president of South Korea, the home country of Samsung, was forced out of the office a few weeks ago, essentially by the liberal party in that country, for alleged corrupt practices.

Well, Samsung’s de facto leader, Lee Jay-Yong, is currently also being tried in Seoul on charges of embezzlement and bribing the ousted president. This is certainly not good for Samsung. On a more benign level, the company is also planning to split itself into two – a holding company and an operating company – to simplify the ownership structure and also maximize shareholder’s value. So, a lot is happening to Samsung.

The Galaxy Note 7 scandal – in which a device slated to be the world’s most advanced smartphone – developed battery problems, causing the phone to literally burst into flames, is quite fresh in our memories. In the wake of the event, besides the loss of billions of dollars from the fiasco, are criticisms of the manner in which Samsung handled the recall, the accusation of lack of transparency, and some doubts in the company’s technical competence. 

On the basis of the foregoing, Samsung Galaxy S8 (and S8 Plus or Edge, depending on what the company decides to name the higher end model), which is slated to be launched in a few days, has to be flawless. It’s got to be “do or die” for Samsung, or the company could cease to exist as we know it, and perhaps taking South Korea down with it.

 (Samsung is the most valuable company in South Korea, with capitalization that is reportedly over twenty percent of that of the country.) So, Samsung’s old glory may come to an end if anything serious goes wrong with S8 and/or its premium counterpart, since smartphone sales account for a significant portion of Samsung’s profit in recent years.

However, I’ll like to stay bullish on Samsung, hoping that S8 will be a blockbuster after all. The rumored launch date is March 29, 2017, which is two days away; release date is April 21, while customers will be able to pre-order on either April 7 or April 10.

It is not easy to impress smartphone customers these days, as it seems that customers have seen it all. Moreover, there are quite a few options in the market for similar quality phones: LG G6, Google Pixel and Pixel XL, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and OnePlus 3T (by the Chinese company One Plus Technology).

And don’t forget a possible iPhone 8/8 Plus in September, if Apple’s past rituals are anything to go by. However, with the relative slump in the sale of smartphones in the past few years, it’s my hope that demand will pick up to reflect consumers’ need to replace aging devices. If that happens, S8 might do well.

Regarding the leaked features of S8, none is earth-shattering, honestly, though I am hoping that the real features of the phone when released will beat what is being rumored. Galaxy S8 may be doing away with the home button; it may incorporate virtual navigation buttons and move the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone – just when I have gotten used to swiping my finger to unlock my phone! The engine (chip or processor) of S8 will depend on where you live on the globe. Some phones with come with Snapdragon 835, with a speed of 3.2 GHz, while others will come with Exynos 8895 (3 GHz), which is a chip developed by Samsung itself.

Rumored screen sizes are 5.7 inches and 6.2 inches. There will be a front camera (12 mega pixels) and a rear one (8 mega pixels). The Random Access Memory (RAM) will come in two options (4 GB and 6 GB) and screen resolution could be 2,560 x 1440 pixels, as in S7, or a whopping 3,840 x 2160 pixels. The phone will be water resistant. 

Obviously, the battery that will power the new phone is probably what will be on your mind the most, because of the Note 7 fiasco. It is rumored that Samsung will dump one of the two companies that supplied batteries for S7, and get batteries from Japanese manufacturers Murata Manufacturing and Sony instead. Incidentally, the other battery supplier for the problem Note 7 device is Samsung’s own SDI outfit, which will also be supplying batteries for S8. Is this scary or what?

Should you go for S8? I hate to do this to Samsung, but I’ll probably wait for a few months after release, to allow S8 to stabilize; just to be sure everything works out okay. Well, what can I say?

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