Samsung’s head of mobile business, Koh Dong-jin, sat down to talk about the “heaven to hell” journey the company has been on with the Galaxy Note 7 and the optimism he now holds for the new Galaxy S8 and its ability to bring Samsung back into ‘heaven’. It was under Koh’s watch that the Galaxy Note 7 was recalled not once, but twice, and then it was finally taken off the market due to several batteries exploding and catching fire. It was a dark time for a proud Samsung and terrible timing as well, because the new iPhone 7 was coming out and Samsung could do nothing to calm the waters at the time. As Koh said, it was a “very painful experience” — but an “eye-opening experience.”
Samsung has a lot riding on the success of the new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus – not so much financially, although that is one piece of the puzzle – but more in restoring Samsung’s reputation as a leader in smartphones and bragging rights to the most advanced device on the market. For starters, Samsung has changed the way their SDI division tests their batteries to insure there will be no more Galaxy Note 7 mishaps. They upped the size of their new Infinity Display to 5.8-inches for the S8 model and 6.2-inches for the S8 Plus variant. Samsung eliminated the flat display and is using a new dual-curved display on both models that looks like it melts into the glass back of the phone – it is sleek and it is amazing to look at and hold. They also changed the aspect ratio to 18.5:9 to give the user a taller viewing experience and the combination of the Infinity design and the aspect ratio allowed Samsung to fit the 6.2-inch display in a slightly larger footprint than the old 5.7-inch Note display.
Koh said they purposely did not change the design of the Galaxy S7 from the S6 because they were working on changing the Galaxy S8 and this design change takes years to accomplish. They really wanted the Galaxy S8 to “break down the boundaries, not just change the design.” Adding Bixby was another step to making the S8 a personal assistant as well as a mobile communication device that would not only allow touchscreen commands, but also voice commands. Samsung Connect was added when Koh was reminded that besides smartphones they make TVs, refrigerators, washers, and dryers, with the inclusion of Samsung Connect designed as a means to unify them all. Koh actually admitted that they were lacking on the software side when it was a separate division, but now that it is all under one mobile roof, the newer UX is first result of new efforts to streamline its software. He also indicated that he is very interested in producing a foldable phone, but it is not quite ready to push it to the public, but “That’s one I want to try in the future.” Samsung has learned a lot from the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and if the Galaxy S8 is their first step back to the forefront, it will be interesting to see what Koh has in store for the Galaxy Note 8.