To Infinity: This is The New Samsung Galaxy S8

Ghana is basically Samsung country. From the Kotoka Airport banner displays to the ad banners around the city advertising the Samsung Prime phones as well as the Galaxy Phones, Samsung is almost everywhere in the Ghanaian market. It’s not a scientific survey but it wouldn’t be surprising if 3 out of 5 Ghanaians in Accra, had a Galaxy phone in their hands.

So yesterday, I wondered about how people who are fans of Samsung were following the news of the launch of the new Samsung flagship phone: The Samsung Galaxy S8.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ | Image Credit: Gizmodo

Just looking at pictures from the Samsung event and impressions done by reviewers and bloggers, Samsung is really giving phone makers a run for their money, especially when it comes to design of hardware. The S8 looks gorgeous. It comes into two packages: The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+

Galaxy S8 and S8+ | Image Credit: BGR

The Galaxy S8 comes in a 5.8 inch display and the larger Galaxy S8+ comes in with a 6.2 inch display. If you don’t have big hands like me, these phones will look huge in your hands.

Samsung is calling their new display “Infinity Display“. This phone is basically bezel-less. There are no physical hardware buttons for users to press.

Samsung also put in some new security features. Just like in the unfortunate Galaxy Note 7, users can now use Retina Scanning to access their phone. From all the videos I’ve seen of this feature, it looks very fast.

There’s also a “Facial Recognition” software for unlocking your phone.

The finger print scanner is no longer located on the front of the screen but instead, it’s located at the back, right next to the camera.

Finger Scanner is at the back, right next to the camera – Image Credit: Android Authority

Umm. A bit awkward if you ask me. I expect a lot of people to be wiping their cameras before they take pictures with the new phone.

The design is definitely cool looking. Interestingly enough, the S8 and S8+ have the normal USB connector instead of USB-Type C that most phone makers appear to be gravitating to. Also, you can expect the normal headphone jack.

Oh, and it’s waterproof.

Bixby Is The Samsung Galaxy S8 Selling Point

Samsung Bixby – Image Credit: Android Authority

Just like Apple and other smartphone makers, there is a release of new versions of flagship smartphones phones almost every year and this year is no different with Samsung. With the S8, you’re getting a bigger battery, bigger display, new processor and everything.

So what’s the point of buying this if you already have a Samsung Galaxy S7?

Well, Samsung is hoping you buy in because of it’s new AI assistant, Bixby. Just like Siri and Cortana, Bixby is Samsung’s virtual assistant. You can activate it and ask it for weather, news and sports scores. It can send you reminders and track how many steps you have taken as well as how many calories you’ve burned. But Samsung wants its new AI to do more than just that.

Samsung Bixby – Talk, See, Recommend, Remind

So apart from using your voice, you can text with the AI and use the camera to identify objects in the real world.

See a chair you like and want to get one? Take a picture of it and Bixby will recommend places to get one.

Samsung’s Bixby can recognize items in the real world

Unfortunately, you can’t use your voice to activate Bixby. Samsung dedicated a button on the phone which users have to press before they use the AI. That’s a bit unfortunate especially when you consider that I can activate Cortana and Google Assistant all through voice.

Press a button to activate Bixby – Image Credit: Samsung

But just like Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant, I feel like most of these AI assistants aren’t realizing their full potential in Ghana.

For example, in the US or UK, I can pull out my phone, check Google maps and get public transportation times and even traffic situations. My AI assistant logs my public transportation travels and gives me suggestions for better routes. I also get updates based on my location if I’m walking and get pings for local shops and local deals.

In Ghana, something like public transportation is still in its infancy. Most trotros and taxis are off grid. As far as using Samsung’s Bixby to identify items in the real world, good luck getting them recognised or even having a local shop to buy them from.

If Bixby is the selling point for the Samsung S8, I don’t think Ghanaian consumers might recognize that. Another question that springs to mind when it comes to AI: is the average Ghanaian even using AI assistants on their phone? That’s probably a question for another article.

Status Symbol

Just like the previous phone which was the Galaxy S7, customers in Ghana who bought it kind of had something of a status symbol. The first reason is because the price was so high. A Galaxy S7 runs you about 2,500 – 3,500 GHC. That’s out of range for so many Ghanaians. So if you had enough change in your pocket to have this phone, you’re kind of in the higher echelon.

The new Samsung S8 is priced about $720. If you do the math, that’s averagely about 3,240 GHC (Using 4.5 as the exchange rate). I haven’t even factored shipping costs and all the other taxes involved. So you’re probably looking at 3,500 to 4000 GHC just to cop this phone when it finally comes to Ghana.

I know for sure that my bank account can’t handle that. But I know people who are Samsung loyalists who might definitely upgrade. No sweat.

Redemption

Samsung has a lot riding on the Galaxy S8. After the debacle which was the Note 7, Samsung needs a win to gain back consumers trust and loyalty. Looking at the S8, it looks like they have a solid winner on the front end. A solid, beautiful crafted phone with neat software to back.

Most first impressions of the phone are positive. Samsung looks like they sacrificed some user experience especially placing the fingerprint scanner right next to the camera. But they did try to compensate by incorporating the retina scanner in this new device.

Samsung loyalists in Ghana will definitely be on the lookout for the new S8. But some of us who don’t have that kind of cash in our bank account can only be the sidelines and salivate at the new phone. Users in Ghana might not be able to take advantage of the new AI assistant yet, but I don’t that they will stop anyone from getting their hands on this phone.

Until Apple reveals its iPhone 8, Samsung looks like they want be temporarily in the lead in the Smartphone race.


Check out more about the Samsung Galaxy S8 on the Samsung’s website

Joseph-Albert Kuuire is the creator and editor of TechNovaGh.com, an online digital platform focusing on technology in Ghana.

I’m also a UX Designer, book reader, and tech enthusiast (duh!)

Email: [email protected]