The Next Galaxy. Samsung has played this phone so close to their chest its amazing. How often does a phone come out and almost every single spec and even the general design of the phone a complete mystery? Well, usually once a year. Samsung is playing a game that usually only Apple is entitled to play, and that speaks volumes of the position Samsung has gained for itself as “King” of Android OEM’s.
But I was talking it over with fellow writer Vanessa Lammas this afternoon and she brought up a point that made me really think. She essentially brought up a ‘what if’.
“What if The Next Galaxy isn’t all its cracked up to be? What if it’s a flop? ”
Can Samsung afford a flop? I’m willing to bet that financially they don’t have to worry so much about the success of this new phone, but what about in mind share? Think about this for a second before you close off your minds. Samsung dethroned HTC as king of Android hand set makers only last year. Why? Was it because Samsung put out the Jesus phone of all Android phones? Was it because HTC simply didn’t do enough? Or was it a combination of the two scenarios? I’m tending towards a combination.
Last year HTC put out some good phones. The Sensation itself was amazing. Study design, big screen, half way decent camera, good specs.. No one can really say it was a flop. But the general consensus is that HTC drowned the market in a variety of devices that were either too distinct from each other or not enough like each other.
But how was Samsung any different? Right now Samsung is kind of in our good graces because of their success but think about it! How many Galaxy S II variants does AT&T have? There’s the Galaxy S II, the Galaxy S II Skyrocket, and the Galaxy Note. And before you say that doesn’t count, yes, it does. Increasing the size of the screen and throwing in a glorified stylus doesn’t change the fact that it was based off the SGSII and therefore its a variant. Samsung drowned the market just as much HTC did.
HTC has thrown down the gauntlet. I’ve seen the sentiment echoed in nearly every blog I’ve read that reviewed the device. They’ve reinvented their approach, their design, and their vision. With the One X, they have set the bar incredibly high. So how can Samsung maintain its position?
What it if doesn’t?
So far Samsung has been playing this just right (with maybe one exception). They are building up the hype to breaking point. No one knows what this phone looks like. No one knows if it’s unibody, or if it’s plastic like it’s ancestors have been, or how big the screen is, or even what kind of screen it has. They showed the phones outline underneath a sheet. They released a statement to press announcing its Exynos 4 Quadcore processor. And.. They sent a bunch of performers to essentially antagonize a bunch of Apple Customers in Australia calling them sheeple (again not so sure about the effectiveness of that one). Samsung has the world’s attention.
So, what if they flop?
Let’s be blunt. The last numbered Galaxy phone was big enough and good enough to dissuade even the staunchest Apple fans. Even they had to take a look. This phone needs to do that and more. It’s not just about maintaining King-ship of the OEM’s (though that would be hard enough), it’s not about putting the iPhone 4S to shame, and it’s not even about trumping the iPhone 5 before it comes out. It’s about all of those things. Samsung is fighting a war on all fronts. They have to keep the same amount mind share across consumers, and increase it at the same time. If the Next Galaxy doesn’t have the specs and features and sex appeal necessary to draw people away from the One Series, and to sign them into contracts before AND AFTER the iPhone 5 comes out, it needs to be phone of the year, period.
So what will it need to accomplish?
1) It has to have a beautiful screen-honestly, this is probably the one area I don’t think anyone is worried about. Samsung makes beautiful screens. Their AMOLED technology will always stun people. But, they have notable issues with colors being over saturated and that *needs* to be dealt with in this iteration. The screen needs to be using either Gorilla Glass 2 or something darn close. Why? Aside from protection values, it looks good. The One X’s SLCD2 display looks painted onto the screen due to the glass’s thinness and it’s viewing angle are almost impossible. It also can’t be pentile. There’s room for error, sure, but Samsung will most likely ace this.
2) Samsung needs to address battery life issues. Expecting a miracle like a RAZR Maxx battery is 99% out of the question, but something along the lines of between 1800 milliamp and 2000 milliamp doesn’t seem terribly far fetched. Any less than that and the phone simply won’t last through out the day and it will fail.
3) We already know about the Exynos 4 Quad. And a search through Sammy’s website will bring up some interesting facts about this beast of a chip. It’s made using Samsung’s HKMG 32nm technology so it will be drastically faster than the Exynos dual core found in the SGSII, and will be natively more power efficient by approximately 20%. It is the same size as the old chip, so it can fit into a thin frame. It can dynamically turn on and off any of its cores to deal with its work load to save on battery life. It’s nice. But where does its room for error appear? It’s GPU is still an unknown. Some are speculating that it may use the sam processor as the SGSII’s MALI 400 and simply over clock it. Now that may not be a horrible solution, as this GPU is quite good, but it’s not ideal. It’s competition in this area is the Nvidia Tegra 3 and it’s mighty proprietary GPU. Not to mention the GPU that the iPhone 5 will carry which is rumored to be on par with the Tegra 3. Here’s hoping Samsung steps up.
4) Design. This is a big one. The HTC One series and the iPhone have one thing in common above all else- They. Are. Sexy. The iPhone with its machine finish an glass exterior and stainless steel rim. The One Series with its eye grabbing unibody polycarbonate and metal bodies. The Next Galaxy cannot be a standard black slab anymore. Heck, even Nokia is realizing that with their Lumia series. Black slabs are fading. People want something that looks unique and makes their friends jealous. And if Samsung reveals another black slab and thinks rounded corners are enough to differentiate it, it’s wrong. Thankfully the rumor mill is talking of unibody casings, polycarbonate or ceramic materials, and good things and Samsung themselves have kept the device under wraps, literally, so I have high hopes.
5) The camera needs to be outstanding. No one would go so far as to call the One X’s camera perfect, because it’s definitely not. But it’s speeds are bar none. And it’s results are fairly admirable. The iPhone’s camera has always been the standard. And the Next Galaxy needs to be good enough to fend off the iPhone 5’s camera. No one knows what it packs but is it really so strange to think that it won’t be an improvement over the last admittedly amazing camera they had? And their iSight tech will most likely be rearing its head to make pictures even better. Samsung needs to put some real effort into this things camera.
Complacency is Samsung’s biggest enemy right now. If it can’t ding all of these areas, Samsung might not be sitting at the top of the totem poll much longer. Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain, on May 3rd, 2012, all eyes will be on Samsung.