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Rising from the ashes

Updated 20 Mar, 2017 02:30pm
Will Samsung learn from its past mistakes and have a spectacular 2017?

Oh, Samsung! It is so hard to love thee. There was the Note7 fiasco, which cost the company about $20 billion, and several times over in reputation. Their top management got embroiled in fraud investigation. Apple topped them as the largest vendor of smartphones in the world. Furthermore, of the $53.7 billion in operating profits generated by the entire global smartphone market, Apple took $44.9 billion. What could go right?

Plenty, it turns out. Samsung is about to have a spectacular 2017. Here’s why.

They’ve fixed their user interface

Samsung emerged as a hardware design leader in 2015 with the S6 series, but their software remained their Achilles’ heels: bloated, slow and ugly, with superior alternatives offered by Google’s Pixel and the iPhone. That’s no longer the case; while the Note7 crashed and burned, its revamped UI (called ‘Grace UI’) was appropriated for the rest of the Samsung line-up which matches or beats anything by Google, HTC or Apple. Since Samsung’s UI is built over Android, industry leading features from Google like AI assistance, machine learning and split-screen multitasking are already part of their arsenal.

They’ve got all the components

There are three major mobile chips (called SOCs) in leading smartphones today: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, Apple’s A10, and Samsung’s own Exynos.

Get this: Samsung manufactures all three.

Samsung is also the world leader in NAND memory (the memory chips inside cell phones), and display technology called OLED. Their screens are considered to be the industry’s best. It is rumoured that Apple placed an order of 160 OLED screens to Samsung for their iPhone 8.

So: iPhone 8 will most certainly break sales records – while running Samsung’s processor, memory chips and screen. Meanwhile, Samsung’s own phones will most probably lead the Android market, and if they don’t, their competitors will also be running processors and memory, and screens (in some cases) manufactured by Samsung.

They have got all the market segments covered

Samsung offers ‘premium’ products in all price categories. That means that features like a metal and glass build, fingerprint sensors, waterproofing, dual SIMs and memory card slots can now be found from the Galaxy J series all the way to the S series and the Note line. This guarantees that they remain the most profitable Android phone maker.

They are on the leading edge of mobile tech

The Galaxy S6 Edge was the world’s first phone to have a screen curved on both sides. While some other manufacturers have also released handsets with this feature (notably Blackberry and Huawei), Samsung is in a position to make such screens for all their flagship releases going forward. You know, because they are the only ones making them!

Samsung A-series and S-series remain the best selling Android smartphones. Galaxy S7 Edge just won the best mobile phone award for 2016 at the Mobile World Congress, beating iPhone 7; this came exactly one year after the Galaxy S6 Edge, errr, edged out iPhone 6S for the same award.

The Galaxy S7 Edge, even one year after release, is considered by a large section of the tech press to be the best overall handset in the world.

While VR is now built into Android, Samsung builds on this by partnering with Oculus and continuing their line of Gear VR headsets. Most of the time, these headsets are given away with their flagship launches, and the app and content ecosystem around Gear VR is the strongest. Their phones’ superior displays ensure that in the mobile space, Samsung’s VR solution is the market leader while Apple has yet to get into this space.

Similarly, they remain the industry leader as far as wireless charging is concerned, something that their competition is still catching up with. The Galaxy S8, to be launched within a couple of months, is at the forefront of “screen ratio” trend: fitting a larger 2:1 screen into a smaller body, and changing the paradigm for its competition.

Unless the iPhone 8 also has such a screen, which will be provided by Samsung!

They listen to us

Users criticised Samsung’s plasticky build quality for years; the Galaxy S6 changed that. However it lacked a few staples demanded by non-Apple smartphone users: waterproofing, a memory card expansion slot and adequate battery life. The S7 Edge, launched the following year, had all these features and more. There was some criticism about their handling of the Note7 crisis; however since then, they have taken concrete steps to prevent this going forward.

Of course, a lot can go wrong for Samsung in 2017. That is true for any manufacturer. The fact still remains: Samsung is all set to dominate the mobile industry in 2017, and only Samsung can stop it.

Talha bin Hamid is an accountant by day and an opinionated observer of pop culture, an avid reader, a gamer and an all-around nerd by night.