The pressure on a batsman as he walks to the crease in the second innings if he has managed a duck in the first innings is immense. No batsman wants to walk back to the dressing room with a pair to his name. Less so a ‘king pair’ with a golden duck in both innings. On the golf course the pressure on the putting green builds if you just miss that little annoying length putt and your return putt is about the same length. Whenever we have one failure, the pressure – both internal and external – builds.

On 28 April this year, the pressure on Samsung will be immense. The well-publicised Samsung Note 7 was released on 19 August last year to great fanfare – and then embarrassment. I won’t go through the full details of the Note 7 failures but the cost to Samsung of the fiery Note 7 has been estimated at over US$5 billion but many pundits suggest the reputation damage may be much higher.

Enter the Samsung Galaxy S8. It is the next big release from Samsung after the Note 7. While Samsung have not traditionally created the same excitement around their products as Apple, the anticipation is building as we head towards 28 April. So how will it measure up?

For a start, it is big. The trend in smartphones has been to go bigger but this one is really big. The current Samsung Galaxy S7 comes in two sizes. A 5.1 inch screen and a 5.5 inch screen. The new S8 comes with a 5.8 inch screen and a massive 6.2 inch screen. That sounds a lot larger but with some clever design enhancements such as a smaller bezel and wrapped screen, the phone hasn’t actually increased dramatically in total size. The S8 has only grown by 6mm in height to 148mm and the S8 Plus has extended its height by 9mm to 159mm. The width and thickness of each phone has stayed roughly the same give or take a millimetre. The display to physical size of the phone is now an impressive 83 per cent and 84 per cent respectively.

That takes care of the first impression – the size. What about some of the new features. Memory is always an issue with modern smartphones. We use them for videos and photos and running apps and e-mail and just about everything else going on in our lives. Samsung have increased their base memory to 64GB with the option of adding a separate memory card to further increase the memory. This is one advantage that Samsung has over the Apple and Google offering. When you purchase an Apple or Samsung, the memory you purchase it with is the memory you have. Full stop. With the Samsung (as with several other Android phones) you can increase the amount of memory above the standard amount.

With cameras such a big part of the package with a modern smartphone it was a little surprising that Samsung didn’t make greater improvements to the cameras. The rear camera is still 12 megapixels and the front camera has increased from 5 to 8 megapixels. This is a marginal improvement but it doesn’t seem to me like this was the revolutionary advance that Samsung needed at this stage.

One major advance (and one that is taken directly from the Note 7) is the ability to unlock the phone with your eyes. This is a major feature and one that sets the S8 apart. Fingerprint scanners are so yesterday – but the S8 still has a fingerprint scanner for unlocking – but using an iris scanner to unlock the phone is the type of advance that will excite the early adopters.

Apart from specific features and moving the fingerprint scanner to the rear of the phone, Samsung traditionalists will be happy with the evolutionary nature of the advancement. The big question is whether it will bring back people who Samsung lost during the Note 7 debacle. The jury is out on this but in my opinion it will take more than a blink of the eyes to achieve this.

Mathew Dickerson

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