This week Samsung introduced the new Galaxy S8 model, a somewhat newish-looking Android smartphone that many say takes design to a new level. Don’t believe the hype. Not much has changed and smartphones remain in the doldrums of a sea of sameness.
The most notable feature of the S8 is something you should expect to see in an iPhone soon, either this year or next, but just like rounded corners and smooth edges, the sea of sameness rules in the land of smartphone clones.
Chins and Foreheads
What’s that notable design feature in the Galaxy S8 that iPhone is sure to copy (copy is the wrong word since it’s likely that whatever Apple has in store, it’s been etched in stone for more than a few months already)?
Goodbye chin, goodbye, forehead. Most smartphones today have both: a notable chin– where the Home button resides on the iPhone. And a notorious forehead– where the selfie camera sits above the screen. You can’t miss them now and they’re already going away on a few flagship smartphones. Well, no, going away is the wrong term. They’re being reduced with some cosmetic surgery where each– forehead and chin– are little more than the sidebar bezels of today’s smartphones.
Oh, that reminds me. The reduced forehead and chin smartphones also get reduced bezels; reduced to nothing as they just disappear. So, the single most notable feature of the Galaxy S8 is that the front is mostly screen. No side bezels. Smaller chin and forehead. Mostly screen.
What do you see in the image above?
Looks like an iPhone but with a smaller forehead and chin and no bezel. Otherwise, it looks much like an iPhone. Interestingly, the Galaxy S8 comes in three different colors; each one displayed in the image above. If the front of a smartphone is all screen, no bezel and little chin or forehead, and most of us use a silicone, leather, or plastic case that obscures the back, then does the color matter?
Color matters to Samsung. No, it’s not called Jet Black but Midnight Black is the same thing. Black. Just like the Jet Black on the iPhone 7 models.
As you would expect with any new Samsung smartphone, there’s the traditional leapfrog over Apple’s last model. That explains why the Galaxy line launches about six months after the iPhone is announced. It gives Samsung time to play industry leader for a few months.
The new model has a Bixby button (think Siri but with a Home screen to call its own). There’s facial recognition so the phone unlocks by looking at you. Typical Samsung. The camera will be better than last year’s model. This one comes with Android Nougat, a 12MP camera, a large 3500mAh non-removable battery (possibly with flame retardant built in). And all the standard specifications of the genre; oct-core CPU, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, Wi-Fi, giant 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display, wireless charging, a MicroSD card slot for more storage, and water resistant rating (IP67) that matches last year’s iPhone 7.
Despite that giant 6.2-inch display, the Galaxy S8’s length is 6.3-inches vs. iPhone 7 Plus at 6.23-inches, and the iPhone actually is wider. Samsung has crammed plenty of technology into a relatively small space.
As much as we might like to think a great advancements smartphones has just been introduced, look at the images above again. What do you see? It’s the sea of sameness, the clone wars with a newer model clone. Smartphones are beginning to look all the same these days and it’s not easy to tell the expensive models from the cheap plastic knockoffs. One can even argue that all these devices run mostly the same basic apps all of us use the most.
Sea of sameness, indeed.
My thanks to Ross Rubin for the ‘sea of sameness’ inspiration, though he thinks the Galaxy S8 escapes the sea when it really does not; it’s just another giant smartphone, mostly screen on the front, color on the back, updated specifications of a device that runs all the same applications as most other smartphones.