Samsung held its annual MWC Press Conference to a full house at the event. Normally, it uses the event to launch the next update for the Galaxy smartphones, but after the problems with the batteries in the Note 7, the launch of the S8 has been delayed while extra checks are made. The rumours are that the phone will be launched in a separate event in New York at the end of March or in April.
The event started with a video that showed the quality testing done by Samsung on its mobile devices. David Lowes is CMO of Samsung in Europe and he said that Samsung had not met the levels of quality that it wanted. New processes have been introduced to improve safety including an eight point battery check and the firm has appointed a group of external experts to advise on batteries. Despite the problems, Lowes said, the S7 has done very well for Samsung.
5G Will be a Big Opportunity – Watch for 2018
To create the best experience, you need the best networks and Tim Baxter, COO of Samsung Electronics America then came on to talk about 5G. Samsung is investing heavily in IoT technology with acquisitions to exploit the new networks. 5G will mean very high bandwidth, but also lag-free connections. Samsung has developed technology for network operators as well as 5G routers and Baxter said that the first commercial deployments will start to roll out in 2018.
Roger Garnani is CTO and Chief Information Architect from Verizon and he said that his company is working with Samsung and it is already looking at products, after publishing a 5G specification last year. This year, there will be 5G customer trials in 11 markets in the US. There are ‘hundreds of cell transmitters’ are being rolled out and customers will be signed up over the next 60 days. Verizon is looking forward to the feedback on performance. VR & AR is being developed for education and entertainment. The next stage is to bring out the next set of 5G specifications for mobile, as the first set of specifications have been for static receivers. Garnani said that the firm hoped to be back in 2018 to announce a 5G smartphone.
Turning to Tablets
The tablet market has matured and developed very quickly. The role of the tablet has become less clear because of the development of the smartphone. Although tablets are mostly used in the home, the ability to move them around the home is important. Many people think that tablets are just for entertainment but Samsung believes that the tablet should have wider functions.
Lowes said that Samsung would have two new tablets at the show. The Galaxy Tab S3 was the first he showed and Mark Notton, Head of Portfolio Strategy for Samsung in Europe came on to show the device. The front and the rear both have glass panels and it weighs 429 gms and is available in silver and black. It runs Android Nougat and uses a Qualcom SnapDragon 820 with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
Video is getting more important so the 9.7″ Tab S3 will have 2048 x 1536 resolution and HDR support for high performance on its SuperAMOLED display as well as a low blue light filter. There is support for the ‘Vulkan’ API for graphics and there is a gaming mode that stops other applications while games are being played to enhance performance.The Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) image processing chip is in there and audio has been improved with four corner-mounted AKG-tuned speakers (and there will also be AKG headphones). The audio system will also detect between landscape and portrait mode to rotate the sound to match the display.
The Tab S3 has 12 hours of battery life (for video) and will have a keyboard accessory that fits very simply and has ‘deep’ key movements. The latest S pen is based on Wacom EMR technology and is supported by and bundled with the S3. There have been a lot of detailed improvements and Notton said that it is like writing with a pen on paper. Samsung has partnered with Staedtler who will be making a special Noris digital pen for Samsung.
The Galaxy Book Two in One was introduced by Alanna Cotton, a VP from Samsung America. The tablet is designed for power users and road warriors and brings Windows capability – doing everything a PC does. It’s not just about where and when we work, it’s about how we work, too. The Book is in two versions, a 10.6″ (LCD display with FullHD) and a 12″ (2160 x 1440 OLED). The 10.6″ weighs 744 grams and is just 10.7mm thick. The Book, uses 7th Generation Core i5 processors and has up to 256GB of storage. It has two USB Type-C ports for monitor and other connections. The battery is rated at 10.5 hours and is fast charging.
Microsoft then came on to explain that Microsoft and Samsung collaborated very tightly to develop the Book. One feature that came out of this is that Windows Hello can be used on a phone to enable the Book. The S-Pen functionality is fully integrated with Windows and Adobe has enabled S Pen detection and there was a brief demo of the the S Pen working in Photoshop to exploit the tilt and pressure.
There’s a new Pogo keyboard cover and that comes with the tablet, as does the pen. The Book supports the Samsung Flow communication platform.
New Gear VR Controller
Lowes came back to talk about VR which are now being used by five million Samsung clients globally, now. There is a new Gear VR with a new controller designed with Oculus. It will act as a remote and also as a tracker of the hand position to enable new apps. The remote will be supplied as standard. (We spoke to staff on the booth who told us that the new Gear VR was pretty much the same as last year’s) The controller supports pointing, drag and drop, tilt and shoot using an accelerometer, gyrometer and proximity sensors. There is a clickable touch pad and the controller can be mounted on the headset when not in use.
Lowes then said that he thought attendees might want to put a date into their diaries, which will be a new phone at an ‘Unpacked event’ on the 29th March.
On its booth, Samsung had a prototype stereo 3D 360 degree camera. It has six microphones but there was little information available, although it looked like a final product to us.