Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes third-party destructive reviews of the Galaxy S8, Samsung’s problems with Bixby, why the Note 8 will have to fight the S8, a curved screen for the new Pixel smartphones, the return of the Note 7, Android Pay’s steady improvements, WileyFox’s move back to stock Android, and asking if Microsoft should start shipping an Android handset.
Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).
Faster, Better, Stronger, Tested
It’s not always this destructive, but the Galaxy S8 is being put through a rigorous set of tests by various Youtubers looking to compare the S8 to the competition. Be it in speed, immersion in water, being attacked by a hammer or being thrown to the ground, the S8 is proving to be rather resilient. Amit Chowdhry investigates:
TechRax also conducted drop tests on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 from 5 feet high (roughly shoulder height). When both devices were dropped on the sides, there were noticeable scratches and dents. And then the displays on both devices shattered on the second drops.
The iPhone 7 shattered more than the Galaxy S8 and was actually unusable on the second drop. Even with a shattered display, the Galaxy S8 remained functional thus proving that Samsung's flagship is more resilient this year compared to previous models.
When Voice Is Not Enough
One of the key features in Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is the voice-powered digital assistant Bixby. The South Korean company has spent a lot of time promoting this feature, and the design of the handset has a dedicated Bixby button. Unfortunately Bixby’s voice recognition component is not going to be available when the S8 goes on sale. Ina Fried reports for Axios:
The company declined to say why the voice assistant feature was being delayed. However, in demos for Axios and others, it failed to work properly.
…Next to the edge-to-edge screen, Bixby was probably the most talked about feature of the new smartphone, and the delay of the voice feature indicates Samsung has quite a bit of work to do in its effort to take on Siri, Alexa and Google assistant. It also adds to questions whether a company known mostly for its hardware can compete in software and services.
Why The Note 8 Needs To Fight The S8
Our first look at the potential Galaxy Note 8 this week revealed a design similar to the current S8 flagships. Samsung will target the Note 8 against the new iPhone Plus models and a number of other Android-powered phablets, but the biggest competition for the Note 8 will be from the Galaxy S8 family, specifically the premium S8 Plus model:
With the larger screen size of the S8 handsets, and the inclusion of a ‘super-specced’ Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung is chasing many of the Note 7 customers with its current flagship smartphone. Those efforts will likely stretch out over the next two months, leaving perhaps three months before the Note 8 is revealed and the PR has to start working on sales of the new phablet… sales that will need to be accomplished after much of the pent-up demand will have been salved by the premium edition of the Galaxy S8 Plus.
Curves In Every Direction
As well as smaller bezels, this year is turning into the year of the curved edge on your smartphone display. Samsung has led the way and Apple is expected to follow with the iPhone 8. It now looks like Gogole may join the trend with the Pixel 2. Gordon Kelly reports:
A new report from South Korea’s Electronic Times claims Google is investing $880 million in a mega deal with LG Display to secure a large supply of flexible OLED displays. This would a) ensure the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL avoid the supply problems which continue to dog the Pixel and Pixel XL, and b) give these next generation smartphones a stylish new look.
And yes, flexible OLED displays are the same category of panel used by Samsung for the stunning, curved ‘Infinity Displays’ in the almost bezel-less Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus.