Samsung Announces Plans for Galaxy Note Smartphone With Bendable Display in 2018

Ahead of the iPhone X unveiling, and the launch of the Galaxy Note 8 on Friday, Samsung today made a few announcements at a press event in Seoul, South Korea. The company said that it aims for the next iteration of the Galaxy Note to be bendable in some capacity, with the goal of launching sometime next year (via The Associated Press).

Samsung Electronics mobile business president Koh Dong-jin confirmed the company's plans, saying it's looking at a 2018 release date for "a smartphone with a bendable display." The president also commented that there are "several hurdles" Samsung has to overcome to implement a smartphone with a bendable screen, so the company is leaving itself room to push back the 2018 release if it needs to.

A bendable smartphone mockup by Samsung

Similar reports about bendable smartphones from Samsung have come out in the past, but the company has yet to officially launch such a device.
Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business at Samsung Electronics, said the company is setting its eyes on 2018 to release a smartphone with a bendable display. But he said there are several hurdles it has to overcome, leaving room to push back the release if those problems are not solved.

“As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year,” he told reporters. “When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product.”
What those issues might be were not detailed, but analysts watching the company pointed out that mass production on a premium smartphone with a bendable display and a thin body "will take time." Rumors surrounding Samsung's entry into the bendable smartphone market have been swirling for the past few years. In late 2016, reports even began citing Apple's interest in the technology for future iPhones, which could be sourced from LG.

Koh further commented about Samsung's plans to launch a smart home speaker in partnership with Harman, which will allow users to talk to an artificial intelligence assistant -- likely Bixby -- to control the device and perform various tasks. A release date or design details for the Samsung speaker were not given. Later today, Apple may reveal more information about its own smart speaker, the HomePod, which it announced in June for a December release.

Despite the Galaxy Note 8's expensive price tag (about $930 in the United States), Samsung has said that pre-orders were the highest ever for the Note smartphone line, "beating its predecessor Note 7 over five days by about 2.5 times." Samsung's announcements come a few hours ahead of Apple's big media event, where the Cupertino company will debut the significantly redesigned OLED iPhone X.


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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Reviews: ‘Beautiful’ Display and Solid Dual Rear Cameras at Premium Price

Nearly two weeks after being unveiled at an event in New York City, and with a week and a half still to go before it launches to customers on September 15, Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 smartphone has received its first batch of reviews posted online today. Many publications marked the Note 8's large 6.3-inch "Infinity Display" as a step forward for Samsung, compared the smartphone's "Live Focus" bokeh effect mode to Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus, and agreed that the lack of an explosive battery made the Note 8 a solid contender in the smartphone market.

Most reviews touched on comparing the Note 8's new dual rear camera system to that of the iPhone 7 Plus, and Engadget found that each smartphone's bokeh effect largely provides the same finished products, although Samsung's device has the edge in features. Unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, the Note 8 lets you change the blurring effect both before and after the picture has been taken, so that if the effect is too enhanced, it's easy to dial back a UI toggle and find a happy-medium spot where the Live Effect looks better.

Images via Engadget

On the other hand, in the camera's UI and in the rest of the Note 8's operating system, Engadget noted that anyone who purchases a Note 8 will have to struggle with "a little software strangeness" in the Android smartphone.
Honestly, my biggest gripes have more to do with the camera interface than the cameras themselves. Let's say you're trying to zoom in on a subject. By default, you can tap a button to switch between 1x and 2x zoom modes, but it disappears for a while after you tap on the screen to lock focus and exposure. You can still pinch to zoom in and out, but it would've been nice if the shortcut button showed up again sooner. Shooting in Live Focus mode also offers close-up and wide-angle views of your photo, and you can switch between them in your gallery.

Strangely, there doesn't seem to be a way to save the view you didn't select as a separate photo, even though earlier demo units did it just fine. There's definitely a little software strangeness going on here, and while it's never outright frustrating, Samsung could have stood to polish these apps further.
PC World called the Note 8 "the best phone Samsung has ever made, bar none," praising the smartphone's display, fast wireless charging, and 6GB of RAM. The site said that the new Samsung smartphone is "at least as fast as any Android phone" that it has used, as well as the iPhone 7 Plus.
Continue reading Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Reviews: ‘Beautiful’ Display and Solid Dual Rear Cameras at Premium Price

Samsung Announces Two New Smart Watches and New Wire-Free Gear IconX Earbuds

Samsung today held an event at the IFA trade show in Berlin, where the company introduced two new smart watches and a second-generation version of its Gear IconX wireless earbuds. The two new watches come just weeks ahead of the prospective launch date of Apple's third-generation Apple Watch, which is expected to feature LTE as its main selling point.

The new Samsung Gear Sport is positioned as a fitness-focused smart watch with a round 1.2-inch 360 x 360 AMOLED display and a 20mm strap, making it one of Samsung's slimmest smart watches. It features an improved interface, "military-level durability," and comes in two colors - blue and black.


Inside, there's a 1.0GHz dual-core processor, 4GB storage space, 768MB RAM, a 300mAh battery, and the traditional sensors, including a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, and more. It runs the Tizen operating system and is compatible with Android and iOS devices. Pricing for the Gear Sport has yet to be announced, and Samsung says it'll be available for purchase during the holiday season.

Samsung's Gear Fit2 Pro, available in red and black, is described by the company as an advanced GPS fitness band rather than a true smart watch. It includes GPS tracking functionality and a curved 1.5-inch 216 x 432 AMOLED touchscreen display. It also features a Dual Core 1.0GHz processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, a 200mAh battery, and it comes in two sizes to fit different wrists.


The Gear Fit2 Pro, priced at $199.99, will be available for preorder starting on August 31 at 9:00 a.m from retailers like Amazon. Shipments will start arriving on September 15.

Both the Gear Sport and the Gear Fit2 Pro feature heart rate monitoring that Samsung says offers improved accuracy, water resistance and swim tracking in collaboration with Speedo, auto activity detection, and personalized wellness plans with fitness goals to reach.

Samsung's final new wearable is a second-generation version of its Gear IconX wire-free earbuds, which are Samsung's equivalent to Apple's AirPods. Samsung says the new IconX earbuds are lighter weight and more ergonomic, making them more secure and comfortable in the ear. They come in Black, Gray, and Pink, and support features like Bixby with gestures to activate the personal assistant.


The new Gear IconX features improved battery life (up to five hours of music streaming or seven hours of standalone playback), 4GB internal storage per earbud, and a charging case. The Gear IconX is set to be released this fall, but pricing has yet to be announced.

Tags: Samsung, Gear

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Samsung Confirms Work on Speaker to Compete With Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo

Samsung is indeed working on a smart speaker that will be introduced in the near future, Samsung mobile president DJ Koh told CNBC this morning.

"Maybe soon we will announce it. I am already working on it," he said in an interview following the Galaxy Note 8 launch.

Koh went on to say he wants to "provide a fruitful user experience at home with Samsung devices." "I want to be moving quite heavily on it," he added.

Apple's HomePod

Koh declined to provide additional details about the company's upcoming smart speaker, but a previous report suggests it will be built around Samsung's Bixby virtual assistant. The speaker has been in development for more than a year, but has been hampered by problems with Bixby.

Samsung initially had to delay Bixby's introduction in the English language version of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ due to performance issues, with the functionality being added to the devices just a month ago in in July.

There's no specific launch date for the Samsung speaker, but with Apple planning to debut its own HomePod in December, Samsung's competing device is unlikely to be too far behind. In July, Samsung's speaker was said to still be in early development, with several features and specifications yet to be hammered out.

Apple's HomePod focuses heavily on speaker quality as a way to distinguish itself from competitors like the Amazon Echo. It features a 7 tweeter array, an Apple-designed 4-inch upward-facing woofer, and an A8 chip that powers robust spatial awareness functionality.

It also includes touch controls for navigation, six microphones, built-in Apple Music support, and Siri integration.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Tag: Samsung

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Samsung Reveals Galaxy Note 8 With Dual Rear Cameras and 6.3-Inch AMOLED ‘Infinity Display’

At its "Unpacked" event in New York City today, Samsung unveiled the all-new Galaxy Note 8 smartphone, following months of speculation about the device's August debut. The event began with a recap video of the Note line's history, including user testimonies following the Note 7's fire-catching scandal and how they continued to support Samsung during the recall.

Looking forward at the new device, the Galaxy Note 8 has a 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED "Infinity Display," with an edge-to-edge screen that represents the largest screen ever on any Note device. The display has an 18.5:9 aspect ratio, which allows users to see more content than ever before, according to Samsung. This includes access to a new multitasking feature called "App Pair," which lets users create custom pairs of their favorite apps on the Edge side panel, simultaneously launching two apps to interact with them at once.

“We appreciate the relentless passion of the Note community. They’ve been a constant inspiration to us, and we designed the new Note for them,” said DJ Koh, president of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “From the Infinity Display to the enhanced S Pen, to the powerful Dual Camera, Note8 lets people do things they never thought were possible.”
The Galaxy Note 8 comes with a new and enhanced S Pen with a finer tip and improved pressure sensitivity. When using the S Pen, users can send "Live Messages" to handwrite text messages -- and add in special effects -- within the text message app. An enhanced screen-off mode lets users quickly jot down notes when the smartphone is turned off, and then save the note to view later.

On the photography side of things, the Galaxy Note 8 has one 8MP front-facing camera and two 12MP rear cameras, and includes optical image stabilization on both of the rear cameras. The rear-facing cameras include one wide-angle f/1.7 lens and one telephoto f/2.4 lens, while the front camera has an aperture of f/1.7.

A "Live Focus" mode lets users take a picture and control the depth of field of everything surrounding the main subject of the image, so users can adjust the bokeh effect before and after the photo is taken.

Expanding the ecosystem of the Note smartphone line, Samsung also introduced "Samsung DeX," which lets the smartphone communicate with a user's PC to seamlessly transfer between working on the go and at home or in an office.


Additionally, the Galaxy Note 8 is water and dust resistant (IP68), includes fast wireless charging, a 3,300 mAh battery, and various biometric authentication options (iris and fingerprint scanning). Samsung's new smartphone has 6GB of RAM, a 10nm processor, and 64GB/128GB/256GB of internal storage, depending on market and carrier availability. The device also keeps the standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

A few websites have already gotten to go hands-on with the Galaxy Note 8, including The Verge, Engadget, CNET, and USA Today. Many sites pointed out the similarities of the device's dual-lens camera system to that of the iPhone 7 Plus, with Engadget noting, "Samsung has a camera setup excellent enough to make iPhone owners consider switching."

Those interested will be able to pre-order the Galaxy Note 8 starting tomorrow, August 24, and the smartphone will then go on sale September 15. In the United States, the device will be available in Midnight Black and Orchid Gray for carrier and Unlocked by Samsung versions, and customers will be able to purchase it at all of the major carriers, as well as Samsung.com, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

According to a Verizon press release, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will cost $40/month for 24 months, or $960 at retail. The Verge reports that the smartphone will cost $930 at T-Mobile and $950 at AT&T.

For any original Note 7 owners, CNET noted that Samsung will be offering a discount on Note 8 devices: purchasing the smartphone through Samsung.com will allow previous Note 7 users to receive an instant trade-in credit of up to $425 when upgrading a current phone to Note 8. In addition, anyone at all who purchases a Note 8 between August 24 and September 24, 2017 has the chance to get either a free Samsung Gear 360 camera or a free Galaxy Foundation kit with a 128GB memory card and fast wireless charger.

For even more information on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, check out the company's website.


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Samsung Begins Running OLED Production Lines for iPhone 8 at Full Capacity

As we enter the season of iPhone production ramp-up stories, news out of Apple's supply chain today reports that Samsung Display is gearing up to operate seven of its next-generation OLED lines at full capacity in August, all of which are dedicated to Apple and the iPhone 8.

According to ETNews, the OLED ramp-up follows a series of inspections that Samsung made on each of the seven lines over the past few weeks in preparation for Apple's much-anticipated OLED-only iPhone 8. Samsung Display is the only supplier of OLED screens for the 2017 iPhone, and the manufacturer is said to see an increase from 15,000 panels per month to 105,000 panels per month following the full scale production increase.

A recent concept of the OLED iPhone 8 by Max Rudberg

Samsung Display crafts multiple iPhone screens out of a single of its OLED panels, so if it keeps its production lines at maximum capacity with 100 percent yield, the supplier can produce 130 million 5.8-inch OLED iPhone screens in one year. Of course, the reality is that OLED is difficult to manufacture, and industry watchers believe that the yield rate for the Samsung Display OLED iPhone 8 line will be "at least" 60 percent. Multiple reports this year have pointed towards production delays in the supply chain, potentially leading to a limited capacity iPhone 8 launch.

While Samsung Display will be the sole OLED supplier for the 2017 iPhone, numerous sources have said that a new supplier -- LG Display -- will enter Apple's OLED supply chain in 2018. Apple is said to have invested $2.6 billion into LG Display to help the supplier get set up as a major OLED manufacturer for future iPhones, with Apple pressing LG to be ready as soon as next year. LG Display is also planning to invest $13 billion in OLED production over the next three years, continuing its dominance in the OLED TV screen market and specifically hoping to "make inroads against rival Samsung in smartphone displays."

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: Samsung, etnews.com

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 Expected to Debut at Upcoming August 23 Event

Samsung today sent out invitations announcing an upcoming Unpacked event set to be held on August 23 in New York City.

The South Korean company is widely expected to introduce its next-generation Galaxy Note device at the event, with the new smartphone hinted at through a "Do Bigger Things" slogan and a stylized image of an S Pen next to a smartphone-sized device.


Rumors suggest the upcoming Galaxy Note 8 will feature a design that's similar to the existing Galaxy S8 with thin bezels, rounded corners, and a 12-megapixel dual-lens camera system. It is expected to feature a larger curved display than the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, measuring in at 6.3 inches.

Galaxy Note 8 rendering via BGR

Other features may include Bixby integration, 6GB RAM, an upgraded S Pen, iris scanning functionality, and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.

Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Note device will be the first since the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, which the company was forced to recall after exploding batteries caused problems in both original Note 7 devices and their replacements.

The recall and the exploding Note 7 devices were highly publicized, even leading to an FAA ban that prevented them from being carried on airplanes. The debacle cost Samsung up to $5.4 billion, but Samsung is reportedly intent on continuing to use the Note brand despite the incident.

To avoid future problems and to assuage customer fears, Samsung has implemented an 8-Point Battery Safety Check procedure that involves putting all batteries used in Samsung devices through "extreme testing, inside and out, followed by careful inspection by X-ray and the human eye."

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 will come just a few weeks before Apple is expected to introduce its highly anticipated iPhone 8, which is rumored to feature an edge-to-edge OLED display, a vertical dual-lens rear camera, a faster A11 processor, and a front-facing camera equipped with 3D sensors to enable AR and facial recognition features.


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TSMC Rumored to Be Sole Supplier of A-Series iPhone Chips in 2018

Earlier this week, a report by The Korea Herald suggested that Samsung Electronics could be returning as a supplier for the so-called A12 chip in 2018's line of iPhones, after being removed from the A-series chip supply chain in 2016 and 2017, years in which Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company took on all of the orders. Now, industry observers reported upon by DigiTimes are predicting that TSMC is "still likely" to retain its title as the sole manufacturer of A-series chips in 2018.

In today's report, TSMC's integrated fan-out wafer-level packaging technology -- which the supplier uses in its 7-nanometer FinFET chip fabrication -- is looked at as largely superior to any progress made by Samsung in the same field. Samsung is said to be "aggressively vying" for A-series orders from Apple ahead of 2018, but DigiTimes' sources state that even the company's close ties to OLED might not be enough for Apple to add Samsung as a secondary A-series supplier for the reported three iPhones launching in fall 2018.


It is unlikely Samsung will be able to regain application processors orders for Apple's iPhone, as TSMC's in-house developed InFO wafer-level packaging will make the Taiwan-based foundry's 7nm FinFET technology more competitive than Samsung's, said the observers.

Samsung has grabbed Apple's A9 chip orders for the new 9.7-inch iPads introduced earlier in 2017, the observers claimed. TSMC, which is already the sole supplier of Apple's 10nm A11 chips for the upcoming iPhones, will still likely obtain all of the next-generation A-series chip orders for Apple's 2018 series of iPhones with its 7nm FinFET process, the observers said.

TSMC's innovation in backend packaging plays a key role in securing exclusive orders for Apple's processors for the upcoming iPhones, the observers noted.
In Tuesday's report, it was rumored that Samsung Electronics co-CEO Kwon Oh-hyun already made a deal with Apple concerning 2018 iPhone chip production during a visit to Cupertino last month. Otherwise, The Korea Herald's report was light on details, with no clear indication on exactly how many orders Samsung might have gained from such a deal besides believing the company would "share some parts" of A-series chip production with TSMC.

If Apple kept TSMC as the sole A-series manufacturer in 2018, it would mark the third year in a row that the supplier created iPhone chips alone, following the A10 in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the A11 in the upcoming "iPhone 8," "iPhone 7s," and "iPhone 7s Plus." Otherwise, a return to dual-sourced A-series chips in 2018 would be the first time Apple made that move since 2015, when both Samsung and TSMC supplied the A9 chip in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which frustrated some users when TSMC's technology was discovered to boast marginally better battery life.


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Samsung Debuts English-Language Voice Capabilities for Siri Rival ‘Bixby’ Following Initial Delay

When the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones went on sale in April, voice support for Bixby in the United States was missing due to Samsung's decision to delay the virtual assistant's English-language launch until what was then estimated to be sometime in late spring. This week, the company has announced that voice capabilities for Bixby are now arriving for Galaxy S8 and S8+ users across the United States.

Samsung describes Bixby as "fundamentally different" than AI helpers like Siri and Microsoft's Cortana because of its deeper and more nuanced integration into the Galaxy's core apps, as well as some third party apps at launch including Google Maps, Google Play Music, YouTube, and Facebook. The Bixby integration into these third party apps is available through a service called Bixby Labs, which Galaxy S8 owners can opt into through their smartphone.


Bixby's many features include letting users complete simple tasks like turning on the device's flashlight and taking a screenshot or selfie. More complex flows can be arranged as well, like asking the assistant to gather all of the photos taken over the past week into one album called "Vacation," and then sending it to family and friends. Samsung plans to continuously update Bixby with new features, app support, languages and devices, and the company said that thanks to deep learning, the assistant will only improve over time.
What’s more, because Bixby is deeply integrated into the device’s operating system – rather than being a separate app –users can seamlessly switch between controlling an app via voice or via touch commands, rather than choose one or the other ahead of time.

“There are over 10,000 functions on our smartphones, but each day, people may use less than five percent of them. The features on your phone are only useful if you know how to find them. Our goal with Bixby is to make it easier to use our phones, creating the best possible user experience for our customers. That’s why we created Bixby – an intuitive new way to do more things with your phone,” says Injong Rhee, Executive Vice President, Head of R&D, Software and Services of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics.
With the Bixby update, Galaxy S8 users can simply press the dedicated Bixby button on their device to call up the assistant and begin asking it questions and performing tasks, and a voice activated "Hi, Bixby" feature is also available. Right now, Bixby recognizes English and Korean languages, but Samsung noted that, "Not all accents, dialects and expressions" will be recognized.

Every time that Galaxy S8 users call up Bixby they will also earn experience points in a gamification system that Samsung is also rolling out for the launch, and ending September 14, 2017. Each message sent, call made, setting updated, or any action performed through Bixby will earn XP, which users can convert into Samsung Rewards points that can be amassed to try to win bigger prizes like Samsung products, gift cards, trips, and more.


Earlier this month, it was rumored that Samsung is planning to enter the smart speaker market with a device that uses Bixby as a way for users to interact with music playback. Codenamed "Vega," the project would place Samsung as a competitor against Apple in yet another category, since the Cupertino company at WWDC this year announced the December launch of the HomePod, its Siri-powered speaker.

Delays related to Bixby's U.S. launch are reportedly behind a slowdown on the smart speaker project, and a report out of The Korea Herald this week has furthermore placed the launch of a Samsung speaker well into the future. Sources familiar with the matter claimed that Samsung is "not enthusiastic" about a smart Bixby speaker because it "does not view Al speakers as marketable" at this time, thanks to the domination of products like Amazon Echo. Rather than dive into an uncertain market, Samsung is said to be taking a wait-and-see approach for the potential launch of its Bixby speaker.

Tags: Samsung, Bixby

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Samsung Rumored to Return to iPhone Chip Production in 2018

Samsung Electronics will return to producing chips for Apple in next year's iPhone lineup, according to a new report today by The Korea Herald. Before, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company held the sole supplier responsibility of providing Apple's A10 chip in the iPhone 7, as well as the A11 chip in the upcoming iPhone 8, but now today's report references a "crucial deal" made between Samsung Electronics co-CEO Kwon Oh-hyun and Apple during a visit to Cupertino last month.

According to the report, Samsung managed to close the deal because of the company's decision to purchase equipment solely intended for 7-nanometer chip fabrication for iPhone devices. This move, as well as using Samsung's "close ties on OLED," convinced Apple to reintroduce the supplier into the iPhone chip supply chain. Although details remain vague, The Korea Herald's sources said that Samsung would "share some parts" of the 2018 iPhone orders that have been previously monopolized by TSMC.

According to news reports on July 18, Samsung recently purchased extreme ultra violet lithography machines, the most advanced chip manufacturing equipment, to produce seven-nanometer mobile processors solely for iPhone.

“The CEO could persuade Apple’s top brass taking advantage of their close ties on OLED,” said an industry source. Samsung, the world’s largest mobile OLED maker with a whopping 95 percent market share, is the sole OLED supplier for the upcoming iPhone.
In 2015, Apple dual-sourced the A9 chip from both TSMC and Samsung for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, leading to some blowback from consumers when battery tests were performed and saw the TSMC chips outperform those made by Samsung. To avoid that issue again, and thanks to TSMC's aggressive moves to adopt smaller and more energy efficient manufacturing processes, Apple chose the company as the sole supplier of the A10 and A11 chips.

Now, Samsung is said to be preparing tests for its own chip processing machines, and next plans to "seek final approval from Apple for the chip production" for what will presumably be called the A12 chip. As the sole OLED supplier for the 2017 iPhone, Samsung Display's deal with Apple has placed the manufacturer with providing between 70 and 92 million OLED displays for the upcoming iPhone 8. Apple is predicted to shift to OLED-only iPhone production as soon as 2018 or 2019.


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