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04.25.17 | 8:44 am

Stephen Colbert swears that Samsung’s new phone won’t set your hair on fire

In the wake of the whole Galaxy Note bursting into flames thing, Samsung is ready for its comeback with the Galaxy S8, a brand-new phone filled with features like a bigger display, a better camera, and absolutely no propensity to turn into a giant fireball.

While consumers may be wary, Stephen Colbert is a true believer, in that he truly believes that Samsung can make a phone that will absolutely not set their customers' hair on fire or have them reenacting that face-melting scene from Indiana Jones. To prove his point, Colbert made an ad for Samsung, which the company will probably never, ever, ever use.

04.21.17 | 9:00 am

Samsung and Google are making nice for the new Galaxy music experience

Many reviews of Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones—including mine—noted the company's long-standing tendency to complicate things by adding software that parallels features that Google builds into Android. Exhibit A: Samsung's new Bixby AI features, which live on the S8 and S8+ alongside the Google Assistant.

But these new phones also feature an example of the two companies collaborating rather than competing: Samsung is adopting Google Play Music as its default music experience. Owners of Samsung devices will get a three-month trial of the paid service and be able to upload 100,000 of their own songs, which is double the standard allotment. And the upcoming Bixby Voice service will integrate with Google Play.

Much better than the era when Samsung was more inclined to build out its own content offerings, such as the short-lived Milk music service.

03.29.17 | 11:58 am

You can now open your Samsung phone with your face

With the launch of the Galaxy S8, Samsung has introduced facial recognition as a biometric feature for safeguarding your phone. I'm at the event in NYC where they just showed off the feature. To open your S8, you hold the phone's front-facing camera up to your face and wait for it to recognize you and navigate to the home screen. If the actual experience is anything like the presentation, this should happen instantly. 

03.29.17 | 11:47 am

Samsung glossed over its battery issues at the Galaxy S8 launch event

"It has been a challenging year for Samsung," said D.J. Koh, Samsung's president of mobile communications, at the top of Samsung's Galaxy S8 debut event today. No doubt, Koh is referring to the Samsung S7 exploding battery disaster and subsequent recall. He said this last year was full of lessons that have helped Samsung tackle product design in a fresh way. 

But when it came time to talk battery, the event's speakers seemed to gloss over its past woes. SVP of Product Justin Denison noted vaguely that safety is incredibly important to the company, adding that they've updated their testing to an eight-point system—beyond what regulators require. What I'd like to know is, what exactly is different? How do we know this new battery isn't going to explode in our hands? It would have been nice to see them sweeping up the mess rather than stepping over it. 

03.20.17 | 11:35 am

Samsung’s Bixby is coming to take on Siri and Alexa

Samsung will diverge from Apple, Amazon, and Google with its upcoming Bixby virtual assistant. Instead of having a distinct set of voice skills, Samsung wants Bixby to have deep ties into the apps you already use, letting you control them entirely by voice. The hope is to let users switch between touch and voice on the fly, without having to remember whether a given task supports voice commands.

To help prod Bixby adoption, Samsung will include an activation button on the side of its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, and pre-install some Bixby-enabled apps. But the company will ultimately need to convince other app makers that its assistant is worth supporting. In the meantime, Samsung is cautioning that the initial release is a "first step."

Also of note: Bixby doesn't yet integrate with Viv, the AI firm Samsung acquired last year after an impressive public demo.

03.01.17 | 5:54 am

Here’s what the Samsung Galaxy S8 looks like

Mobile phone leaker extraordinaire Evan Blass posted what seems to be an official press image of Samsung's next flagship (and the rival to Apple's upcoming iPhone 8).

02.15.17 | 3:54 pm

Imports report suggests Samsung sold more phones in the U.S. than Apple in Q4 2016

New data from Panjiva shows that smartphone shipments to the U.S. from South Korea and Vietnam (where Samsung phones are made) grew by 9.8% during the last three months of 2016. Meanwhile, Panjiva says, shipments from China (where the iPhone is made) declined by 3.4%. Based on these numbers, Panjiva floats the idea that Samsung sold more phones in the U.S. than Apple. Not enough data to confirm that, but interesting.  

02.10.17 | 7:40 am

Here’s what Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will likely be like

The company's newest flagship, expected to be unveiled next month, will include several new features, reports the Wall Street Journal:

• a virtual home button

• a new virtual assistant called Bixby

• a rear-facing fingerprint scanner

• a curved screen, with no flat screen option

• a headphone jack

01.20.17 | 7:21 am

“Irregularly sized” batteries are reportedly what caused Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to explode

Samsung will make an official statement as to the cause at a press conference on Monday, reports the Wall Street Journal. Until then, the Journal's sources are saying in most cases the "irregularly sized" batteries were to blame, as well as "manufacturing problems" with the batteries.

[Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

01.11.17 | 6:22 am

The FAA no longer requires airlines to notify passengers that the Note7 is banned on flights

The Samsung phone is still banned, but the FAA says airlines won't need to announce preflight public notifications about the ban any longer because public awareness of the Note 7's fire risk has reached a sufficient level.

[Image: Samsung]

12.08.16 | 7:09 am

The Samsung Galaxy S8 may have an edge-to-edge display

The company's flagship smartphone to be released next year will have an all-screen front with no physical home button, reports Bloomberg. The bezel-less displays will instead feature a virtual home button beneath the glass. Sources told Bloomberg that the new smartphone could ship in March or April—months before Apple is rumored to ship the next-generation iPhone with an edge-to-edge display and also a virtual home button.

12.06.16 | 1:56 pm

Supreme Court sides with Samsung on damages in ongoing patent infringement case

The case dates back to 2012, when a federal appeals court decided the Korean phone giant infringed on several of Apple's iPhone design patents. The patents describe broad inventions such as the arrangement of icons on the interface, and the rounded corners of the phone shell. The high court's decision today doesn't overturn the earlier decision against Samsung, but, rather, takes issue with the lower court's calculation of the $400 million in damages. 

It's still not clear whether the damages figure will be calculated on the whole of the profit Samsung gained by selling the infringing devices, or only part of the profits. The Supreme Court is saying either method could be used, and awaits further input from Apple and Samsung on the matter. In the mean time, the Court is sending the matter down to a federal circuit court to go through the process of deciding on a method and establishing damages.

Our friends at Co.Design have an interesting take on what the SCOTUS decision means for phone design. Check that out here