Samsung Gulf Electronics unveiled its latest Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus devices in the UAE, hoping to regain lost ground following the debacle it experienced with the Galaxy Note 7 late last year.
The newest flagships are the South Korean tech giant's first major offering after the premium phablet was scrapped on October 11 following incidents of the phone bursting into flames.
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"As you may know, it has been a challenging year for Samsung, a year full of valuable lessons, hard decisions and new beginnings," Ismail Yoon, president of Samsung Gulf Electronics, said in his keynote at the event in Dubai late on Tuesday.
It has indeed been a public relations nightmare for Samsung in recent months. Apart from the Note 7 mess, it is also embroiled in a legal battle involving its de facto boss, vice-chairman Jay Y. Lee, and other officials over corruption allegations in South Korea.
Despite these, Samsung still enjoys a huge loyal following.
"Today, we are shifting the way you experience the world. we are proud to bring in a new era in smartphone design," Yoon said.
The presentation made to the media in Dubai late on Tuesday was basically a repeat of its Unpacked event in New York on March 29 where it first revealed the S8, but with a local flavour: customers of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will be entitled to a 30 per cent discount when flying with Etihad Airways.
The offer - which will see savings of up to Dh15,000 - is available for economy and business class for one booking of up to eight seats. The booking period is up to July 15 and travel period is from April to June and September to November.
In another S8 deal, Samsung partnered with Hotels.com, offering its users up to 40 per cent discount plus an additional 12 per cent coupon on bookings.
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With regards to the battery - the central figure in the Note 7's demise - Samsung said in the presentation that the S8 devices went through its "toughest safety process ever" with an eight-point battery safety check that "goes beyond industry standards", said Aladdin Hijazi, regional training manager at Samsung Gulf Electronics.
"Quality and safety remain our top priority," he added.
The Galaxy S8 features an end-to-end dual-edged screen called the Infinity Display, adding half-a-million more pixels to the display, according to Samsung. The physical home button has been eliminated but is now incorporated underneath the screen, with the fingerprint scanner shifted to the rear to the right of the camera lens. It is also the first mobile to be granted an HDR Mobile Premium certification.
Its new 10-nanometer processor is significantly faster than that in the Galaxy S7, and its cameras now come with a multi-frame processor that processes images more effectively.
Another talking point on the Galaxy S8 is its iris scanner and facial recognition features that can be used to unlock the phone. Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri and Google Assistant, Bixby, was also demonstrated, as well as the Samsung Dex, a dock that transforms the Galaxy S8 into a PC.
As for Samsung Pay, the company said that more announcements will be made regarding its mobile payment service later this month.
Pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have begun in the UAE on April. Its availability will be from April 21 and they will be priced at Dh2,799 and Dh3,099, respectively.
By Alvin R. Cabral