Sam­sung

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS -

Sam­sung has blamed the Note 7 fires on de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing de­fects in its bat­ter­ies.

about 3,000 peo­ple in Cen­tral Texas.

The Galaxy S8 fea­tures a larger 5.8-inch screen with­out adding bulk to the de­vice. The com­pany said it made room for the screen by re­duc­ing the size of the bezel — or the fore­head and the chin — on the face of the de­vice. Sam­sung also made the home but­ton into a vir­tual but­ton and shoved it un­der the dis­play.

With the Galaxy S8, Sam­sung also rolled out its vir­tual as­sis­tant, Bixby, to ri­val Ap­ple’s Siri, Google’s As­sis­tant and Ama­zon’s Alexa. Sim­i­lar to pre­vi­ous vir­tual as­sis­tants, Bixby re­sponds to voice com­mands.

Sam­sung has blamed the Note 7 fires on mul­ti­ple de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing de­fects in its bat­ter­ies. In­spec­tors con­cluded that the ini­tial bat­ter­ies were too small for their ca­pac­ity, and that their ex­ter­nal pouch put pres­sure on the in­ter­nal struc­ture, lead­ing to dam­age and over­heat­ing.

Sam­sung re­called the phones and shipped re­place­ments, but the newer bat­ter­ies had weld­ing de­fects and a lack of pro­tec­tive tape in some bat­tery cells. Sam­sung re­called the re­place­ments, too, and scrapped the phone.

The com­pany says phones will now go through mul­ti­ple in­spec­tions, in­clud­ing X-rays and stress tests at ex­treme tem­per­a­tures.

The stan­dard-size S8 phone has as much bat­tery ca­pac­ity as last year’s Galaxy S7, but the phone is 4 per­cent larger by vol­ume. The larger S8 Plus model has 3 per­cent less ca­pac­ity than the Galaxy S7 Edge and the same ca­pac­ity as the Note 7, but the phone’s vol­ume is larger by 12 per­cent and 6 per­cent, re­spec­tively.

The Note 7 re­call cost Sam­sung at least $5.3 bil­lion. Though many cus­tomers re­main loyal, any fur­ther mis­step could prove fa­tal for the brand.

“We’re in the process of earn­ing back that trust,” said Drew Blackard, a se­nior di­rec­tor of prod­uct mar­ket­ing for Sam­sung.

In the U.S., Sam­sung will start tak­ing or­ders Thurs­day, with ship­ments sched­uled for April 21. Prices haven’t been an­nounced yet.

Time — and sales — will tell whether the Galaxy S8 will re­store con­fi­dence in Sam­sung’s smart­phones.

Jan Daw­son, an in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst for Jack­daw Re­search, said the Galaxy S8 could help Sam­sung re­cover as long as the prod­uct worked re­li­ably.

“Note 7 def­i­nitely did some dam­age to the Sam­sung brand, es­pe­cially for peo­ple who had lit­tle or no per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with Sam­sung de­vices,” he said. “But as long as the S8 does well and doesn’t suf­fer from any of the same prob­lems, the mem­o­ries of the Note 7 is­sues will fade and Sam­sung will re­cover well.”

Sam­sung last year also is­sued a sep­a­rate re­call for 2.8 mil­lion wash­ing ma­chines in the United States. The ma­chines were prone to de­tach­ing from the wash­ing ma­chine chas­sis, pos­ing a risk of in­jury.

The Galaxy S8 will ar­rive in stores next month with a start­ing price of $750.

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