Galaxy A8: Confirmation Of Samsung’s Design Revolution
A few days ago, images of the new Samsung Galaxy A8 surfaced online on Chinese website pconline.com.cn. The Samsung Galaxy A8 will reportedly feature a 1.5 GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 615 processor along with Adreno 405 GPU. The phone will also feature 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, which thankfully, will be expandable via a micro-sd card slot. The phone will also boast a 16 MP rear camera and a 5 MP front camera, along with a 3050 mAh battery. For the display, the Galaxy A8 will pack a 5.7-inch full-HD Super AMOLED display and a fingerprint sensor doubling as the home button.
The internals of the phone are not really exciting by Samsung standards. At best, the Samsung Galaxy A8 will feature in the mid range category as it is nowhere in competition to Samsung’s flagship S Series offerings. However, the key drawing feature of this phone, as well as of the A Series lineup, will be its design, as the phone’s images show Samsung’s slimmest phone yet with a thickness of 5.94mm, having metallic sides and rather thin vertical bezels.
If you notice the trend, the Galaxy A series is becoming more of a testing ground for market feedback and reception, as far as design is concerned. And as far as Samsung is concerned, it was definitely late to the metal party.
The Galaxy S3 was the first to be criticized on its design, as many critics felt it continued to play out on the long drawn plastic that became synonymous with Samsung and all the devices it released. The Hyperglazed finish on the back drew mixed reactions from the public, with some loving the overall ease of handling of the device and some feeling that the device was not up to flagship standards, feeling more like a plastic toy than a forerunner of Touchwiz.
The Galaxy S4 continued on the Hyperglazed trend, with only a minor texture differentiation separating it from the previous year’s flagship. As an “improvement”, the bezels were faux-metal, trying to emulate metal through a chrome paint finish. The competition did not help either, as the Sony Xperia Z and the HTC One (M7), both were praised highly for their premium feel and their glass and metal builds respectively.
Moving on to the Galaxy S5, the band-aid design drew heavy criticism from both reviewers as well as the market, with many a meme made in its honor. This design stagnation and regression, along with only minor improvements on the spec sheet, translated into disappointing sales for Samsung’s flagship of 2014. In turn, the competition, specifically the HTC One M8, got wide appraisals as it became one of the top contenders for the best phone of 2014.
Indeed, the Galaxy S5 was the nail in the coffin for plastic designs, as Samsung then shuffled around top positions in its design departments in May 2014, roughly two months after the announcement of the Galaxy S5. Chang Dong-hoon, Samsung’s Head of the mobile design team, was substituted by Lee Min-hyouk who had served as Vice-President under him.
It was widely wondered whether such a shuffle in positions would yield tangible results. And as it seems, Mr. Lee did deliver. Announced in August 2014, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha became the first Samsung phone to feature a metallic body.
The phone, as far as design was concerned, featured a metal chassis. Not faux-metal this time, but actual metal which could be felt on the sides. The back of the phone continued on the band-aid design, but with minor adjustments done to it. Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha brought Samsung’s metal game up to par with the competition, and it was only a matter of time till the design language would have been adopted over at the flagship level.
The Galaxy Alpha did have its own flaw: the pricing. The phone was priced at a rather whopping $650, while its specifications did not really offer as much value for the investment. Nonetheless, the Alpha was just the beginning of the metal trend for Samsung, as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, announced in September 2014, evolved on the Alpha by opting for its metal frame.
Further along the line, the Galaxy A series replaced the Galaxy Alpha in favor of a more mid-range lineup to fight against the likes of Chinese competitors. The Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5 and the Galaxy A7; all followed along the same principles of metal-frame-plastic-back.
Here’s a quick GIF showing the design of the phones so far.
As you can see, all the phones tried to evolve from the previous ones, while still attempting to add their own flavor. Phones announced after Mr. Lee Min-hyouk’s appointment ditched plastic for the main frame, in order to achieve a more premium feel.
The shocker of the club came in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S6, as the phone looked inspired more from the iPhone 6 rather than the Galaxy Alpha or the A Series. Design wise, the phone went for a complete overhaul from anything Samsung had created previously. The body of the phone consists of a brushed metal frame, with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 on both the front and rear panels. Samsung entirely ditched the metal-frame-plastic-back, but still kept the look of the device inline with the Galaxy lineup. The end result is a phone that gave stiff competition to a previously-loved design of the HTC flagship, turning the tides in Samsung’s favor as HTC bore the heat of stagnating its design.
After the Galaxy S6, speculation ensued on which design line would Samsung focus on: whether they would continue on with the glass & metal look of the Galaxy S6, or whether the metal-frame-plastic-back look would make its return. With the Galaxy A8, mentioned and pictured in the very beginning of this article, Samsung does seek a return to plastic in the back panel (as it appears in the pictures).
But what does this lead us to?
With the announcement for the Galaxy Note 5 becoming imminent by the day, we can speculate on where Samsung wishes to lead the Note lineup. Currently, the company is at an interesting cross road on where it can adopt either design approach. The Galaxy S6 was a success as far as critic reception is concerned, so it would make sense for Samsung to go for glass the second time. That is what prominent leaker @OnLeaks has also suggested in one of his latest leaked renders.
— OnLeaks (@OnLeaks) July 6, 2015
However, the Note 5 also provides Samsung an interesting opportunity. Samsung could evolve the Note 5 from the Galaxy A8, opting for genuine leather à la LG G4 (instead of the faux-leather of the Note 4) along with the metal framework and trimmed side bezels of the Galaxy A8. This would help Samsung vary its product lineup in terms of design. The Galaxy S series could work for fans of metal and glass, the Galaxy A series serving for fans of metal and plastic (and its mid range prices), while the Galaxy Note lineup offers something for those who prefer leather and metal.
Irrespective of the course the Note lineup takes, we hope the days of all-plastic are past and buried deep. Samsung already does push the boundaries of smartphone internals, and now, it can push the boundaries of smartphone exteriors too.
What do you think of Samsung’s recent design trend and the work of Mr. Lee Min-hyouk so far? Do you think the Galaxy A8 and the Galaxy Note 5 will also meet success on their designs? Let us know your thoughts and views in the comments below!
Image Cred: GSMArena