The Samsung S8 is here but it is only the first of many new phones coming in 2017. And one of the biggest Android challengers is Google’s Pixel smartphone.
Samsung has set a high hardware bar with Galaxy S8. That includes the S8's new edge-to-edge curved organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display, a better selfie camera, fast face-scanning tech to unlock the phone, the newest Samsung and Qualcomm processors (depending on the market), and DeX that allows hook-up to an external desktop display. Samsung is also debuting Bixby, the company's virtual intelligent assistant, on the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
“There’s no doubt that Samsung has gone well beyond what they’ve done in the past. From a design perspective, they absolutely have surpassed Apple this time,” Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at market researcher IDC, told Fox News.
But Apple isn’t the only large U.S. rival Samsung is up against these days. Google brought out its first branded Android smartphone last year, the Pixel. That phone has been well received because of its pure Android experience, excellent camera, fast performance, and high build quality. And it has been chronically backordered -- particularly the larger XL model. That's true even today, about six months after it was announced, according to Ubrani.
The Pixel features probably the best AI (artificial intelligence) to date – Google Assistant, the same AI used on the Google Home smart speaker. That’s turning out to be one of the key selling points for phones in 2017. And it’s something that Google is very good at.
“Samsung has taken their own approach where they try to make everything their own. And they’re trying this with Bixby. Though they have some level of differentiation compared to what Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant can do, I don’t know if that’s enough,” said Urbani. “Personally, I think we're going to see Google Assistant evolve quicker than Bixby. Because Google [Android] is the underlying operating system, they have an advantage.
They have a lot more data collection going on. In terms of improvement I would bet my money on Assistant over Bixby.”
Google Pixel 2
And Google, like Apple, is expected to bring out its next-generation phone later this year.
“We absolutely expect them to do a Pixel 2 and carry on a cadence very similar to the larger players like Apple and Samsung where every year you'll probably see a new device,” Ubrani said.
“There are a lot of lessons Google is learning along the way about distribution and manufacturing. And I think they'll get those issues sorted out hopefully before the Pixel 2 launches and definitely by the time it launches,” he said.
And if Google can improve an already-outstanding phone and make it the leader in AI, Pixel will likely grow its Android market share in 2017.
Google Pixel starts at $649, while the Samsung Galaxy S8 starts at $720.