First look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Out with exploding batteries, in with AI

Burned by the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung is delaying its next smartphone but adding an Artificial Intelligence feature

By Matthew Rozsa
Published November 7, 2016 9:36PM (EST)
The Galaxy Note 7 is demonstrated in New York, July 28, 2016 (AP/Richard Drew)
The Galaxy Note 7 is demonstrated in New York, July 28, 2016 (AP/Richard Drew)

Samsung, which traditionally launches its new Galaxy smartphones at the Mobile World Congress in February, will force consumers to wait until as late as April before getting their first look at the Galaxy S8's new AI feature.

"The latest internal prototypes of the premium Galaxy S8 handset include a button on the side edge of the smartphone that would be used to launch a beefed-up virtual assistant based on artificial intelligence, akin to Apple Inc.’s Siri," reported The Wall Street Journal on Monday. It also pointed out that delaying the launch until after the Mobile World Congress will give Samsung more time to tinker with the AI feature as well as the S8 in general.

"Samsung is building its comeback around artificial intelligence, a hot corner of the technology market," the report continued. "Its rivals have been plowing money into the field to develop smart digital assistants that can answer questions or place orders for pizza or taxi rides."

Samsung executive vice president Rhee Injong was quite optimistic about the AI feature's potential. "Developers can attach and upload services to our agent," Injong said at a briefing. "Even if Samsung doesn't do anything on its own, the more services that get attached the smarter this agent will get, learn more new services, and provide them to end-users with ease."

Although Samsung's caution is partially due to the importance of AI in its long-term business model, it is no doubt also motivated by the debacle earlier this year over its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. After losing more than $5 billion due to the phone batteries' tendency to catch on fire, the company has been harshly criticized for rushing through the production process instead of taking necessary precautions to avoid manufacturing defects. It is believed that preventable punctures in the lithium-ion batteries caused the phones to overheat.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Ai Galaxy S8 Samsung Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones