Original article By Sascha Segan, August 8, 2019
Samsung spent more than an hour at its Wednesday Unpacked event talking about its new device lineup: two Galaxy Note 10 models, a brand-new Galaxy Book S laptop, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and Galaxy Tab S6. It also brought a big-name guest onstage to talk about a new partnership: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
But there were some curious omissions at the Note event. Did Samsung really think we wouldn’t notice the missing headphone jack? And what operating system does this phone run, anyway? Here are some of the most critical omissions we noted, which may be the death knell for certain Samsung product lines.
Google and Android
Samsung spent a lot of time touting its relationship with Microsoft, but Nadella didn’t say much of substance. We did hear about new partnerships enabling Samsung Note/Microsoft Word integration, Windows 10notifications on your phone, and OneDrive photo/video syncs. But Samsung is far more dependent on Google than on Microsoft. Android is the Note’s actual operating system, and most of the software features people use every day come from Google.As Google’s biggest Android client, does Samsung get any special treatment that could help its phones offer a better Android experience than other manufacturers? Will the Note get the new features coming in Android Q, such as the trendy new dark mode? Crickets.
The Galaxy Fold
Samsung’s folding phone was supposed to launch Samsung into a new era of device innovation and offer the first exciting new form factor we’d seen in years. But it’s currently being retooled so its screens don’t break under normal use and was MIA during Samsung’s flagship device launch.
Samsung says it has fixed the Galaxy Fold and will relaunch it in September, so we’ll probably hear more about it at the IFA trade show in Berlin. Still, it would show a little more faith in a wobbly product line for Samsung to put the Note in context of a broader phone strategy that includes, rather than ignores, the Fold.
The Missing Headphone Jack
Hey, did you notice it’s missing? Samsung didn’t mention it. For years now, Samsung has mocked Apple for getting rid of the headphone jack. Now it’s jumped on board with its competitors’ “courageous” approach. At our pre-brief, Samsung made a decent argument for this: it said more than 70 percent of Galaxy S and Note users now have wireless headphones, and removing the jack allowed for a bigger battery. But not even mentioning it at the event felt a little like Samsung was pulling a fast one.
Before the Galaxy Note event, Samsung ran some promotional videos featuring Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant. But during the presentation itself, the name was never mentioned. A phone that’s designed to often be used from a distance, or with a Bluetooth headset, should prioritize voice commands. But Samsung didn’t announce any new Bixby features, or show any progress toward solving the confusion of having two voice assistants (Bixby and Google Assistant) on one device. But hey, it could have been worse; with its Microsoft partnership, at least Samsung didn’t add Cortana.
Samsung Galaxy Home
Samsung is a home electronics giant, but it has missed out on the trend of voice-assisted home speakers. As lot of that has to do with No. 4: Samsung is really committed to Bixby, and nobody actually likes Bixby. At Unpacked 2018, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Home: a big, powerful smart speaker that was supposed to bring Bixby to your living room. But we haven’t heard anything about it in months. What’s up, Samsung?
Remember when every Samsung smartphone would work in an accessory VR headset, and Samsung pushed a content store in cooperation with Facebook and Oculus? Good times. (Not really.) The Gear VR worked with the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy S10, but analyst Anshel Sag confirmed that the Gear VR won’t work with the Galaxy Note 10. It’s probably dead, along with most of the industry’s dreams of phone-based VR.
Photo credit: PCmag
View original article and more by Sascha Segan at PCmag.com