Samsung’s new approach is not only refreshing, it’s paying off big time

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Things looked bleak for Samsung a year ago. It’s flagship phones were under-performing and the mobile market was heading into a recession. Fast forward one year and things are better than ever, but it’s not because the mobile market is back on course. It has more to do with Samsung’s philosophy.

For the first time, the company decided to go completely against the grain by not trying to out-spec everyone else. It also stopped the “satisfy everyone” approach characterized by offering every type of smartphone imaginable.

The camera on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge is the perfect example of not trying to out-spec the competition. Samsung always offered the same or higher megapixel count with every Galaxy S release, but the S7 and S7 Edge were downgraded from 16 to 12-megapixels. “In the past, based on our past decision-making process, we never would have gone back,” said Kim Gae-youn, vice president in charge of Samsung’s smartphone product planning.

Executives at Samsung argued about it until the last minute, but the decision to go lower was the right one. The lower megapixels meant better camera quality than its predecessor with unbelievable low light performance and a super fast autofocus. Consumers agreed. The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are doing amazingly well in a depressed market, and the latest survey from Katner Research indicates more than half of all S7 buyers rank the camera quality high on their list.

Another major change has to be Samsung’s commitment to phase out useless hardware. Samsung used to offer every type of smartphone possible in order to flood the market. That did work for a while, but that was when smartphone growth was at full steam. In a slower-growth environment, Samsung had to stop the “satisfy everyone” approach and streamline its portfolio.

According to Counterpoint, Samsung cut a third of its product portfolio. On top of that, it brought high-end features like metal designs and OLED displays to low and mid-range products. This enabled the company to use the same parts for many of its phones, which cut costs. More importantly, consumers were no longer confused with the plethora of phones available.

This move was yet another tough decision for Samsung. Kim said executives had a hard time with it because the regional sales staff felt each market needed a specific phone to satisfy those local consumers. However, the company made the right decision again as it spurred a recovery in big markets like India.

With a banner first quarter, things are as solid as ever at Samsung, but analysts are only cautiously optimistic. Global smartphone growth is still expected to slow to 7 percent this year and the company hasn’t recovered in China, the world’s top smartphone market. Samsung is ranked sixth in China behind the likes of Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo.

Samsung might not be completely out of the woods, but the company made the tough decisions to put it on the right path. Only time will tell if this path will continue to lead toward prosperity, or if another fork in the road lies ahead.

Mobile

Samsung’s latest RAM chips can move data superfast on your next-gen smartphone

Samsung just announced its fastest RAM chips yet, boasting 44 GB/s transfer speeds with LPDDR5 technology on a 10-nm process. These 12-gigabyte monsters are meant to take 5G and A.I. to the next level on your next-gen smartphone.
Buying Guides

Zoom, prime, wide, or telephoto? Here’s how to pick your next camera lens

Want to upgrade your camera lens, but not sure where to start? Our camera lens buying guide takes you through the world of interchangeable lenses and helps remove a little of the intimidation that comes with buying cameras lenses.
Cars

How Lexus, one of the industry’s hybrid champions, is preparing for the 2020s

Lexus predicts significant shifts will reshape the automotive industry during the 2020s. The hybrid champion is preparing to branch out into electric cars, it's investing in autonomous technology, and it wants to keep focusing on SUVs.
Mobile

HMD’s Nokia 2.2 is now available in the U.S., and it’s slated to get Android Q

HMD Global's Nokia 2.2 is yet another ultra-affordable phone from the company that's making its way to the U.S. The device offers a modern bezel-less design, and HMD Global said it will get Android Q.
Mobile

Here’s every Alexa Built-in phone that can access Amazon’s assistant on the move

If you've got your Amazon Echo, Echo Show, and Fire TV set up, you might want a phone that's just as tied into your Amazon-based A.I. network. Here's every Alexa Built-in smartphone you can buy from Amazon right now.
Mobile

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.
Product Review

The new Asus gaming phone certainly isn't a beauty, but it performs like a beast

Asus is on a roll in 2019, having started out with the Zenfone 6 -- a welcome surprise and a great phone -- and now with the ROG Phone 2. This gaming phone has plenty of ability to ensure even casual gamers will want to take a look.
Mobile

Seeking photo storage and backup in the cloud? Google Photos gets the picture

Google Photos offers free, unlimited photo storage in the cloud, making photos instantly accessible and sharable. Google also uses artificial intelligence image analysis to organize photos and videos, making them easy to search and edit.
Mobile

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.
Mobile

Android will soon monitor battery of wireless earbuds, find them if they get lost

Google will soon roll out new features that will improve Android support for true wireless earbuds. The planned features include the ability to monitor the charge of the wireless earbuds and Find My Device compatibility.
Mobile

Tinder tries to break up with the Google Play Store with new payment process

Tinder launched a new payment process that allows the dating app to bypass Google Play Store fees. Unlike others that have worked around app store fees, Tinder remains listed while in open defiance of the Google Play Store requirements.
Mobile

The fast ROG Phone 2 is Asus' new giant-sized mobile gaming monster

Asus has announced a sequel to the ROG Phone (that stands for Republic of Gamers, for those new to the company's gaming brand) called the ROG Phone 2, and it's a massively powerful, giant-sized mobile gaming monster.
Mobile

Apple’s slick, smooth iPad Pro screen tech may come to 2020 iPhone

The screen technology which makes Apple’s iPad Pro such a viewing pleasure may come to the 2020 iPhone. Apparently, Apple is talking to screen suppliers about introducing a phone screen with a 120Hz refresh rate.
Mobile

Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL: Everything we know

Rumors abound about the Google Pixel 4, Google's next Pixel phone following the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. Getting around the leaks, Google straight-up teased an image of the back of the phone. Here's what you need to know.