It was wonderful to see Samsung adopt a fresh new color for the Galaxy S8 and S8+. The color is called Orchid Gray and it's a lilac-hued pastel that's unlike the shiny golds and reflective silver-covered phone bodies we've seen proliferating throughout the industry. This is no girly rose-gold either — Orchid Gray is indubitably gender neutral, which is exactly the way smartphone design should be.
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are merely following a trend, however. The HTC U Ultra, released a few months ago, is a stunning smartphone in its own right. Its hardware is not particularly spectacular when compared to the competition, but the blue variant is almost worth owning just to display on a mantel. The reimagined LG G6 is also fab in its own rugged and metrosexual manner, and we've been watching Chinese smartphone brands attempt to set a stylish precedent overseas for quite some time.
We're entering into a bona fide Android smartphone renaissance, where the smartphone in your hand is not just a utility, but an expression of your individualized self. And every premium Android manufacturer wants to show off what it can do.
Why the Galaxy S8 in Orchid Gray is so great
For the past several years, typical smartphone colors have been black, white, and gray. If you were lucky, you wielded a gold phone because you held out for one. Or you're me, and you skimped out on storage space because you wanted to be one of the first people with a really blue Pixel XL.
Orchid Gray isn't a special edition color. It's part of the main lineup, though I imagine it will be sold in limited quantities compared to the other color offerings — the same way the pink LG G5 was hard to find, for instance, or the aforementioned blue Pixel XL. The Orchid Gray is particularly outstanding because it is different from the status quo, much like the blue Pixel stands out when everyone else is holding an iPhone.
Smartphone design is still prone to stereotypes, too, so it's nice to see that the Orchid Gray isn't being marketed as meant for women, though its hue is malleable enough that it could be if you wanted it to. For instance, guys with a stylish side who typically wear lighter colors could choose this variant of the Galaxy S8 so it matches their trendy threads, while gals with a wild neon side could choose it to keep the color flowing (though I personally think the Arctic Silver variant would be more fitting).
There are a couple of other special edition colors coming to market, including Coral Blue, which was first introduced on the Note 7, and Maple Gold. These extra colors feel like collector's items, and it makes me want to scope them out just so that I could be one of the few people with one in my hand. And that's the point, isn't it?
There's no doubt that the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are a boon to smartphone design. Look at the symmetrical curvature of the chassis; the way the screen flows into the itty bit of bezel that exists. It's certainly a work of art, one that's ergonomic and comfortable to hold, despite the fact that the fingerprint sensor might be a little too high for some fingers. What's next? Is it the eventual elimination of the bezel in its entirety?
The latter half of the year will hopefully help answer that as sales reports start trickling in. I'll be curious to see if Samsung's design prowess can keep it floating at the top of the smartphone charts and whether the stylish precedent set by the Galaxy Note 7 was enough to keep people interested.
I can't help but wonder if all this design innovation is done in vein, though. Look at the iPhone: despite its relatively unchanged chassis, people continue to buy the iPhone because they know what they're getting with every model. They trust that Apple has at least marginally improved each generation compare its predecessor, enough for them to justify to upgrade — even if that upgrade means no headphone jack. When will Android users be able to rely on that sort of consistency? At least with the Galaxy series, it looks like the answer is 'Yes'.
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