Pixel, Pixel, Pixel. That's all anyone seems to talk about these days, but with the demise of Samsung's latest, the Galaxy Note 7, is it really all that surprising? The phablet was supposed to be the blockbuster follow-up to the Galaxy S7, but it ended up being a fire hazard.
Joking aside, the Note 7 debacle couldn't have come at a worse time. Google's smartphone is now the shining star — have you seen our end of the year lists? — so Samsung's next device has quite a bit to live up to. Here are a few features Samsung should consider for the Galaxy S8 to give it that je nais se quoi the Pixel's managed over its predecessor.
Leave the headphone jack alone
This rumor about Samsung dropping the headphone jack is coming in hot. But as The Verge's Nilay Patel wrote late last week, if Samsung decides to make this design decision for the Galaxy S8, it'll make its next flagship definitively "user-hostile."
The lack of a headphone jack will alienate a huge subset of Samsung's users, not to mention it will be detrimental to those who commute daily on public transit. After all, there's nothing worse than riding the bus with a dead pair of headphones because you forgot to charge them — or bring the adapter.
Meanwhile, both the Pixel and Pixel XL have retained the headphone jack, which Google joked was a "satisfyingly not new" key feature of its latest device during its launch event.
Better camera performance
This has been a phenomenal year for smartphone cameras, especially when compared to year's past. Samsung's Galaxy S7 and its extended family have managed to stay at the top of the crop, though the Pixel's 12-megapixel rear-facing sensor has definitely got a bit of an edge over Samsung's equal resolution.
First off, the, um, pixels of the Pixel's camera sensor are actually bigger than the Galaxy S7's— 1.55µm compared to the Galaxy S7's 1.4 µm. Second, there isn't as much post-processing going on behind the scenes when you're shooting with the Pixel, as exhibited in the photo comparison above. Photos shot with either of the Pixel variants tend to have more dynamic range, and thus more malleability when it comes to changing exposure or applying a filter after the fact.
Samsung should follow suit by tweaking the algorithm in the Galaxy S8 so that the contrast and saturation of the photos it snaps aren't so exaggerated. And even though it already offers so many intriguing camera features, it could offer a leg up by borrowing some of the iPhone 7 Plus's telephoto camera techniques. Have you seen portrait mode on the iPhone? We're not usually ones to covet features from our Apple-wielding brethren, but our Instagram photos would look so much better.
Samsung was definitely on to something with its Grace UI, which came standard with the Note 7. Unfortunately, some Galaxy S7 users are still waiting for their software update, and what's out now doesn't include the Pixel's major selling point: Google Assistant. This is the latest iteration of Google's virtual assistant and it works in tandem with a variety of Google products, including Home.
The Galaxy S8 could offer its own compelling AI to prop it up — one that isn't as limiting and as propriety as S Voice. Fortunately, there are already rumors that Samsung's acquisition of Viv will play a huge role in how Samsung approaches artificial intelligence and it extends beyond just answering the same questions as Siri and Cortana. Viv's capabilities could help Samsung devices become more simplified and contextual. What that means is not entirely clear yet, but there are rumblings it has something to do with "Bixby."
More bragging rights
Isn't it fun to brag about a feature your phone has that your friend doesn't? For the Pixel, that's Google Assistant and its offering of unlimited Photos backup. For the Galaxy S8, it could be something as simple as bringing back the iris scanning technology that went away with the Galaxy Note 7. It was pretty neat, made better by the fact that it actually worked.
Recent rumors have also pointed to the possibility of an optical fingerprint sensor, which would give the Galaxy S8 another bit of that gadget oomph the regular ol' Pixel doesn't have.
What feature does the Galaxy S8 really need to separate itself from the Pixel? Bezel-free screen? Faster charging? A coffee machine? Let us know in the comments!