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DJ Koh responds to questions on Galaxy Note 8's battery and lack of "wow" factor

The Samsung Mobile Chief went on the record to address some pertinent questions regarding Samsung's new flagship.
By
August 25, 2017

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 8 just a few days ago at an event in New York City. The successor to the infamous Galaxy Note 7 was bound to come under much scrutiny, and we’ve already been hands-on with the device to examine what it offers in terms of specs and capabilities (you can read all our thoughts at the previous link).

Following its unveiling, Samsung Mobile Chief Koh Dong-jin, also known as DJ Koh, went on the record to provide some more details on the device and the ideas behind its development.

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The interview arrives via Korean news site The Investor, though its origin isn’t clear. The Investor references Koh statements made at the Note 8 launch event, but doesn’t actually say that’s where the interview took place, while phoneArena says Koh sat down to answer some journalist’s questions after the Note 8 pre-orders went live.

Regardless, among the talking points was, as you might expect, the Galaxy Note 8’s battery. According to Samsung’s internal investigation of the Galaxy Note 7‘s overheating problems, it was the Galaxy Note 7 battery that was the cause of the issues last year that resulted in its cancellation.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 colors

We learned a couple of days ago that the Note 8 houses a smaller battery than the Note 7, 3,300 mAh compared to 3,500 mAh, despite the fact that the Note 8 is the larger phone (and thus should be able to house a bigger battery inside). Koh was asked, since the Note 8 battery is smaller, if Samsung planned to stop increasing battery sizes following the Note 7 problems.

“There are some reasons why we can reduce the battery capacity. One of them is the 10-nanometer processor that has enhanced the phone’s power efficiency by 30%. Users are also allowed to adjust their battery use based on their smartphone use patterns, which increases battery efficiency overall. Now I can guarantee battery safety. The phone will maintain more than 95 percent of battery capacity even after two years of use.”

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If what Koh says is accurate, the ~6% smaller battery capacity shouldn’t be much of an issue as the device is 30% more efficient overall than the Note 7 (that is, if we ignore for a moment all of the other possible factors that would affect battery life, like the different hardware and software features). Whether we see such an increase in efficiency will have to wait until our final review — but I’d be surprised if the new process tech leads to such significant gains alone.

Meanwhile, Koh was also asked how he would respond to critics who say that the Note 8 lacks “wow” features.

“Customer demands are diverse. Some always want new features, while others want a phone that can be used for two to three years. We are not sticking to innovation itself. We will seek innovation that can be truly embraced by customers,” said Koh. “The Note 8 has also been upgraded based on customer surveys.”

To be sure, you can’t please everyone and critics are always going to malign the lack of this feature or that. Also, perhaps it’s best for Samsung not to chase new features for new features’ sake, and instead, make sure it does a great job on the essential stuff like display quality, camera quality, etc. That said, I don’t buy the idea that Samsung only wants to innovate when customers will truly embrace it — it has come up with some less than amazing products in the recent past that didn’t do all that well commercially.

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As for how many units of the Galaxy Note 8 Koh expects Samsung to sell, he said: “The Note 5 sold 11 million units. I think the Note 8 would sell more than that. But the shipments could be adjusted because we still want to sell more Galaxy S8 phones.” The Investor states that Samsung aims to sell 48 million units of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus combined.

To check out our hands-on Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review, hit the link, and give us your thoughts on DJ Koh’s comments below.