As of 2013, Samsung has achieved the largest market share of the global smartphone industry at nearly 31%. Apple released two new smartphone models, Motorola released 11, and HTC put out an impressive 27 new models in the last year. Dwarfing them all, Samsung released 56 smartphone models in 2014. But looking at quality over quantity, are Samsung getting better at designing mobiles?
You could argue that during this level of production, Samsung should have perfected their design process. With each new model, the design has been improved to some degree, and after 56 in the last year alone, the design process should also have improved.
However, you could also argue that the sheer volume of output suggests that Samsung has chosen to prioritise sheer quantity. Although the collective design features of all the models shows impressive range, the design of each individual model shows less progress than other phone producers such as Apple. Each new iPhone release shows considerable development from the previous model, whereas each new Samsung model is perhaps different, but not necessarily better. So overall, is Samsung getting better at designing mobiles?
With the release of the Note Edge model featuring the curved edge screen, Samsung is certainly exploring more innovative designs, and moving away from the classic designs that other smartphone makers continue to release. The Galaxy series continues to be responsible for the largest segment of profit, with the release of the Galaxy S6 due for release in early March 2015.
Although the first Galaxy was criticised and eventually sued for supposedly mimicking the iPhone design too closely, by the Galaxy S3 in May 2012 the design was moving away from the rectangular design and featured a curved body and rounded edges, a slimmer Home Button and came in a variety of colours. In light of the success of the Galaxy series, one could argue that Samsung is getting better at designing mobiles.
However, critics have suggested that Samsung is too determined to be the first in new releases, and that design suffers as a result through lack of fine-tuning. Models such as the Samsung Galaxy Round featured gimmicky designs, with the ‘groundbreaking’ warped screen intended to cling more comfortably to the contours of the hand and face. In reality however, aesthetically the Galaxy Round resembles the unfortunate results of the iPhone 6 after being stored in the owner’s pocket for an extended period of time.
The Galaxy S6 will feature a display with two curved edges, and there is some discussion over the design’s metal frame with glass back and front. Its dimensions are unknown, although there is hope that it will follow a slimmer design than the S5 which was 8.1mm thick. With the Galaxy A7 at only 6.3mm thick, and the Galaxy Alpha at 6.7mm, Samsung smartphones are definitely moving towards thinner designs.
The Galaxy Alpha, released in September 2014, has been praised as one of the most aesthetically superior Samsung designs yet released, and certainly improved on design flaws of the Samsung S5. Although there were negative reviews of the lower resolution screen of the Alpha, the appearance is certainly an improvement on earlier models.
The Alpha was a combination of the best aspects of the S5, with the metal frame of competitors from Apple and HTC, and the S6 looks set to follow in the same direction. The software is another question: there have been reports of overheating in the Snapdragon 810 processor which is set to feature in the S6, and other flagship models including the LG G4.
Are Samsung Getting Better at Designing Mobiles?
The Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung intend to cut its 2015 mobile release by 25-30 percent, perhaps in an attempt to focus more on the design process for future models. Are Samsung getting better at designing mobiles? Despite several hiccoughs in previous model designs, it seems that overall, Samsung has turned its full attention to the aesthetics of smartphone design and that they will continue to rival models from prominent competitors.