by Andrew Wilmot
Another year another Unpacked event. As ever there were a number of surprises, and a number of entirely expected announcements. Here are a few of our highlights from the Samsung Unpacked Event 2016.
Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Unveiled
As expected, Samsung unveiled the S7 and S7 Edge. Broadly speaking, they are just a hardware upgrade, with a better display, camera (Samsung are particularly touting being the first smartphone camera to have a professional-grade Dual Pixel Sensor, enabling better night-time photos), and faster processors. What particularly stood out though, is the water resistance (30 minutes/1.5 metres underwater), making Samsung’s flagship devices some of the most durable devices on the market. As expected, they’ve reintroduced the MicroSD slot. This ties in well with the increasing focus on the camera – not having expandable memory has really crippled smartphones as a tool for photography in the past.
Gear 360 will give GoPro a run for their money
What is super cool though, is the Gear 360, which was announced by Facebook founder and tech superstar Mark Zuckerburg. The Gear 360 is a camera designed to record video and images specifically for playback in VR. It’s compact, being slightly smaller than a baseball, and both splash-proof and dust resistant. Given how poorly GoPro has performed last year, it could get some good market share in the extreme sport camera market. In terms of specs, it has two fisheye lenses with two 15MP CMOS sensors, which can capture 3840*1920 video in 360 degrees – more than enough to record incredible quality footage. No price has been announced as of yet, but the official Samsung Website listed it at only $99, although the price has since been taken down. At this price, there would frankly be little reason to buy any other VR camera.
Gear VR to be bundled with S7 and S7 Edge
Further announcements were made for the Gear VR – Samsung’s VR headset, that uses the Galaxy line of phones, with 200+ games and apps available for the platform, and the Gear VR is now going to be bundled with the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge. The Gear VR is (as long as you own a Galaxy phone) perhaps the most affordable VR platform out there, undercutting just about every competitor but Google Cardboard, which wasn’t a serious entry to the world of VR anyway.
Can we talk about Mark Zuckerberg’s apparent endorsement of Samsung though?
Mark Zuckerberg is far better known than anybody at Samsung. In fact, he’s probably better known than just about every single person in technology, with the exception of Bill Gates. He even has a highly successful film all about him and the birth of Facebook. To put it simply, he’s big news. Having him at Samsung’s event is a blow to competitors Apple (who still haven’t been able to replicate the religious experiences of Steve Jobs era presentations) and Sony. Whilst it is unlikely to indicate a more solid professional partnership between the two tech giants, it’s not something to be overlooked.
Comparing this to my earlier predictions…I was off the mark completely. There hasn’t been any tablet announcement, curved edge or not, but the phone upgrades and focus on VR are incredibly exciting. Samsung is obviously vying to take over Apple’s reputation as the high-end, forward-thinking Tech Company out there, and the forays into virtual reality certainly seem to be doing this. The phone upgrades were fairly unsurprising, being just another few steps in the race with competitors Sony and Apple. However, the VR focus is real cutting edge stuff and one of our highlights of the Samsung unpacked event 2016.