2016 year in review : Samsung's rollercoaster ride

Will Samsung bounce back in 2017?

By Shobhit Varma | Jan 2, 2017, 01.02 PM IST
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It’s been an absolutely mixed year for one of the largest consumer electronic company in the world when it comes to its mobile division.

Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge: Critical acclaim
The year started off on a high with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge which were extremely well received, both critically and commercially.

For many years, Samsung was known for making plasticky handsets with mediocre build quality and uninspired designs. All this changed though in 2015 with the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge, ushering in a svelte metal and glass design that stunned many. The design of the S7 was an evolution of the same and received plaudits left right and centre.

The S7 and S7 Edge built upon what Samsung had achieved with the S6 and S6 Edge and added much demanded features such as microSD card support and waterproofing.

On the imaging front, Samsung aced it with the S7 and S7 Edge, cramming in a 12MP rear and 5MP front camera setup, which turned out to be one of the best cameras on any smartphone to date.

Run of the mill budget devices
After this is where things started getting a bit murky for the company. The middle of the year was marked with Samsung releasing average run of the mill budget handsets one after the other.

In the span of a few months, the company released a grand total of EIGHT devices in India in the price range of 8,000 - 12,000 rupees - The Galaxy J2, the Galaxy J2 2016 , the Galaxy J3 2016 , the Galaxy On 5 , the Galaxy On 7 , the Galaxy On 7 Pro, the Galaxy On 5 Pro and the Galaxy J Max .

This was Samsung’s reverting back to its age old penchant of making too many smartphones and adding or removing one feature here or there to differentiate one from the other.

While in the past two years, Samsung has made serious headways when it comes to its flagships, the same cannot be said for its low and mid-range devices which lack basic features such as an ambient light sensor and haptic feedback and are criminally under-specced compared to the competition.

The Galaxy Note 7 fiasco
In August 2016, Samsung released what should have been the turning point for the Android-iPhone war. The Galaxy Note 7 was Samsung’s answer to the dominance of the iPhone, a smartphone whose release was pushed forward when Samsung learnt that the iPhone 7 will not be much different from its predecessor.

It was supposed to be the device that finally ended the dominance of the iPhone and elevated Samsung to a new level in the smartphone game.

But alas, the Note 7 turned out to be one of the biggest tech disasters in history. The Note 7 fiasco reached a scale of such proportion that governments and airlines over the world banned the device outright.

The Note 7 turned out to be a complete nightmare for Samsung. One could never have predicted what was to follow and how badly the smartphone would tarnish the electronic giant’s reputation. The way Samsung handled the situation, with multiple recalls and rushed discussions, just added fuel to the fire.

The worst part was the fact that even after issuing new supposedly ‘safe’ units and then ultimately pulling the device from the market, Samsung had no idea what was causing the batteries to explode. The situation became so bad that most governments and aviation authorities banned the use of the device in aeroplanes and many other places.

A lot of reports attributed the aggressive design of the Note 7 as a contributing factor. Trying to cram the biggest possible battery in the smallest possible frame is what caused the disaster.

No matter how you sugarcoat it, the Note 7 fiasco was a terrible turn of events for Samsung, with its share prices going down drastically in the wake of these revelations and its image taking a big hit globally.

After the Note 7 debacle, Samsung wisely shifted its focus back to the S7 and S7 Edge, releasing new colour versions and pushing the Note 7’s new Grace UI to the duo as an update.

What's next?
2017 will be a year when Samsung has to both recover from this disaster as well as regroup and concentrate on the S8. It is unclear as of now if the company will be continuing with the Note brand or not and whether there ever will be a Galaxy Note 8.

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