Dubai: Samsung has been getting good pre-orders for its new flagships when compared to its previous model despite the S9 devices being the most expensive ones from the company.
“Even though we are three days away from the pre-order period to end, we are 1.3 times more than S8 total pre-order numbers and 1.6 times more on a day-to-day basis. If we continue the same trend, we will cross 1.7 times the pre-order numbers of S8,” Tarek Sabbagh, head of IT and Mobile (IM) Division at Samsung Gulf Electronics, told Gulf News.
The pre-ordering period is from February 26 to March 10.
The South Korean giant officially launched its new model in the UAE on Wednesday evening at the Sofitel hotel on the Palm in Dubai.
Chung Lyong Lee, Samsung’s Gulf president, was on hand to demonstrate the phone to an audience of company executives and members of the media, joined by Tarek Sabbagh.
The pre-ordered customers will start getting their devices from March 11 and over-the-counter sales will happen from March 16.
The S9 with 64GB is priced at Dh3,099, 128GB for Dh3,299 and 256GB for Dh3,499. The S9+ with 64GB is priced at Dh3,499, 128GB for Dh3,699 and 256GB for Dh3,899, making it roughly on par with Apple’s iPhone X for price.
Sabbagh said that 2017 was a good year for Samsung compared to the overall ups and downs in the UAE market. The overall UAE market grew two per cent year on year, but Samsung grew double of that.
“The amazing part is that we launched 128GB and 256GB models for the first time and surprisingly, 30 per cent of the consumers shifted from 64GB to 128 or 256GB versions. More than 60 per cent of the pre-orders are coming from the bigger version S9+,” he said.
The phone is looking at what the consumer wants and “we are not looking at the completion. When more than five billion emojis are shared every day and more than one billion GIFs are exchanged every day, what we are doing is personalising the consumer experience.
“We are very optimistic about the year and the first two months have been beyond our expectations. The S9 is going to change the way we communicate in many ways and there are many things down the line,” Sabbagh said.
Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, told Gulf News that the smartphone industry will face a challenging year. It was evident in the fourth quarter of last year, the first ever decline.
“For 2018, we are revising our growth forecast, but will still see a small growth. The issue is that the phones launched at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, will not convince any user to upgrade. What we see in 2018 is the lengthening of smartphone life cycle and this is going to impact both Samsung and Apple,” she said.
She, however, said that Samsung and Apple have issues in accelerating replacements. The S9 has some new and improved features such as authentication and camera. “Samsung is still the best in lowlight cameras but Bixby is an intelligent interface and not an intelligent voice assistant, same is the case of Apple Siri.”
Cozza said that Galaxy S7, S8 and Note 8 are still good products. So it is going to be a challenging first quarter for smartphone production, the demand is weak. The players have to “burn inventories that have been built” as demand was weak in last quarter, slower than expected.
“The prices of S9 models have gone up, close to $1,000, apart from any drastic changes to S8. Samsung will benefit from the lack of competition in the first quarter but I don’t think S9 will benefit rather than a discounted S8. The performance of the S8 camera in lowlight condition is good,” Cozza said.
According to DxOMark’s latest report, Samsung S9+ takes the crown for the smartphone camera from Google Pixel 2. Samsung S9+ scored 99 points, Pixel 2 with 98, iPhone X with 97 and Huawei Pro with 97 points. DxOMark measures the performance of a camera’s lens and sensor. Higher scores indicate better overall camera quality.
Cozza said Samsung will see a slight increase in full-year shipments, especially in the premium segment but will face a tough challenge in the mid-tier segment from other Chinese vendors.
—With inputs from Ed Clowes, Staff Reporter
Camera is the highlight
At the UAE launch, after describing some of the specifications of the phone, which features a 5.8-inch Quad HD OLED ‘Infinity Display’ and a 12MP rear camera with a variable aperture (f/1.5-f/2.4), Samsung executives proceeded to demonstrate the S9’s augmented reality (AR) capabilities. The phone uses AR facilities in the camera to create a 3D image of the subject, and turns them into a customised emoji. The app can create 18 different emojis of the person, according to Samsung, who did a live demo of the feature at the launch event.
—Ed Clowes, Staff Reporter