Samsung Electronics experienced low sale numbers in 2020 following the spread of the covid19 pandemic. The company is nevertheless optimistic, based on the last quarter of the year, that 2021 will see greater returns following the recent launch of the S21 series, product manager Gianmarco Leri assures.
Asked what sets the latest S21 line apart from all other models previously created by Samsung, Leri, in a virtual interview with Business Day, said, “This is special for many reasons. This is the first time we did an early launch. This launch is special because it came after the hit to businesses caused by the pandemic.”
Based in Miami, Leri said the team created this new line with a dedication to their customers, to provide improved specifications, especially what is offered by the S21 Ultra.
“We live in a world of photos, videos and online content. With the S21 line, we have offered the best camera quality in the world. We believe we are bringing the best value for what someone can invest into a flagship phone, catering to digital content creators and consumers – those who want to work or play in photography, videography and streaming.”
The 2021 flagship model costs US$200 less than its predecessor. Asked what changes were made and whether corners were cut by Samsung to make this possible, he said, “We noticed we needed to put more value for money in the hands of our customers. We were reminded this massive company would be nowhere without the people who buy our products. It is more of a time now, to take care of our customers more than taking care of Samsung.”
He said their aim is to present the best value and the best technology as evidence of their mission to create the best products while meeting their customers half-way.
Asked if there is a possible trend of tech companies cutting back on underutilised, costly specifications to broaden the price-point reach, Leri said he could not speak to a trend, but said Samsung has made changes to make premium devices at every price point available to its customers.
The back of the S21 and S21 Plus, for example are made of polycarbonate which gives the phone a similar look to the gorilla glass wrapping found on the S21 Ultra. The use of polycarbonate versus gorilla glass for all models in the S21 line was one way through which Samsung made flagship options available at three price points while also taking phone size preferences into consideration.
“We wanted to reduce cost on charger and earphone production. We cut costs also by cutting back on installation of microSD card slots. We understand people would wonder why we have gotten rid of things like the SD card slots that provide extra storage, like the other company, but we have our own strategy and we know what we want to bring to our customers.”
He said Samsung has been placing more emphasis on cloud and ecosystem technology where more built-in storage and cloud storage is made available to customers upon purchase.
“Regarding the microSD we gave hints with the Note 10 line that we would be moving away from hardware to expand storage. However, now it is official. Some people like it, some people don’t and some don’t care.”
He said Samsung works from their experience and makes adjustments quickly. Therefore, based on the dominant response to changes made with their devices, the company decides what adjusted features are worth keeping and which would require a return to the drawing board.
“Right now, global sales for the S21 Ultra have been out of the park, so it has been an interesting launch. Especially compared to last year where Samsung and many businesses experienced an unusually challenging time.”
Leri said after the strange year that was 2020, Samsung managed to regain momentum especially through collaborations with software companies such as Xbox and music streaming software Spotify.
Asked about major improvements made in the S21 line when compared to the S20 line of 2020 he said, “There were definitely improvements made to the camera and other built-in features.”
Leri said the S21 Plus, for example, when compared to the S20 Plus include a better camera portrait, low light and director's view mode, which allows more room for creativity in the video recording experience. Director's view mode allows improved mobile video creation capabilities such as the ability to focus on specific people and objects while recording. Edits which would normally be done post-recording.
“We have also improved the S Pen. We added a second stabiliser, making the camera zoom more powerful. We believe the new camera technology is out of this world.”
The phones are also available 5G ready, unlike many phones on the market backed by the quickest refresh rate on the speed while utilising the best technology for battery management technology where the phones can do more with less energy, Leri said.
Among the technologies being developed for integration into their devices is SmartTag that allow people to track their personal belongings and cherished items such as car keys, bags and wallets. With this technology, people will also be more easily able to unlock and start their cars using their phones.”
Samsung’s intention, according to Leri, is to integrate features with the capacity to replace credit and debit cards with a technology similar to the chip technology. All of this is set on a vision of allowing people to only need their Samsung phone when leaving home. “You can unlock and start your car with your phone. You can pay for things you need with your phone. You can work and enjoy gaming and video entertainment on your phone. If you’re going to have your phone with you all the time, let’s allow people to do as many things as possible with it.”
The S21 line, he said, is the best line Samsung has presented yet, especially compared to what is being offered by the competition.
Asked about the reception thus far, Leri said it has been astounding.
Leri said Samsung appreciates the Caribbean market. “We are grateful for the support from the region. For the S20, we saw hard times with the response from the Caribbean, but it was not just the Caribbean — it was global. We saw this in all markets including the US.”
Leri said during this time of limited activity, apart from using his S21 Ultra for work, he most enjoys capturing moments in photos and video recordings of his newborn daughter.