‘The future is coming at me too fast,’ says my father as he looks at his smartphone in disbelief, ‘I don’t understand half the things most youngsters are able to do with their phones these days.’
He is 86 years old and technology leaves him in disarray. ‘Disheveled times,’ he mutters as I walk with him into a Samsung store to show him their new launch – the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus. ‘Tell me just two things that you think will impress me,’ he says.
The Galaxy S8 display device is primed for use, I’m told, so I pick it up and hand it to him. ‘Is this the sort of phone that you’d love to hold?’ He looks at it, turns it around and says, ‘Elegant.’ He then picks up the S8 Plus and says, ‘Not a problem holding this one as well.’ I switch on both phones and tell him that these were bezel-less devices that gave 18% more screen and an infinity display. He loves the concept of soft keys on the screen and points out again that both 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch phones had an easy hold.
‘I need to hold the phones securely,’ he insists. I agree and as I had caught the word ‘security’ I said, ‘These phones have the most secure biometric identification systems. They have a fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, iris scanner, and the options of pin and pattern that you know so well.’
‘I forget passwords and patterns too can be difficult,’ he says, as the store assistant helps him initiate the iris scanner. He found this form of authentication simply awesome and smiled. ‘I love this.’ And I inform him that both these devices come with a defense-grade security platform called Samsung Knox. ‘Very dependable,’ I add, ‘though it is faster to draw a pattern.’ But I notice that he is already waiting for my next revelation.
‘Oh, by the way, these phones come with a revolutionary system called Bixby,’ I say, ‘and you can use voice, text, or touch to say what you need and it will understand. The voice feature will be added soon… but Bixby is intelligent and learns your habits and queries as you use. Bixby talks, sees, recommends, and even reminds. As an example, if you ask What is Ethereum, it’ll respond with the information you need.’
‘Charming,’ he replies, ‘I’ll be happy if it sets up my alarm for me.’
‘It does,’ I say, ‘and make your calls for you if you want. Or schedule a message or a meeting. It can even monitor your health factors and remind you when you need to go out for a walk or even show you pictures from the gallery.’
‘I love that last one,’ he chuckles, ‘as I can never tolerate tapping and swishing through pictures with a trembling hand.’ He pauses for a moment and then adds, ‘Now I want to know more. More than just two things because I want to be more than impressed.’ I smile and tell him about the front 8MP camera with F1.7 lens that simply meant he could click selfies in low light. ‘Yes, get-togethers and parties are generally dimly lit and selfies that I click turn too dark,’ he mumbles, ‘so this is something that I can appreciate.’ There wasn’t really any point in telling him about fun stickers and stamps and all the fun that one can have on the social media, but yes he did like it when informed about the facial recognition technology and auto focus that came along.
‘The rear camera has a 12MP and F1.7 lens with an incredibly fast auto focus,’ I say, ‘so you can even capture moving objects and also sharp pictures in low light.’
‘Aha! My friends do shake a lot all the time,’ he laughs. ‘I guess this camera will shoot crisp shots for me.’
‘Yes, of course. It will,’ I reply, ‘both the Galaxy S8 and S8+ have 1.4-micron pixels on a 1/2.55-inch sensor, and optical image stabilization… so good shots are never really far.’ So far as camera ability is concerned, the S8 and S8+ are expectedly experts at handling quick pans, moving objects, and shifts from bright to dark areas speedily. There is the usual Pro mode, and users can adjust focus after shots are taken if they use the Selective Focus mode. The most heartening feature is that the phones are not over-flowing with modes as this can be intimidating for a lot of users… and they have the option of downloading more features for free, including Sports Shot and Animated GIF modes.
I continue, ‘And whenever you multi-task or use two or more apps at the same time, this phone will not ditch you.’ The store assistant tells us that the phones were powered by the industry first 10nm processor allowing for smooth multi-tasking with 20% less battery consumption than before. This also means that gamers have a seamless and interruption-free experience when playing graphically intensive games. To be precise, the Galaxy S8 has a 3000mAh battery while the S8 Plus fits in a 3500mAh unit.
‘I don’t play games,’ says my father, and waits for more information relevant to him. He loves the fact that the phones had IP68 water and dust resistant calibrations, had a hybrid dual SIM slot, and an always ON display. When I told him that the phones came with 64 GB of internal memory, he smiles and reminds me of the first PC that he had bought. ‘It had 3.2 GB of storage space and people thought it was a lot.’ He is obviously thrilled and loves the fast charging bit… and the wireless charging part was like a dream come true for him.
By the way, the UI in these phones is now ‘Samsung Experience’ and the advantage is that stretching fingers is no longer expected as users can swipe up of down anywhere on the homescreen to reach the app-vault. Swiping has been built-in perfectly and even side swipes take you between pages.
The store assistant also informed us that both phones have a natural resolution of 1440×2960 pixels though they run at a downscaled 1080×2220 by default. ‘How about reading books on the phone?’ asks my father suddenly. I find it necessary to tell him that reading books on phones isn’t really a brilliant idea as there are other devices meant for this task… moreover, reading on a small screen is what I have personally found rather tedious and exhausting. ‘But you can read long emails for sure,’ I add with a smile.
‘So, now do you want to gift me a phone worth 64k or will you convince me to accept one that costs around 57k?’ he says impishly. And I am not going to reveal what happened after this query. All that I am willing to say is that the future is unstoppable and we need to accept it unless we are left holding antiquated devices that only hold us back.
23 May 2017