8/1/16

How Samsung plans its phones

Ahead of the Galaxy Note 7 launch, here's how the S7 came to be

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge aren’t just the company’s best-ever phones — they’re also the phones that have turned around the fortunes of its mobile division after two years of slipping profits. The S7 and S7 Edge’s strong sales were instrumental in shoring up the mobile unit, according to the second-quarter earnings released last week, and Samsung plans to keep up the momentum at the high end.

Tomorrow Samsung will announce the Galaxy Note 7, actually the sixth main entry in its popular series of gigantic, stylus-equipped phones. The Note line usually builds on the Galaxy S series, applying Samsung’s latest technologies to a larger canvas; with the S7 and S7 Edge setting an impressive precedent, expectations for this year's model will be high.

How will Samsung match them? Kim Gae-youn might have an idea. He’s the man who heads up smartphone planning at Samsung, making the calls about what goes into each model and how they’re positioned in the market. I spoke with him at Samsung’s headquarters in Suwon, South Korea just after the release of the S7, and he had a lot to say about exactly how the company goes about making its decisions — from screen size, to software customization, to the amount of bloatware.

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