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CES 2018 Device Blog : Day 1 : Smartphones

by Woody Oh | Jan 08, 2018

CES 2018, one of the biggest consumer electronics trade shows on the planet, is taking place in sunny and dry Las Vegas from Jan 9 (Tue) through Jan 12 (Fri) of 2018.

As usual, Strategy Analytics has a large team of analysts across various services including smartphones, drones, robots, tablets, wearables, smart home, semiconductors and Automotive in attendance. 

Our CES 2018 preview blog can be seen here.

On Day One, we are touching our hands on the new or very recently-introduced smartphones by Samsung and Sony.

1. Samsung : Galaxy A8 (2018) & A8+ (2018) : Line-Up Numbering Aligned with Flagship S and Note Series

a. Noteworthy specifications

- The first Dual Front Camera of Samsung's Galaxy Line-Ups : Samsung has introduced its first dual camera setup on the rear camera on Galaxy Note 8 in H2 2017, and brought 16MP + 8MP F1.9 Dual Front Camera on A8 (2018) and A8+ (2018).

- Flat Infinity Display of 18.5 : 9 Display Ratio : Samsung has stuck with this aspect ratio from flagship devices since last year while A8 / A8+ (2018) become the first cases of having this wider screen of the non-flagship line-ups.

- Always-on Display / Samsung Pay / IP68 water and dust resistance

- Some of Bixby features supported with the exception of Bixby Voice

- In spite of FHD+ resolution, they become the first A series to support Samsung’s Gear VR.

b. Implications

- Sub-brand Simplification : A8 (2018) and A8+ (2018) are Not the successor of Galaxy A8 series introduced in 2015 and 2016, but the successors of Galaxy A5 (2017) and A7 (2017) respectively. Samsung would want to streamline its smartphone line-ups across flagships through affordable segment, and might want to align the A sub-brand with the flagship S and Note series. (A8 / S8 / Note 8) Hence, we think that there are not likely going to be A5 (2018) and A7 (2018), and J series will likely go through the similar brand re-structuring.

- Competition against Chinese OEM's in the mid to high-end : Samsung brought both dual camera on the front and form-factor change with 18.5 : 9 display in an effort to gain more market share in the mid to high-end segment against Huawei, Oppo, vivo and others in the global market. A series have not much contributed to Samsung's performance just like S and J series have done so far, but Samsung wants to make more progress from A series by investing in camera and display-led form-factor in 2018.

c. Recommendations from SA
 
- Competitive pricing strategies depending on the market with A8 / A8+ (2018) series
- Consider putting OIS on the A8 / A8+ (2019) series next year

Galaxy A8 2018

 
2. Sony : Xperia XA2, Xperia XA2 Ultra and Xperia L2 : Three Super Mid-Range Devices To Turns Things Around

a. Noteworthy specifications

- All three devices are equipped with 120-degree super-wide-angle lens front cameras. Among them, Xperia XA2 Ultra has a dual front camera with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).

- Xperia XA2 / XA2 Ultra : Edge to edge display with reduced top and bottom bezels.

- Multi-media-focused features such as 'StartAmp' on XA2 / XA2 Ultra 

- All three devices feature new and always-on fingerprint sensor.

b. Implications

Upgrades on front and rear cameras : It is evident that Sony has put utmost efforts and cutting-edge camera technologies on XA2 and XA2 Ultra to grab more market share in the mid to high-end market as camera and video quality are regarded one of the important applications for many consumers worldwide.

- Minor, but meaningful improvements on the similar-looking front design : While many of the smartphone OEM's have ventured into the form-factor changes with bezeless and widened displays for the last two years, Sony has been a bit inactive in this field, but Sony's borderless designs along with reduced top and bottom bezel on XA2 / XA2 Ultra will be a precious milestone prior to bringing more stylish and design-innovative form-factor change on flagship Xperia series expected in the coming months.

c. Recommendations from SA
 
- More market-friendlier sub-brand nomenclature would help the users to understand Sony's brand positioning.
- Top and bottom bezels seen with XA2 / XA2 Ultra seem still big as compared to competitors' mid-end devices from Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, vivo, LG and others.
- More stunning design innovations would be required to turn around the market

Sony for CES 2018

This has been the daily blog for Day One in Vegas, and we will come back with Day Two blog tomorrow. Stay tuned, and keep visiting our CES 2018 blog website for more.
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