Samsung unveiled its update to the highly successful Galaxy S – more than 10 million sold worldwide – at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) on the 13th. The specs for the phone are incredible, with a 1GHz Dual Core processor, Gingerbread, 4.3 inches Super AMOLED Plus, and 8MP/2MP cameras. And all this power in a slim 8.49mm package!
Continue below to find an interview with Senior Manager Kang Byung-jin and Assistant Manager Min Sun-young, from the team that planned this phone.
Q) When did you start preparing for the Galaxy SII?
Kang: After the Galaxy S was developed and launched in the market, planning for the Galaxy SII began right away. We started to plan the SII while watching the great success of the Galaxy S. It was great to see the Galaxy S was doing so well, but I have to say it was a bit of a burden at the same time.
Q) As you said, the Galaxy S was a mega hit so I’m sure you had a lot of pressure while planning for the Galaxy SII
Kang: There’s no doubt about it. The success of the Galaxy S2 was a heavy weight on our shoulders. Also, because competitors benchmarked the Galaxy S and continued to pour out good phones, we were also pressured to plan a product that excels over competing products. Even after setting the main concept, we found ourselves constantly changing many aspects after monitoring consumer needs and market trends. But in that sense, it was constantly being upgraded. The planning and decision making was a painful process as the smartphone market is a rapidly changing market.
Q) The Project name was Seine. What’s the meaning of it?
Min: The French pronounce it as [sεn] but we pronounced it as [seɪn], as some English or Americans do, which of course means the River Seine in Paris. You could say that we wanted to create a high quality phone that has classical grace and beauty. Kind of like the river. (laughs) There could be an endless number of other reasons… (more laughter) Anyway, the official name of the phone is Galaxy SII.
Q) I’m sure the specifications and features of the phone constantly changed in the development process, but there must have been some set goal or concept that you wanted reach from the beginning of the planning process?
Kang: Of course. The broader concept names for the Galaxy SII ranged from the “NEXT Galaxy S” to “Galaxy S 2” and “Galaxy S Evolution,” and these concepts were set to create a smartphone upgraded from the Galaxy S. Because the Galaxy S was so wildly successful, we wanted to develop an upgraded, evolved smartphone, instead of creating a completely new product. The result was of course, an upgraded smart phone which is better in every aspect. Performance is stronger and Super AMOLED is now Super AMOLED Plus. Everything has gone up. Up! Up! Up! We’ve made many upgrades!
Q) Indeed it seems like a lot has been upgraded. Please tell us little more about the specifications of the Galaxy SII
Kang: The Super AMOLED has been upgraded to Super AMOLED Plus, and it runs on a dual core processor, and it is the most powerful dual core processor used in any smart phone that exists today. The display has become larger, from 4 inches to 4.27 inches, and even with the larger screen the weight is lighter and the whole unit is just 8.49mm thin. The battery is 10% more efficient than the Galaxy S, but the battery itself has become smaller and lighter. Like the Galaxy S, the SII has two cameras. The front facing camera is 2MP while the back facing camera is 8MP. Also, as there was a lot of consumer demand for a flash, we have built in an LED flash for the Galaxy SII. To make full use of the dual core chip, we installed 1GB ram, which is normally used in PCs. You can really see the speed difference when running multiple apps at a time, instead of running 1 or 2. That’s a lot of upgrades right? Even with all these upgrades, the device has become thinner and lighter.
Q) I heard that it was impossible to make the Galaxy S any thinner, because of the antenna and other components, but it’s amazing to see that the S2 become so thin in less than a year.
Kang: That’s our job! Like I said, we had to make an upgrade to every aspect of the Galaxy S. The design team and the mechanism development team racked their brains together to reduce thickness and weight. There were conflicts along the way, but it was all in the interest of creating a better product, and I’m very grateful to the team members.
Q) Is there something you can say about the product that beats all the competitors?
Kang: Even at first glance, you can tell that it’s extremely thin. The Galaxy S was 9.9mm thin and competing products are all over 9mm but the SII has further reduced its thickness by over 1mm, measuring only 8.49mm. We are very proud to say that it is the slimmest smartphone on the face of the earth today.
Q) What was most difficult as a planner of the Galaxy SII?
Min Everything was difficult! The hardware, the software, and the performance, it all had to be better than competing products. We felt that it was impossible to continue the success of the Galaxy S if the next product was lacking even in one small aspect when compared to other smart phones. We planned in detail, even the smallest things, to make a product that could beat out the competitors. We really had to put our heads together and think. I guess that explains all the headaches that I had! (laughs)
Q) After a very rigorous planning and developing process, the product has finally been unveiled to the public. How do you feel? Do you sense a mega hit?
Together: Yes! Definitely! We’re full of confidence!
Q) Please tell us 3 things you would like to boast about most?
Min: First off, there’s the “social hub, readers hub, music hub, and game hub,” which we call the 4 major hubs. This is installed on every Galaxy SII. The 4 hubs are major functions that smart phones must have, and we thought of ways to create a really convenient user experience. Especially, the game hub has killer contents for smart phones. The second thing would be the outstanding hardware. It overpowers all other smart phones in this aspect, for example the display, dual core processors and more. The last would have to be the design.
Oh! There is another really convenient feature in the Galaxy SII that I would like to mention. You’re aware of the Kies air application right? Galaxy S users used to have to install Kies software onto their PC to run the Kies Air app. But with the Galaxy SII, you can now sync your device with TVs, PCs and Tablet PCs, and any other IT devices that have a browser. Without having to install Kies Air on every device, you can connect to your device via Wifi to share and send content from your phone. It’s really convenient.
Q) I assume that it will be some time before it actually goes on sale, but it will be unveiled at the MWC for the first time. How do you feel?
Kang: Now with the launch of the product ahead of us, and the unveiling at the MWC, all the hard work and effort seems to be worthwhile. I expect the Galaxy SII to do even better than its predecessor and become another hit seller for Samsung.
Min: I want to say that this was not the result of the Product Planning Group alone. Many different divisions of the company teamed up and put in a lot of effort to bring the Galaxy SII to life, and I have no doubt that we will now reap great results from the effort. I am really happy, and feel that my efforts are paying off. I think we need to make more efforts in the future to make the Galaxy SII into another ten million-seller.