Samsung, LG unveil premium phones

(Samsung Electronics showcases its new Galaxy Note 8 at a media event held at the company's Seocho-gu District offices in Seoul on Sept. 12. (Samsung Electronics))

Korea’s Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, two leading smartphone manufacturers, have both released a premium model this autumn. 

Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 8 made its debut on Aug. 23 at the Samsung Galaxy Unpack 2017 event held at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. 

The Galaxy Note 8, despite a light weight of just 195 grams, has a 6.3-inch display, which is the largest among the other Galaxy Note models. Just like Samsung’s previous Galaxy S8, it has thin bezels and no physical home button, which allows for a bigger screen. 

New features include a dual camera. It’s a first for a smart phone to have two cameras with optical-image stabilization (OIS), which allows clearer and more stable shots. 

The "Live Focus" mode on the Galaxy Note 8 allows the user to adjust any blur in the background to get a clearer image. This editing feature can be done during or after shooting the picture. The "dual capture" feature of the "Live Focus" mode allows the user to take two pictures with one button press: one zoomed-in on the subject and the other a wide-angle shot. 

Another noticeable feature is "Live Messages." With the S Pen stylus that comes with the phone, a user can create animated handwritten messages. 

Many media outlets, including The New York Times and the Washington Post, have published reviews that spotlight the Galaxy Note 8 after Samsung unveiled the new phone. 

The New York Times said on Sept. 5 that, “It has the best smartphone display that I have ever tested. The camera is fast and takes professional-quality photos. Jotting down notes with the stylus feels almost as good as writing on a paper notepad,” in an article titled “Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8: The Best Screen, for a Hefty Price.” 

The Washington Post on the same day had a review of the new phone and said, “Despite its size, the Note 8 was surprisingly easy to hold, thanks to a taller, thinner design that felt solid in my hand without making me worry about dropping it -- even without a case. In terms of overall performance, the Note 8 was noticeably zippy even when running multiple apps, including streaming video. Samsung has marketed and priced this as a top-of-the-line phone, and it fits that bill in every way.” 

The two reviews also mentioned its drawbacks. The New York Times said the iris scanner and the fingerprint scanner that unlocks the phone are disappointing because the iris scanner is “poorly executed” and the fingerprint scanner is “unfortunately located on the back of the phone, adjacent to the camera flash, which is next to the lenses.” 

The Washington Post said, “Samsung didn’t pack the Note 8 with a larger-capacity battery.” 

According to Samsung Electronics, 850,000 orders were made during the pre-order period from Sept. 7 to 14. That number is more than two times the pre-order of its previous model, the Galaxy Note 7, which had 380,000 pre-ordered over 13 days. 

The 64GB version of a Note 8 costs KRW 1,094,500 and the 256GB version is KRW 1,254,000. The new phone was officially released in Korea in Seoul on Sept. 15 and will be making its debut soon in other markets. 
 

LG Electronics’ new V30, the company’s lightest model with powerful cameras, made its debut at the Martim Hotel in Berlin on Aug. 31, one day ahead of IFA 2017. (LG Electronics)

LG Electronics’ new V30, the company’s lightest model with powerful cameras, made its debut at the Martim Hotel in Berlin on Aug. 31, one day ahead of IFA 2017. (LG Electronics)

LG introduced its V30, which has a lightweight body and top-notch cameras. 

The new phone is the first of LG’s V series to have an organic light emitting diode (OLED) display. Just like its rival Galaxy Note 8, it has minimized the bezels and has a wide 6-inch screen. Although it has a bigger screen, its weight is also lighter. It weighs 158 grams, which is 37 grams lighter than the Note 8. 

It has improved camera functions, too. One of the dual-lenses on the rear camera adopts an aperture of F1.6, which is the best among smartphones currently sold in the market. A lower f-number means a bigger opening that lets in more light. It also means that photos and videos can be taken more brightly and vividly in dark places. Also, its "Graphy" manual mode allows users to mimic professional shots by pre-setting aperture, ISO, shutter speed and white balance. 
 

LG Electronics announces its new V30 for the first time to the press on Aug. 31, one day before IFA 2017 opens in Berlin. (LG Electronics)

LG Electronics announces its new V30 for the first time to the press on Aug. 31, one day before IFA 2017 opens in Berlin. (LG Electronics)

The U.S. IT magazine Mashable wrote on Aug. 31 that, “The V30 is almost feather-light. I kept tapping at the glass back wondering if there were components and a battery inside,” in an article titled “LG wants to turn you into the next Steven Spielberg with the V30’s dual cameras.” 

There were positive reviews from other press, too. “The LG V30 certainly ticks all the boxes when it comes to specs and the company has clearly listened to consumers in an effort to understand what they want,” said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight during an interview with CNBC. The U.S. monthly Wired also wrote, “The V30 contains more settings, more modes, and more raw camera capability than any smartphone I’ve ever used.” 

However, there were complaints about the camera from some consumers. 

Its shortcomings include a smaller battery capacity, like its rival, blue-tinted footage and some displacement on the second screen, which displays time and other information. 

The 64GB version of the V30 costs KRW 949,300 and the V30+, the 128GB version, costs KRW 990,880. The 64GB version is KRW 145,200 cheaper than its Samsung counterpart 

The V30 was officially released in Korea on Sept. 21 and will be released in overseas markets shortly after.