Samsung's Design Language for the Galaxy S8

Samsung isn’t known for its UI design, but the company is now trying to change that, and boost its brand, with a signature interface style that debuted on its new S8 phone. To design it, Samsung called in the heavyweights: the New York-based design firm Pentagram. The firm worked closely with Samsung’s own UX Group 1 within its UX Innovation Team to not only design the overall interface, but establish a design language that Samsung could use in other products.

I think the S8 is a beautiful phone, the first from Samsung that I actually like the design of. With Apple’s own take on the edge-to-edge form factor in the iPhone X just around the corner, I think the S8 is still solid competition, at least aesthetically.

Only problem is that the software looks like typical Android. This bit completely rubbed me the wrong way:

While Samsung phones typically rely on standard Android UI, the company wanted to differentiate itself with its interface for the S8 as a way of strengthening its overall brand. In comparison to the chunky, colorful design of Android, the S8’s interface is sleeker and more abstract–part of the company’s efforts to make the phone look elegant and timeless.

Firstly, the only way the UI looks anything different from standard Android are the line breaks in the iconography, which itself seems more like an artful choice than an intuitive one.

Secondly, I’m not seeing much sleekness or abstraction here – maybe I have to actually use the device and see the UI animations to see some of it – nor am I seeing how this is less colorful than standard Android. One of the icons is literally a color wheel.

The rest of the article doesn’t really elaborate on any design choices apart from aesthetic ones, which is a shame, cause even as similar as it is to standard Android, it looks to be an improvement from Samsung software of yesteryear. Looks easier to navigate, at least.

All-in-all, the S8 seems like a decent phone. I can commend it for helping bring the smartphone some of its futuristic luster back. But I don't think the OS will be making Samsung any more known for UI design at all.