SAMSUNG TOMORROW: Stuffing all that into… just this?! Part II of SGS III story …

In the previous post, we had a chat with some of the GALAXY S III developers about confidentiality issues surrounding the development of the phone. Today, we will be talking with some of the project’s engineers about some of the challenges they faced fitting all of Samsung’s latest features into such a small and thin device, as well as some other interesting experiences they went through during the project.

What was the ‘next step’?

It proved a great challenge to fit all of the technology users needed into a light, compact body. While the GALAXY S III is actually thinner than the GALAXY S II at 8.6mm, and weighs only 133 grams, it offers a massive 2100mAh battery – with roughly 30% greater capacity than that of its predecessor.

Woosun Yoon (Principal Engineer, H/W R&D) said, “We increased the battery capacity and added Wi-Fi Channel Bonding to make sure users could enjoy content quickly for a long time. To achieve this we had to totally redevelop the associated components.”

“Another amazing feature of the GALAXY S III is ‘S Beam’” he continued. S Beam is a feature which allows GALAXY S III owners to share files with each other simply by tapping their phones together. Yoon explained, “It seems like you’re sending files over NFC but you’re actually using WiFi as well. By connecting the devices via NFC and then switching to WiFi, you can share larger files even faster.” And the result? A 5MB song in a single second, a 10MB song in two, and a 1GB HD movie within three minutes.

Attention to detail

The manufacturing of the phone needed re-thinking and changing too. ChangYoun Hwang (Senior Engineer, Advanced Mechanical R&D) said, “Customers want real metal but they also want slimmer and lighter phones. Therefore, we had to come up with new methods to mix ceramic and metallic feels while keeping the cover slim, light and sturdy. Following a lot of sleepless nights and a number of innovations in extruding and molding processes, we did it. The result is a method and material that I’d say is a year or two ahead of competitors.”

Another key development is the fact that the screen actually sticks out of the front bezel. ByungJoon Lee (Principal Engineer, Mechanical R&D) said, “As the LCD screen gets bigger and flows out from the bezel frame, it is more vulnerable to shock. We’ve conducted a huge number of tests and trials to make sure it’s very tough to break or shatter. We checked the R-value even on the edges and ended up with a 2.5D glass.”

The biggest issue: Security? No, Time!

As we discussed in the previous post, confidentiality was a huge factor of this project. But time was also important as there were many prototypes to work with and test thoroughly. This was compounded by the fact that decisions such those regarding the home key button and main design colors were made right towards the end of the development process. The engineers all agreed that they were constantly fighting with time.

Beoungsun Lee (Senior Engineer, H/W R&D) said, “For better usability, we needed to change the home key yet again even after we thought everything was done! The length of the phone increased and as such we had to change everything again including mechanics, hardware reliability and durability. It was a real battle!.”

Conflict between departments over tape!

With developers holding different viewpoints but sharing huge levels of passion, there were a number of arguments between departments. This was especially true with the Hardware and Mechanical R&D groups , which were continually having to compromise; improvement in one sector usually meant a drop in quality in the other.

Discussions could become heated. As Beoungsun Lee (Senior Engineer, H/W R&D) explains: “I once proposed to use tape to channel heat outside of the phone; however, this was deemed to compromise reliability and durability in drop tests. So the Mechanical R&D group didn’t want to add tape.”

At this point Youngjun Jung (Principal Engineer, Mechanical R&D), usually quiet and reserved, said: “I think I wanted to punch him”, followed by a quick “just kidding” and plenty of laughter from everyone. “We managed to solve the problem peacefully”, he adds. Phew, crisis averted!

In the end both sides of the R&D group thanked each other and were proud of their overall success; a happy ending, then.

When we ask our final question ‘do you have anything else you’d like to say?’ ByungJoon Lee (Principal Engineer, Mechanical R&D) answered, “This is important. I want to say a sincere thank you to all the different departments that were involved. There are so many engineers that devoting their time to this company-wide teamwork; everyone from Product Planning to QDM to material finishing to manufacturing to compliance and everyone in between deserves to enjoy the success of this fantastic product. Great Job Guys!”

We have no doubt it was a challenging time, and we hope customers around the world enjoy the fruits of our team’s labor. We truly believe that the Samsung GALAXY S III is at the cutting edge of smartphone design, and we can’t wait for you to experience it too.


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