It’s that time of year again. Rumors are flying about the latest Samsung flagship smartphone. Presumably to be called the Galaxy S8, it’ll attempt to revive Samsung’s burned edges from the Galaxy Note7 debacle.
Here’s everything we have heard so far about what Samsung is putting together. The details are pretty much in the rumor category at this point, but we’ll continually update this article as we get more information.
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An even better display
The latest Samsung phone usually wins the “best display” crown from Displaymate. A report from the Korea Herald indicates Samsung is going to bump up the resolution on the S8 to 4K (2,160 x 3,840) to top the current S7 line. The Korea Herald has broken a lot of Samsung news in the past, so there’s some merit to the rumor. Additionally, a rumored 5.5-inch display size would fit with the current Galaxy S7 Edge, which remains a very popular handset.
To edge or not
There’s some uncertainty about just how many phones Samsung will release, and what form they’ll take. The most recent rumor is that Samsung will go very big with a 6.2-inch curved screen. This would serve as a bone thrown to Note owners who craved that phone’s expansive screen real estate, but that size is a bit beyond what most users in the U.S. and Europe gravitate toward.
There’s also murmurings that all S8 models will go for that Edge look with the dual-curved screen. According to Tom’s Guide, Samsung head of mobile Koh Dong-jin said the following at the ill-fated Note7 launch:
“Samsung has considered that it would make the edge display as the identity of the Galaxy S smartphone lineup if the company can provide consumers differentiated user experience through software and user-friendly functions.”
A new digital assistant
Everyone is trying to get in on the digital assistant game these days. Samsung doesn’t want to just watch on the sidelines as the Google Assistant, Cortana, Siri, and Alexa battle for dominance. The company recently purchased Viv Labs for this purpose. The service can handle natural language queries like the other digital assistants in this hot space. Since the Google Assistant isn’t yet available to outside developers, Samsung clearly wants this type of capability and is keeping with its strategy of pushing its own services on the company’s hardware.
Retaking the camera crown
Samsung typically offers the best-in-class smartphone camera. But with the S8 it will have some catching up to do to beat Google’s Pixel, which many regard as the the current photography king.
There are a variety of reports to consider here, making this particular piece of the puzzle a little unclear. A report from Tech Updates indicated a 30MP rear camera. A tipster to Weibo says the phone will go dual lens, with a 13MP camera and 12MP Sony lens. An 8MP camera will be on the front, with other reports indicating it could have an autofocus for even better selfies.
No matter how the specs turn out, expect Samsung to try and wow potential buyers by claiming it’s built the best smartphone camera out there.
Powering the engine
Samsung has typically used its own Exynos chip or a Qualcomm Snapdragon model depending on which region the phone is sold in. A SamMobile report says that trend will continue, with an Exynos 8895 processor with ARM’s Mali-G71 GPU on tap. Performance is said to be 1.8 times better than the S7 with optimization for 4K and VR.
The Qualcomm chip will be the Snapdragon 830, according to the rumor, though the company has yet to announce said chip. It's more likely going to be the Snapdragon 835. It’ll be built on a 10 nm process and feature an octa-core setup. It’ll support up to 8GB of RAM and also be ready for 4K and VR.
In terms of other specs and build, there’s talk that Samsung will finally ditch the physical home button. This would be necessary if the October presentation by Samsung display engineer Park Won-sang turns out to be the plan. He said the company would be creating a display that covers 90 percent of the body. The already svelte Galaxy S7 edge, for example, covers 76 percent.
The fingerprint sensor has been rumored to be integrated into the screen, though we don’t know if Samsung has had the time to perfect that solution. The other option would be to put it on the back, as done by the Pixel, Nexus, LG, and other phones.
The Galaxy S8 is a premium phone, and it’ll demand a premium price. The S7 debuted at $699 and the S7 Edge went for $795. A six-inch plus screen could go for more, perhaps closer to the MSRP of the Note7, which went for as high as $880 depending on the carrier.
When’s it coming?
According to a Wall Street Journal report, The S9 won’t be here until April. Typically Samsung debuts the phone at Mobile World Congress, which this year is Feb. 27. Last year the S8 went on sale March 11, but an April release may be required to give Samsung just enough time to avoid the catastrophe it experienced with the Note7.