Editor’s note: This article is frequently updated to reflect the latest information available.
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 with the latest information. In the most recent report, Bloomberg weighs in with some enticing news about the new “all-screen design,” while also corroborating other rumors we had heard. Read on for the details:
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 (2160 x 3840) 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.
However, SamMobile’s sources indicate that the Galaxy S8 will retain the 1440 x 2560 2K Super AMOLED display of its predecessor, but will manufacture it using a new material that will help it last longer and use less power. The site also reports that the company will switch from the Diamond PenTile subpixel arrangement to a standard RGB one, effectively increasing the pixel count from 7,372,800 to 11,059,200. Sammobile claims the change will “provide a noticeable improvement in virtual reality environments.” The site also says the new displays will be even bigger, clocking in at 5.7 inches and 6.2 inches, and increase of more than a half-inch over the 5.1- and 5.5-inch S7.
Bloomberg also weighed in on the topic. Citing “people with direct knowledge of the matter,” the site reported that the Galaxy S8 will feature a completely bezel-less design not unlike the Mi Mix concept phone that launched earlier this year. Bloomberg breaks with Sammobile by saying the devices will retain their current 5.1-inch and 5.5-inch sizes, though it’s unclear from the report if the screens will be larger due to the screen-to-body ratio.
Bloomberg’s report doesn’t mention if the screens will be boosted to 4K, but it makes more sense for Samsung to focus on the design around the display rather than increase the resolution. Most users have a hard enough time distinguishing between 1080p and Quad HD, and the potential hit to the S8’s performance and battery life might not be worth it.
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.”
Bloomberg also reported that the S8 “will only come with wraparound displays.”
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.
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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. (However, Bloomberg reported that while Samsung is indeed experimenting with a dual-camera system, it may scrap the idea due to higher manufacturing costs.) An 8MP camera will be on the front, with other reports indicating it could have an autofocus for even better selfies. A trademark filing with the European Union Intellectual Property Office for “Samsung AF” seems to support that rumor.
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 reportsays 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 optimizations 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 10nm process and feature an octa-core setup. It’ll support up to 8GB of RAM and also be ready for 4K and VR. Bloomberg confirms the use of the 835 chip as well.
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