Update – The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ have been officially launched, you can check out our review if you’d like to learn all the official details, specs, features, and what we thought of it.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is Samsung’s next-gen flagship smartphone. The company has already confirmed this when they told Note 7 customers in Korea that they would be eligible for a 50% discount if they were interested in purchasing the Galaxy S8 as compensation for the Note 7. Samsung’s Mobile VP himself has also teased details about the phone sporting a “slick design” and an “improved camera”, but beyond that the rest of the phone’s features and specs remain a mystery. Here’s what we know now based on previous launches, analysis, and also rumors, so do take it with a grain of salt for now.
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The design of the phone is anyone’s guess at the moment, but if there’s one thing we’ve learnt is that over the past few years of Samsung releasing mobile devices, the company has not deviated too far from its designs. The company has previously been criticized for using too much plastic, so with the Galaxy S6 and S7 they have turned to the use of glass and metal.
There’s a very good chance that Samsung could continue that trend, but there’s no guarantee. An alternative could be ceramic which we saw Xiaomi use in the Mi Mix, but that particular material isn’t exactly a popular choice at the moment, so there’s no real reason for Samsung to go with it, but we thought we’d throw it out there for the sake of some variety.
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge features a 5.1-inch display, but we have heard rumors that the Galaxy S8 will be going up a size and sport a 5.5-inch display. This brings it dangerously close to the Galaxy Note series in which the Note 7 had a 5.7-inch display, which means that only a stylus pretty much separates the Note family from the S-family of devices.
As for resolution, QHD has been the standard so far, but with the Galaxy S8 Samsung could be bringing 4K to mobile devices. So far there is only one phone with a 4K display, and that would be the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, although to be fair it won’t display 4K all the time and will only switch when needed, so the Galaxy S8 could be the first smartphone with a “true” 4K display.
We are also probably looking at the return of the curved display. The rumors are claiming that the Galaxy S8 might not be offered in a flat screen variant, but apparently there will still be two versions. One version will be a smaller 5.1-inch model and the other a larger 5.5-inch model, but regardless both displays will still be curved on their edges.
There is also talk about the Galaxy S8 potentially having an “edgeless” design with a 90% screen-to-body ratio. This design has been adopted by Xiaomi recently with the Mi Mix, and we have heard that Meizu has something similar planned for next month. However if this true, Samsung could be beating Apple to the punch as the Cupertino company is rumored to launch an iPhone with a similar design in 2017.
With the Galaxy S7, Samsung once again returned to offering the phone in both Exynos and Qualcomm versions. The previous year due to the Snapdragon 810 overheating, Samsung had reportedly passed on Qualcomm’s chipsets, choosing to outfit their phones purely with Exynos.
Assuming next year will be the same as this year, we’ll be looking at both Qualcomm and Exynos chipsets in the Galaxy S8. Recently there was an Exynos chipset that was sighted clocked at 4.0GHz which is believed to make its way into the Galaxy S8. As for the Qualcomm version, we can only assume that it will be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 which is the company’s flagship chipset for 2017. Unless both companies switch up their plans, those are relatively safe bets that we are prepared to make.
While we are reluctant to say that Samsung copies Apple or that Apple copies Samsung, it’s hard to deny that both companies follow each other’s steps very carefully. With Apple adopting the dual lens camera with the iPhone 7 Plus this year, it is safe to assume Samsung will do the same next year.
There have already been rumors to suggest that it might be true. According to the rumors, we’re looking at a 13MP + 12MP camera combo on the back, as well as an 8MP front-facing camera. We’re not sure if Samsung’s dual lens setup will follow Apple’s setup which combines a zoom lens with a wide-angle lens, so we’ll have to wait and see. Samsung’s Mobile VP did promise us an “improved camera”, but other than that we’re not sure what else we can expect in terms of features.
With the Note 7 introducing iris scanning technology this year, it was the first mainstream smartphone we’ve seen to adopt the technology. Prior to this companies like Fujitsu introduced similar technology, but the phone was limited to the Japanese market. We’re not sure if the Galaxy S8 will use the same hardware found in the Note 7, or if Samsung will introduce an upgraded version, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
So the question is, will the fingerprint sensor remain? The answer is yes, but apparently it will exist as an optical fingerprint sensor versus the current technology. This is because if the rumors are true, Samsung will be ditching the physical home button on the Galaxy S8.
So far we’ve covered most the main features that Samsung will be offering, which by and large are pretty standard. However there are other features that we have also heard come out of the rumor mill. One of those rumored features (or lack thereof) is that Samsung will be following in the footsteps of other OEMs and drop the headphone jack from the Galaxy S8.
This means that connecting a pair of headphones to the phone will either go through the USB-C port, or users will have to go wireless via Bluetooth. Other rumored features include a new voice assistant which is expected to replace S Voice. Following Samsung’s acquisition of Viv Labs, the company is said to be looking to integrate Viv Labs’ AI technology into the Galaxy S8, which apparently will be known as “Bixby”.
One of the aspects of the phone that Samsung is apparently interested in focusing on would be virtual reality. This is apparently the main reason for giving it a larger 4K display, because having higher pixel density means images look sharper, especially when viewed in the proximity of VR, thus helping to sell the illusion that it is “real”.
Samsung already has their Gear VR platform, but given how much Google has been pushing their own VR platform for Android called Daydream, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Galaxy S8 would be a Daydream-compatible handset as well. Unfortunately for now there aren’t many details about what Samsung plans to use VR for or how the Galaxy S8 will fit in the picture.
Release Date & Pricing
With the Galaxy S7, Samsung released the phone early March, so there’s a good chance we could be looking at a similar timeline. There have been rumors that Samsung was planning on launching the Galaxy S8 earlier due to the Note 7 incident, but the company has since denied those rumors. Pricing should also remain roughly the same as the previous version.