Samsung is expected to unveil its first major smartphone since it recalled the Galaxy Note 7 as soon as March, according to the latest reports.
The phone, which will presumably be called the Galaxy S8, is rumored to include a brand-new design, a smarter digital assistant, and a pressure sensitive screen, among other new additions. Tech pundits and investors will be eyeing this launch closely as Samsung looks to recover lost ground from the Note 7 fiasco.
Here’s a look at what to expect based on the rumors and reports that have emerged so far.
Samsung’s next flagship will come in two different sizes, according to reports from The Guardian and VentureBeat. One model will have a 5.8-inch display, says VentureBeat, while the other will have a 6.2-inch screen.
Previous generations of Samsung’s Galaxy S phones have also launched in two variants, but the company usually offers one with a curved screen and another model with a standard display. If VentureBeat’s information proves to be correct, these phones will be significantly larger than the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which have 5.1 and 5.5-inch displays, respectively.
Samsung reportedly plans to introduce its new smartphones during an event in New York City on March 29, according to VentureBeat. Both phones are said to go on sale April 21.
If true, it will mean Samsung will stray from its tradition of unveiling its new Galaxy smartphones during the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, as it has done in years past. A previous report from The Wall Street Journal initially said Samsung’s launch may come as late as April.
New design with “infinity” display
One of the most distinguishing features that’s expected to debut on the S8 is a new edge-to-edge screen, which The Guardian calls an “infinity” display. The screens on both phones will reportedly curve over the edge of the device on both sides, similar to the Galaxy S7 Edge, and will cover most of the front of the phone, according to the report. Since Samsung reportedly plans to dedicate most of the phone’s front to screen real estate, the forthcoming phones won’t include a physical home button. The fingerprint scanner will instead be placed on the back of the device, similar to that of the Google Pixel.
The most recent reports from The Guardian and VentureBeat also indicate that the Galaxy S8 will include a headphone jack in addition to a USB-C port. An earlier report from tech blog Sam Mobile said the Galaxy S8 would not include a headphone jack, mirroring a similar move by Apple with the iPhone 7.
Samsung first introduced an iris scanner on its troubled Note 7, and reports from The Guardian and VentureBeat indicate it will reappear on the Galaxy S8. The Note 7’s iris scanner made it possible to unlock the phone without typing in a password or touching its fingerprint scanner.
Improved virtual assistant
The Galaxy S8 is expected to come with an AI assistant that works with the phone’s camera to recognize objects, reports The Guardian. Users may be able to use the camera to capture text and perform a web search based on that text, as VentureBeat cites as an example. Samsung may also be partnering with other companies to provide data for this virtual assistant.
Reuters previously reported on Samsung’s plans to include a new virtual assistant in its next smartphone, adding that it intends to use technology from startup Viv Labs, which is acquired in October, in future Galaxy devices. The phone may also include a button along the side of the device for summoning the assistant, according to The Wall Street Journal. Samsung may name the virtual aide Bixby, as Sam Mobile reports.
Apple, Amazon, and Google have also been working to enhance their own voice-activated assistants. Apple launched an update in September that enables iPhone owners to use apps like Uber and Venmo through Siri, making it possible to send cash or call a cab with one’s voice. Meanwhile, Amazon’s voice-controlled Alexa now works with more than 4,000 apps.
In addition to recognizing objects, the cameras on Samsung’s upcoming smartphones will reportedly include minor enhancements that improve image quality, low-light performance, and speed, as The Guardian Notes. Specifically, the devices are said to include a 12-megapixel main camera and an 8-megapixel front camera, says VentureBeat.
An earlier report from Korean news outlet ETNews also indicates the front camera would come with an autofocus feature that makes it possible to capture subjects more clearly from a distance. This would likely result in higher-quality selfies, crucial as apps like Snapchat continue to grow in popularity.
An older report from the same website also suggests the S8 may get a dual-lens rear camera, although newer reports from other news outlets haven’t corroborated either claim. Apple recently added a dual-lens camera to the iPhone 7 Plus, which helps it achieve a clearer zoom and enable a “portrait mode” effect that makes subjects appear sharp against a blurred background.
The Galaxy S8 may include a screen that reacts differently depending on how hard a user presses it, according to The Investor and VentureBeat. This may make it possible to zoom in on a photo or create app shortcuts by pressing harder on the screen, similar to the iPhone’s 3D Touch. The pressure-sensitive tech might only be present in the lower portion of the screen.
Desktop computer functionality
Samsung may release a new service and a dock accessory for the Galaxy S8 that enables it to function as an Android desktop computer, according to The Guardian. Based on the report, it sounds like this feature would work similarly to Microsoft’s Continuum, enabling the phone to connect to a keyboard, monitor, and other peripherals while acting as the brain of the computer setup.
Performance and storage
Smartphone shoppers can expect the Galaxy S8 to feel a bit faster than Samsung’s previous Galaxy S device. The new phones will be powered by processors based on Samsung’s new 10nm technology, according to The Guardian, which VentureBeat says should make them perform 11% faster than the S7 with graphics processing that’s 23% quicker. This performance boost will be especially important as Samsung continues to push into virtual reality. The new phones are also said to start with 64GB of storage instead of 32GB and will reportedly support an extra 256GB of space.