Samsung has plenty of reasons for wanting to make its next Galaxy smartphone a stunner. There's the usual one – the desire to one-up Apple's latest iPhone. Then there's the more remarkable one: Samsung is looking to put a disastrous smartphone launch, the Galaxy Note 7, in the rear view by bringing some new phones to market. Judging by the stream of rumours on the forthcoming Galaxy smartphones - which are being called the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus - Samsung may be about to make some big strides toward both goals.
But how would the rumoured new Galaxy phone compare to the latest iPhone?
If the rumours are accurate, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is going to look substantially different from other smartphones on the market, the iPhone 7 included. And that's thanks to the display, which is expected to be huge, nearly bezel-free and come with an unusual aspect ratio (18:9). Rumours point to 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch versions of the Galaxy S8, which far exceed the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display sizes on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Meanwhile, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus feature sizeable bezels. Removing the bezels on the Galaxy S8 models means they likely won't feel like massive phones even with the large displays.
In terms of resolution, the rumour is that both S8 models will feature a Quad HD+ (3,200 x 1,800) Super AMOLED display. That's certainly a lot more pixels than the iPhone 7 (1,334 x 750) and iPhone 7 Plus (1,920 x 1,080). But Apple compensates by using its super-sharp Retina technology - which, for good reason, has been a very popular display.
But given the large-sized, high-resolution and small-bezel display of the Galaxy S8, it does look like a strong contender for the smartphone display to beat in 2017.
Reports suggest that the Galaxy S8 display will be rounded down the right and left sides of the device, a la the Galaxy S7 Edge. That'll be both for the S8 and S8 Plus models. The phone is expected to also have glass covering the metal back of the phone, with one change from previous models being that the fingerprint sensor will move to the back of the phone. That's because, with the removal of the bezel, rumours suggest the home button is going away with the Galaxy S8.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have an all-aluminium body and curved edges on the back, and retain the home button/fingerprint sensor on the front of the phone.
One big advancement for the Galaxy S8 may be the inclusion of Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 835, rumours suggest. Along with speedy data loading, the Snapdragon 835 aims to be easy on the battery life - Qualcomm promises a 25 percent reduction in power needs for the processor. The 835 is also expected to be highly space-efficient in the phone (35 percent smaller than the Snapdragon 821).
Still, the A10 fusion processor in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus may be faster for many tasks, according to reported benchmark tests.
All indications suggest Samsung won't be looking to match the two-camera approach of the iPhone 7 Plus with either of the new Galaxy S8 models. Rumours point to a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera on the Galaxy S8 models, which isn't expected to include the optical zoom capabilities of the iPhone 7 Plus dual-camera setup. The iPhone 7 features a 12-megapixel camera, while both the wide-angle and telephoto cameras on the 7 Plus are 12-megapixel.
Storage & Memory
Rumours point to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage included in each of the Galaxy S8 models - with an option to increase the storage with the purchase of a microSD card.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus include less RAM – 2GB and 3GB, respectively. But there are more internal storage options, with both models coming in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB versions.
Defective batteries were behind the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, so Samsung appears to be playing things safe by reportedly going with Sony as the supplier of the Galaxy S8 batteries. And one rumour out of South Korea suggests the S8 models will both have larger batteries than the iPhone 7 models – at 3,250mAh and 3,750mAh for the S8 and S8 Plus, respectively. That's in comparison to the iPhone 7's 1,960mAh battery and the 7 Plus' 2,900mAh battery.
What larger S8 batteries would mean for battery life isn't clear, but the potential would be there to surpass the iPhone 7's promised 12 hours of LTE usage and the 7 Plus' 13 hours of LTE usage.
Still, other reports have pointed to smaller S8 batteries - of 3,000mAh and 3,500mAh - so the battery remains one of the less-certain specs in the upcoming Galaxy S8.
Did Apple make the right move in leaving a headphone jack out of the iPhone 7? Only time will tell, but all indications suggest Samsung will not be following suit in the Galaxy S8. Rumours suggest the Galaxy S8 will feature the 3.5mm jack as well as a USB-C port. (Suggesting that, at least for now, Apple cannot claim victory in its war against the headphone jack.) The iPhone 7, meanwhile, has only a Lightning port.
The Galaxy S8 may also be able to connect over a dock to an external display, which could then be used as an Android desktop - akin to how some Windows phones are able to become desktops using Microsoft Continuum.
Specs leaks suggest the Galaxy S8 will come with an IP68 rating (the same as the Galaxy S7). That means the device should be able to survive even if it ends up in waters as deep as 5 feet, for as long as a half-hour. The iPhone 7 is not quite as water resistant, with the lesser rating of IP67 - meaning it can withstand 3.3 feet of water for 30 minutes.
Rumours suggest that one element of the Galaxy Note 7 that Samsung may bring to the Galaxy S8 is the ability to do authentication through iris scanning. The S8 may also get a sophisticated new virtual assistant – possibly named Bixby – that leverages technology from the acquisition of Viv Labs. Greater "force touch" pressure sensitivity, such as is found in the last few iPhone models, is also expected to be coming to the Galaxy S8.
The release date for the Galaxy S8 is expected to be released April 28, according to VentureBeat.
Source: Kyle Alspach, www.crn.com
- Joseph Flaherty