Samsung was riding high when the Galaxy S7 officially outsold the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and even more so when the Galaxy Note 7 came along and impressed everyone — until it went out with a bang. It’s therefore likely to be thrilled to leave 2016 behind and turn its attention to this year’s flagship, which we know as the Galaxy S8.
Lee Jae-yong, Samsung’s mobile communications vice president, has noted that, for starters, the Galaxy S8 will “feature slick design and an improved camera, as well as an enhanced artificial intelligence service.”
There are plenty of rumors about the phone already, so here’s everything you need to know.
We’ve heard a ton of rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S8, but for a long time, none of them had nothing to do with design. Just recently, however, there has been an avalanche of photo leaks pertaining to how the phone looks.
The most recent leak, which comes from MobileFun, is essentially a basic render of a case for the device, and while it isn’t too detailed, it does give us a look at some of the features we should expect from the phone. This leak shows something we haven’t seen much yet — the back of the Galaxy S8 Plus. In fact, based on the leak, it seems as though the camera module will be a little wider on the Galaxy S8 Plus than that of the normal Galaxy S8, suggesting we could even see a dual camera on the phone. Not only that, but we can also see that the power button will remain on the right rather than being moved to the left as previously thought, and a USB-C port and headphone jack. The render doesn’t seem to show a speaker grill for a top speaker — something that we do expect from the smaller Galaxy S8. It’s possible that the render is incorrect, but it seems as though the Galaxy S8 Plus might do away with stereo speakers.
Previously, we saw a photo leak of what appears to be the front panels of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. The leak is pretty much in line with what we have already seen, showing a display that covers almost the entire front of the device and does away with the home button. The leak comes from DforDesign and it raises interesting questions about the placement of the fingerprint sensor — namely, where the fingerprint sensor will be. It is possible that it will show up on the back of the device, but some rumors also suggest that Samsung will include an in-display fingerprint sensor.
A separate leak pretty much backs up all the other information we’ve seen about the design over the past few weeks. The leak comes from MobileFun, and shows that the phone will likely have a USB-C port, which will sit on the bottom off to the side, rather than in the center. Contrary to some rumors, the case also shows a hole for a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Another leak gives a pretty good look at a phone that has a pretty drastically different design than previous iterations of the Galaxy S series. For one, the home button seems to have disappeared, and the screen has been expanded to cover almost the entire front of the device. The most interesting part? This leak actually comes from Samsung itself, which published a video on its Samsung Display YouTube account. Of course, we don’t know for sure that this video shows the Galaxy S8, but the design does fall in line with other leaks, and if it’s not the Galaxy S8, it is another unreleased Samsung phone. Check out the video for yourself below.
According to a report from Slashleaks, there was another video that was published describing the display, but that one has since been taken down.
A new leak from Slashleaks shows a Samsung Galaxy S8 case that will put to rest some of the most persistent rumors out there — like whether or not the phone will have a 3.5mm headphone jack. The leak clearly shows a headphone jack slot near the bottom of the phone. We can also see that there will be three button slots on the left side of the phone, and there’s a camera cutout on the back with a slot above it — which is likely for the camera flash.
Interestingly enough, it also seems like the Galaxy S8 will bring back the microSD card slot, although it’s possible that the slot will be for something else — like the SIM card.
A new report from BGR has also been published that claims to show what could be the first leaked photo of the upcoming smartphone. The image actually seems to be a render from accessory maker Ghostek and shows what appears to be the Galaxy S8 in a Ghostek case.
The render does line up with previous rumors we’ve heard about the Galaxy S8 — including that it will have a curved AMOLED display and will do away with the home button. What doesn’t line up is that there doesn’t seem to be a fingerprint scanner on the phone — so if the phone has a scanner at all, it would have to be embedded in the phone’s display. That could mark a huge shift for the smartphone world, and it could be the first phone to use a new fingerprint technology.
A new digital assistant?
It looks like Samsung will develop its own digital assistant for use on the Galaxy S8. Samsung has trademarked the name “Bixby” for “computer application software for smartphones, mobile telephones, portable computers and tablet computers … used to operate voice recognition system[s] … [and enable] hands-free use of a mobile phone through voice recognition.” This hints that the name may end up being used for its assistant.
Bixby appears to be much more capable than early reports suggested. According to SamMobile, the Galaxy S8 will feature a dedicated search button that will give access to a search tool that “processes whatever the user is pointing the camera at.” Bixby will reportedly be capable of analyzing the image, identifying objects and text, and searching for the objects in question.
It’s similar in execution to Google’s Goggles app, an image-recognition platform that identifies famous landmarks, barcodes, and off-the-shelf products. And it’s not unlike like Amazon Flow, an app that scans across tens of millions of DVDs, books, packaged household items, and business cards. But SamMobile reports that Bixby will boast “extended functionality” and a “high degree of interconnections” to other applications — it’ll not only help you find and buy an identified object, for example, but help make a purchase as well.
Reports also indicate that Bixby will be usable in almost all of the Samsung Galaxy S8’s native apps that come preinstalled on the phone. Bixby will also reportedly be a lot more advanced than Samsung’s S-Voice and will work systemwide — which means you may not see Google Assistant at all on the Galaxy S8.
Release date and availability
You probably want to know when the Galaxy S8 will arrive, right? We’re not sure yet, and Samsung hasn’t made any official announcements yet. However, there are a few possibilities. Rumor-mongers are undecided. Some say that despite the show being the launchpad for the Galaxy S7, Samsung may forgo February’s Mobile World Congress this year in favor of a private event held at a later date. Others aren’t so sure.
A source on Twitter claims Samsung will bring the Galaxy S8 to MWC, but it won’t be part of a huge launch event, and presumably shown only behind closed doors Instead, it’ll be made official on March 29, then put on sale during week 17 of this year, which is between April 24 and April 30. The leak comes from an entirely unverified source and contradicts a previous prediction, so treat it with even more caution than usual.
Before this, two possible dates were being rumored. The first was April 18 for a New York City event, according to a report from South Korean news site Naver, which cites industry insiders. The second date being suggested was April 15, but no city or location was mentioned in the ETNews report where the rumor originates.
An April date has been talked about for a while. The Wall Street Journal has reported we wouldn’t see an official Galaxy S8 unveiling until an April press conference in New York City. Noted rumor leaker SamMobile corroborated that report in mid-December. Samsung, which has historically released new Galaxy devices in March, will use the extra time to “coordinate with external agencies to execute plans to recover confidence from consumers before releasing a new product on the market.” But the company hasn’t yet committed one way or the other.
How much will it cost? Unsurprisingly, it’s expected to be expensive. Goldman Sachs estimates that the component cost for the Galaxy S8 will rise 15 to 20 percent compared to the cost of for the Galaxy S7 and that Samsung will pass at least some of that cost to consumers. Specifically, the investment firm expects storage and memory prices to increase. A possible starting price of $850 has been rumored, but not from a known and credible source.
With Android 7.0 Nougat already here, it’s almost certain that the Galaxy S8 will ship with the latest flavor of Android when it launches. Samsung likes to add plenty of its own apps and software to make its Galaxy phones more exciting, so what does it have planned for the S8?
According to reports from SamMobile, S Health will be one of the most updated features of the Galaxy S8’s features — that is to say, it will seriously compete with the likes of Apple Health. According to the report, Samsung is working with WebMD and Amwell to add much deeper integration into S Health, allowing users to research symptoms and drugs, and even book visits to the doctor. On top of that, S Health users will get access to video appointments with doctors 24/7. Last but not least, there would be an option to mention if a user has health insurance or not.
Following Samsung’s acquisition of Viv Labs, an artificial intelligence company started by members of the team that developed Apple’s Siri, the S8 will get its own virtual assistant. This has been confirmed by Samsung when executive VP Rhee Injong discussed the feature during a November briefing. He stated the assistant would connect to third-party services and apps, and the more that do so, the more useful and intelligent the assistant will get.
Another software feature rumored to make its debut alongside the S8 is a new app known as Family Care. As its name suggests, the app will allow for parents — or the powers that be within a family — to serve as the final arbiters over what apps can be installed on a handset, or how long the device can be used. Family Care will reportedly also give users control over notifications and reminders and parents can sync their own phones with their children’s with a QR code.
Kids can even request a pickup from their chauffeur (read: mom or dad) with the Family Care app, sending their location and a pickup timeframe to their parents.
Battery, USB Type-C, and Headphone Jack
While previous reports from companies like SamMobile suggested that Samsung would do away with the headphone jack, newer reports suggest quite the opposite. Not only have we seen new Galaxy S8 case renders showing a space for a headphone jack, but Android Police is now reporting that the headphone jack will remain, citing a source close to the matter.
The battery inside the Galaxy Note 7 is one that apparently caused a lot of problems, and Samsung will not want history to repeat itself with the Galaxy S8. South Korean news sources, as detailed by The Korea Herald, are reporting that Samsung is in talks with LG Chem to produce the cells for use inside the upcoming phone. Samsung used its own batteries in the first batch of Note 7 phones, and another Chinese supplier named ATL for the second, which turned out to be an equally problematic batch.
Samsung is apparently already supplied with camera modules by LG Innotek, another part of the LG Group, so although the pair are rivals, business deals have been struck between them in the past. However, the battery deal with LG Chem hasn’t been finalized, according to local news sources.
The Galaxy S8 will also adopt the USB Type-C reversible charging port, which offers fast charging and quicker data transfers, Sammobile confirmed. Sammobile also reports that Samsung might integrate stereo speakers from Harman, a company Samsung is buying for $8 billion.
A desktop experience
According to the latest rumors, the Galaxy S8 will bring one feature that you probably haven’t seen on an iPhone — or on many other Android devices, for that matter. We first heard that the Galaxy S8 could bring a continuum-like desktop experience through a report from Windows blog All About Windows Phone, but now we may have a slightly better view of what that experience could look like.
The image isn’t a leak — but rather a concept image created by Androbit using information from other leaks, and we think that it’s a pretty nice look at what the desktop UI could end up being like.
It’s looking more and more like the device will function very similarly to Microsoft’s Continuum, which lets you use your phone as a computer simply by plugging it into an external monitor. As you can see, the desktop experience looks somewhat similar to Windows but is obviously not. Hopefully, it will be able to run all of the Android apps that users have on their phone — doing away with the need to download extra apps just for use on a desktop.
Accessories: Wireless headphones and a stylus
If rumors are to be believed, the Galaxy S8 won’t be wanting in the accessories department.
Samsung may follow Apple’s lead and launch new wireless in-ear headphones alongside the Galaxy S8. According to SamMobile, the company is in internal talks to release a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that “compete with Apple’s [wire-free] AirPods.”
And the Galaxy S8 will reportedly support Samsung’s proprietary stylus, the S Pen. Reports out of China suggest that the company nixed a prototype with an integrated stylus, but has decided to offer the S Pen as an external accessory.
Galaxy S8 Plus
Rumors indicate that the Galaxy S8 won’t be a stand-alone device. In fact, it could be accompanied by an even more powerful “Galaxy S8 Plus” model.
According to reports, the main difference between the standard Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus is the size of the latter device’s display. It’s reportedly larger.
Security on our smartphones is very important — particularly now we can use them as mobile wallets, thanks to Android Pay and Samsung Pay. And the Galaxy S8 may integrate one of the top new security features introduced to Samsung’s range on the Note 7: an iris scanner. It’s a rumor we’ve heard before, but a new report citing industry insiders lends credence.
It says the Galaxy S8 will use the Note 7’s iris scanner, which has been given a performance boost to speed up the process and will be placed along the top of the phone and separate from the selfie cam. And it suggests that Samsung will move the fingerprint sensor from inside the home button to the rear of the phone, effectively embedding it beneath the screen.
The report also mentions that Samsung Pass, a password manager introduced alongside the Note 7, will make a comeback on the Galaxy S8. It’ll reportedly rely on a combination of biometric authentication and Samsung’s Knox technology to keep IDs and passwords safe.
According to the latest rumors, the Samsung Galaxy S8 could well be the first phone on the market to offer Bluetooth 5.0, the latest and greatest version of Bluetooth.
Bluetooth 5.0 was first introduced by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group just last week, and it’s far more capable than the Bluetooth 4.2 specification it replaces. In fact, Bluetooth 5.0 doubles the transfer speeds (up to a maximum of 2Mbps), quadruples the range, and dramatically reduces power consumption.
It’s important to note that Bluetooth 5.0 doesn’t totally replace earlier versions of Bluetooth, of course. It just adds functionality to the core Bluetooth technology. Thankfully, it’s also backward compatible, which means that Bluetooth 4.2 devices work with Bluetooth 5.0 phones — they just won’t get all the benefits.
Samsung recently announced that it would be acquiring Harman International for a whopping $8 billion, which gives the company access to Harman’s connected car tech. But it also gives Samsung access to Harman’s well-respected consumer audio brand. In short, future Samsung phones like the Galaxy S8 could be getting a serious boost in audio quality.
One rumor, in particular, says that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will include stereo speakers with Harman branding, similar to the HTC Boomsound speakers used on HTC devices.
The Galaxy series has seen a serious improvement in camera quality over the past few years, and we even rated the Galaxy S7’s camera as better than the camera on the iPhone 6S in some respects. According to recent reports, Samsung will go a step further for the Galaxy S8.
It won’t just be the rear camera that gets some attention, however. The Galaxy S8 may feature an autofocus selfie camera, according to ETNews in South Korea. We’re used to rear cameras with autofocus, but only a few — Sony’s Xperia XA and HTC’s Desire Eye, for example — have it on the front camera. The camera will allegedly feature an encoder sort of focusing mechanism rather than a voice coil motor, meaning the focusing actuator will be on the side of the lens rather than the middle of the lens. That’ll allow for a camera module with a lower depth.
The actuator will also reportedly recognize people located at different distances in the frame. In other words, it’s going to be optimized for group shots — a feature Samsung reportedly plans to tout.
Moving to the rear of the S8: according to a tip from Chinese social media site Weibo, the phone will feature a dual 12MP + 13MP rear-facing camera, which ties into the trend for dual-camera setups, as seen on the Huawei P9, Mate 9, and Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. However, exactly how it will work, or what type of effects it will produce, isn’t clear.
Processor and specs
The Galaxy smartphones have traditionally been among Samsung’s most powerful in terms of hardware, and the Galaxy S8 looks likely to continue that tradition. Rumors suggest it will use Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 processor (which Samsung will build for Qualcomm), meaning it’ll deliver more processing power while consuming less energy than its predecessors. But like some previous Galaxy S phones, the Snapdragon-equipped version may not be the only model.
Rumors also suggest that Samsung may use an Exynos 8895 processor with ARM’s new Mali-G71 GPU, which is nearly twice as powerful (1.8 times, to be exact) as the Mali-T880 MP12 GPU found in the Exynos 8890-powered Galaxy S7. This new GPU makes use of ARM’s Bifrost architecture, which allows for high-end 4K and VR experiences. It’s also compatible with Vulkan, OpenGL ES 3.2, GPU Compute, and Android RenderScript APIs.
New information from China suggests that the S8’s internal RAM will be pushed up to 6GB and that the phone’s maximum internal storage will be an impressive 256GB.
Samsung may seriously step up its game for the display on the Galaxy S8 in an effort to tempt customers to purchase phones after the Galaxy Note 7 debacle. So how nice will the display be? Well, according to Samsung mobile engineer Park Won-sang, who spoke at the iMID Display Exhibition in late October, the display on the Galaxy S8 will cover an impressive 90 percent of the front of the phone.
“Samsung Display would roll out a full-screen display whose display area ratio (a scale that measures space taken up by a display on the front part of a handset) reaches more than 90 percent next year,” said Won-sang, according to a report from The Next Web.
There’s traditionally been a choice between a curved Edge display and a flat screen on Samsung’s flagship smartphones, but that might not be the case this time around. According to a report by The Korea Herald, the company is considering ending the regular, non-curved model for its flagship Galaxy line.
Still, new rumors from SamMobile suggest that the opposite is true and that Samsung will, in fact, keep the flat variant around — at least for now.
“Sources said the company has already started securing display panels in two sizes — 5.1 inches and 5.5 inches — from its own display-making unit, Samsung Display, the world’s sole producer of double-edged screens,” the site reports. Those are the same size displays as the current Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge.
Although it was previously reported by My Drivers that the new handset would feature a 4K screen, Sammobile now reports that is not the case, and that the Galaxy S8 will stay with the 2K display. This could be because the technology simply isn’t ready, or would just be too costly to implement on a large scale.
Still, Samsung showed off a 4K 5.5-inch display for VR at the SID Display Week in May, so the company is clearly working on bringing 4K to small screens. Of course, it was just a prototype, which indicates that it may take time before we see it on an actual device.
Reports say Apple is going to remove the physical home button on the iPhone 7S/8 in 2017. Samsung may do it first with the Galaxy S8. The latest reports suggest that the Galaxy S8 will have an all-glass front, with Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint scanner mounted underneath the panel. This is in line with previous rumors that the home button would sit beneath tempered glass. With the physical home button gone, Samsung may go ahead with a bezel-less display on the front of the S8. That lines up with what Apple is trying to do.
The latest news regarding the S8 circle around the “3D Touch” feature. Korean media is reporting that “an official of a Samsung supplier” is claiming the South Korean manufacturer is “mulling to adopt the force technology partially from the S8.”
We will update this post as we learn more information.
This story was originally published in July 2016. Julian Chokkattu, Christian de Looper, and Andy Boxall have all contributed to it. Updated on 01-20-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added new case render leak with missing speaker grill.