Preview: Samsung Galaxy S8 - Bigger Screens, Bixby & More

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By Alexander Maxham January 25, 2017, 7:44am
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After having a rollercoaster of a year in 2016, Samsung is looking to start 2017 with a bang, which includes the Galaxy S8. Now there has already been a slew of leaks and rumors surfacing around the Samsung Galaxy S8, which has given us a pretty good idea of what Samsung may be cooking up with this new smartphone, and the eighth generation of the Galaxy S lineup. This includes some of the specs, the new artificial intelligence that will be in the device, as well as what the device even looks like.

Design

According to most leaks, it appears that Samsung is looking to update their design this year. In 2015 and 2016, Samsung kept with mostly the same design. Using a glass back and a metal frame. But it looks like with the Galaxy S8, the bezels are going to be even smaller, and the physical home button may also be disappearing. This leads many to believe that Samsung is going to be using on-screen buttons (something they haven't done in years) and have the fingerprint sensor underneath the glass of the display.

There are plenty of different pictures of the design of the Galaxy S8 floating around (as well as the larger Galaxy S8 Plus), but it does appear that there won't be an "Edge" variant, as the standard Galaxy S8 will feature a curved display. Additionally, the chin and forehead bezels are going to be trimmed down, allowing Samsung to fit in a larger display in a smaller surface area. In fact, according to the dimensions that appeared recently, it appears that the Galaxy S8 will have a 5.8-inch display, while being just a few millimeters wider than the Galaxy S7. With the Galaxy S8 Plus having an enormous 6.3-inch display, and it being just a tad wider and taller than the Galaxy S7 Edge, which is pretty impressive, all things considered.

When it comes to the backside, the flash and laser autofocus module seems to have been moved. Instead of being beside the camera or below the camera like we've seen with earlier Samsung devices. The module appears to be above the camera, which admittedly does look a bit odd. We haven't seen any images of the sides, so it's hard to say where the volume rocker, power button and so forth will end up. But there likely won't be many, if any changes there.

Battery

 

There hasn't been much talk about the battery just yet, but given the issues Samsung had with the Galaxy Note 7, you can rest assured that they will be testing this battery more than they have on any other smartphone. LG has even said that they have made sure that the battery on the G6 won't overheat or explode. Which they are doing this by using a heat pipe inside the device, to allow heat to escape and keep it from building up. While there hasn't been any rumors about Samsung doing something similar with the Galaxy S8, they likely are. The last thing Samsung wants (or needs) is another Galaxy Note 7 incident. Those two recalls cost Samsung over $2 billion USD and their brand also took a rather huge hit.

As far as capacity goes, that's a big mystery too. However, there is a report out there claiming that the Galaxy S8 will feature a 3250mAh battery. That's a pretty big upgrade from the Galaxy S7, especially with the Galaxy S8 being about the same size as the Galaxy S7, unless Samsung is looking to make the new device thicker, it's tough to believe that bump in capacity. Especially seeing as the Galaxy Note 7's issue was the fact that there wasn't enough room around the battery, and that the capacity was too high.

Update: On February 2nd, we reported that the Galaxy S8 will be using batteries from a company in Japan. Instead of Samsung SDI, who were responsible for the first batch of batteries in the Galaxy Note 7. The company in which Samsung is rumored to be using is Murata Manufacturing. Additionally, it has been reported that the battery sizes will be 3250mAh and 3750mAh for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus respectively.

Specs

As we mentioned already, the Galaxy S8 is aimed to sport a 5.8-inch display and the Galaxy S8 Plus with a 6.3-inch display. Both of which are supposedly going to be Super AMOLED Quad HD+ panels, no real surprise there. The change here is the fact that Samsung is believed to be using an RGB array of pixels instead of Pentile. With Pentile you are looking at an RGBG setup, meaning there are two green pixels for every red or blue. With RGB, you'll get one of each. Supposedly this is all due to VR and needing to make it a bit more immersive for users.

Samsung is largely expected to be one of the first to use Qualcomm's latest flagship processor, the Snapdragon 835. Remember, Samsung is actually manufacturing the Snapdragon 835, so it would make sense for Samsung to use it in their flagship smartphone. Of course, if history is anything to go by, the Snapdragon 835 will be used in the US and select other markets, with an Exynos chip being used everywhere else. In 2017, rumors are pointing to the Exynos 8895 getting the nod for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. The Exynos 8895 will be paired with the Mali-G71, which is already on the market in the Huawei Mate 9 (which uses the Kirin 960 SoC). It's a massive improvement over the Mali-T880 from ARM. Of course, the Snapdragon 835 would come with the Adreno 540 GPU from Qualcomm.

It's also rumored that Samsung will stick 4GB of RAM inside the Galaxy S8, along with 64GB of storage (like the Galaxy Note 7 did) and a micro SD card slot. Samsung is also rumored to offer a 6GB of RAM model with 128GB of storage too.

Update: On January 31st, it was rumored that Samsung would be offering two variants, one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and the other with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There are also conflicting reports on which one will be the more popular model, but given recent history, the 4GB/64GB one will likely be available in most markets.

Update 2: On March 1st, it was leaked that there will only be a 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage model, at least when it comes to the US.

Bixby

It's rumored that Samsung will be adding their own personal assistant to the Galaxy S8. Seen as the successor to S Voice, Bixby is said to be much more powerful, and perhaps even more functional than the personal assistants we have today - like Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri and Cortana. Of course, it likely won't be as smart as what Google has, since it has the search engine and knowledge graph behind it. But according to rumors, Bixby may be able to utilize the camera to do things like carry out visual searches.

Bixby is the child of Viv which Samsung purchased late last year. Viv was a popular AI assistant because of the amount of tie ins it had with third-party software and services. And that's something that Samsung is likely going to leverage to help make Bixby be competitive, and work well in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus.

Release Date

Currently, there are loads of different dates floating around for when the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus will be available. But the most common rumor is pointing towards it being announced at a separate event in April and being available later that month. That's opposed to it being announced at Mobile World Congress (which begins on February 27th), where the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7 were both announced. Samsung has already confirmed that the Galaxy S8 will not be announced at Mobile World Congress in late February, but they will likely tease the device at their press conference, where the Galaxy Tab S3 is expected to debut.

The last few years, Samsung has been able to release their flagship devices worldwide on the same date, including on all the major carriers in the US. Expect the same this year with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. These two devices should launch in South Korea, the US, UK and other key markets on the same day, with other markets following a few weeks later. Right now, pricing has not hit the rumor mill, but expect it to be around the same price as the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, if not a bit more expensive.

Update: On February 26th, Samsung announced that the Galaxy S8 will be officially announced at their Unpacked event on March 29th, in New York City (there is also word about there being a second event in London at the same time).

Cases

There have been quite a few cases leaked already for both the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. These leaks have all shown a device that looks quite similar to each other. Although the latest leak that comes from Mobile Fun shows that the camera module may keep the flash and laser autofocus on either the left or right side of the camera instead of above it, based on the camera cut out there. Something else worth noting is the fact that this case shows three buttons. The volume rocker and what might be the power button on one side and then a third button on the other. Many are speculating that this could be for Bixby. So instead of always listening (or perhaps in addition to), you could press that button to talk to Bixby and give it a query.

Wrap Up

If it turns out that Samsung is indeed skipping Mobile World Congress - at least in terms of the Galaxy S8 - and announces these two devices later on in the year, then we still have quite some time before the device is unveiled and that means plenty more rumors. We already know, or at least we think we know, a whole lot about these two devices. For instance, the fact that the displays will be much larger this year, a larger battery, and more. There's still a whole lot that we don't know, or that might be faked or untrue. We'll have to wait until DJ Koh takes the stage in Barcelona, New York, London or wherever the next Unpacked happens to take place, and show off the brand new device from the South Korean manufacturer.

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January 25, 2017, 7:44am
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