25/01/2017 - 5:58pm
The Samsung Galaxy S8 – and Galaxy S8 PLUS – will get a release date inside Q1 2017... and they're shaping up to be VERY impressive!
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is going to be a BIG deal for the Korean manufacturer. Flagship launches are, of course, always a big deal, in the sense that this is where the bulk of a company's sales and profits come from for the subsequent 12 months.
But more than that, following the disaster that was the Galaxy Note 7 "explosiongate" fiasco, Samsung NEEDS the Galaxy S8 to be a big success if only to make up for the big hold it put in its finances.
Allegedly, at least according to a few surveys, Samsung's reputation with consumers hasn't been impacted as severely as one might first think, but that said it would also be beneficial for Samsung to smash the Galaxy S8 out the park, just so there's no doubt that it can still put out a safe, reliable flagship.
Reports on November 21 suggest Samsung may not have as much to worry about in the wake of "explosiongate" as we first thought. Reuters has published the results of a survey it performed between October 26 and November 9 which suggests that Samsung loyalty isn't much different from Apple loyalty even after the Note 7's problems.
Of the consumers surveyed who knew of the Galaxy Note 7 recalls, 27% said they would still consider purchasing a Samsung Galaxy brand handset. Of those who didn't know about the Note 7 debacle, the proportion who would buy Samsung phones was 25%.
Of current Samsung smartphone owners, as many as 91% said they would buy another Samsung handset, while 92% said they would buy any Samsung product. That last statstic compares directly with the surveys finding of Apple consumers, 92% of Apple iPhone users confirmed they would buy another iPhone, and 89% said they would buy another Apple device.
Similarly, on November 30, it appears there is evidence of a recovery in confidence with regards to Samsung investors. Ahead of the Galaxy Note 7 launch, Samsung's share price peaked to an all-time high in August 2016, to a value of around $1480 per share, but following the Note 7 debacle Samsung's stock market valuation fell off a cliff, to the tune of $14 billion. Ouch.
If you're thinking of upgrading your phone, TV or PC anytime soon, Samsung is running a 0% finance offer at the moment which gives you 0% finance for up to 24 months on orders over £249 placed. The offer ends on January 23rd, however, so you need to be quick in order to get it on time.
Now though, it seems things are returning to normal, a gain of $9 billion on the morning of November 30, a new all-time high with shares peaking at $1,496.74 per share on a 4.2% increase on the day. Samsung's value is therefore sitting at $224 billion.
"Part of the reason is the announcement that the company will return 50% of its free cash flow in 2016 and 2017 through the use of increased dividends and share buybacks," reports PhoneArena.
"2016 dividends are going to increase 36%. Samsung is taking these steps after U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management put pressure on the company to take steps to increase stockholder value. The fund owns .6% of Samsung and had hoped to get the manufacturer to pay out 75% of free cash flow."
Samsung Galaxy S8 Release Date & Launch
Quite a few new snippets of info have emerged regarding the Galaxy S8 in the last few days, but chief amongst them comes the revelation (which we've heard allegations of before) that the Galaxy S8 won't launch at MWC 2017. The word this time comes directly from Samsung itself, however, specifically from its chief of mobile, Koh Dong-jin, who, while talking to assembled press regarding the findings of its Galaxy Note 7 "explosiongate" investigations, confirmed that in order to prevent similar issues with the Galaxy S8 it will be released later than previously expected.
"Lessons of this incident are deeply reflected in our culture and process," he said, according to Reuters. Koh himself did not mention a release date, which leaves us with earlier rumours ranging from mid-to-late March, right through to an April launch and an arrival of the device on shelves sometime in May. Although Samsung is usually quite quick from announcement to release, this time some sources suggest it could be a whole month after the launch event before the new flagship arrives with consumers.
However, one of the other bits of info to emerge in recent days throws some light on this. It comes once again from Twitter source @Ricciolo1, who previously brought us the info regarding the Galaxy S8 launching in late March (March 29 to be exact) to hit the market in "w17" (week 17) with a price tag of 849 euros. In a new Tweet, Ricciolo says the March 29 launch is still accurate, but adds that Samsung will hold multiple, simultaneous launch events in the US and EU; he also mentions a "record breaking" marketing campaign, whatever that means.
On January 23 a report from Forbes reveals some info regarding Samsung's purchasing of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor en mass. According to the details, Samsung, which is the firm that produces Qualcomm's 835 chip on its FinFET 10nm production process, has bought the lion's share of the SoC for its Galaxy S8. There's a lot to this which we'll go over in the CPU section further into this article, but writer Ben Sin reports having spoken to anonymous insider sources in Asia who he says confirmed the Galaxy S8 would be available in South Korea from April 14. That language, to us, suggests when it will actually hit shelves following an earlier launch event, and it's possible that the Galaxy S8 may arrive in Samsung's home nation a little earlier than elsewhere.
Additionally, another report via The Guardian on January 24 claims the Galaxy S8 will be available from April 21. The paper cites "several well placed sources" which also reaffirm the idea of two Galaxy S8 models; a regular version and a Plus model. The April 21 release date would fit with earlier reports of Samsung taking nearly a month to bring the phone to market following the launch event, which current rumours are saying will take place on March 29.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Release Date & Specs: Design
A couple of leaks have cropped up which reveal some more details about the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. Apparently a case maker sent some renders with the phone dimensions to GSMArena; the leak shows design similarities to the Galaxy S7 series, but the new Galaxy S8 series seem to be relatively compact for their display sizes, and the front fascia of each is mostly screen.
The Galaxy S8 Plus measures 152.38 x 78.51 x 7.94mm, being both wider and taller than the Galaxy S7 EDGE; the larger of the two current-gen phones. The Galaxy S8 Plus also seems to have a 6.2in-6.3in display, not counting the curved edges.
“The screen will be a next-generation OLED panel that is supposed to be more efficient than current designs,” the report noted. “The Galaxy S8’s screen will also incorporate the home button with its fingerprint sensor, and other buttons. Furthermore, the handset should have no less than four cameras on board. Finally, there’s going to be a new 3-coil wireless charging inside the device.”
Bizarrely, the power button and volume buttons will also supposedly be touch-only buttons as well!
“The Galaxy S8 will be first in the Galaxy S series to sport a dual-lens rear camera on the back,” the report added. “On the front, a selfie camera and an iris recognition camera should round out the phone’s cameras. Finally, the Galaxy S8 should feature a 3-coil wireless charging design that will bring over better range and faster charging.”
The regular Galaxy S8 measures 140.14mm x 72.20 x 7.30mm, shorter and thinner than the Galaxy S7, but wider across its face; however, while the Galaxy S8 is close in size to the Galaxy S7, it has a display size of 5.7in, which is about the same as the larger Galaxy S7 EDGE.
Meanwhile, a Chinese source on Twitter has apparently outed the model numbers of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. @mmddj_china tweeted:
"Samsung GALAXY S8 SM-G9500/SM-G950X Samsung GALAXY S8 Plus SM-G9550/SM-G955X"
Images have emerged via Twitter reportedly showing the display panels of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. The Twitter account @dfordesign is based in Poland, but the poster claimed he got the photos from a Chinese screen protector supplier who has been accurate in the past. Having said that, he also adds the disclaimer that he can't be 100% sure of the images. Still, assuming for now that they are legit, what we can see is a curved edge setup for both phone sizes; we can also see a lot of ports for sensors and the like which hadn't previously been spotted in renders, far more than on the Galaxy S7 as well. It is quite possible the glut of sensors has something to do with feeding important info to the Bixby AI assistant.
This year is no exception: check these images out that MobileFun just sent us which apparently show the Galaxy S8 decked out inside a rather fancy looking case.
You can see much of the handset, to be fair, but what we can see is pretty revealing. The home button is gone, for instance, and the camera unit on the back looks a lot different to what came before.
This handset features an EDGE display, which, according to reports, will be standard across all Galaxy S8 units in 2017. The frontage of the handset is pretty much ALL display, and looks all the better for it.
According to information sourced by SamMobile, the Galaxy S8 will ditch the PenTile Diamond Pixel display panel technology Samsung is already used to using - it'll still be Super AMOLED, of course, but will use a traditional RGB pixel layout to offer improved detail at a QHD resolution - that means NO 4K display folks, contrary to earlier reports.
On top of this, there is yet more evidence that Samsung will implement an optical finger recognition scanner module under the display to replace the existing physical Home key and scanner combo. Lastly, it's also claimed Samsung is following Apple and Lenovo's path of ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack in order to switch to wireless and free up internal space for components and/or a bigger batter. It will also adopt a Type-C USB port.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Release Date & Specs: Display Technology
According to Samsung Display researcher Park Won-sang, Samsung is going all out on the Galaxy S8 Super AMOLED display following the Galaxy Note 7 debacle. During the International Meeting On Information Display, Park said "Samsung Display would roll out a full-screen display whose display area ratio reaches more than 90 percent next year."
That would mean a 20% increase in screen-to-body ratio over the Galaxy S7 series, meaning Park's claims would sit with earlier rumours of a true edge-to-edge full-screen display on the Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S7 EDGE display already wraps around both sides of the phone, so there isn't much room for expansion there, which means it's possible this further enlarged display will probably expand towards the top and bottom sections of the phone.
This also means that tackling the Home key and fingerprint scanner may be necessary; several OEMs are looking into fitting fingerprint scanners under the display glass, but an alternative would be a rear-panel mounted scanner and the use of Android's on-screen software controls for UI navigation.
An interesting titbit has popped up on July 26; apparently we now have a codename for the project. The codename, interestingly, drops some hints about the Galaxy S8 features and also supports earlier claims of a 4K display intended for use with VR, that's because the codename for the Galaxy S8 is allegedly "Project Dream".
You may recall that Google is working on a VR platform desgined for Android OEMs to work with on their hardware, and that project is called Google Daydream, so it doesn't take a huge leap to see where one leaves and the other picks up on the naming convention. The word comes via multiple sources in China as reported by local publication MyDrivers.
According to details sourced by the Korea Herald, Samsung's Galaxy S8 will feature a larger 5.5in display with a 4K resolution - allegedly this design feature has been picked specifically with VR in mind, implying that the handset may be being prepared to work with Google Daydream, a possible Google headset, and indeed Samsung's own Gear VR hardware. In addition, the report also reiterates earlier claims that the display panel will have a UHD (4K) resolution designed for use with VR applications.
UBI Research claims the handset will sport a 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution. Normally we would wonder why something sharper than the Galaxy S7's QHD 5.1in setup would be necessary (at nearly 600ppi) as it's already nearly impossible to pick out pixels if you try, but that said, VR is in its infancy and perhaps there are gains when you're staring directly into a phone dangled inches from your eyeballs.
The current-gen Galaxy S7 edge has a 5.5in display, larger than the regular flagship, so it is interesting that the Galaxy S8 will be enlarged to this size, but with that said, there is a possiblity Samsung has figured out a way to enlarge the display without making the chassis much bigger.
The introduction of Samsung’s curved AMOLED panels has often been called a gimmick but the popularity of these handsets cannot be disputed — punters and reviewers alike love them. The popularity of Samsung’s EDGE models even caught Samsung out, forcing the company to rejig its orders in a bid to satisfy demand for the Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE, which is now outpacing sales of the standard S7 model in some regions.
And this popularity has lead to Samsung adopting an interesting approach to its 2017 Galaxy S8. According to reports both models — the 5.1in and 5.5in models — will feature a curved AMOLED display. The source of the news is the Korea Herald, which reported the following:
“Now the Korean tech giant is promoting the curvy screen as its premium smartphone lineup’s key identity,” the report notes. “Sources said the company has already started securing display panels in two sizes — 5.1 inch and 5.5 inch — from its own display-making unit Samsung Display, the world’s sole producer of double-edged screens. “
Samsung Galaxy S8 Release Date & Specs: Specs & Hardware
The Samsung Galaxy S8 will be an absolute beast when it comes to processing power. This is just par for the course with a new flagship from a major player, but the form in which the power is delivered is always an interesting talking point and next year’s Galaxy S8 will apparently use Qualcomm’s upcoming CPU, the Snapdragon 835.
Qualcomm and Samsung are apparently working in cahoots on the chipset, according to reports, with an expected launch scheduled in for CES 2017. Word on the street suggests Qualcomm is bringing a whole host of changes to its 835 chipset – changes that will improve battery life, add in plenty more power for DSLR-grade photography and, because of the minuscule nature of the chip, allow for even thinner smartphone design.
“The first devices to feature the Snapdragon 835 should appear in the first quarter of 2017, meaning that the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a prime candidate,” reports Express. “Rumours are continuing to build around Samsung's next flagship smartphone, which could also feature a completely new design.”
Forbes writer Ben Sin has published a report on January 23 detailing information from his insider sources in Asia. According to these unnamed tipsters, Samsung has purchased the vast majority of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processors it is producing on Qualcomm's behalf using its 10nm FinFET production process. Allegedly this quantity of chips is destined for the Galaxy S8, and so many have been bought up by Sammy that HTC and LG have had to settle for the older Snapdragon 821 inside their HTC U Ultra and LG G6 flagships respectively.
In other words, it has effecitvley monopolised the supply! What isn't clear is whether Samsung has bought up the entirety of a relatively small production run to date, or if it has bought a collosal number of chips. There is speculaton that if it is the former, we may still see a split in the Galaxy S8 distribution between Snapdragon-based models and Exynos-based alternatives (region dependent, as per usual). The alternative, if Samsung has bought a mountain of S835's, is that for the first time ever ALL of the Galaxy S8 flagships may run on Samsung-produced Qualcomm hardware.
"The Snapdragon 835 won't be available in large quantities until after the Galaxy S8 launches," the sources told Sin.
According to sources posting on Chinese social network Weibo, Samsung is allegedly testing its next-gen processor chip which may appear inside the firm's flagship models released in 2017. It's not known precisely what the processor will be called, but it is assumed it will be an Exynos 8995 following on from the Exynos 8990.
This next-gen chip promises to be quite a jump ahead of the current 8990 setup which is manufactured on 14nm FinFET semiconductors, while the 8995 will apparently use a 10nm fabrication instead.
As usual for improved nanometre construction methods, it's thought this will lead to faster performance but better power efficiency, and just to give some context of how much more powerful the tipster says a 30% increase for the current test speeds for the new silicon, which are going as high as 4GHz for the main custom core cluster, with 2.7GHz for the ARM Cortex-A53 cluster paired as part of the big.Little architecture.
That is the maximum speed, however, and it's likely that for any production models there will be a cap lower than this.
Techtastic posted some info sourced from Weibo which alleges a top-tier Galaxy S8 model with 256GB storage space and there's mention of 6GB of RAM too. Now, bear in mind that the Galaxy S7 was HEAVILY rumoured to have 6GB RAM, in fact many people were certain of it....and it didn't deliver the goods with only 4GB of RAM. In addition, while other manufacturers have been ramping up from 64GB storage to 128GB models, Samsung kept the Galaxy S7 series and the now discontinued Galaxy Note 7 at 64GB tops. So in other words, don't hold your breath!
What's also not clear, assuming for the sake of argument that the 256GB storage and 6GB RAM details are correct, is whether we'll see 6GB RAM across the board, or if this will be restricted to the higher storage models, or whether it will be restricted to just Exynos or Qualcomm processor model variants. We also have no details on whether the 32GB option will be getting the chop, or whether there will also be a 64GB and/or 128GB lower-tier variants.
There have been some whispers of a possible 8GB of RAM inside the Galaxy S8, which might seem like a bit of a leap, until you hear the news that SK Hynix, a leading memory manufacturer, has just announced its new LPDDR4X RAM chip for 2017 - dual-channel 8 Gigabit 8GB RAM chip which is 30% smaller and 20% more battery efficient than its predecessors. To make matters more interesting, a report from Korea's The Investor explicity states that the chip is destined to be embedded in both Apple's iPhone 8 and Samung's Galaxy S8.
Rumoured specs for the Samsung Galaxy S8 include:
Galaxy S8 Specs
Optical image stabilization, geo tagging, facial recognition, HDR, auto laser focus
Camera – Front
Camera – Rear
Black, blue, gold, and white
Corning Gorilla Glass 5, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, fingerprint scanner, retina eye scanner, wireless charging, rapid charging, mini projector
64 and 128 GB internal memory and expandable with dual micro SD cards
Current Android operating system 2017
$850 USD, 775 Euro – see below
Snapdragon Qualcomm octa-core 3.2 GHz processor
6 GB RAM
April 2017 – See Below
5.2” 4K display with a 4096 x 2160 screen resolution
In a bid to undo the damage done by the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle, Samsung plans on hitting back big time in 2017 with a new, larger model of the Galaxy S8 called the Galaxy S8 Plus.
This means, in 2017, there will be two Galaxy S8 handsets: the standard Galaxy S8 and the new Galaxy S8 Plus. Both models will feature EDGE displays and, thanks to new design and display technology, will feature a bezel-less design so the overall size of the handset should not be much bigger than current Galaxy S7 models.
The standard Galaxy S8 will feature a 5.7in OLED display, while the Galaxy S8 Plus will pack in a larger 6.2in panel. But – and this is the kicker – the overall size will not be impacted too much by the inclusion of what is a very large panel, thanks to new design language that will see Samsung eradicate bezels from the handset’s design. Think something like this.
“Samsung showed off its new display at the Display Week conference in San Francisco,” reports TR. “The display measures 5.5 inches and boasts a resolution of 2160 x 3840, which is an insane 806 pixels per inch. Samsung's current Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge flagship phones boast quad HD resolutions (1440 x 2560), but an upcoming Samsung device may get the 4K treatment, like the next Galaxy Note.”
There is also talk about the Galaxy S8 Plus featuring Samsung’s, usually Note-exclusive, S-Pen stylus. If so, this would be the first time that feature has come to a phone outside of Samsung’s Note series, and while multiple reports have suggested Samsung may discontinue its Note series, I personally do not see that happening. Adding the S-Pen to the Galaxy S8 Plus could just be a way of sweetening the deal for potential buyers.
“Samsung is already rumored to be working on two distinct versions of the Galaxy S8 next quarter,” notes BGR, “ including a regular model and a ‘Plus’ phablet. The larger device may come with a dual rear camera just like the iPhone 7 Plus and a 4K display. TechTastic speculates that the model could also house an S Pen stylus. If that’s the case, a 5.5-inch Galaxy S8 Plus could effectively replace the Galaxy Note 8 that would’ve been released next August.”
It also looks as if Samsung is pulling out the big guns in the camera department as well:
"On the back there’s said to be a whopping 30-megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation while a 9MP snapper will be on the front for those all-important selfies," notes Pocket Lint. "We've previously seen rumours suggesting the S8 will have a dual-lens camera, so we're not holding out for a 30MP sensor just yet."
How Samsung will differentiate the two models remains to be seen, but given the lack of interest in its Galaxy S6 EDGE+ handset it seems likely the larger, more costly phone will have to feature a couple of interesting USPs in order to encourage adoption.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Release Date & Specs: Bixby – Samsung's Answer To Amazon's Alexa
Siri and Google Assistant are fine. But Amazon’s Alexa is the true king of the digital assistant arena. For this reason, it is Alexa that Samsung has to best with its upcoming Bixby AI, which will debut inside the Galaxy S8 later on this quarter.
Smart is one thing. But learning is another thing entirely. Part of the major pull around Alexa is that she learns and is always acquiring new abilities, thanks to Amazon opening her up to third-party developers. Will Bixby be the same? Or do we have another Siri on our hands?
Unknown. But Samsung has already shot and missed once with S-Voice, so I do not seeing making the same mistake twice. Like Siri, S-Voice was essentially useless. And once the novelty of talking to your phone had worn off, the feature was seldom used.
Fast-forward a few years and we now have truly smart digital assistants. Alexa is the best and has to be experienced to be believed, but you can bet your ass the rest of the tech space will do their utmost best to outdo Alexa in 2017/18.
One thing we DO know about Bixby is that it will be able to do payments, which is pretty darn cool. All the user will have to say, according to Sam Mobile, is, “Bixby, send $100 to Chuck” and the payment will be processed. Not too shabby.
As of January 19, reports from SamMobile apparently reveal more details of the features and capabilities of Bixby. Allegedly, Bixby will integrate with compatible apps and will support Samsung Pay. On top of that, it will supposedly integrate with the handset's camera, which will allow it to perform visual searches with objects and products, and will recognise text. These features sound remarkably similar to a lot of Google's intelligence systems that it has been devleoping for some time.
"The standard camera app on the Galaxy S8 will feature its own Bixby button, giving access to a search tool that processes whatever the user is pointing the camera at. Bixby will analyze the image, and identify objects and text. It will help you search for that object, or use optical character recognition to process any text you point the phone at," says the report.
It added, "Not only will it help you find where you can buy an identified object, but it can make the purchase as well."
Here's the official line on VIV from the people that made it:
"Viv is an artificial intelligence platform that enables developers to distribute their products through an intelligent, conversational interface. It’s the simplest way for the world to interact with devices, services and things everywhere. Viv is taught by the world, knows more than it is taught, and learns every day."
You can check out a video demo of VIV in action below.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Release Date & Specs: Camera
On June 20, sources inside China have claimed the Galaxy S8 will feature a dual-camera sensor. This would mean the handset is keeping in trend with the likes of the Huawei P9 and LG G5, as well as rumours about the iPhone 7 Plus/Pro. According to the details the dual-camera sensor will be engineered by Samsung Motors aka SEMCO, so the firm will be producing its own imaging tech this time round.
An August 30 report has emerged from an allegedly reliable Weibo tipster described as having a good track record. The source is adding to the Galaxy S8 rumour pile; reiterating that the new handset coming in 2017 will have a dual-camera sensor. The informant says that the sensor array will feature both a Samsung-made 12MP sensor and a Sony 13MP sensor. Meanwhile, the front camera is said to be an 8MP setup. The source also says to expect a Galaxy Note 7 style iris scanner.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Release Date & Specs: Rumoured New Features & USPs
SamMobile reports that the Samsung Galaxy S8 may be the first smartphone to hit the market with the new Bluetooth 5.0 standard. This isn't sourced from any internal tipsters, however, it appears to simply be a logical conclusion the publication has reached, according to the details, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has now approved and officially adopted Bluetooth 5.0 in the second week of December.
"Bluetooth 5.0 promises faster speed, longer range and larger broadcast message capacity. It also provides improved interoperability and coexistence with other wireless technologies. Bluetooth SIG says that the latest standard has four times the range, two times speed and eight times broadcast message capacity as compared to Bluetooth 4.0. The group expects devices with Bluetooth 5.0 to arrive “within two to six months," says the report.
The logical conclusion comes in when it is revealed that Samsung is a member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, meaning it's quite likely that the firm will integrate the new standard into its devices as quickly as possible. The timing may be no coincedence either, and with that "two" months bracket implied that would sit neatly for the Galaxy S8 launch in late February; indeed, Samsung would likely already have production up and running for the new handset including the Bluetooht 5.0 component, meaning that the official adoption by the group would be a necessary formality to put through about now.
A December 16 report from Korean publication Naver claims that the Galaxy S8 will feature an iris scanner similar to the one found on the short-lived Galaxy Note 7. However, the same report also adds that we may see a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner module and no Home button on the front of the device, this contradicts many earlier rumours and raises a lot of quesitons about user interaction with the phone.
According to reports on December 21, Samsung has trademarked the name "Beast Mode" in the European Union; it's believed this may represent a high-performance mode users can toggle on the Galaxy S8 flagship, possibly for gaming or VR applications. The Samsung Galaxy S7 series already has a performance booster mode, but the use of the term "Beast Mode" implies this will be a USP of the phone and may be significantly ramped up from earlier implementations of similar features.
As you may be aware, "Beast Mode" is something of a meme on the internet and in popular culture to describe when someone enters a state of high performance, covering things like players in online games or characters in movies getting high kill-streaks, or someone lifting a ton of weight in the gym. The trademark filing specifically refers to the name being applied to smartphone software, but doesn't specift exactly what it does, or if it applies to the Samsung Galaxy S8.