Update: The latest leaks point to both male and female versions of Samsung’s upcoming AI assistant, plus masses of built in storage, an unusual front-facing camera feature and a price tag that might surprise you.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 was almost everything we hoped for, with improvements throughout leading it to be one of the most powerful, stylish and all round accomplished smartphones on the market.
But there’s still room for improvement and it’s low on innovation, so we have a wish list for what we want to see from the Samsung Galaxy S8. We’d also love to hear what you think, so let us know in the comments below and we’ll furiously email them to Samsung.
The phone won’t be launching for a long time yet, but that just means Samsung should have time to implement some of our suggestions. Here’s hoping it listens.
We’re also collecting all the rumors and news about the phone, along with our own educated guesses, so read on for all the latest on Samsung’s upcoming flagship.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Samsung’s next flagship smartphone
- When is it out? Early 2017
- What will it cost? Maybe around $850 (roughly £655/AU$1120)
Samsung Galaxy S8 release date
- A February 26 announcement
- An earlier launch than usual
- …or it could be delayed until April
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is certain to launch in early 2017, since the beginning of the year is typically when Samsung rolls out its new flagships.
The last couple of years the brand has shown off the phone the day before Mobile World Congress starts, with MWC 2017 set to kick off on 27 February… meaning a Galaxy S8 release date of February 26.
That exact date has now been rumored by @Ricciolo1, who accurately leaked the launch date of the Galaxy S7, so it’s looking likely.
In terms of when you’ll be able to fondle it for the first time, expect a two week wait – so March 13 is our best guess there. Though one leak talks about an April release date, so the wait could be longer than usual.
That said, there’s some analyst speculation that Samsung might bring the release forward, in order to minimize the impact of having to kill the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. They don’t suggest just how far forward the release would be brought, but the S7 is very unlikely to arrive before the beginning of 2017.
On the other hand the launch could also be pushed back, as Samsung has apparently delayed development of the phone by two weeks, while it investigates the cause of the Note 7’s overheating problem.
We’ve also now heard that the launch could be pushed back until April, though according to sources speaking to The Investor full volume shipments of the S8 will start in February, meaning a February announcement and March arrival should still be possible.
TechRadar’s take: Talk of an early release appears to just be speculation, but equally Samsung is unlikely to want to delay the phone, so for now a late February launch is our best guess.
- We got bored of waiting so we spent some time creating our own video render – here’s how the phone should look:
Samsung Galaxy S8 news and rumors
The trickle of information on the Samsung Galaxy S8 is slowly growing into a stream, though we’re still waiting for strong rumors on what actual components and design we might see – but we’re able to take a very good guess.
We’ve divided our thoughts up into sections below, but likely highlights include a 4K screen, a Snapdragon 830 processor, 6GB of RAM and a massively improved camera.
There’s even a chance that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will have an iris scanner or a foldable screen, though the latter is somewhat less likely.
Samsung Galaxy S8 screen
- No flat version
- A 4K display
- 5.1-inch and 5.5-inch sizes, or 5.7 and 6.2-inch sizes
Industry sources have reported Samsung may make two versions of the Galaxy S8 next year, but both will come with curved screens.
SamMobile is reporting the models are codenamed Dream and Dream 2. One with a 5.1-inch screen and another with a 5.5-inch display. That’s been rumored again, and apparently the smaller display will be QHD, while the larger one is 4K.
Samsung is making a big push into VR with its Gear VR headset and one thing it really needs to make the most of that is sharp screens on its phones.
QHD, as we have on the Samsung Galaxy S7, is more than sharp enough for using it as a phone, but it’s not quite up to scratch for VR, so it makes sense for Samsung to push the resolution up for at least one version of the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Even without the lure of VR a sharper screen wouldn’t be surprising, as a couple of generations of Galaxy devices have now had QHD ones, so Samsung is likely to want to improve the resolution further for the Galaxy S8 – and show it’s MUCH more sharp than the 720p iPhone 7.
In fact, the company has already shown off a 5.5-inch 2160 x 3840 screen, which comes in at a pin sharp 806 pixels per inch. There’s no guarantee the Samsung Galaxy S8 will get this screen, but it’s clearly been designed for premium mobile devices and phones don’t get much more premium than the S8.
Not only has Samsung developed such a screen, but according to Chinese sources speaking to WCCF Tech, the company specifically plans to equip the Galaxy S8 with a UHD display. They don’t specify who the source is though, so take this with a pinch of salt.
We’ve also heard rumors from Weibo that the Samsung Galaxy S8 could have a 5.2-inch 2160 x 4096 screen.
All that said, other Weibo rumors suggest the S8 will have just a QHD screen, like the Galaxy S7, but add that “new materials” of some kind could be used, and that the home button will be removed – potentially meaning smaller bezels and maybe even a fingerprint scanner built into the screen.
Samsung is also putting a lot of work into curved screens, and a recent comment from Samsung Mobile President Dong-jin Koh claimed: “Samsung has considered that it would make the edge display the identity of the Galaxy S smartphone lineup.”
So that sounds like we might not actually get the Samsung Galaxy S8 Edge at all, and the Galaxy S8 will be a single curved variant only.
More recently we’ve heard rumors that Samsung has started sourcing curved display panels, but that it will be making curved versions in both 5.1-inch and 5.5-inch sizes. Apparently whether or not there’s also a flat screen model will come down to how many curved screens Samsung can source in time.
But the company might even go one further and give us a foldable phone, especially as prototypes and patents for such a device already exist, including one very recent patent spotted by Patently Mobile.
In fact, it’s rumored that Samsung will launch a folding phone in 2017, but it’s unlikely to risk attaching the untested tech to its flagship – unless that’s what the new S8 Edge becomes.
The screen size could also change. The 5.1-inch Galaxy S7 is one of the smaller flagships around right now and significantly smaller than even the 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge which launched alongside it.
Given that Samsung recently showed off a 5.5-inch 4K display that could be the size the S8 comes in.
More recently, we’ve heard that Samsung could be making the phone in 5.7-inch and 6.2-inch sizes, to appeal to Note fans. But it would apparently do this without making the body any bigger, by removing the home button.
We’re sceptical, but Samsung is working to shrink the bezels on its devices, with a Samsung Display employee claiming the company will launch a display with a 90% screen-to-body ratio in 2017, though there’s no guarantee it will be attached to the S8.
There’s also the Always On Display (AOD), a feature that debuted with the Galaxy Note 7. This feature has been hugely improved on the new Note, with more pictures added to the mix and a richer display hanging about on the phone when it’s turned off.
Future updates to the AOD mean that it should become even richer for the Galaxy S8, with third parties able to add their own widgets to the screen.
Samsung recently added a music player onto this area, so it’s highly likely third parties like Spotify will be able to do the same thing by February next year. Also, if you look at what’s been offered on the Galaxy Note 7, with the icons pictured above, you’ll realize there’s more to come from the AOD from Samsung.
TechRadar’s take: Samsung only released a curved Note 7, so ditching flat versions of its main flagship line is the logical next step. A 4K display isn’t out of the question, and 5.1 and 5.5-inch sizes make sense – making it bigger could appeal to Note fans, but might put off other buyers.
Samsung Galaxy S8 design
- A similar but refined design
Samsung is on to something with the design of the Galaxy S6 and now the Galaxy S7. Its melding of metal and glass has led to one of the most attractive handsets around, so we don’t expect huge changes there.
On the other hand, people like to see changes, so at the very least the design will probably be refined. Samsung slightly curved the back edge of the Galaxy S7, so perhaps it will make the Galaxy S8 even more curved, so it sits even more comfortably in the hand, like the HTC One M9. Or maybe it will focus on making the phone thinner.
And a completely new design is always possible, but if it does have one it could take almost any form. Well, any form that’s basically a rectangle anyway.
The only thing we’ve actually heard about the design so far is that it will be “slick”, which doesn’t tell us much, but does come straight from Samsung’s vice chairman, so it’s probably true.
TechRadar’s take: This is one thing we don’t know much about yet, but we don’t expect to see a huge change on the design front.
Samsung Galaxy S8 camera and battery
- A dual-lens camera
- A 30MP rear camera
- An 8MP front-facing snapper
- A 4200mAh battery
Samsung is said to be working on a new camera, which will be between 18 and 24MP and have a wide f/1.4 aperture, where the Samsung Galaxy S7 has a narrower f/1.7 one.
That extra width could allow more light in and the jump in megapixel count could allow for more detailed images, though while Samsung is apparently working on this camera it hasn’t been specifically linked to the Galaxy S8 yet.
Another rumor, this time from Chinese sources speaking to WCCF Tech, points to a dual-lens camera. It’s not clear what role the second lens would play, but the sources claim it’s being built by Samsung Motors (Semco).
That rumor has popped up again, with a Weibo poster claiming that one lens will be 12MP, while the other is 13MP and that lens-crafting duties will be split between Samsung and Sony.
There’s also a suggestion that Samsung could include two cameras to help its parts suppliers make up for lost Note 7 earnings.
Samsung has also now registered trademarks for two camera technologies designed to enhance the brightness of images, which is often the role of a secondary lens, further suggesting a dual-lens could be in the works.
The front facing camera could also be in for a change, with the same Weibo source as above claiming that the Galaxy S8 will have an 8MP camera on the front, up from 5MP on the Galaxy S7.
That front-facing camera could also get an autofocus, which is a feature usually reserved for rear cameras, as they need to focus at various distances, but while possibly not that useful on the front it might help the S8 stand out.
On the other hand, another Weibo poster claims the S8 will have a 30MP rear camera with optical image stabilization and a 9MP front-facing one, but we’d be surprised if Samsung pushed the rear camera’s megapixel count up that high.
We’ve also heard rumors that Samsung could stick a dual-lens camera on the 5.5-inch handset, but just a single-lens one on the 5.1-inch one, so you might have a choice of snappers.
Samsung has also built a ‘Smart Glow’ feature, which takes the form of a ring of LEDs around the rear camera, which can flash in different colors for different types of notifications and even light up when they detect your face, so you can more easily take a selfie with the main camera.
So far the feature is only available on the Samsung Galaxy J2, but there’s a chance Samsung will use it in the Galaxy S8 as well.
Whatever the case, you can be sure the camera will be improved, in fact Samsung’s vice chairman has even said as much.
The only battery rumor so far suggests the Galaxy S8 will have a huge 4200mAh juice pack with support for both wireless and fast charging. We’re not convinced Samsung will squeeze a battery that big in, but hopefully the company won’t reverse the good work it’s done on the S7, which has better life than the S6 before it.
The Galaxy S7 has a 3000mAh juice pack and with any luck the battery in the S8 will be even larger, or at least more efficient. It might need to be if Samsung pushes the screen resolution up.
TechRadar’s take: Dual-lens cameras seem to be the next big thing, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung gets on board. Don’t count on seeing a 30MP snapper or a 4200mAh battery though, we’d expect the camera will stay at the sweet spot of around 12MP, while the battery will likely be big, but not that big.
Samsung Galaxy S8 OS and power
- A 3GHz Exynos 8895 processor in some regions
- A 3.2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 830 chip in the US
- 6GB of RAM
The Snapdragon 830 isn’t official yet, but it has been rumored and is the likely name for the next major flagship smartphone chip from Qualcomm. It’s likely to be faster, smaller and more efficient than the Snapdragon 820 – or at least those are all areas Qualcomm will probably try and improve.
In fact, a leak suggests the Galaxy S8 could have a 3.2GHz octa-core Snapdragon processor, which certainly sounds fast.
That said, Samsung also makes its own Exynos chips and with the Galaxy S7 some regions got those and others got the Snapdragon 820, so the same is likely to happen with the Galaxy S8.
More specifically, the US will probably get a Snapdragon chip, while most of the rest of the world will likely get an Exynos one. Rumors suggest it will be the Exynos 8895, which is apparently clocked at up to 3GHz (up from 2.3GHz on the Exynos 8890 in the S7), and is supposedly also optimized for low power usage, as well as improving image processing performance by over 70%.
We’ve also heard rumors from SamMobile that not only is Samsung working on new mobile processors, but that it’s in talks with both Nvidia and AMD to build the GPUs (in place of ARM, which currently builds them).
With Nvidia behind some of the most powerful processors around and AMD’s architecture at the heart of the PS4 Pro, a move to either of these companies could give flagship Exynos chips a performance boost.
That extra power will really come in handy if Samsung plans to put a 4K screen on the Galaxy S8 or use it for high-end VR content – our betting is that both Samsung’s and Qualcomm’s chips will be heavily focused around making VR the best experience it can possibly be, which will be a boon for Gear VR wearers.
As for RAM, early rumors point to 6GB, and with the mid-range Samsung Galaxy C9 also rumored to have 6GB of RAM that’s probably the least we can expect. But the S8 might have even more, as Samsung has created an 8GB RAM chip compatible with smartphones, though it hasn’t been specifically linked to the S8.
TechRadar’s take: Samsung is sure to dial up the power in the Galaxy S8, but will probably stick a Snapdragon 830 chip in the US version, with an Exynos processor available elsewhere. RAM is sure to be at least 4GB, but it’s likely that Samsung will up it to 6GB. We doubt it will reach 8GB.
Samsung Galaxy S8 other features
- An iris scanner
- An AI assistant
- A fingerprint scanner in the screen
- A mini projector
But its inclusion isn’t guaranteed, as it doesn’t really add a lot beyond a ‘hyper’ level of security that some people would need on the Note 7, given it’s part enterprise device. That said, the scanner never got much of an outing with the Note 7 being killed, so Samsung is likely to want to give it a chance.
And another source has also suggested we’ll see an iris scanner, along with 64GB and 128GB storage capacities, a microSD card slot and, oddly, a mini projector. Another rumor points to up to 256GB of storage, which would be a huge jump on the maximum of 64GB that’s built into the Galaxy S7.
One feature that’s been confirmed by Samsung is the Viv AI assistant. It’s a bit like Siri, and in fact some of the makers of Siri created it, but Samsung bought the company and is planning to build Viv into the S8.
While there’s stiff competition in this space, Viv will apparently work seamlessly with a large number of apps, potentially giving it an advantage over the likes of Siri. It’s also rumored to come with both male and female voices, dubbed Bixby and Kestra.
Samsung is seemingly making Viv a focus of the S8, with one prototype apparently even featuring a dedicated button to launch the assistant.
Samsung might also build a fingerprint scanner right into the S8’s display, according to a Weibo source, allowing it to eliminate the home button entirely. The tech exists, but would be a smartphone first if Samsung does use it.
Samsung’s ‘Smart Glow’ feature – so far only available on the Galaxy J2, has also popped up again, with additional functions such as heart rate readings and the ability to light up in different colors to represent different weather conditions apparently likely to be added to later versions of it.
Other than those features, a reversible USB Type-C connector is likely now it’s appeared in the Galaxy Note 7, and Samsung is likely to continue offering the features its flagships are known for, like an always-on screen (with enhancements), a microSD card slot and a waterproof body.
TechRadar’s take: We wouldn’t count on seeing Smart Glow in the S8, given that the Note 7 didn’t have it despite the feature already being available on a lower end handset. A mini projector also sounds like a long shot, but an iris scanner is likely, while USB-C is all but guaranteed.
Samsung Galaxy S8 price
- More expensive than the Galaxy S7
- ….or the same price as the S7
The earliest cost rumors claim an $850 (roughly £655/AU$1120) SIM-free price for the Samsung Galaxy S8.
This comes from a Weibo post with no evidence to back it up, so we’d take it with a pinch of salt, but if true the Galaxy S8 would be slightly more expensive in most regions than the £569/AU$1149 (around $750) launch price of the Galaxy S7.
On the other hand, a similarly evidence-free claim has been made more recently that while the materials will apparently cost 28% more than the S7, the cost to consumers will be the same.
TechRadar’s take: It’s very possible that the S8 will cost the same as the S7, especially as Samsung will want to make up for the Note 7 debacle. But if construction costs rise, as is likely, then that would mean making less profit on each unit, which it may not be prepared to do.