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Here come the Galaxy S8 rumors: no physical button, "full screen" display, and dual camera

Here’s a breakdown and our take on the main claims in a new report about the Galaxy S8, which cites anonymous representatives of Korean component suppliers.

Published onOctober 7, 2016

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If a brand new report out of Korea is to be believed, the Galaxy S series is about to undergo a massive transformation.

The respected ETNews, a publication with good connections in the Korean tech industry, reports that Samsung plans to ditch the physical home button and opt for a “full-screen” display that would virtually eliminate the top and bottom bezels from the Galaxy S8. The phone will reportedly be equipped with a dual-camera and be powered by Qualcomm and Samsung chips built on the new 10-nanometer process.

Here’s a breakdown and our take on the main claims in the report, which cites anonymous representatives of Korean component suppliers.

No physical home button

The rumor

Sources told ETNews that Samsung wants to ditch the iconic home button. It’s not clear what the alternative solution would be. The home button incorporates the fingerprint sensor, so Samsung will need to come up with a way to embed the sensor in or under the screen glass.

Our take

This one seems believable, for several reasons. Samsung is one of the few remaining Android phone makers that clings to a physical home button. Even Apple is said to move to an on-screen key on the next iPhone, according to sources quoted by the New York Times, and Samsung is known for its desire to pre-emptively one-up Apple.

There are tech solutions out there that allow phone makers to embed fingerprint sensors under glass, so it’s not like the Galaxy S8 has to have a physical home button. Xiaomi just recently unveiled the Mi 5s, which features Qualcomm’s Ultrasonic fingerprint reader, and Fingerprint Cards and other suppliers have launched their own under-glass solutions.

xiaomi mi 5s fingerprint
Under-glass fingerprint sensor on the Xiaomi Mi 5s

Full screen display

The rumor

According to the report, Samsung is planning to use a so-called “full screen display.” In other words, the plan is to all but eliminate the top and bottom bezels (the side bezels are already very thin), which would supposedly create a very minimalist and immersive experience.

Our take

This one ties in with the elimination of the home button – if Samsung really drops the physical home button, it would make a lot of sense to reduce the bottom bezel as much as possible.  For a reason why, just look at the negative reaction to the empty top and bottom bezels of the Pixel and Pixel XL.

In late 2015, Samsung was rumored to make all sides of the Galaxy S7, including the top and bottom, curved. That didn’t pan out, but Samsung may use the idea on the Galaxy S8. Expanding the curve to the two other sides would keep the S8 ahead of competitors, including the next iPhone, which is rumored to feature an all-new design.

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Dual cameras

The rumor

Rumor has it that Samsung has already made up its mind on using a dual camera on the back of the Galaxy S8. The question is whether Samsung will use a two-lens/one-module design or a two-lens/two-module arrangement. According to the report, Samsung could opt for a 16MP/8MP setup.

Our take

There’s no reason to doubt this. The industry is moving towards dual cameras, and Samsung’s biggest competitors have a head start in this area – LG, HUAWEI, and Apple all put dual cameras on their recent flagships.

Using two lenses enables a few neat tricks like post-shot refocusing, but it also makes it possible to improve the overall quality of each shot. Samsung simply has to get in on that action.

thumb-iphone-7-vs-samsung-galaxy-note-7-no-watermark-tt-16 (1)

10-nm Snapdragon/Exynos processors

The rumor

For the SoC of the Galaxy S8, Samsung will reportedly use a mix of Snapdragon 830 from Qualcomm and an Exynos chip developed by its subsidiary Samsung SDI. Both chips will be built on the 10-nanometer process, enabling higher performance and lower battery consumption.

Our take

Samsung’s choice of processors has been rather predictable. With certain exceptions – like the Galaxy S6 – Samsung has used a combination of Qualcomm and Exynos chips, and there’s little reason to believe that the Galaxy S8 will be any different.

We’ve already heard some reports about the two chips: the Samsung chip will reportedly be the Exynos 8895, featuring the powerful Mali-G71 GPU from ARM; meanwhile, Samsung struck a deal with Qualcomm to manufacture the Snapdragon 830 in its foundries, just like it did with the Snapdragon 820.

Wrap up

ETNews   notes that Samsung is likely to stick with the same release calendar it used in the past few years, meaning that the Galaxy S8 could be introduced in February-March, very likely at MWC 2017. After all, the rush to accelerate the launch was one of the reasons why the Note 7 ended up in the recall situation.

We’re still early in the rumor cycle, and it’s possible that the information published by ETNews is an educated guess, rather than a hard leak coming out of Samsung. But overall, we think that the report is believable.

What are your thoughts?

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