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. The company is 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 the Galaxy S8 will “feature slick design and an improved camera, as well as an enhanced artificial intelligence service.” Rumors say there may even be two models.
We now know it’s coming at the end of April, and although Samsung chose not to officially reveal the Galaxy S8 during Mobile World Congress at the end of February, local reportssay some lucky executives did get to see the phone in secret — and they described it as “very impressive.”
We can’t wait, and we’re sure you can’t either. To make sure you’re prepared, here’s everything you need to know about the Galaxy S8.
Processor and specs: Snapdragon 835
The specs for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are largely known at this point, but what might not be known is how well those specs will work together and perform. The latest leak changes that. The leak comes in the form of a video that shows what is allegedly the phone going through the AnTuTu benchmark, and it ends up with a pretty massive score. In fact, it hits a whopping 250,000 points — way above the iPhone 7, which is the current highest performer with a score of 180,000 points.
While the base specs for the phone are generally well-known, we don’t yet know what all the different variations will look like in all the different countries — and the latest rumor suggests there’s a very interesting variant being prepped for China. While the rest of the world will get a phone with 4GB of RAM, a Galaxy S8 with a hefty 6GB of RAM may be launched in China only, according to a leak on Chinese social media site Weibo.
The news makes sense considering many manufacturers in China have already started selling phones with 6GB of RAM — it’s just too bad that we probably won’t get that variant in other countries
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. Initial rumors also suggested that Samsung would use the Exynos 8895 processor, which analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says will power the phone in Europe and Asia. The Snapdragon 835 will be present in Galaxy S8 phones sold in the U.S., Japan, and China.
A leaked specification sheet from Twitter leaker Evan Blass offers a number of details about the phone — including the mention of 4GB of RAM. this list refutes previous rumors, which suggested the phone would come with 6GB of RAM. Analyst Kuo says the international versions of the phone will come with 4GB of RAM, but the South Korean and Chinese models will have 6GB of RAM.
Another processor has been linked with the Galaxy S8: The still unofficial Exynos 9810. It’s reportedly a powerful chip. Leaks suggest that the first Exynos series 9 chip will be manufactured on a 10nm FinFET process. It packs two sets of four cores for a total of eight, four of Samsung’s power-efficient 2.5GHz Mongoose M2 cores (compared to the outgoing Exynos M1 CPU cores) and four of ARM’s 1.7GHz Cortex A53 cores.
That is not all the Exynos 9810’s packing. It boasts 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 and makes use of ARM’s Bifrost architecture, which allows for high-end 4K and VR experiences. It’s compatible with Vulkan, OpenGL ES 3.2, GPU Compute, and Android RenderScript APIs. It’s paired with a networking chip that supports speeds up to 1 Gbps.
Price: How much will it cost?
The price of the Galaxy S8 is expected to be high at launch. A tweet from @evleaksstates the Galaxy S8 will cost 800 euros, and the S8 Plus 900 euros. This equates to around $860 and $960, respectively, which is generally in line with previous rumors.
For example, early reports from retailer MobileFun claimed the phones will cost 800 ($972) or 900 ($1,094) British pounds, depending on the model you get. For comparison, the iPhone 7 starts at an already-high 600 ($729) pounds. A further rumor also estimated the Galaxy S8 price in euros, placing the S8 at 800 euros, and the S8 Plus at 900 euros.
The Twitter rumor from @riccolo1 suggests a price of $850 in the United States — that’s markedly pricier than previous Galaxy S devices. The Galaxy S7 Edge, for example, cost $670 at launch. Goldman Sachs estimated the component cost for the Galaxy S8 will rise 15 to 20 percent compared to the cost of the Galaxy S7, and that Samsung will pass some of that cost to consumers.
Samsung may release a range of accessories which work with the Galaxy S8. On Twitter, @evleaks claimed a desktop dock for the phone will cost 150 euros ($160), the Gear VR headset 130 euros ($140), and a Gear 360 camera 230 euros ($245).
Samsung is expecting some pretty massive sales of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Analyst Kuo says between 40 million and 45 million may be sold before the end of the year, although that’s down slightly on the Galaxy S7. Korean website TheInvestor, which cites local outlet The Bell, suggests that the company has almost doubled early shipments for its upcoming phone compared to the Samsung Galaxy S7. That makes sense for Samsung — after the whole Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, the company will make a big push for its new flagship phone.
Galaxy S8 colors
Samsung released the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge in several colors throughout its life, so what has it planned for the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus? A leaked picture published on Twitter by @evleaks shows three colors: Black sky, orchid grey, and arctic silver. These colors will apparently apply to both phones.
Previously, another rumor posted on Twitter mentioned three colors for the S8 — black, silver, and violet. The final option seems to fit in with current trends, particularly with Huawei’s decision to include blue and green color versions of the P10; but isn’t mentioned in @evleaks post.
Bluetooth, speakers, headphones, and a stylus
Samsung recently acquired Harman International for a whopping $8 billion, which gives it access to Harman’s well-respected consumer audio brand, including the AKG name. In short, future Samsung phones like the Galaxy S8 could be getting a serious boost in audio quality.
One early rumor said the Samsung Galaxy S8 will include stereo speakers with Harman branding, similar to the HTC Boomsound speakers used on HTC devices, while another said 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.”
While this may be the case, leaked images published online in late March show wired earphones believed to come with the Galaxy S8, complete with AKG branding. The in-ear headphones have a braided cable to prevent tangles, an in-line remote control, and a 3.5mm jack.
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 is 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 Bluetooth 4.2 devices work with Bluetooth 5.0 phones — they just won’t get all the benefits.
The Galaxy S8 will reportedly support Samsung’s proprietary stylus, the S Pen. Reportsout 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.
Special features: A desktop experience, security, and facial recognition
In addition to the long-rumored iris scanner on the Samsung Galaxy S8, it’s expected that the phone will also include a facial recognition system, which adds yet another layer of biometric security. That’s according to Korean publication The Investor, which cites Korea Economic Daily. That report also suggests the inclusion of facial recognition is largely due to the iris scanning system being a little slow.
“Due to some limits of iris scanning such as speed and accuracy, we have decided to add facial recognition to the Galaxy S8,” said an unnamed official in the report. “With a face scanner, it will take less than 0.01 seconds to unlock the phone.”
So what will this facial recognition be used for? According to the latest reports, the new system may actually be usable for mobile payments, which will help the device stand out from others on the growing list of phones that support payment platforms. That’s according to a report from Bloomberg, which notes that the phone will blend fingerprint, iris, and facial recognition sensors — helping make it one of the most secure phones we’ve ever seen.
Previously, we heard a number of rumors suggesting that the phone would be coming with an iris scanner. According to publication Naver, 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.