Samsung Galaxy S8: release date, news and rumors
Update: A VR-ready 4K screen is looking ever more likely, while a dual-lens camera and ‘Smart Glow’ features are other possible inclusions for the Samsung Galaxy S8.
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 pass on the best ones 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? It’s going to be expensive
Samsung Galaxy S8 release date
It’s too early to get too specific about release dates, but the Samsung Galaxy S8 is bound 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.
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.
- Not fussed with the S8 and actually want an iPhone instead? Try our well-stocked iPhone 7 release date page to help you out – filled with lovely news and rumors.
Samsung Galaxy S8 news and rumors
There’s very little Samsung Galaxy S8 news so far, but we can take an educated guess at what we might see.
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 they’re somewhat less likely.
Samsung Galaxy S8 screen
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’s likely Samsung will push the resolution up for the Samsung Galaxy S8, perhaps as high as 4K.
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 push the resolution up further for the Galaxy S8.
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.
Samsung is also putting a lot of work into curved screens, so we’ll probably see a Samsung Galaxy S8 Edge as well.
But it might go one further and give us a foldable phone, especially as prototypes and patents for such a device already exist. In fact, it’s rumored that the company will launch a folding phone in 2017, but it’s unlikely to risk attaching the untested tech to its flagship.
The screen size could also change. While Samsung won’t want to encroach on its Galaxy Note phablet range 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 it recently showed off a 5.5-inch 4K display that could be the size the S8 comes in.
Samsung Galaxy S8 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.
Samsung Galaxy S8 camera and 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).
It’s too early to say how accurate this rumor is, but with the Huawei P9, LG G5 and possibly the iPhone 7 Plus packing dual cameras it’s seemingly the latest trend, so wouldn’t be surprising.
There’s no word on what size battery the Samsung Galaxy S8 will have, 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.
Samsung Galaxy S8 OS and power
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 is likely to try and improve.
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 may happen with the Galaxy S8, but whatever chip it comes with you can be sure it will be cutting edge, as the company usually puts the best tech in its flagships.
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.
We can also take a look at Galaxy Note 6 rumors to get some clues about what specs the Samsung Galaxy S8 might be packing. That phone is rumored to be coming with 6GB of RAM and if it does we’d wager the Samsung Galaxy S8 will too. Certainly a boost on the 4GB found in the Samsung Galaxy S7 is likely.
Samsung Galaxy S8 other features
We could also see an iris scanner in the phone, as Samsung has been spotted importing iris scanning modules and has registered trademarks for "Samsung Iris" and "Samsung Eyeprint".
Since then it’s even launched a tablet with an iris scanner, dubbed the Galaxy Tab Iris, but this is only available in India and it’s likely the company has bigger plans for the tech.
Samsung is also apparently working on a ‘Smart Glow’ feature, which would take 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. This hasn’t been linked to the S8 but is a likely inclusion.
Said feature has popped up again and been outlined in more detail, with additional functions such as heart rate readings and lighting 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, since they’re becoming increasingly common, and Samsung is likely to continue offering the features its flagships are known for, like a fingerprint scanner, an always-on screen, a microSD card slot and a waterproof body.
Samsung Galaxy S8: what we want to see
While we wait to hear more about what Samsung’s actually planning to put in the Galaxy S8 we have a sizeable wish list of things we hope it will feature. From a sharper screen to stereo speakers and genuine surprises here’s what we want to see.
1. More built-in storage
Samsung pleased many with the reintroduction of a microSD card slot in the Galaxy S7, but with just 32GB of built in storage, a substantial chunk of which was used by the OS, it was much needed.
Hopefully the Samsung Galaxy S8 will keep the card slot but add more built in storage. If Apple offers phones with 128GB built in Samsung can too. That way buyers will have more storage to play with, without having to fall back on the usually slower speeds of microSD cards.
2. Fewer fingerprints
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a triumph of design and looks absolutely stunning, or at least it does until you start using it, at which point it very quickly starts picking up fingerprints.
So we really hope the Samsung Galaxy S8 avoids that. The design doesn’t need to radically change, but some sort of fingerprint-repellent coating would do wonders.
3. Longer battery life
The Galaxy S7’s battery life was a significant improvement on the S6’s, but it’s still a phone that you’ll typically be charging nightly.
That’s one of the few areas where it’s no better than much cheaper handsets and ideally we want a phone that can comfortably last at least two days. Hopefully the Samsung Galaxy S8 will be that phone.
4. A lower price
As a premium handset the Samsung Galaxy S7 goes a long way to justifying its premium price. But when you consider that many high-end Chinese phones and even fairly big name handsets like the OnePlus 2 launched for far cheaper, it’s hard not to wish it was a little more affordable.
It’s unlikely that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will have a bargain price tag, but even knocking the price down to around £500 (US$600, AU$1000) would be a big help.
5. Dual front-facing speakers
The Samsung Galaxy S7 can pump out a reasonable amount of sound, but it’s just got one speaker and its position on the bottom edge both means the audio isn’t directed towards you when holding the phone and that the speaker can easily be covered by stray fingers.
It would be great if the Samsung Galaxy S8 took a leaf from HTC’s book and had dual front-facing speakers, as that would fix all those problems, while adding meatier sound into the mix.
6. A better front-facing camera
The 12MP rear snapper on the Samsung Galaxy S7 is seriously high quality, but the front-facing camera feels a bit neglected.
It’s just 5MP and there’s no flash for it, leaving it lagging behind rivals. Hopefully then the Samsung Galaxy S8 will have a higher megapixel count on its selfie snapper, along with a flash and maybe even optical image stabilisation.
7. A sharper screen
QHD is plenty sharp enough we hear you saying, but hear us out. Yes, the QHD screen on the Samsung Galaxy S7 is impeccably sharp for general use. But Samsung has jumped on the VR bandwagon with the Gear VR and for that some extra pixels could be beneficial.
The Gear VR is one of the cheapest ways to get a semi-decent VR experience, but it could go from semi-decent to very good indeed if the Samsung Galaxy S8 packed a 4K display, which there’s every chance it will, as Samsung has shown off a 4K mobile screen.
8. Toned-down TouchWiz
TouchWiz isn’t as bad as it once was, but it’s still present and still includes an annoying amount of bloat. We doubt we’ll ever see stock Android on a Samsung flagship, but the closer the company gets the better.
So we’d love to see the S8 have a further toned-down version of TouchWiz, with more of a Material Design look and fewer pre-installed apps.
9. USB Type-C
Slightly surprisingly the Samsung Galaxy S7 doesn’t use USB Type-C. It’s not a huge loss, as the phone still supports fast charging, but it does mean you can only plug the cable in one way round.
That’s a minor annoyance, but it’s one that some phones have done away with and we hope the Samsung Galaxy S8 follows suit.
10. Something new
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a fantastic handset, but it mostly improves on the Samsung Galaxy S6 while bringing back features from the Samsung Galaxy S5, like the waterproof body and microSD card slot. There’s not much that’s genuinely new here and certainly no massive new features.
Samsung’s polished the Galaxy S7 to within an inch of its life, so for the Galaxy S8 to stand out it needs a feature to shout about. Perhaps an iris scanner, or a projector, or maybe something so new it’s not even been thought up yet.
- Fancy something a little different? Here’s what we want to see on the LG G6