Samsung Galaxy S8: release date and features
Update: The latest leaks point to a 4K screen, a mini projector, 6GB of RAM, a 30MP camera, an enormous battery and a supercharged processor. The S8 may also launch ahead of schedule and may ditch flat screens altogether, with comments by Samsung executives suggesting that all models will have curves, while sources claim the company has already started ordering curved panels in two sizes.
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.
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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.
- What we hope to see on the Samsung Galaxy S8 Edge and Galaxy Note 6
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 late February announcement
- An earlier launch than usual
It’s too early to get too specific about release dates, but 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.
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 now some analyst speculation that Samsung might bring the release forward, in order to minimize the impact of having to recall 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.
TechRadar’s take: Talk of an early release appears to just be speculation, 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
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.
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 – 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.
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. 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. 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 Samsung recently showed off a 5.5-inch 4K display that could be the size the S8 comes in.
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 – any larger and Samsung would be encroaching on its phablet line.
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.
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.
It’s too early to say how accurate these rumors are, 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.
The front facing camera could also be in for a change, with the same Weibo source claiming that the Galaxy S8 will have an 8MP camera on the front, up from 5MP on the Galaxy S7.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Samsung Galaxy S8 other features
- An iris scanner
- USB Type-C
- Smart Glow
- A mini projector
We could also see an iris scanner on the phone, as the company has stuck one on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the feature has since been rumored for the Galaxy S8, 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.
But 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.
Samsung’s ‘Smart Glow’ feature – so far only available on the Galaxy J2, has 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 a fingerprint scanner, 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 and USB-C is all but guaranteed.
Samsung Galaxy S8 price
- More expensive than the Galaxy S7
The only price rumors so far 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.
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 stabilization.
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. Given that the Galaxy Note 7 has USB Type-C it’s very likely that the S8 will too.
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