War is around the corner. Both Samsung and Apple will soon release their highly-anticipated flagships—the Galaxy S8 and the iPhone 8—and customers around the world are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to spend serious cash on a shiny, new toy.
The sales of the iPhone started to cool off in 2016, and Apple’s faithful customers now look forward to seeing the company go back to its roots and do what it does best—innovate. “I think it does put a lot of pressure on Apple to show that they can still innovate. Certainly, Apple remains the one to beat,” said analyst Christopher Voce of Forrester Research.
Samsung has suffered a significant loss of revenue and damage to its reputation due to the Galaxy Note 7 battery fiasco, which culminated in a massive recall. Thousands of former Note 7 owners have since then moved on to other brands, so, with the Galaxy S8, Samsung will try to reclaim its position as the leading manufacturer of flagship smartphones.
While we still have a few months of waiting ahead of us before we can see both smartphones in person, there’s already enough rumors floating around the web to paint a clear picture of what the two smartphones are likely to look like.
Design and Display
Apple has big plans for the iPhone 8. After all, the release of the new iPhone will mark the 10th anniversary of iPhone. According to some rumors, the iPhone 8 might feature an all-glass enclosure inspired by the iPhone 4. We don’t know whether the glass will be curved in the same functional manner as seen on the Galaxy S7 Edge and the upcoming Galaxy S8, but it’s almost guaranteed that the iPhone 8 will be the first Apple smartphone to offer an OLED screen.
The screen will be manufactured by Samsung, and either come close or match the quality of the Galaxy S8. Currently, it’s thought there will be three size variants of the iPhone 8: 4.7”, 5.5”, and 5.8”. If that’s the case, it’s likely that the largest variant will be called iPhone 8 and the smaller two will be called iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus.
The Galaxy S8 has already been unveiled, so we know exactly what has changed compared to the previous generation. Gone is the physical home button, which for a long time symbolized Samsung’s design language. The extra space freed by the absence of the home button allowed Samsung to expand the screen size on the Galaxy S8 to 5.8” without significantly increasing the size of the phone. The company calls its new edge-to-edge display the Infinity Display.
The experts at DisplayMate tested the Galaxy S8’s new screen and released a detailed report. According to the report, “The Galaxy S8 is the most innovative and high-performance smartphone display that we have ever tested. So, the Galaxy S8 becomes the best performing smartphone display, earning DisplayMate’s highest ever A+ grade.” The brightness of the display can reach up to 1,020 nits, and the extremely low reflectance of just 4.5% make it perfect for outdoor use.
If you are familiar with Samsung smartphones, you may be wondering where is the fingerprint reader now when the home button is gone. The answer is simple: it has been moved to the back of the Galaxy S8, next to the camera.
Despite the fact that the Google Pixel is now widely considered to be the best camera phone in existence, customers know that Apple and Samsung smartphones never disappoint when it comes to photography.
Some rumors suggest that the new iPhone might feature a dual-lens camera, while other rumors point at Tim Crook’s fascination with virtual and augmented reality as a strong suggestion as to the direction Apple might take the iPhone 8. According to Digitimes’ sources, Himax Technologies will supply the glass component design, which will fit into Lumentum’s 3D-sensing module for the iPhone 8. The front-facing camera will have a VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser)-based DOE (diffractive optical elements) that will support both 3D-sensing and 3D-modeling capabilities, beating the Galaxy S8 when it comes to 3D capabilities.
Even if this doesn’t turn out to be the case, the rear camera with 12MP and the front camera with 8MP should, once again, be among the best smartphone cameras out there.
Many people were hoping that Samsung would offer a dual-lens camera in the Galaxy S8, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Instead, the company has decided to focus on improving picture quality in low-light conditions by including a brighter lens alongside the 12MP rear sensor. The front-facing camera has 8MP and autofocus. The one notable feature of the camera app that comes with the Galaxy S8 has going for it is the Bixby Vision, a smart assistant that provides contextual information about the things users are viewing.
We know that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company will begin volume production on Apple’s A11 chip later this month. The new chip will be fabricated at 10nm using a FinFET process. “TSMC previously said that its 10-nanometer technology will see a 20% speed gain and 40% power reduction relative to its 16-nanometer technology,” noted fool.com.
Apple has always been quite conservative when it comes to the amount of RAM they put inside their smartphones and tablets, and this trend is likely to continue. While 4 GB of RAM would certainly look great on marketing materials, 3 GB is much more realistic. As for the storage, expect to see Apple offer up to 256 GB with no option how to expand the storage capacity using memory cards—that’s just how things are with Apple.
With the Galaxy S8, Samsung is ready to conquer all performance benchmarks—all thanks to the mighty Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM. According to Qualcomm, “the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform can support phenomenal mobile performance. It is 35% smaller and uses 25% less power than previous designs, and is engineered to deliver exceptionally long battery life, lifelike VR and AR experiences, cutting-edge camera capabilities and Gigabit-Class download speeds.”
Apart from the remarkable chipset, the Galaxy S8 comes with 64 GB of storage and a MicroSD card slot with support for cards up to 256 GB in size.
Both Apple and Samsung has enjoyed plenty of criticism when it comes to the batteries they put inside their devices. Apple customers don’t like that their smartphones barely last a whole day, and Samsung customers, for some reason, don’t fancy their phones suddenly turning into small bombs.
We know that Apple wants to offer a big battery in the iPhone 8, but nobody knows what capacity we are talking about. The iPhone 7 has a pathetic 1960 mAh battery, so anything above 2,500 mAh would be a major improvement, even if it’s still far behind most Android smartphones.
The Galaxy S8 comes with a 3,000-mAh battery, which, according to Samsung, will last 13.6 days on standby and 33 hours of continuous use before it needs to be recharged.
Both smartphones will support wireless charging as well as fast charging.
Now we come to what is perhaps the most exciting part of this rumor roundup—extra features. Big displays are making big waves, taking space that would otherwise be occupied by other parts, such as the fingerprint sensor. Apple will most likely move it under the display, using a brand-new soundwave technology that lets users press anywhere on the display to activate the feature. We know that Samsung has decided to move the sensor to the back, making it slightly more difficult to accurately locate where the sensor is without making the camera lens all dirty in the process.
Apple is reportedly investing heavily in augmented reality, and the release of the iPhone 8 could be when the company finally presents what it came up with. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Apple is working with suppliers to help iPhone 8 owners map their surrounding 3D environment, and Bloomberg said that we could see object recognition working hand-in-hand with Siri.
Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 8 should be IP68 water- and dust-resistant, just like most other flagship phones these days.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 will finally allow us to test the company’s brand-new virtual personal assistant, Bixby. “Samsung is setting its sights on becoming a major player in software and services, and specifically AI,” said Viv Labs CEO Dag Kittlaus. Bixby is a conversational virtual assistant with support for familiar features such as event planning, reminders, photo and file sharing, information retrieval, and more. The new Bixby Vision app allows users to aim the camera at any product they want to either buy or learn more about. Aim the camera at a landmark and Bixby will try to get information about it. Aim the camera at a foreign word and Bixby will try to translate it for you.
Another neat feature is the new desktop dock called DeX. With this dock, it’s possible to use the Galaxy S8 as a portable computer with multi-window support as well as mouse and keyboard support.
Needless to say that the Galaxy S8 is water- and dust-resistant.
Release Date and Price
Apple is supposedly planning to deliver the iPhone 8 in September, but it’s highly possible that the company won’t be able to keep up with the demand. As always, Apple will reveal its pricing only after the smartphone makes its debut, but, based on the advancements Apple is planning to offer in the device, we wouldn’t be surprised if the iPhone 8 would go for $1,000 or more, making it the most expensive iPhone ever.
The Galaxy S8 was unveiled at a special press event in New York City on March 29. At the same time, Samsung started offering pre-orders on its site. The S8 will be available in stores on April 21, and people who preorder it on Samsung.com are promised to get it one day earlier. The Galaxy S8 costs around $750, depending on the carrier.
It’s apparent that Samsung and Apple are trying to win the upcoming battle based both on their ability to innovate as well as the overall quality of the design and hardware. It will be interesting to see whether we are truly running out of ways how to meaningfully innovate smartphones, or whether we are just approaching a new era.