2016 has been a great year so far for Samsung fans. The Galaxy S7 is the brand’s best phone ever, and probably one of the most exciting smartphones that will be introduced this year. But any tech enthusiast would be forgiven for wondering what’s next from the Korean tech giant. Read on to catch up on the most exciting Samsung rumors to surface this week, and learn a little bit about what to expect from Samsung’s upcoming wearables and smartphones.
1. Samsung’s next wearable could be a smart contact lens
Robert Nazarian reports for Digital Trends that according to a recently-published Samsung patent, Samsung’s next wearable device could be a smart contact lens, which may be called the Gear Blink. The patent, filed in South Korea in 2014 and titled “Smart contact lens for augmented reality and methods of manufacturing and operating,” describes a contact lens that consists of a small display, a camera, an RF antenna, and sensors to detect eye movement. The lens would connect to a smartphone, and would enable user input by blinking.
While Samsung has committed to the headset form factor for virtual reality, the document states that a contact lens is a better choice for augmented reality, since in Samsung’s assessment, the image quality suffers if the tech is implemented in a pair of glasses, instead. The patent deals mostly with the design of the contact lens, and doesn’t say much about what it could do. However, Nazarian notes that one example in the document explains that blinking your eye could instruct the camera in the lens to take a picture. The patent doesn’t mention the ability to receive notifications from your phone, but that seems like a likely feature.
Though the patent also doesn’t give any hints as to what Samsung could call its smart contact lens, the company filed a trademark for the name Gear Blink in 2014, which may be a useful clue. The trademark was filed in both South Korea and in the United States.
2. With the Galaxy S8, Samsung may focus on battery life
Though Samsung just unveiled the Galaxy S7, rumors about its successor are already starting to appear. A report from Yibada indicates that with the Galaxy S8, Samsung will focus on better battery life. According to rumor, the existing lithium ion battery could be replaced a new type of fuel cell battery, developed by researchers at the Pohang University of Science and Technology and called a miniaturized solid oxide fuel cell. Such technology would reportedly make the S8’s battery not only longer-lasting, but potentially more durable, though its ‘s far unclear when fuel cell batteries will really be viable for usage in smartphones.
Other rumors indicate that the Galaxy S8 could have an edge-to-edge display and could introduce an option for 256GB of memory. Additionally, the phone could boast “extraordinary features” for gamers, including an unspecified “powerful” chip architecture. The phone could also feature a metal and glass design, as illustrated by the concept video above.
3. A foldable smartphone could arrive as soon as 2017
The foldable smartphone we started hearing rumors about last week could appear as soon as 2017 according to Korean news site ETNews. The site says that Samsung has been working on the phone for about three years, and notes that the device would fold out in much the same way that you unfold a wallet. The report indicates that Samsung is planning to be able to mass-produce foldable displays by the end of 2016 and then to sell a phone that integrates the technology in 2017.
The company is reportedly developing a 7-inch OLED screen that could be folded in half, creating a device that would offer the same screen size as many small tablets, though the foldable screen would make it just as portable as a smartphone that measures about 5 inches. USA Today notes that the idea of a flexible, foldable smartphone isn’t without precedent, since Samsung’s display group has shown off bendable and foldable concepts in the past, like the one in the video above.
4. The Galaxy S8 could get a flexible screen
In another interpretation of the report published by ETNews, Know Your Mobile posits that Samsung’s “Project Valley” foldable smartphone prototype could actually be the Galaxy S8. The prototype is rumored to be undergoing testing with Qualcomm Snapdragon 620 and 820 chips and 3GB of RAM.
However, while the rumor that Samsung is working on a 5-inch smartphone that would unfold into a 7-inch tablet is exciting, Know Your Mobile notes that Samsung is still working on what, ultimately, is an early iteration of its flexible display technology. While concepts of flexible devices have been built on the idea that internal components, like the battery and processor, would also be flexible, that seems unlikely to happen with the first round of devices that incorporate flexible screens. A more likely scenario is a device, perhaps a Galaxy S8, that features a flexible screen but is based around a solid body that contains a solid processor and battery, just like the other smartphones that are currently on the market.
5. Samsung may launch the Galaxy Note 6 early
According to an analyst speaking to Bloomberg, Samsung may launch the Galaxy Note 6 early, thanks to the success of its Galaxy S7. Neil Mawston, executive director of research firm Strategy Analytics, told the publication that “encouraging” sales of the Galaxy S7 could lead Samsung to replicate the strategies it used with the S7 with the Note 6, by releasing sooner and pricing it cheaper than users had expected. Mawston thinks that Samsung could “release the Note 6 a month or two before the Apple iPhone 7, to try and grab that window of opportunity.”
TechnoBuffalo reports that while we don’t yet have many concrete details about the Galaxy Note 6, current rumors indicate that it could run Android N out of the box, and be equipped with a 5.8-inch Quad HD display, a 12MP rear-facing camera, 64GB of 128GB of storage, and 6GB of RAM.