With all the excitement of the recent launch of the Galaxy S7 starting to fade, fans are beginning to evaluate how the S7 stacks up against other new flagship phones, and to turn their attention to rumors and reports about what Samsung’s going to be doing with the rest of its 2016. Read on to catch up on the most exciting rumors about Samsung’s plans and future products to surface this week.
1. The Galaxy Note 6 may land earlier than expected
Brad Reed reports for BGR that a new report that originated in Korea indicates that Samsung is going to release the Galaxy Note 6 this July, and that the phone will ship with Android N already installed. If the report is correct, that means that Samsung fans wouldn’t need to wait to upgrade to Google’s newest version of Android — which would mean that this year, they could opt out of the frustrating process of waiting for their carrier to test and release the update.
However, there are a few reasons to be skeptical about the report: Samsung usually waits until late August or early September to unveil its Galaxy Note devices, and Google doesn’t usually release new versions of Android until months after unveiling them at Google I/O. (For instance, Android 6.0 Marshmallow was released in early October last year, and Android 5.0 Lollipop wasn’t released until November in the year before.)
As Gadgets360 notes, the report doesn’t have any details to offer about the specifications of the smartphone, though other rumors point to a 5.8-inch display, 6GB of RAM, a 12MP rear-facing camera, up to 128GB storage expansion, and the S-Pen.
2. There probably won’t be a Galaxy S7 Active
As Samsung Rumors notes, Samsung is pretty unlikely to introduce an “Active” version of the Galaxy S7. The Active series phones have been positioned as durable, water-resistant, and dust-proof versions of Samsung’s latest flagship phones, but choosing one entailed making a few sacrifices: they were bulkier models, and didn’t have the fingerprint sensor that consumers have come to expect of their Samsung smartphones.
But with the Galaxy S7, Samsung made the standard model of its flagship phone dust-proof and water-resistant. That means that even though the S7 still has glass on its front and back, it’s much more like an Active model than previous phones. Putting a sturdy case on the new Galaxy S7 would likely give it enough protection to withstand bumps and drops, and a screen protector could keep the display from shattering if the phone falls at the wrong angle. “So, the normal Galaxy S7 with a tough armour case and a tempered glass is the Galaxy S7 active,” Ankit writes for Samsung Rumors. “If Samsung still chooses to release the active variant, I am expecting no less than something that can beat the Moto X-Force that is famous for its shatterproof display.”
Even though an Active model of this year’s flagship may never materialize, Samsung is rumored to be working on a smaller version of the Galaxy S7. The Galaxy S7 Mini would compete with Apple’s newly-unveiled iPhone SE. Rumor has it that a smaller version of the S7 would feature a 4.6-inch 720×1280 display, either a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 12MP camera.
3. Samsung is developing a new Internet of Things operating system
Agam Shah reports for PCWorld that Samsung is developing a new operating system to power Internet of Things devices like smart home appliances, wearable tech, and industrial equipment. The OS will be open-source and while a name hasn’t yet been shared, the company will share more details during a technical session at its Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco next month.
The operating system will help devices to execute tasks, like a door lock opening or a hallway light coming on as you approach your house. Samsung is reportedly making the operating system open-source to increase its chances of adoption and enable greater interoperability among Internet of Things devices. The goal is to avoid the pitfalls of fragmentation, which are clearly illustrated by the Android ecosystem’s problems with device interoperability, chip compatibility, and deployment of software updates.
Shah reports that the operating system could turn out to be a pared-down version of Tizen, which Samsung already uses in smartwatches and TVs. Samsung also wants to equip homes with Internet-connected appliances — from refrigerators to ovens to washing machines to lightbulbs — which could all use the new operating system.
4. Samsung’s latest phone is probably better than the iPhone
Jason Cipriani reports for Fortune that Samsung’s Galaxy S7 is better than the iPhone, noting that with its latest flagship phone, Samsung has improved battery life and nearly eradicated performance issues — in addition to adding an impressive camera, a waterproof housing, and microSD support. Cipriani notes that while low-light photos are the Achilles heel of nearly every smartphone camera, Samsung delivered on the promise of a camera that can finally take good photos in low-light situations.
In his personal tests, Cipriani found that the Galaxy S7’s camera took more pleasing photos than the iPhone 6s, and The Verge found that while the camera on the iPhone 6s Plus is still excellent, and can even outperform the S7’s camera in specific settings, Apple fans will have to wait for the next version of the iPhone for a camera that meets or exceeds the quality of Samsung’s new camera. Cipriani notes, “Rumors and speculation surrounding the design and feature set of Apple’s next iPhone are already commonplace, some six months before the company typically unveils its latest smartphone. That’s six months for Samsung to claim the title of the best smartphone on the market and put pressure on Apple to release something to reclaim the crown.”
Matthew Miller reports for ZDNet that the Galaxy S7 “sets the bar for all smartphones,” with the best-performing display ever, no side bezels, water resistance, excellent camera performance, and fast charging options. The phone is less expensive than a comparable iPhone 6 Plus or iPhone 6s Plus, and is all-around a better phone. We’ll have to wait until the fall to see if Apple’s iPhone 7 can catch up with the Galaxy S7.
5. The iPhone 7 could get the Galaxy S7’s best feature
On a related note, Chris Smith reports for BGR that Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 may get the Galaxy S7’s best feature, and if it does, that would be Samsung’s fault. He’s talking about the device’s camera, which is significantly better than the one in Apple’s current iPhone 6s. But the same camera sensor could make it into Apple’s next iPhone. At least some models of the iPhone 7 are rumored to get a dual-camera setup, and coincidentally, Samsung recently issued a press release to announce the availability of the Dual Pixel image sensor found in the Galaxy S7.
The sensor features 12MP resolution, 1.4μm pixels, DSLR-grade Dual Pixel tech for quick autofocus, ISOCELL technology, a 65nm sensor, and a 28nm logic chip. Smith notes that the first Galaxy S7 teardowns have shown that Samsung is using both its new camera sensor in the phone and the Sony IMX260 sensor, and the performance differences between the two sensors are reportedly “negligible.” Which means that even if Samsung doesn’t want to sell its new camera module to Apple (or other competitors), Sony might sell its sensor instead. (And Apple’s iPhones already use Sony sensors.)