7 Samsung Rumors: From S7 Active to Driverless Car Chips

Each week, new rumors about Samsung’s plans and upcoming products surface, offering exciting news and rapt speculation about the phones, tablets, wearables, and other gadgets that Samsung is developing. Read on to catch up on this week’s most interesting rumors and reports, and learn the latest about the hardware and software that Samsung has in the works.

1. The Galaxy S7 Active is reportedly on its way to AT&T

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active | Source: Samsung

Android Authority reports that images of the rumored Galaxy S7 Active have leaked, showing the phone “in all its rugged, rubberized glory.” While the existence of the Galaxy S7 Active hasn’t been secret since even Samsung leaked the device’s name, plenty of Samsung fans will be excited to see the images posted by Samsung VN. Rumor has it that the polycarbonate and rubber casing of the S7 Active meets military standards for drop damage, and as with previous Active models, the capacitive keys are replaced by waterproof physical buttons that are the same shape as the home button.

The IP rating is reportedly still IP68, which means the device is water-resistant for up to 30 minutes in up to a meter of water. The Galaxy S7 Active is reportedly powered by the Snapdragon 820 with 4GB of RAM. It is expected to be offered only by AT&T, which has traditionally been the only carrier to offer the Active variants of Samsung’s Galaxy flagships. The Active variant isn’t expected to cost much more than the standard Galaxy S7.

2. Samsung may launch an app like BlackBerry Hub on the Note 6

Samsung Galaxy Note5

Samsung Galaxy Note5 | Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

SamMobile reports that an app reminiscent of BlackBerry’s Hub — which enables users to respond to emails, messages on social networks, instant messages, and calendar invites all from one place — will debut on the Galaxy Note 6. The feature, reportedly called Samsung Focus, is expected to integrate functions like email, calendar, contacts, and memos, and the aggregation of emails will be one of its major features. Focus will reportedly offer options for viewing and responding to emails from various accounts, though it’s unclear if that will include Gmail or only work with Android’s default email app (which SamMobile notes “went defunct with Android 5.0 but continues to be present on Samsung’s smartphones and tablets”).

The “main screen” would display the user’s reminders and events for the day or the coming days, and users will be able to add calendar entries, manage invites, and create memos from Focus. A dedicated contacts page will reportedly put all of the emails, messages, and calendar invites from a particular contact under the contact’s details, and there will be an option to mark some contacts as a priority, and set priority notifications for those contacts or for “manually selected keywords.” Focus reportedly features a clean and modern interface that SamMobile says is unlike Samsung’s previous apps, with a UI that abides by Google’s Material Design guidelines.

3. The Galaxy Note 6 could come in a “Lite” variant

Samsung Galaxy Note5

Samsung Galaxy Note5 | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

SamMobile reports that, according to a rumor posted on Weibo, the Galaxy Note 6 could be accompanied by a “Lite” variant that would include slightly different specifications at a lower price tag. The Galaxy Note 6 is rumored to feature the as-yet-unannounced Snapdragon 823 processor with 6GB of RAM, while the Lite variant would feature the Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM. The Lite variant could also cut costs by opting for a full HD instead of a Quad HD display, even though both are expected to use a 5.8-inch display. All other specifications are expected to remain the same.

Despite the rumor, the plausibility of Samsung introducing a “Lite” variant of the Galaxy Note 6 is up for debate. SamMobile notes that if Samsung does introduce such a device, it may not make it to markets outside of select parts of Asia. Additionally, there’s not yet any conclusive evidence, from the supply chain or otherwise, that a Galaxy Note 6 Lite is on its way.

4. Samsung’s next Tizen phone could have a 4-inch display

Samsung phones

Samsung phones | Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Apple might not be the only smartphone manufacturer making headlines with smaller phones this year. SamMobile reports that the Samsung Z2, the company’s next Tizen-based smartphone, could have a 4-inch display. SamMobile notes that the Z1 was the company’s first commercial Tizen phone, and Samsung followed it with the Z3 in under a year. Samsung is reportedly working both on an updated version of the Z1, and on an entirely new Tizen phone, which will be called the Z2 and has the model number SM-Z200F.

Samsung is reportedly working on the device’s firmware. It’s reportedly being built for the Indian market, and while there isn’t yet much known about its specifications, it is expected to support 4G LTE. An import tracker shows that the  SM-Z200F units that Samsung is currently testing feature a 4-inch display, which makes sense given the fact that Samsung hasn’t really begun making Tizen phones with the huge displays found on some of its other products. The Samsung Z2 is expected to arrive this year, and it may be launched in other developing markets after it’s released in India.

5. The Gear Fit 2 may come in blue, pink, and black

Samsung Gear Fit 2 via Evan Blass

Samsung Gear Fit 2 | Source: Twitter.com/evleaks

The upcoming successor to the Gear Fit has been the subject of several recent leaks and rumors, including a recent report that Samsung will offer the device in black, blue, and pink, according to Evan Blass. SamMobile reports that the device is expected to be unveiled later this year, and images of the wearable were leaked on Samsung’s own site (along with images of the upcoming Gear IconX earbuds), which means that an official announcement is likely coming soon.

Android Authority reports that in addition to the step counter and heart rate monitor that were featured by the original Fit, the Gear Fit 2 will also incorporate a GPS module. While the Gear Fit 2 won’t be the first wearable to feature built-in GPS, Android Authority reports that the Gear Fit 2 will be the first to include a “bio processor,” which is a chip designed specifically for collecting and processing physiological data.

“Signals include bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), photoplethysmogram (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), skin temperature, and galvanic skin response (GSR),” the publication reports, noting that a “wearable equipped with Samsung’s bio processor could measure body fat, skeletal muscle mass, heart rate, heart rhythm, skin temperature and stress level.”

6. Samsung may be in trouble over missing or late updates

Android

Android | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Android Police reports that the FCC and the FTC are joining forces to investigate the slow and missing security updates that leave behind many smartphone users — including some with Samsung devices — when it comes to security patches and fixes for vulnerabilities. The agencies are conducting separate, but parallel, investigations into how smartphone manufacturers manage important security updates, and the FCC cites the Stagefright vulnerability as an illustration of how important patches aren’t deployed in a timely manner or at all.

The FTC says that eight companies have been ordered to provide information on how they decide whether or not to issue a patch for a device, including Apple, Blackberry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung. The agencies also want to know which of the devices sold by these companies in the last few years have unpatched vulnerabilities.

ZDNet reports that the investigations are thought to be a response to a complaint submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, which accused carriers of delaying critical Android updates and exposing consumers to “significant cybersecurity-related risks.” The FCC wants mobile carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, to explain their process for “reviewing and releasing security updates for mobile devices,” and the agencies are troubled by the “growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device.”

7. Samsung reportedly has an entire division working on chips for self-driving cars

Cars on the road

Cars on the road | Source: iStock

ReadWrite reports that Samsung now has an entire division dedicated to the development of chips for self-driving cars. The team is reportedly comprised primarily of researchers from Samsung’s semiconductor and sensor division, and one of the three CEOs, vice chairman Kwon Oh-hyun, is overseeing the task force. However, little else is known about Samsung’s progress on developing chips and sensors for self-driving cars, and the market is currently dominated by a Japanese company called Nippon Ceramic, which sells 50% of all sensors for driverless cars.

ReadWrite notes that Samsung has had deals in the past with BMW to provide the brand with batteries for its electric and hybrid cars, and it reportedly has a deal to provide Audi with chips for its self-driving cars in the near future. The scale of the division that’s working on Samsung’s chips for self-driving cars, and the architecture of these chips is also unknown so far.

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