Samsung announced the Galaxy S6 at Mobile World Congress in March 2015 as a successor to the Galaxy S5 it introduced the previous year. So naturally, Samsung fans are beginning to wonder what the company is planning for the next smartphone in the Galaxy series.
Jonathan Cheng reports for The Wall Street Journal that Samsung is going to add a pressure-sensitive display reminiscent of Apple’s 3D Touch feature and a new high-speed charging port to its upcoming line of smartphones. The Galaxy S7 is expected to be launched in March, and Samsung is also considering adding a retina scanner to some versions of the new flagship phone. However, Cheng notes that with three months still to go before the announcement, Samsung’s plans could change.
The improvements that Samsung makes with the new Galaxy S7 smartphone won’t represent a major departure from the company’s current flagship device, the Galaxy S6. Like the S6, the S7 will be offered alongside a premium version with curved edges, expected to be called the Galaxy S7 Edge.
The changes the company will make to its product lineup with the introduction of the S7 are expected to be “less striking” than those it made earlier this year, when it added the curved screen variant of the Galaxy S6 and overhauled the design of its smartphones. Next year’s S7 will reportedly look mostly similar to the S6, and many of the features that Samsung is expected to add to it echo features that have been introduced by smartphones already available to consumers.
The pressure-sensitive display would enable the phone to respond to different types of presses and taps, but mimics the 3D Touch screen of Apple’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. But the feature is likely to be less useful on the S7 than on Apple’s iPhone. As Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo notes, Apple was able to get a wide array of third-party developers to add support for the feature once its new hardware rolled out. But in his assessment, it’s not particularly likely that many Android apps will be updated to support the new capability of Samsung’s next flagship phone.
The charging and connection port, called a USB Type-C port, will enable the phone to gain a full day’s charge in just 30 minutes. It’s already been integrated into smartphones made by LG, Huawei, and other smartphone makers. Even the retina scanner that the company is reportedly considering integrating into some versions of the phone follows phones from other manufacturers, like ZTE, that have already integrated the feature. As Sam Byford points out at The Verge, Samsung was rumored to be considering an iris scanner for the Galaxy S5 in early 2014, but the company didn’t end up implementing the idea.
The phones are also expected to feature an improved camera system, one that’s optimized for low-light photography. Notably, the rear-facing camera is also reported to lie flush with the back case of the phone, unlike the camera on the Galaxy S6, which protruded from the back of the device. The non-curved version of the S7 is likely to include support for an external memory card. The Galaxy S6 dropped the microSD card slot, even though Google made the SD slot a more useful feature than ever thanks to the addition of an adoptable storage feature with Android Marshmallow. The feature enables a user to declare an SD card permanent, and format it just like internal memory.
Samsung and its new mobile chief, D.J. Koh, have a lot riding on the success of the S7. As part of an annual shuffle at Samsung, Koh, who is the company’s former head of mobile research and development, will now oversee mobile R&D, product planning, design, manufacturing, and sales and marketing. The Galaxy S5 wasn’t a successful flagship, but the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge were well-received by consumers. However, the company misjudged demand for the popular curved version, which resulted in the second straight year of mobile profit declines.
The Galaxy S7 is expected to go on sale in the United States halfway through March, after being announced at the Mobile World Congress trade show, which will be held in late February. That’s an improvement over the timeline on which Samsung offered the Galaxy S6, which was available in stores six weeks after its announcement. Cheng characterized the accelerated timeline as an “attempt to capitalize on buzz around the device during its announcement, these people said.”