6 Samsung Rumors: From Amazon Echo Rivals to a Flip Phone
Each week, an array of exciting new Samsung rumors surfaces. Even if speculation about future component upgrades or rumors about devices that may or may not actually materialize don’t normally hold your attention, it’s hard not to be curious about what one of the biggest tech companies in the world is planning for its next phones, wearable devices, and apps. Read on for this week’s most interesting reports about Samsung’s plans and future products, from what’s going on with its upcoming smartphones to the company’s plans for completely new devices.
1. Samsung seems to be working on an Amazon Echo competitor
Jordan Novet reports for VentureBeat that it looks like Samsung is working on an Amazon Echo competitor that would also be a rival to the upcoming Google Home. Samsung submitted documents including photos and a manual for the device, called Scoop, to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Those documents reveal that the Scoop is meant to be mobile (as indicated by the wrist strap), and note that you could use “Samsung-approved chargers” to power it up. A light on top of the speaker would alert you to a dead battery, right next to the buttons that enable you to control the volume, start or pause playback, or use Bluetooth pairing. The side of the device features a power button, plus a USB port and a charging port hidden behind a cover.
Novet notes that while Samsung is a major electronics maker, it isn’t particularly well-known for speech recognition, a feature “which is key for voice-activated devices such as the Echo.” Novet adds, “It will be interesting to see if Samsung ends up employing speech recognition software from Google in order to power a device like the Scoop, just as it relies on Google for the core of Android in its phones and tablets. And it’s unclear how the speaker would connect to a Samsung mobile device. The manual makes no mention of a companion app, which the Echo has.”
2. A high-end Tizen phone isn’t looking likely anytime soon
Paul Sawers reports for VentureBeat that while Samsung has released its first Tizen-powered 4G phone, a high-end Tizen flagship doesn’t look too likely in the near future. The company has just announced the $68 Z2, which is the first Tizen phone to support 4G connectivity and is available exclusively in India for the time being. While Samsung’s “Android alternative” Tizen operating system is a key feature of the company’s smartwatches, cameras, TVs, and Internet of Things efforts, the operating system has seen only limited implementation in smartphones.
The Z2 is only the company’s third Tizen-powered smartphone (it follows the Z1 and the Z3). But as Sawers reports, “Samsung is continuing to invest in Tizen, but it evidently isn’t ready for prime time in the smartphone realm, as evidenced by the low-to-mid-range devices it has developed so far.” Despite recent rumors that a high-end Tizen flagship phone is on its way, Samsung vice president of emerging platforms Mihai Pohontu has told VentureBeat that Android will remain Samsung’s operating system of choice for high-end smartphones, explaining, “We’re committed to Android, though. Our high-end handsets will run Android for the foreseeable future.”
3. Samsung is going to start selling refurbished phones soon
Se Young Lee and Miyoung Kim report for Reuters that Samsung plans to begin a refurbished phone program. The company plans to sell used versions of its premium smartphones as early as next year, according to a source “with direct knowledge of the matter.” The company reportedly plans to refurbish phones returned to the company by users who signed up for one-year upgrade programs in the United States and in South Korea. It will then resell those phones at a lower price, though Reuters’ source declined to comment on how big the discount would be, in which markets the refurbished markets would be sold, or how many refurbished devices Samsung thinks it can sell.
Lee and Kim note that while the iPhone has a resale value of about 69% of its original price a year after launch, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy sells for 51% of its original price in the same timeframe in the U.S. Apple sells refurbished iPhones in a number of markets, including the U.S., but doesn’t disclose sales figures. Samsung’s refurbishment program could help the company generate revenue from phones returned by users who are upgrading to newer versions, and could also help Samsung in emerging markets.
4. Samsung’s best phone yet may have some quality issues
Chris Smith reports for BGR that the Galaxy Note 7 is Samsung’s best phone yet — but may have some quality issues that can’t be fixed. The design concerns that have already come to light include a scratch-prone Gorilla Glass 5 screen, a phone back that’s much more prone to damage than than the front side of the phone, and light leakage from the metal edge of the phone.
Smith reports that Samsung “has come a long way since its plastic design days,” though it appears that “there are plenty of details to iron out when it comes to launching beautifully crafted high-end devices.” Smith advises waiting for an explanation from Samsung before purchasing the Galaxy Note 7 — advice that you may want to consider in light of Abner Li’s report for 9to5Google that a teardown of the device reveals that it’s “barely repairable.”
5. There’s more evidence that Samsung is working on a high-end flip phone
SamMobile reports that Samsung is developing a high-end flip phone, and new details about the device have been leaked. Rumor has it that the clamshell smartphone, codenamed “Veyron” and destined for the Chinese market, will feature a Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM, plus Android 6.0.1. The device is expected to feature 4.2-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display, 64GB of internal storage, a 12MP rear-facing camera, and a 5MP front-facing camera. As SamMobile reports, “these specs make it clear that the SM-W2017 is certainly going to be a flagship in its own right but given that there’s [sic] isn’t a big enough market for flip phones outside of China, it will most likely be exclusive to the People’s Republic.”
6. Samsung’s next tablet may use the redesigned S Pen
SamMobile reports that Samsung is working on a new version of the Galaxy Tab A that will come with the newly-redesigned S Pen. The publication reports that the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 will be differentiated from the existing Galaxy Tab A by the inclusion of the new S Pen that was introduced with the Galaxy Note 7. A user manual for the device indicates that the new Galaxy Tab A will feature a 10.1-inch display, Exynos 7870 processor, microSD card support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the S Pen.