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 technology that could power all sorts of new devices in the future.
1. You probably won’t be able to get the Galaxy Note 7 with 6GB of RAM
Chris Mills reports for BGR that it looks like Samsung actually isn’t going to produce the high-performance Galaxy Note 7 model that the internet was briefly salivating over. The 6GB version had been spotted in the regulatory documentation that Samsung filed with the Chinese government, but everyone later realized that a version with 6GB of RAM would have an extremely high price tag (rumored to be around $900). And Samsung gave a statement saying that “the decision to launch a 6GB/128GB version variant of the Galaxy Note 7 is under review. For now, the only variant of the Galaxy Note 7 that will be available is the 4GB/64GB variant announced on August 2.”
Mills notes that increasing the device’s specifications would make it more competitive in China, “where buying decisions are often made by comparing phones on paper.” He adds, “Just like the megapixel wars of yore, high-end Android phones are stuck in a RAM battle right now. With most handsets using the same (or extremely similar) processor, it’s all that’s really left to determine which phone is the ‘fastest.'” But even if the 6GB model is released in China, it’s unlikely to make its way to North America.
2. The Gear S3 is about to make its debut
SamMobile reports that Samsung has confirmed a Gear S3 launch event on August 31 at IFA 2016 in Berlin. Past rumors have indicated that the next-generation version of Samsung’s smartwatch will feature a round face and a rotary bezel like its predecessor, the Gear S2. While Samsung confirmed that it will launch the Gear S3 in August, it hasn’t yet said much about what fans can expect the new device to offer. The company is expected, nonetheless, to launch three variants of the Gear S3, called the Gear S3 Classic, the Gear S3 Frontier, and the Gear S3 Explorer. They will reportedly integrate features like GPS, speedometers, barometers, and altimeters, which will appeal to people who want a smartwatch that’s well-equipped to track their workouts and other activity.
3. Samsung’s factories may not be as safe as we’d all like to imagine
Youkyung Lee reports for the Associated Press that numerous Samsung workers have been sickened by deadly chemicals in the company’s factories. An AP investigation found that “South Korean authorities let Samsung withhold from sick workers and their families crucial information about the chemicals they are exposed to at its computer chip and display factories.” The investigation revealed that a worker safety group has documented more than 200 cases of illnesses like leukemia, lupus, lymphoma, and multiple sclerosis among former Samsung employees.
76 have died, most in their twenties and thirties, and life isn’t easy for the workers who have developed illnesses associated with their occupation and survived. Lee notes that “it is extremely difficult for workers to get compensation for occupational diseases from the South Korean government, and without details on their exposure to toxins in their workplaces it is almost impossible.”
4. Edge displays may become the norm in Samsung’s smartphone lineup
Chris Smith reports for BGR that Samsung is reportedly considering eliminating flat smartphones from its future model lineups, and the Galaxy S8 could be on the list of devices that may not get a flat version. Smith notes that the recently introduced Galaxy Note 7 comes only with a curved display, and isn’t offered in both the flat and curved model that consumers could choose between when shopping for a Galaxy S7. He points out, “the new Note does not have the word ‘edge’ included in its official product name, suggesting that edge displays may become the norm in Samsung’s future smartphone design.”
In an interview with a Korean publication, Samsung’s mobile business chief Koh Dong-jin explained that “Samsung has considered that it would make the edge display as the identity of the Galaxy S smartphone lineup if the company can provide consumers differentiated user experience through software and user-friendly functions (for the curved screen).” It’s possible that Samsung is testing the idea of abandoning the flat screen with this year’s Galaxy Note 7, and could again avoid a flat-screen model with the Galaxy S8, which is expected to arrive in early 2017.
5. Samsung is experimenting with tech that could power a self-driving car or a gesture-recognizing remote
Stephen Shankland reports for CNET that Samsung is experimenting with IBM’s TrueNorth chips, and has used the brain-like technology to create a “digital eye.” The TrueNorth chip is comprised of 4,096 computing cores that form around a million digital brain cells and 256 million data connections, and together act like the brain’s neurons to send short messages to one another to process data. Samsung has adapted the technology into its Dynamic Vision Sensor to process video imagery very differently than a traditional digital camera.
The company has created a camera that Shankland explains “can keep track of what’s going on at a remarkable 2,000 frames of video per second,” which far outpaces more typical digital cameras, which “typically max out at 120fps. The higher speed is useful for creating 3D maps, safety features on self-driving cars and new forms of remote controls that recognize gestures.” Samsung demonstrated that the chip can recognize hand gestures that would enable you to control your TV with hand waves, finger waves, closed fists, and finger pinches from 10 feet away.