5 Samsung Rumors: Is a Foldable Phone Coming in 2017?

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. 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 a new version of its Tizen operating system.

1. Samsung could release the Galaxy S8 sooner than expected

Man taking a picture of the Galaxy S7

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 may be released sooner than imagined | David Ramos/Getty Images

Chris Smith reports for BGR that the Galaxy S8 release date may come sooner than expected. The Wall Street Journal had learned that the device might be delayed until April as Samsung deals with an array of challenges, but a new report indicates that Samsung may be planning for its usual late-February launch timeframe. According to Tech Times, Samsung expects to begin testing the Galaxy S8 in January as it works to solidify a launch date.

“Key suppliers are required to provide an initial batch of their parts for the Galaxy S8 from January,” says an official at a component manufacturer. “Full volume supplies will start in February.” A second source indicated that “Considering the parts supplies, the phone launch could come in March as usual, unlike an earlier report by the Wall Street Journal.”

2. The Galaxy S8 may get a new artificial intelligence feature

Man looking at many smartphone screens

The Galaxy S8 will have an improved AI feature | John McDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Eun-Young Jeong and Jonathan Cheng report for the Wall Street Journal that Samsung is not only “looking to give its Siri-like virtual assistant a big promotion,” but there’s also consideration for adding a dedicated button for the improved artificial intelligence feature. The latest internal prototypes for the Galaxy S8 include a button on the side of the phone that would launch the new virtual assistant. The Journal also reported that the Galaxy S8 launch could come as late as April, a timeline that may highlight “Samsung’s efforts to ensure that its next product is a hit with consumers.”

Jeong and Cheng note that changing the design of the Galaxy S8 to highlight the device’s AI feature “would underscore Samsung’s ambitions in the growing market for digital assistants.” Samsung has been a “relatively low-key player” against rivals including Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant. The company is reportedly “building its comeback around artificial intelligence,” following its acquisition of Viv Labs. Injong Rhee, chief technology officer for Samsung’s mobile division, said that the Galaxy S8’s AI service would feature technology from Viv Labs and offer features that are “significantly differentiated” from those of competing services.

3. Samsung may equip the Galaxy S8 with an all-screen design

A woman looks at a mobile phone as she stands on an elevator in a mall beneath the Samsung headquarters in the Gangnam district of Seoul on October 12, 2016. Samsung Electronics slashed its third-quarter profit estimate by 33.3 percent, citing fallout from the recall nightmare surrounding its scrapped Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

An all-screen design may be in the works for the next Samsung phone | Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Chris Smith reports for BGR that, according to a recent report out of Korea, the Galaxy S8 could get a brand-new all-screen design. The device will reportedly feature an OLED panel that would be more efficient than current displays thanks to a new M8 OLED material, which is also supposed to have better longevity. The screen would incorporate the home button, fingerprint sensor, and other buttons. The home button would be placed under the screen via what is reportedly a complicated process, and Samsung is also considering putting the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone instead.

The Galaxy S8 is also expected to feature four cameras, plus a three-coil wireless charging system. The device is expected to be the first in the Galaxy S series to feature a dual-lens rear camera. On the front, the device will reportedly feature a selfie camera and an iris recognition camera. The three-coil wireless charging design will reportedly bring better range and faster charging than other wireless charging systems. The device may feature a 2K display instead of a 4K screen, if the latest rumors are to be believed.

4. A foldable Samsung smartphone may launch in 2017

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 2: Attendees check out Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones during a launch event at the Hammerstein Ballroom, August 2, 2016 in New York City. The stylus equipped smartphone will be available starting August 19, with preorders starting August 3.

A foldable Samsung phone would bring something fresh to the tech world | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

SamMobile reports that while we’ve long been hearing about the idea of a foldable smartphone, a new patent application gives us a clearer idea of what we can expect from the Samsung Galaxy X. The images reveal a rounded design on the back, with a Surface Book-esque hinge in the center. The device also seems to feature a gap that looks similar to that of Microsoft’s Surface Book when it’s folded in half.

9to5Google’s Ben Schoon notes that the display of the device appears to be “considerably larger than usual,” with a different aspect ratio than is standard. Instead of the typical 16:9 ratio, the device features an aspect ratio that is considerably taller than it is wide. The filing also reveals that Samsung has opted for a physical home button and capacitive buttons on the device. A charging port, speaker, and headphone jack are aligned along the bottom of the device.

5. Samsung may unveil Tizen for the Internet of Things in 2017

Crowds at a Samsung event

You’ll be seeing more of Samsung’s Tizen operating system | David Ramos/Getty Images

SamMobile reports that Samsung has been working on Tizen for Internet of Things devices and is planning to unveil a version of the operating system for connected objects “by early next year.” Samsung has shifted the target market for Tizen by incorporating it into its appliances, and while it continues to make Tizen-powered phones, those devices currently have a limited market.

A source tells the Korea Herald that Samsung is “developing Tizen for Internet of Things — not for smartphones — with an aim of developing it by the end of this year or early next year.” When the company completes the operating system, it reportedly plans to use it in all of its smart appliances. Tizen currently powers only some of Samsung’s large home appliances, like refrigerators, washing machines, and smart TVs, but will reportedly power small devices like vacuum cleaners.