6 Samsung Rumors: Will the Galaxy S8 Copy the iPhone 7?

Each week, an array of exciting new Samsung rumors surfaces. Even if speculations 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 most recent patent applications and inventions.

1. The Galaxy S8 could match many of the features of the iPhone 7

People walk by the new Samsung store in lower Manhattan on October 11, 2016 in New York City

iPhone 7 users may notice some similarities in the Samsung Galaxy S8 | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Chris Smith reports for BGR that the Galaxy S8 could get iPhone 7 features like a pressure-sensitive display and a 256GB storage option. According to Weibo posts found by Dutch site TechTastic, Samsung is taking some inspiration from Apple’s 2016 iPhone (and what’s expected for the company’s 2017 iPhone) with next year’s Galaxy S8. The S8 is expected to feature an all-screen design, like the iPhone 8. The phone is also expected to lack a physical home button and to come in two sizes (including a large version with a dual-lens rear camera), plus a pressure-sensitive display like the iPhone 7’s.

Samsung’s new phone is also expected to be offered in a 256GB version, which Smith notes “marks a stark departure from last year’s Galaxy S7.” Samsung’s Galaxy S7 had only 32GB of storage, but did feature a microSD slot that supported up to 256GB of additional storage. The iPhone 7, on the other hand, is available in three storage options: 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. It’s not clear yet whether the Galaxy S8 will feature a microSD card slot. But the device is expected to feature 6GB of RAM, plus faster wireless charging, an iris scanner, and a new virtual assistant.

2. The Galaxy S8 could bring a brand new voice assistant

People walk by the new Samsung store in lower Manhattan

The new Galaxy could have a voice assistant we haven’t seen yet | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Rumor has it that Samsung could equip the Galaxy S8 with a new voice assistant. And as Chris Smith reports for BGR, the latest news indicates that the voice assistant could come with two personalities called Bixby and Kestra. (Bixby would reportedly have a male voice, and Kestra a female voice.) Perhaps more interestingly, the assistant would enable users to make mobile payments by voice.

Smith notes that according to GalaxyClub, the Galaxy S8’s assistant could enable people to pay for goods “by simply voicing the appropriate instruction to either Bixby or Kestra.” Smith adds that the new payment feature could be just one “of the novel AI features heading to virtual assistants next year, and probably one of the tricks coming out of Viv’s coffers.” Siri currently supports voice payments in PayPal and may get iMessage peer-to-peer payments in the future.

3. Samsung may add autofocus to the Galaxy S8’s selfie camera

A group of women look at a mobile phone

The front camera of the Galaxy S8 may get autofocus | Ed Jones/Getty Images

Edoardo Maggio reports for 9to5Google that Samsung could equip the front camera of the Galaxy S8 with autofocus. A report from Korean publication ET News claims that Samsung is working on the technology. The feature is a logical addition in an era when cameras are an extremely important feature of smartphones. Maggio notes, “Considering just how many selfies people take, it actually seems weird that this feature hasn’t become mainstream already.”

Maggio also notes that ET News reports that the voice coil motor (VCM) used in the Galaxy S8’s front-facing camera would enable the module to be slimmer. That could help Samsung to reduce the overall dimensions of the device. However, Maggio also points out that the resolution of the front-facing camera is still unknown. That means that we don’t know yet whether it will offer a step up from the 5MP selfie camera found in the Galaxy S7.

4. We may soon get an explanation for the Galaxy Note 7

People look at their mobile phones at a mall in the Gangnam district

Wondering what’s up with Samsung’s Note products? You may get an answer soon | Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Samsung is expected to finally reveal what went wrong with the Galaxy Note 7. Chris Smith reports for BGR that according to a report from the Korea Herald, Samsung will announce the results of its investigation into the cause of the numerous Galaxy Note 7 explosions by the end of the year. Numerous theories tried to explain why the phones’ batteries overheated to the point that the phone could explode, but Samsung has yet to acknowledge the validity of any of those theories.

Smith notes that Samsung began investigating the explosions soon after the worldwide recall. The battery is considered the ignition point, but Smith notes that other factors may have contributed to the explosions. The company announced that the initial batch of phones was equipped with faulty batteries. But the replacement batteries were proven to be unsafe, and Samsung recalled the phone again and ended production. Samsung reportedly launched a new round of investigation on November 11 and will announce its final results by the end of the year.

5. The next Gear VR headset could get position, eye, and face tracking

Man wearing Samsung Gear VR

The Gear VR headset is likely to get an impressive upgrade | Gabrielle Lurie/Getty Images

A patent application reveals that Samsung’s next-generation Gear VR headset could track the movements of the wearer’s eyes as well as the wearer’s facial expressions. SamMobile reports that according to the documentation, the system will be able to track not only the headset’s position, but also the wearer’s eye movements and facial expressions. A major limitation with the current iteration of the Gear VR headset is that it doesn’t feature position tracking, so as SamMobile notes, it’s logical that Samsung would add that feature in the next generation of the device.

Position and facial features could be tracked using an external camera and LED lights on the headset itself. The same camera could track facial features that are not covered by the headset, such as the wearer’s mouth. The headset could feature an array of new sensors, including electrooculographic (EOG) and infrared (IR) sensors, which would track eye movement and facial expressions.

6. A phone or tablet with a flexible screen may be on its way

A woman looks at a mobile phone as she stands on an elevator in a mall beneath the Samsung headquarters

Flexible displays may be in Samsung’s future | Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Another recent patent filing reveals that Samsung is serious about building flexible displays. SamMobile notes that Samsung has been awarded several patents relating to flexible screens. That includes a patent that describes the “artificial muscle” that would enable a display to bend without the pressure of the user’s hand. But the latest document, this one a patent awarded to Samsung, “provides more information on the role of the artificial muscle in flexible displays as well as the build quality of the flexible panel itself.”

It’s unclear so far exactly what Samsung plans to do with flexible displays once it perfects the technology. The latest patent doesn’t offer any hints on that front. But it’s possible that Samsung could be planning to follow through on the idea of a phone and tablet hybrid, or foldable smartphone.