Samsung will unveil its latest flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, a week from Wednesday on March 29. It will be the company's first major launch since the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco last year, when Samsung pulled the smartphone from store shelves after two recalls related to faulty batteries.
Thanks to plenty of leaked images and hearsay around the rumor mill, we now have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
First, just to make things clear, we're expecting two different models of the Galaxy S8, including a standard-size model with a 5.7-inch display and a larger Galaxy S8+ with a 6.2-inch screen. This strategy aligns with what Samsung has done in the past, providing consumers with a choice of two difference sizes.
One-upping the iPhone
Samsung's going to try to best Apple by introducing features the iPhone doesn't have yet. That starts with features like an iris scanner, a function that made its debut on the Galaxy Note 7 and allows users to unlock their smartphone by simply looking at it. Samsung will also continue to use its curved Quad HD AMOLED displays that are sharper and more colorful than what Apple offers.
A refined design
Plenty of leaked images reveal that both phones are going to sport a new design where the display fills up almost the entire front face of the phone.
Samsung has apparently removed the home button from the chin of the device, allowing it to squeeze more screen between the top and bottom. Thanks to the curved glass displays, which have been used by Samsung for a couple of years, there won't be any side bezels.
The fingerprint reader, which used to sit at the bottom of the smartphone, has reportedly been moved to the back of the device, right next to the camera. It's a unique design choice that may lead to accidental smudging of the camera glass among users blindly looking for the fingerprint reader.
Finally, expect the phone to be water-resistant, a feature that's becoming more and more common among smartphone makers. You probably shouldn't expect to take it swimming, but expect it to survive an accidental dunk in the pool or a quick rain shower.
Snapdragon 835 and Exynos processors
Qualcomm will provide its Snapdragon 835 processor for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones. That chip is likely to be in Galaxy S8 units sold within the United States. Samsung typically uses its own Exynos chip in other markets, such as at home in Korea and in Europe.
Samsung's Siri competitor
Samsung confirmed earlier this week that it will also include its new Bixby assistant on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. Samsung's voice assistants haven't ever been very good, so we don't have high expectations for Bixby quite yet. It's worth noting, however, that Bixby will eventually include software developed by Viv Labs, which Samsung acquired last year. Viv Labs was founded by the creators of Siri, so there's certainly a possibility Bixby will be a pleasant surprise.
Pricing and release date
Samsung hasn't confirmed a release date and pricing yet, though rumors have suggested the former will occur on April 28. We should get final details when Samsung unveils the device on March 29, and when carriers start to unveil various pricing plans. I expect the high-end model to cost somewhere around $900 to $1,000, but that will likely be spread through carrier device installment plans over 18 or 24 months.