The Samsung Galaxy S7 was the biggest phone of 2016 and it seems the Samsung Galaxy S8 has caused the same stir in the market, with the device due to launch in the early second quarter.
Samsung's previous flagship was a standout amongst the ranks of Android devices and was arguably a match for the iPhone 6 in both looks and performance.
But with such big shoes to fill, can the next Galaxy impress as much as its predecessor?
Samsung Galaxy S8 at-a-glance
- Will be unveiled 29 March
- Probable price of around £690
Galaxy S9 could cost £50 less than expected
Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 flagship smartphone could cost £50 less then previously expected, with the latest reports tipping the handset to cost £739 upon its release.
As reported by TechRadar, that’s still £50 more than the current S8 was priced at when it hit the shelves last year – but still less than the £100 price-hike that had been previously predicted.
"Expect the S9 to be priced roughly £50 cheaper than what everybody is saying," an inside source told TechRadar. "A £100 price hike from the S8 is no longer on the cards and it's looking much more like a £50 increase instead."
The £50 rise equates to a 7% increase over the Galaxy S8’s original retail price of £689 – and an approximate 25% hike over the previous year’s Galaxy S7 price of £569.
The pricing information is only applicable to the regular handset and not the Plus version – but the website reasons that the larger model should also see the same increase to £829.
Samsung is set to launch the Galaxy S9 and S9+ at Mobile World Congress (MWC) later this month, with the unveiling scheduled for the Samsung Unpacked event on Sunday 25th February.
Android Oreo for Galaxy S8 could land soon
The long-awaited Android Oreo 8.0 upgrade could be about to arrive on the Galaxy S8, if the latest reports prove to be accurate.
The manuals for the operating system have now been uploaded to Samsung's Brazilian website, according to SamMobile, indicating that its roll out could be imminent.
The specific date of upload is unknown, however, but back when the South Korean firm was preparing to roll out Android Nougat for the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the revised manuals for the OS update were made available a month before its release.
Beta testers have had access to Oreo for a number of months, with Samsung previously suggesting a final stable build would roll out to those users by the end of January, SamMobile also reports.
The update serves up a refresh of the Android system and will arrive complete with a host of new features, heightened security and improved battery life.
You'll now be have the ability to mark certain app notifications as more important than others, for example, while additional features such as a new picture-in-picture (PiP) mode and new autofill APIs provide greater depth to the system's capabilities.
Bixby 2.0 will turn your Galaxy S8 into a control hub for your home
Samsung has announced the arrival of Bixby 2.0, an updated version of its new virtual assistant that the firm says marks a "fundamental leap forward" for its mobile AI.
Unveiling the refresh at the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) 2017, the Korean giant revealed that the "ubiquitous" Bixby 2.0 will turn smartphones like the Galaxy S8 into a control hub for a host of household items - such as TVs, speakers and kitchen appliances.
The assistant will also include enhanced natural language abilities, making it more efficient at recognising individual users and tailoring its response appropriately for each user, after the original Bixby suffered a belated introduction as the South Korean firm struggled to embed English natural language capabilities in it.
"Bixby 2.0 is a bold reinvention of the platform," Samsung's Eui-Suk Chung said in a company release. "A reinvention aimed at transforming basic digital assistants from a novelty to an intelligence tool that is a key part of everyone's daily life."
The second generation assistant will also be "wide open" to developers, Chung claimed, allowing them to integrate Bixby into their services.
"Bixby 2.0 will ultimately be a marketplace for intelligence," he added. "A new channel for developers to reach users with their service, not just on mobile devices, but through all devices."
Android Oreo beta may soon be available for the Galaxy S8
Android Oreo 8.0 could soon be making its way to the Galaxy S8 and S8+ after test firmware for the operating system was spotted recently.
Discovered by SamMobile, the firmware versions for the handsets are labelled G950FXE1ZQI7 and G955FXXU1ZQI7 - with both containing the letter 'Z' that Samsung typically uses for its test firmware. Last year's Android Nougat beta releases for the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge also contained the letter in its naming scheme, the publication noted.
It is currently unclear when the beta will land, however, with Samsung and Google yet to release official information on the firmware's timescale.
Android Oreo 8.0 was officially released by Google back in August, with the new version designed to improve overall phone performance, speed and functionality.
The latest iteration features an improved security centre, whilst there is also better management of background activities - meaning greater smoothness when navigating the system and a reduction in battery usage.
Oreo also packs in picture-in-picture functionality for multitasking, more expansive notification controls, autofill APIs for usernames and passwords -- as well as improvements to keyboard navigation, audio and the camera app.
Galaxy S8 owners can now use the Bixby voice assistant
Samsung has finally begun the worldwide rollout of Bixby Voice, with the feature now officially available in more than 200 countries - including the UK, Canada and Australia.
The assistant’s voice command capability was previously made available to S8 owners in the USA and South Korea back in July and is currently available in US English and Korean.
In a press release, Samsung explained that Bixby offers users a “smarter way to interact with their phones”, whilst becoming more useful over time as it learns and adapts to the user’s voice.
“The expansion of Bixby’s voice capabilities is an initial step in the continued rollout of Bixby functionality,” said Injong Rhee, executive vice president at Samsung Electronics.
“In the future, Bixby will have the learning power to offer more intelligent and personalised
interactions and seamless connections across more devices.”
The Korean giant also plans to expand Bixby’s capabilities to include additional countries, languages, devices, features and third-party applications.
Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners can install the voice assistant now by pressing the handset’s dedicated Bixby button and following the on-screen instructions. Alternatively, users can simply say ‘Hi Bixby’.
Galaxy S8 users complain of screen burn-in
The Samsung Galaxy S8 may be susceptible to early screen burn-in issues, according to recent user complaints.
As reported by The Korea Herald, one S8 owner recently uploaded a photo of their handset apparently showing burn-in on the screen to a South Korean forum - adding that the device was little more than a week old.
The problem reportedly occurred around the handset's new pressure-sensitive home button - which makes use of Samsung's Always-On Display technology, causing a permanent discolouration of the S8's screen.
The new home button has been designed to move very slightly in order to prevent the issue, Samsung says, but it appears the algorithm may not be effective on at least a few devices.
The company's Netherlands Office recently noted the prevention measures in response to a burn-in related question on Twitter, The Korea Herald reported.
"An algorithm to prevent burn-ins is already equipped," a spokesperson said. "Whether the consumer's claim turns out to be true or not remains to be seen. At the moment, we are not receiving reports of other cases."
However, a post has also surfaced on Reddit, describing burn-in after approximately 40 hours of screen usage, with the user returning the handset for a replacement that apparently also showed signs of the problem.
Galaxy S8 users concerned about the issue can switch off the Always-On Display in their device's settings and remove the navigation bar.
20/04/2017: Samsung blocks customisation of S8's Bixby button
As the Galaxy S8 edges closer to its launch date, Samsung has reportedly blocked the ability to customise the flagship's dedicated Bixby button.
Instead, users will only be able to use the button to summon the digital assistant - as opposed to assigning it to third-party apps and functions, according to XDA Developers.
Developers had previously discovered they were able to remap the Bixby button to perform tasks such as launching the device's camera, calling up Google Assistant, or opening a specific app.
The remapping was made possible thanks to Android's Accessibility Services "intercepting" the buttons command, XDA Developers said, but a new firmware update for the S8 apparently now removes that ability completely.
Samsung's Philip Berne also confirmed on Twitter that Samsung will not be supporting the remapping of the Bixby button.
"It was exploiting a system-level behaviour," Berne explained. "That behaviour has been changed. Can't say it won't happen, but we won't officially support."
The South Korean company previously confirmed that the Galaxy S8's Bixby assistant will not include voice support when then the handset launches. Instead, the key feature will be available as part of a software update later in the spring, Samsung said.
27/03/2017: The Samsung Galaxy S8 has leaked online in Black Sky, Orchid Grey, or Arctic Silver and not only that, its price has leaked too, just days ahead of its official release date.
Renowned Samsung tipster Evan Blass has revealed the standard S8 will cost €799 (£690) while the more powerful and larger-screened S8+ will cost from €899 (£776) in Europe, SIM free. He announced the entire Samsung launch price list as a tweet, adding the GearVR headset will cost €129 (£111), the Gear360 €229 (£198) and the DeX €150 (£129).
He also leaked pictures of the new devices alongside the price and colour rumours, which look to be the real deal.
However, the company has already annnounced the release date of its new flagship will be later than its previous predictions, saying it'll go on sale on 28 April, rather than 21 April, as it first mooted
Although the company hasn't explained the week delay, it could be because the company has had to be a lot more stringent on its testing, following the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 incident.
Samsung will announced the Galaxy S8 at a media conference on 29 March, with a livestream for all to see.
22/03/2017: Renowned KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted slower sales of the upcoming Galaxy S8 compared to Samsung's strong-selling S7 model.
In a recent investors note seen by 9to5Google, Kuo predicted shipments of the new flagship will be between 40-50 million units in 2017 - falling slightly short of the 52 million S7 devices that shipped in 2016.
Kuo pointed to the Galaxy Note 7 recall as a contributing factor in the apparent decline in demand, reasoning that the Galaxy S7 essentially became Samsung's solitary flagship handset in 2016. A one month difference in "comparable sales period" is also expected to dent figures, Kuo said.
As revealed by 9To5Mac, the analyst also believes that increased competition from Apple in the form of the iPhone 8 will also have an impact on sales.
"[The] Galaxy S8 lacks sufficiently attractive selling points (except full-screen design), the OLED iPhone could well be a bigger draw for consumers," Kuo said.
The analyst also detailed the upcoming flagships specs, stating the S8 will arrive in two size variants -- one sporting a 5.8-inch screen, while the other will boast a 6.2-inch display. The models are also predicted to feature 3,000mAh and 3500mAh batteries, respectively.
Furthermore, the device was also tipped to feature 4GB RAM, USB-C, an 8MP front camera and a 12MP counterpart at the rear of the handset.
If Kuo's predictions prove to be accurate, the Galaxy S8 will go on sale on 21 April.
15/03/2017: Samsung is offering a free 128GB memory card when you buy either the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge from its online store, with the offer running until March 31st.
Both devices don't normally include a memory card - just the 32GB installed on the device, so the extra 128GB is certainly an attractive proposition for those looking for a device with a whole lot of storage.
“Get the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge and you'll get more than just a top of the range smartphone. You'll receive a 128GB MicroSD card too,” Samsung said on its website.
The offer comes not long after Amazon cut the price of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge by £100 and Tesco started offering a free gift to customers buying the flagship on prepay or a monthly contract. Freebies up for grabs with Tesco Mobile include a Samsung Gear 360, Samsung Gear Fit 2 or Samsung Icon X Bluetooth Headphones.
Samsung is cutting the price of its Galaxy S7 range of devices and retailers are offering extra goodies and discounts to try and get rid of its stock before announcing the Samsung Galaxy S8 at the end of the month.
Although these deals will be attractive to those looking to upgrade their smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is probably worth hearing about before committing to its older model.
01/03/2017: Galaxy S7 Edge wins "Best Smartphone of 2016" at MWC
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has been named as the best smartphone of 2016 by the GSMA at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017.
Awarded by a panel of judges as part of the trade body's annual Global Mobile Awards, the smartphone came out on top in the Best Mobile Handsets and Devices category.
The panel noted several of the S7 edge's features, praising the devices refined design, impressive camera and great performance.
Samsung's current flagship beat a host of rivals to the accolade - most notably rival Apple's iPhone 7 Plus. The Google Pixel, Huawei P9 and Motorola Moto Z were also nominated for the gong.
"We are honoured to be recognised for our craftsmanship in design and innovation with the Galaxy S7 edge," said Juhno Park, vice president of Global Product Strategy at Samsung Electronics.
"This award is a testament to our constant pursuit of excellence as we continue to exceed consumers' expectations through revolutionary mobile technology."
The award will come as a welcome boost for Samsung as it gears up to unveil the Galaxy S8 on 29 March.
20/01/2017: Galaxy S8 dimensions surface
Dimensions for the upcoming Galaxy S8 range have emerged, confirming changes to its screen and body sizes.
A supposed case maker for the device sent the measurements to GSM Arena, and if the report is accurate then the S8 Plus model will be taller and wider than the current equivalent, the S7 Edge. The leaked information state the handset's measurements stand at 152.38 x 78.51 x 7.94mm, allowing for a much larger screen size.
The website reports the display measured 6.3" when viewed face-on, but notes that the actual size will be larger due to the device's curved edges.
The standard S8 model is also revealed to be "slightly smaller and thinner" than its S7 counterpart, with dimensions of 140.14 x 72.20 x 7.30mm. The device is wider, however, and impressively boasts a screen size larger than both the S7 and S7 Edge at 5.7" (excluding edges).
According to the dimension renders, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will both feature greatly reduced bezels on the top and bottom of the handsets. In addition, bezels on either side of the screen are so small they can barely be seen in the images.
As GSM Arena notes, however, the power button has moved from the right of the handset to the left, while microUSB 2.0 has replaced the USB-C port.
05/01/2017: A new series of Galaxy S8 renders have been posted online.
The images, created by graphic designer Veniamin Geskin, are based on a series of recent S8 rumours and depict a significant design overhaul for Samsung's upcoming flagship.
Posted to Twitter, the high-resolution renders display a curved-screen design and no physical home button -- allowing for smaller bezels and larger screen area on the handset.
Despite these changes, the reverse of the phone does appear to keep in line with Samsung's S7 range, with a layout and single lens camera similar to the current design. Also visible is the 3.5mm headphone jack - suggesting that the company may have resisted the urge remove it in the same way Apple has with the iPhone 7.
The S8 is set to arrive in 5.1-inch and 5.5-inch variations and, unlike the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, both will sport the iconic curved display previously on seen on edge devices.
The removal of a physical home button also means a rethink in the way the device scans users' fingerprints. According to other previous rumours, Samsung will either embed the scanner into the display (a similarly rumoured feature of next year's iPhone 8) or move it to the back of the device.
Samsung Galaxy S7 release date
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are set to be revealed at a special event on February 21, just before the start of Mobile World Congress.
The event is being promoted with Samsung's #TheNextGalaxy hashtag, and is tipped to feature new additions to the company's VR range, as well the new S7 models.
The actual release date of the devices is still unknown, but multiple rumours have pegged March 11 as the most likely date.
Judging by Samsung's past release schedules, this will probably mark the opening of pre-orders, while general availability will be closer to April.
Samsung Galaxy S7 price
A leak coming from Dutch tech site Tweakers has given fans their first clue as to the potential price of the Galaxy S7. According to "reliable information", the phone will initially retail for €699, which equates to around £540.
That's for the basic 32GB version - models with higher storage will be charged at a premium, and anyone wanting the curved-screen S7 Edge can expect to pay around £620.
This chimes with roughly what we'd expect to see Samsung charging. Last year's Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge cost £599 and £640 respectively, so these prices seem relatively unsurprising.
Samsung Galaxy S7 specs
Samsung caused something of an upset last year when it opted to kit out the Galaxy S6 with its own-brand Exynos processor instead of the more common Qualcomm Snapdragon range.
This was reportedly due to the Snapdragon 810's issues with overheating -- issues that, while definitely detrimental at the time, have now been fixed with the release of the Snapdragon 820.
As such, there's fresh debate over whether the company will stick with its own processors, or return to using Qualcomm chips.
Samsung's recent agreement to produce Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 chips using its 14nm process -- first seen on the S6's Exynos 7420 - would certainly seem to support the latter.
However, rumours from some camps (including the same source that clued Tweakers in on the S7's prospective price) have indicated that the company will ship two different versions of the S7.
In markets such as China and the US, the S7 will carry the Snapdragon 820. In all other territories, including the UK and Europe, the device will allegedly ship with Samsung's latest Exynos 8890 CPU instead.
The octacore 8890 is divided into two groups of four cores, using big.LITTLE architecture. Four 2.3GHz cores and four 1.6GHz cores are used in various combinations to maximise output and minimise battery drain.
The new chip boasts several improvements over its predecessor, including a 30 per cent uptick in performance and 10 per cent more efficient power consumption.
It's got a high-performance GPU for 3D gaming, and the built-in LTE modem also supports a blistering 600Mbps download speed. It's also got the capability to support a 4K display, with a maximum resolution of 4,096 x 2,160.
The RAM allocations of Android flagships climbs pretty reliably with every new generation. Last year, the main contenders all had around 3GB apiece, the year before that they mostly had 2GB.
This year, all signs point to most of the upper-end Android devices having 4GB of RAM, which is a truly mammoth amount of memory. For comparison, that's more than you'd get with some mid-range laptops. Expect the S7 to be quick as all-get-out.
Display-wise, the fact that that Exynos 8890 can support resolutions of up to 4K indicates that we may see Samsung beefing up its screen to Rival the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium.
On the other hand, a 4K screen is ridiculously power-hungry and generally considered by experts to be unnecessarily high, especially for smartphone displays.
We'd predict that Samsung will stick to the S6's Quad-core resolution. What we can confidently say, though, is that the S7 is almost certainly going to match the S6's 5.1in display, with the slightly larger S7 Edge clocking in at 5.7in.
Numerous leaks have indicated that the S7's battery is set for an upgrade, jumping from 2,560mAh all the way up to 3,000mAh, or 3,600mAh for the Edge.
A bigger battery is never a bad thing, but it's virtually impossible to predict whether or not it'll have any practical impact, as battery life is so dependent on a device's hardware and software. One Russian user, however, claims he's been able to achieve a battery life of two days.
Samsung Galaxy S7 features and design
The Galaxy S6's feature-set was somewhat controversial. In order to create the S6's (admittedly gorgeous) glass and aluminium frame, Samsung opted to lose the Galaxy S5's expandable storage and IP 67-rated dust and waterproofing.
Both were beloved features of the Galaxy range up until the S6's launch, and many felt like Samsung was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. However, a host of leaks purporting to be from various Samsung employees indicates they may be due for a comeback.
If the tips are to be believed, expandable storage via MicroSD (up to a 200GB maximum) and full water and dust resistance will both be returning for the Galaxy S7.
Naturally, the curved-screen Edge variant that wowed fans last year will be back in full force too. Not only that, but the curve will be even more pronounced this time, judging by leaked images from professional bean-spiller Evan Blass.
All rumours suggest that the device will be launching in three colours -- black, silver and gold. Additional colours like white and turquoise are predicted to arrive at some point after launch.
One slightly troubling rumour is that the S7 will downgrade the camera from the 16-megapixel sensor seen in the Galaxy S6 -- which was praised as one of the device's best features - to a smaller 12 megapixel one, although this is unconfirmed.
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Dan is a freelance writer and regular contributor to ChannelPro, covering the latest news stories across the IT, technology, and channel landscapes. Topics regularly cover cloud technologies, cyber security, software and operating system guides, and the latest mergers and acquisitions.
A journalism graduate from Leeds Beckett University, he combines a passion for the written word with a keen interest in the latest technology and its influence in an increasingly connected world.
He started writing for ChannelPro back in 2016, focusing on a mixture of news and technology guides, before becoming a regular contributor to ITPro. Elsewhere, he has previously written news and features across a range of other topics, including sport, music, and general news.