[THE INVESTOR] Ahead of the much-anticipated unveiling of Samsung Electronics' new flagship smartphone Galaxy S8 in late March, rumors, schematics, and leaked images are making rounds online nearly every day.
Aside from their veracity, a whirlwind of rumors surrounding the new launch shows the Galaxy hype has reached a feverish pitch.
According to some reliable sources, the Galaxy S8 will surely undergo a dramatic design makeover while boasting killer features that would help Samsung differentiate the phone from other flagship models this year.
Here is what we know about the phone’s hardware specifications so far.
Larger Galaxy S8 model to feature same battery capacity as Note 7
Samsung vows better battery safety for Galaxy S8
Samsung sets shipment target of 60m for Galaxy S8
Galaxy S8, iPhone 8 to feature highest-level water resistance
As widely expected, Samsung will ditch the planar version for the new flagship that comes in two curved variants -- the Galaxy S8 and the larger Galaxy S9 Plus.
With no change in the device size, the screens will be larger than ever at 5.7 inches and 6.2 inches, compared to the 5.2-inch S7 and 5.5-inch S7 Edge.
The screen-to-body ratio will likely be greater than 90 percent thanks to the edge-to-edge display design and, more notably, the removal of the physical home button on the front bottom of the display. The fingerprint sensor, usually installed inside the physical button, will likely be placed next to the rear-facing camera.
The larger display and greater screen-to-body ratio are aimed at offering a more immersive user experience, especially for a head-mounted virtual reality headset.
Samsung, as usual, will utilize organic light-emitting diode displays produced by its subsidiary Samsung Display, the world’s largest mobile OLED producer. It is expected to receive flexible printed circuit boards -- necessary parts for the S8’s curved display -- from BH and Interflex.
Upgraded selfie camera
Unlike some previous news reports, the new phone is not likely to feature a dual-lens rear-facing camera that drastically improves camera functions to mimic a DSLR possibly due to the high costs.
A 16 megapixel rare-facing camera is more likely to be featured, while some sources say the camera resolution could be lower than that, presumably at 12 MP.
Instead, Samsung is expected to upgrade the front-facing camera to offer 8MP resolution to appeal to selfie lovers.
Front-facing camera modules will be made by multiple partner firms while Samsung builds modules for the rear-facing camera on its own. Patron and MCNEX will likely be the main suppliers for the S8, while PowerLogics and CamSys will likely be supplying the parts for the larger S8 Plus. Sekonic and Coren will supply lenses.
An iris scanner, first featured in the ill-fated Note 7, will be adopted for the S8. Patron and MCNEX are the module suppliers.
Same size battery as Note 7
The S8 is likely to use the same size battery as the Note 7. The phone will feture 3,000 and 3,500 mAh batteries. The Note 7 had a 3,500 mAh battery.
Mindful of the Note 7 drama caused by its faulty batteries, Samsung is said to have decided not to bend over backward to ramp up the battery density for the sake of battery safety.
Its battery-making sister firm Samsung SDI will be the main supplier accounting for almost 70 percent of the batteries, while China’s ATL and Japan’s Murata Manufacturing are cited as the secondary suppliers.
A more energy-efficient processor chip will improve battery safety. The S8 will use Samsung’s Exynos 8895 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chips that are produced using Samsung’s latest 10-nanometer chip manufacturing technology.
Highest water-resistance level
Water-resistance has become a mainstream feature among high-end smartphones. Samsung’s crosstown rival LG Electronics will bring the water-resistance design to its upcoming smartphone G6 and Apple’s next iPhone will also boast the highest water-resistance rating of IP68.
Samsung made its S7 and S7 Edge water resistant by attaching adhesive tapes behind the bezel of the screen, and around the components as well as the physical buttons. Seoul-based adhesive tape manufacturer NDFOS will provide its IP68-rated tape for the S8.
Unlike Apple, Samsung will keep the headphone jack intact in the S8 and have a reversible USB Type-C port for charging and syncing. The S8 will support NFC and Bluetooth connectivity and Amotech and Hansol Technics are among the chip suppliers for the wireless communication technologies.
Higher sales goal
According to sources, Samsung has allegedly set a shipment goal of 60 million units for the S8, higher than that of its previous flagship models, including S5 at 45 million, S6 at 45 million and S7 at 48 million.
The sales goal reflects the company’s determination for a turnaround from the Note 7 fiasco.
With the mass production starting in March, the unveiling event is expected to be held in New York on March 29. The phone is widely rumored to hit the market on April 21.
For the past couple of years, Samsung pulled the wraps off its Galaxy S smartphones at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but this year the plans were scrapped due to its own probe into the fire-prone Note 7.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)