The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 are already among the most hotly anticipated smartphones of 2017 and foldable screens could make them worth the wait.
Following the disastrous Galaxy Note 7 release this year, which ended up with two recalls and a kill switch to permanently disable it, Samsung has some serious catching up to do and it needs to come up with something big for its next flagship smartphones.
The Galaxy Note line has traditionally sported top-notch specifications that kept Samsung ahead of the curve, but after the Note 7 fiasco the 2017 Galaxy Note 8 needs to be a smashing hit.
On that note, Samsung is apparently looking to take more chances when it comes to design, and it's reportedly planning to release the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy Note 8 with foldable screens.
Samsung Galaxy S8 And Note 8 Flexible Displays
Based on the latest rumors, Samsung is planning a "two-track strategy" for its 2017 flagships, experimenting with two-screen and bendable display models.
"Samsung Electronics is developing two types of foldable smartphones that are totally different from each other, and this development will be part of its 'two-track strategy,'" Korean site ET News reports. "Samsung Electronics is developing a 'dual-screen' smartphone that uses a flat display on each side and a foldable smartphone that bends a single flexible OLED display."
According to the publication, Samsung will likely release the dual-screen model first and assess market reactions, then release the foldable screen model. The report further details that one model will have a rectangular design and feature a flexible, foldable OLED display, while the second model will look more like a tablet that can bend in half at the middle and deliver a phone-like experience, with screens on both its front and back.
Samsung already patented flexible, foldable screens, so reports that it would introduce the technology in 2017 smartphones don't seem too farfetched.
Nevertheless, should this materialize next year in the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8, it will mark a radical redesign for both series.
Aside from the foldable screens, Samsung is also rumored to prepare some other big changes for its next-generation flagships, such as ditching the headphone jack and physical home button, adding 4K resolutions and more.
No Physical Home Button
Earlier rumors have indicated that the Samsung Galaxy S8 home button will be virtual rather than physical, allowing for a nearly bezel-less, all-screen smartphone. Samsung is expected to ditch the physical home button for the Galaxy Note 8 as well, similarly replacing it with a touch-sensitive virtual button.
Dual Cameras, Snapdragon 835 Processors
When it comes to dual-lens cameras for the next-generation Samsung Galaxy flagships, reports have been contradictory so far. While some expect both the Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8 to sport dual rear cameras, others report that Samsung has abandoned such plans because it would lead to far higher manufacturing costs. On this note, it remains to be seen whether dual cameras will grace either flagship.
In terms of processing power, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 are both expected to rock the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with a minimum 4 GB of RAM, potentially with higher-end 6 GB of RAM versions as well.
Samsung typically releases two versions of its flagships, one powered by Qualcomm processors and the other packed with in-house Exynos chips. In 2017, the Qualcomm versions of the smartphones will pack the Snapdragon 835, while the others should feature Exynos 8895 processors.
No Headphone Jack
Recent rumors also indicate that Samsung might pull a page out of Apple's playbook and remove the headphone jack from its upcoming flagships, just like Apple did with its iPhone 7 line. If this holds true, Samsung will likely rely on USB Type-C technology for audio playback on its Galaxy S8 and Note 8.
4K Display Smartphone
Samsung might also introduce 4K resolution displays with either the Galaxy S8 or the Galaxy Note 8 next year, which would grant it a notable edge against rivals that are still at 2K (QHD) or lower resolutions.
On the other hand, some have argued that even 2K is a bit of an overkill for a smartphone screen and it would drain the battery too quickly. Sony already unveiled a 4K smartphone last year with its Xperia Z5 Premium, but the handset still shows most content in 1080p to preserve battery life.
Samsung is reportedly planning to roll out its own artificial intelligence-powered assistant as well, likely aiming to compete against Apple's Siri and Google Assistant. The Samsung Galaxy S8 could have a dedicated AI button on the side of the handset, allowing users to quickly summon the assistant. The dedicated button is reportedly in testing, so it might not make it to the final design.
Samsung has yet to confirm any plans and hardware specs for its Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 smartphones, however, so it's advisable to take all leaks and rumors with a dose of skepticism at this point. Both handsets are still months away from their release and a lot could change in the meantime, so it's best to treat rumors accordingly.