Beyond offering a way for Samsung to move forward after its Note 7 debacle, the new Galaxy S8 smartphones could also raise the stakes for Apple's next iPhone, presumptuously being referred to in the press as the 'iPhone 8.'
Likely to hit the market this coming September, as most major Apple phone releases do, the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone is rumored to be pricier that past generations -- possibly starting in the neighborhood of $1,000. It's also believed the next iPhone will have many of the same new design features as Samsung's S8 models.
Samsung yesterday revealed that the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will feature an almost bezel-free, curved-edge "Infinity Display," along with a fingerprint sensor that's been moved to the back of the phone. The traditional physical home button has also been removed from the front face of the new Samsung phones in favor of a screen-integrated, pressure-sensitive control area.
According to various leaks that have dribbled out for nearly a year, all of those features are also expected to arrive with the next big iPhone release.
iPhone 8 'Sea of Rumors'
On Tuesday, March 28, the Apple-focused news site 'iDrop News' reported that final-stage design documents seen by a "source with intimate knowledge of Apple's manufacturing facility" show a phone design with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner relocated to the back of the device. The images also reveal a phone with a "slightly curved 2.5D OLED edge-to-edge display" with reduced-size bezels on the top and bottom.
Apple fan site '9 to 5 Mac' questioned the accuracy of the reported leak, but noted some of the details appear to provide a more realistic forecast "in a sea of rumors about the iPhone 8 that sometimes seem too good to be true."
According to JP Morgan analyst Rod Hall, who was cited in several news reports yesterday, the new iPhone will likely make "less use of curved OLED which may result in a slightly less 'infinity' screen form factor." Hall also predicted the next iPhone will see strong sales "driven by a strong feature upgrade and robust replacement demand."
In fact, many observers have noted that the increased price-tag expected for the 'iPhone 8' appears to be aimed in part at controlling market demand to reduce potential supply issues.
Can Samsung Slow Apple's Momentum?
With a starting price of $720 for the Galaxy S8 and $840 for the Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung's new flagship phones certainly fall within the 'premium' device category, a market space that's been dominated by Apple. It remains to be seen, though, whether the new Galaxy smartphones, available April 21, can slow Apple's recent momentum.
Following the release of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last September, Apple saw strong sales. A January report from the market research firm Kantar WorldpanelComTech said iPhone sales from September through December 2016 outperformed all of Samsung's top Android devices. Apple took 31.3 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, compared to the 28.9 percent share occupied by the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.
With details of the coming Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus generating lots of positive reviews for Samsung, it's possible sales for the new Android phones could be stronger than expected, 'The Street' reported yesterday. However, the site added, "the impact of a healthy S8 reception on Apple will probably be limited."
"By packing such large displays into phones that are reasonably comfortable to hold and use, Samsung has given itself a valuable way to stand out relative to Apple and high-end Android rivals such as Alphabet/Google..." The Street said. "The last 48 hours certainly give reasons to be optimistic that Samsung can do much to offset the slowdown in Apple demand many of these suppliers are seeing ahead of this summer's iPhone 8 ramp."