The Samsung Galaxy S8 is one of the most anticipated smartphones of 2017. There's no doubt the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge have been big hits for Samsung and we certainly loved them - so what does the South Korean company do for a follow-up? Work will already have started on the Galaxy S8 phones and here's what we know so far.
Some clues can be found in the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Note - traditionally a halfway house between the annual Galaxy phone launches - but it's not our only source of info on the S8 and S8 Edge. The 2017 phones won't come cheap though, so start saving.
The Galaxy S8's predecessors
Back in February 2016 Samsung took the wrappers off the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge at Mobile World Congress and tech fans have been in love with them ever since. Thanks to strong sales of both handsets, Samsung has since recorded its biggest profits for a couple of years, so there's a lot of pressure for the company to keep up its winning streak.
The success of the S7 and S7 Edge would suggest Samsung won't want to mess with the magic formula too much - and because the phones were quite a leap forward from the S6 and S6 Edge of 2015, the tech firm may settle for a very similar design and feature set in its phones next year. It might be 2018 before we see some truly new features for the Galaxies.
Don't forget the explodey Galaxy Note 7 though, which again has been well received. While it's unlikely that we'll see a stylus included with the Galaxy S8, there's a very good chance the iris scanning feature might be transferred - it's a new gimmick in a market that's very short of them, and of course would help the S8 differentiate itself against the next iPhone.
Recent leaks from everyone's favourite Chinese social network Weibo suggest the the S8 will come with 4GB RAM and a 256GB storage option, running alongside a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor or an Exynos 9 Series CPU.
Another new feature that’s been talked about is an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. This will allegedly be able to detect a finger print though glass, and should mean the traditional home button can be ditched. Alternatively, the finger print sensor could be moved to the rear of the phone.
Read more about these these Samsung Galaxy S8 leaks.
According to sources of The Investor, Samsung is working on a new OLED display that will take up a full 90 percent of the phone's body, next year. The current average is 80 percent but Samsung's final goal is to hit 99 percent in the coming years.
Read more about this new bezel-free display
Galaxy S8 rumours and speculation
A leaked image has appeared on the Weibo forum showcasing what is believed to be the Samsung Galaxy S8. The image showcases bezels that have been significantly reduced along with a fingerprint sensor that moved from its traditional spot at the bottom of the phone.
The minuscule bezels on the front of the device mean you’re going to get a lot more screen in this iteration of the flagship smartphone with estimates putting the larger version of the device over 6 inches.
The second biggest change here is the lack of a physical home button on the front of the device — Samsung isn't going to get rid of their fingerprint sensor right? Which means the functionality is either being built into the glass on the front or the company is following trend set by Google and putting it on the back of the device.
Serial leaker has shared images (above) of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and , seemingly sourced from a phone case manufacturer. These images reinforce what we expected the S8 to look like, it shows off the Infinity Edge display, relocated fingerprint sensor, and 3.5mm headphone jack.
This seems to also be verified from a recent image, which shows how you'll be able to navigate the UI with new virtual buttons.
Whether or not April 18 ends up being the reveal of the flagship device, everything seems to be coming together to form a monster of a phone capable of putting Samsung in the spotlight again, only this time for the right reasons.
The word is that Samsung will drop the flat model in 2017 and just bring out an S8 Edge in two sizes. That would be a bold move, but those curved displays are one of Samsung's iconic creations.
There's talk of a 4K display for the larger model, and 2K for the smaller S8 (for better VR support, something which Samsung has focused on in recent years) and a dual-lens camera, following in the footsteps of the Huawei P9, the LG G5 and the iPhone 7. Again, camera quality is something Samsung has prioritised in the past, and so that's an upgrade that would definitely make sense.
Samsung's new AI assistant could make an appearance in the S8. The company recently bought AI company Viv Labs, and both Google and Apple have stepped up their Virtual Assistant games of late. Viv could replace S Voice and is expected to be called Bixby. Bixby will have a dedicated button on the edge on the phone.
Galaxy S8 potential features
It's difficult to come up with many notable features that Samsung has yet to cram into its phones. We've mentioned VR already, one of Samsung's pet projects, and with a new USB-C Gear VR on the scene it's obvious that the S8 is going to be equipped with USB-C and very probably packed with virtual reality features (including Daydream support).
The Plus model may feature a dual camera, similar to the iPhone 7. There also will be a dedicated button for Bixby, Samsung's AI.
You don't need a crystal ball to predict that the S8 will feature a better camera and faster processor, and we can dream of better battery life and an internal storage space bump too. Price-wise, Samsung will again be positioning this at the premium end of the market, so you're not going to see the cost of a new Galaxy phone go down by this time next year.
We might also see the Snapdragon 830 processor, tipped to debut next year in a variety of phones. What we won't see this time around, however, are foldable screens - one of the executives at Samsung has said the innovative tech is on the way but won't be ready in time for 2017... something for the Galaxy S9, perhaps?
What to watch out for
There's still a long stretch of time between now and April and while some of the Galaxy S8 features will be set in stone, others might not be. We're expecting a couple of major phone announcements in the next six months and the direction taken by Apple and Google may well give us some more clues about what Samsung is planning for 2017.
The iPhone 7 popped out in September, which gives Samsung just enough time to react to whatever Apple pulls out of the hat. If one of these iPhones has a dual-camera then that might make Samsung executives more inclined to give the green light to their own competing tech.
- Read through our picks for the best smartphones of 2016