Samsung Electronics will create an all-screen front for the Galaxy S8 smartphones coming out next year and scrap the physical home button, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The bezel-less displays will provide more viewing real estate while a virtual home button will be buried in the glass in the lower section, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details haven’t been released.
The new phones will only come with wraparound displays using organic light-emitting diode technology, the people said.
Samsung needs the Galaxy S8 to be a hit after suffering through the Galaxy Note7 debacle that tarnished its brand, led to an embarrassing recall and may cost the company more than US$6bn.
The world’s biggest smartphone vendor is already under pressure from Chinese rivals, while Apple is said to be planning to adopt Oled screens, which are thinner and use less power than liquid-crystal screens while also offering deeper colours.
While Samsung is targeting a March release of the S8, that could be delayed until April, the people said.
Samsung is adopting tougher testing procedures in the wake of the Note7 debacle that could push back the launch by about a month, one of the people said.
Samsung declined to comment.
The Korean company has featured a physical home button on every previous model in the Galaxy S range. Apple moved to a pressure-sensitive home button with the iPhone 7 that provides a vibrating sensation when pressed instead of an actual click.
Apple plans to ship at least one iPhone using Oled next year, featuring a new look that extends glass from the display to the device’s back and edges, a person familiar with the plan said last month. It’s also said to plan a virtual home button.
The changes to Samsung’s screens will be housed in devices of a similar size to the preceding model, the 5,1-inch S7 and 5,5-inch S7 Edge, the people said. Some of the phones will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chips while others will feature Samsung’s own Exynos processors, the people said.
Samsung also plans to introduce an upgraded digital assistant that will use voice commands to send text messages, make phone calls and provide daily appointment scheduling.
The Suwon, Korea-based company acquired US-based artificial intelligence software company Viv Labs in October and said last month that its new S8 will come with AI-enabled features “significantly differentiated” from those in the market.
Viv was founded by the developers of Apple’s Siri.
In the three months ended September, Samsung reported a 17% slump in net income from the impact of the Note7 recall. The company has predicted a multibillion-dollar hit to earnings in the December and March quarters as well.
The company is considering scrapping plans for a dual-camera on the S8 due to higher manufacturing costs, one of the people said. — (c) 2016 Bloomberg LP