Samsung has tumbled -- exploding Galaxy Note 7 phones precipitated the company's fiery fall from grace -- but the company is undoubtedly going to try to get back up by making more reliable, less fire-prone phones. In the wake of recalling and then completely ceasing production on the Note 7, Samsung's profits plummeted to its lowest in nearly eight years. Meanwhile, the company faces lawsuits, as well as exploding appliances that go beyond flammable phones, too.
But that's exactly why so much is riding on the Korean manufacturing giant's next phone, the Samsung Galaxy S8. While still in the Galaxy "family" of phones, the S8 is a direct sequel to the Galaxy S7 that was released last March. And, to be clear: unlike the Note 7, there have been no known claims of fires or explosions with the Galaxy S7, either.
The Galaxy S8 gives Samsung a chance to lure gunshy buyers back to the brand with exceptional technology or rock-bottom prices. And Samsung has the power to make a truly great phone. After all, reviewers like me had initially lauded the Note 7 as one of the most impressive phones Samsung had ever made. The question is, will the Galaxy S8 have enough of the goods to refocus shoppers who bolted after the Note 7 debacle? And can Samsung win back buyers' trust?
The Galaxy S8 is still likely months away from making its debut, but the leaks and rumors have already begun. Here are the most important of the bunch.
No early Galaxy S8 launch despite Note 7 drama
At one point, some suggested that the Galaxy S8 would attempt to kickstart Samsung's rebound earlier than its usual late February/early March cycle that's tied to the giant Mobile World Congress event in Spain. Given that the Note 7 issues may have in part been caused by a rush job to get the phone out ahead of schedule, speeding full steam ahead probably isn't the best route, especially if Samsung is still trying to pinpoint what went wrong with two rounds of Note 7 batteries (the initial batch and the replacement phones).
In fact, it could come later than expected
The phone might even be pushed back to April, according to another rumor, as Samsung scurries to find and fix for good the error that led to explosions in the first place. Another major blowup could torch what's left of the brand's credibility. Either way, another bit of scuttlebutt says the phone's firmware is already in production.
All screen, all the time
The face of next year's Galaxy S8 could be 90 percent screen, according to one report out of South Korea, up from an average ratio of 80 percent screen-to-bezels. That's supported by another suggestion that the Galaxy S8 could toss out its whole home button -- including the fingerprint reader -- and use an optical sensor that lives beneath the display.
It wouldn't be the first time we'd see a nearly bezel-less screen. Chinese phone maker Xiaomi just released the latest attempt at this tech unicorn, the ceramic-backed Mi Mix.
Super-high 4K resolution
It's also expected that Samsung will go ultra-high-def for its next big phone, bumping up the S7's current resolution (2,560x1,440 pixels) to a 4K resolution of 3,840x2,160 pixels.
Sony beat Samsung to the UHD punch last year with its Xperia X Performance. At that time, TV reviewer David Katzmaier and I argued the futility of such a move, but with VR headsets that integrate with phones slowly gaining fans (like Samsung's own Gear VR), there is at least one case for having more pixels on your phone than you might have on your TV.
Galaxy S8 and curved-screen Edge could be one and the same
The Galaxy S8 could have the same curved sides as the S7 Edge, according to another rumor. But that wouldn't mean Samsung would only sell one phone. Keeping up with a recent tradition, the Galaxy S8 could still come in two sizes.
Two rear cameras
The Galaxy S8 might have a pressure-sensitive screen
Yeah, yeah, we've heard this rumor before when the Galaxy S7 was supposedly going to have a screen you could press and hold to make submenus pop up (like Apple's 3D Touch for iPhone). It never happened, but maybe this time, one Korean outlet reported, it will.
It could have an AI assistant named Bixby
Filing a patent for a digital assistant named Bixby is a pretty good indicator of Samsung's intentions in this area. The info dovetails nicely with rumors that the Galaxy S8 will include a new digital assistant, and perhaps a dedicated button to launch it. Handily enough, Samsung bought AI startup Viv, which coincidentally spun up Apple's Siri.
We'll update as more rumors and stories surface in the long leadup to the launch.