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Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will likely still dominate the iPhone 8 in one key area

Published Dec 15th, 2016 10:52AM EST

Apple’s latest iPhones outclass all of the competition in so many ways. The phones’ design, while a bit too familiar at this point, is still so striking that Android vendors from Samsung and HTC to Google and Xiaomi have copied it to some degree. In fact, both HTC and Google have produced iPhone copies that are so close to the original, it’s laughable. But design isn’t the only area where Apple has built a clear lead. Far more important is the massive advantage in performance offered by Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the much smoother user experience that is supported by a vastly superior third-party app ecosystem.

Of course, the iPhone doesn’t sweep the board, and there are some areas where Apple’s rivals — Samsung in particular — have the edge. Now, a new rumor suggests that Samsung will maintain its lead next year in at least one key area.

With the first-generation Retina display, Apple began a pixel war that is still being fought by smartphone vendors and display panel manufacturers around the world. Companies continue to cram more and more pixels into these relatively tiny displays. In fact, if you haven’t upgraded your television in a few years, there’s a very good chance that the tiny little smartphone in your pocket right now packs far more pixels than your huge 60-inch HDTV. Well, unless you use an iPhone.

As rivals continue to make the leap to 2K “Quad HD” resolution on their flagship smartphones, Apple has stuck to lower-res screens. In fact, the 4.7-inch display on the iPhone 7 is only 720p resolution, while the larger 5.5-inch panel on the iPhone 7 Plus has 1080p resolution. Both screens look terrific, especially now that they display Apple’s wider color gamut, but the clarity simply cannot compete with the screens on Samsung’s flagship phones.

Now, it looks like Samsung may widen its lead in this space next year when it releases the Galaxy S8.

It’s always a safe assumption that next-generation phones will improve upon key features offered by their predecessors, and that is especially true when it comes to displays in Samsung phones. No other company has been able to touch Samsung in this all-too-important area; the company’s Super AMOLED display panels feature stunning 2K resolution, vivid clarity and gorgeous color reproduction.

Next year, rumors suggest that Samsung doesn’t plan to increase the resolution of the Galaxy S8’s display. While 4K smartphone screens are undoubtedly coming, the jump from 2K to 4K likely won’t offer very much in the way of an improved viewing experience in day-to-day use — VR is the main area where 4K screens will shine. But just because the Galaxy S8 is expected to feature the same resolution as the Galaxy S7, doesn’t mean we should expect everything else to be the same.

Recent reports have claimed that Samsung is working on display improvements in a few key areas, and now South Korean tech news site ET News has tossed some more fuel on the fire. In a report this week, the site stated that Samsung will use next-generation panels that feature not just improved display capabilities, but also Y-OCTA technology. This notable new tech first debuted on the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, which, as many will recall, features the best screen that has ever made its way to a smartphone.

In a nutshell, Y-OCTA tech allows Samsung to embed touch sensors directly into the display panel rather than adding a separate touch layer, which is how most displays work. The result is a thinner panel with the same or even better touch sensitivity. This is just one area where Samsung is said to be improving the display on the Galaxy S8, which is expected to occupy the majority of the phone’s face thanks to the removal of the home button. Don’t worry though, the fingerprint scanner will still be there — it’ll just be hiding underneath the display panel, which is the same next-gen setup we’re expecting on Apple’s iPhone 8.

Samsung will reportedly unveil the Galaxy S8 in the first quarter next year.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.