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Guess which iPhone feature Samsung seemingly plans to steal next

Published Mar 15th, 2017 1:10PM EDT
iPhone 8 vs. Galaxy S8 vs. Galaxy Note 8: 3D Touch
Image: PhoneBuff

Often accused to copy the iPhone with its high-end Galaxy phones, Samsung is in a unique position when it comes to anticipating its biggest rival’s next moves. Samsung is also a supplier of critical iPhone components, which means it knows ahead of time what Apple is working on. A new report from Korea indicates that Samsung is already working on a major component for the iPhone 8, and it’s one that might be seen in the upcoming Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 as well.

According to South Korea’s The Investor, Samsung Display has been developing a pressure-sensitive OLED touch display for the iPhone 8. In other words, Samsung Display is making a new kind of 3D Touch screen for the next-generation iPhone, based on OLED technology, that will incorporate the 3D Touch functionality introduced on Apple’s earlier LCD displays.

Samsung Display reportedly demoed the screen behind closed doors at Mobile World Congress a few weeks ago, as it prepares to ramp up efforts to incorporate the 3D Touch sensor into its own screens. “The latest technology boasts higher sensitivity and a wider range of pressure-sensing levels compared to the previous one used in Huawei’s P9 in 2015,” a source told the site.

However, it’s unclear whether the new component is ready for mass consumption. The report notes the Galaxy S8 will incorporate 3D Touch functionality only for the virtual home button on the phone. The handset is expected to lack a physical home button, just like the iPhone 8.

For Apple, the 3D Touch functionality it launched with the iPhone 6s can be seen as a precursor to the button-less iPhone 8 it’ll unveil later this year. 3D Touch provides pressure sensitivity and tactile feedback similar to pressing a button and can be used to replace most of the features that are traditionally associated with the iconic home button found on iOS devices. That way, Apple can afford to remove a physical button without losing any of its features, some of which are critical for iOS operations.

Apple will need 3D Touch to be available anywhere on the screen in the iPhone 8, as is the case with its predecessors. Samsung, meanwhile, will apparently add 3D Touch support to the entire screen on the Galaxy Note 8, a phone expected to arrive late this summer or in the early fall. In addition to developing the hardware, Samsung will also have to come up with software ideas for implementing 3D Touch-like functionality on its Android phones.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.