The Wall Street Journal reports Samsung is planning to make the biggest feature of its most important phone of 2016 a pressure sensitive display. Yes, the Galaxy S7 will feature a version of ‘3D Touch’ – the headline change Apple made to its iPhone range with the launch of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus in September.
“The pressure-sensitive display…will be similar to that offered by rival Apple Inc. on the iPhone 6S earlier this year. The responsive display allows the phone to interpret different taps and touches depending on how the user presses on the touch screen,” confirmed WSJ’s Jonathan Cheng.
How will this pan out? Obviously the WSJ’s source will need to be on the money, but assuming the paper is correct (and it has a great track record in recent years) Samsung is likely to point to similar technology developed by Qualcomm QCOM -4.55% as a defence. In fact using Qualcomm’s technology may well be the strategy, though it is impossible to imagine a world where Tim Cook isn’t furious and Apple’s legal team aren’t unleashed to start a new series of lawsuits that tie up the courts for years to come.
So what would Samsung get out of it? The fact that the lawsuits take years to be settled, nearly always for far less than the company makes from the tech in the intervening period, and that it gets a potentially major differentiator from Android rivals while keeping pace with Apple’s tentpole feature.
Other Galaxy S7 Delights
Happily 3D Touch isn’t the only thing that will change with the Galaxy S7, there are four more major changes. Consequently while the WSJ confirms earlier reports that the exterior of the S7 will be largely similar to the Galaxy S6,
Furthermore it claims microSD expandable storage will make a welcome return, but not on the Edge model (most likely due to its curved sides) while Samsung will upgrade the camera with a new module which allows it to eliminate the range’s characteristic rear bump (first discussed here). This would be quite the design coup.
Lastly the WSJ claims Samsung is playing with the idea of introducing a retina scanner to one-up the trend for fingerprint recognition. The idea was originally considered for the Galaxy S5 but dropped, though Microsoft MSFT responsive new retina-based Windows Hello login system for Windows 10 suggests the technology has finally matured.
Yes, a 3D Touch equivalent, USB Type-C charging, microSD expandable storage, a slimline camera and retina scanner would be quite a top five feature list.
So when will the Galaxy S7 (and all its variants) appear? Again tying in with earlier rumours, the WSJ pegs it for a slightly earlier release in March. With Samsung also releasing the Note 5 slightly earlier in 2015, seeing the S7 line arrive more quickly in 2016 makes sense. At least as long as Apple’s rampaging legal team can be kept at bay.