The Galaxy Note 8 and tenth anniversary iPhone are both heading our way in the latter half of 2017. Both handsets have a lot to prove: iPhones have been becoming stale, and the last Note went down in flames (quite literally). The pressure is on Apple and Samsung to deliver something special this year.
Based on current rumors and speculation, these smartphones might have more in common than just their importance to their respective manufacturers, though. In fact, they may have more in common than the two series ever have before.
Curved screen success
Samsung Display reportedly signed a deal with Apple in 2016 to provide it with 100 million smartphone displays over the next few years. Apple has sourced Samsung for parts many times before, and though you may think that a display won’t clue us into many details about the iPhone’s aesthetic — a display is just a glass panel, after all — it indicates that at least one iPhone 8 variant (of which there may be three in total) could feature a curved screen.
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Samsung has been investing heavily in OLED tech recently, and it is OLED displays, not the LCD displays typically favored by Apple, that can be curved for smartphones. Given that Samsung may be a major supplier of Apple’s iPhone screens and that curved glass is something of a current industry trend, it seems likely that Apple would pursue such a screen for the iPhone 8.
Meanwhile, last year’s Galaxy Note 7 was also curved, as were both of Samsung’s 2017 flagships — the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus — and a couple other S series generations before them. Add to this news of Samsung’s recent OLED investments and it seems clear that the South Korean manufacturer intends to continue producing flagship smartphones in this style.
Home button hop
But it’s not just a curved display that they would have in common. Reports suggest that Apple is going to remove the physical home button of its iPhone 8 too, just as Samsung did with the Galaxy S8 (and ostensibly will again with the Note 8).
These buttons typically take up space on the front of a handset, space that could instead be occupied by the display to offer a better screen-to-body ratio. This is also an industry trend that has been happening for years, but it was only with the Xiaomi Mi MIX, released toward the end of last year, that it became more “mainstream” (the Sharp Aquos Crystal wasn’t particularly popular, after all).
With the removal of the home button on the iPhone 8, and the possibility of a “bezel-less,” curved display, you can picture how these phones stand to have a similar look. They’re also almost guaranteed to have a metal or metal and glass body.
There may be a number of less obvious similarities between these handsets too. Both phones will probably make use of a dual rear camera and a similar sensor setup, as well as lack branding or a logo on their front (unlike the Note 7, pictured above, middle). One notable design difference, incidentally, could be in the implementation of a 3.5 mm audio jack on the Galaxy Note 8, and a lack of it on the iPhone 8.
Ultimately, it’s not so much that Apple will make a concerted effort to make the iPhone 8 look like a Samsung phone, or vice versa, as it is that both of these manufacturers are likely to follow current design trends and features which will result in them looking similar.
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It’s the elongation of the home screen and removal of the front fingerprint scanner/home button that stands to bring these devices, and others in future, closer together. At one time, the shape of these home buttons — physical or otherwise — could help to determine the device at a quick glance: I can clearly picture the iPhone’s circle and the Galaxy series’ oval home button in my mind’s eye. With these gone, it could be the shape of the phones that is their biggest differentiator — and that doesn’t leave a great deal of room to maneuver.
For more on the Galaxy Note 8, visit our dedicated rumor round-up article at the link. Give us your thoughts on the potential of these handsets in the comments below.