While we enter phone upgrade season, you may be thinking about trading in your device for something new. In today’s blog, we take a look at all of the rumors and speculation from the world’s biggest cell phone makers: Apple, Samsung, and Google.
I would wager that even if you weren’t thinking about upgrading your current cell phone, the deluge of back to school offers touting the changing of seasons might have alerted you to the other event that typically occurs around this time each year: cell phone releases. With companies like Google, Samsung, and Apple all scheduling annually occurring mobile-themed events some time in the next two months, we will take a look at some of the rumored devices we hope/expect to see.
With the release of the S9 and S9 Plus earlier this year, Samsung hasn’t left very much to the imagination in terms of what they may be announcing at their August 9th event. In fact, the only device we’re expecting to see from the South Korean company is the updated Galaxy Note 9. Here’s what’s currently rumored:
The Galaxy Note 9 will look similar, if not exactly like the current Galaxy Note 8. Many rumors seem to confirm that the overall design will only be tweaked cosmetically for the newest gen phone and will sport a slightly larger 6.38-inch screen (up from 6.32-inches on the current display).
Even with a case, the new Note 9 should have no trouble fitting inside of our Mega i-40 Plus armband. With ample room for essentials like cash or your ID, you can absolutely take what you need with you.
The street date for the new Note 9 is alleged to be August 24th.
Not by any means cheap, the new phablet is rumored to be hitting shelves starting at $999 for the 128GB version and creeping up to a cool $1250 for 512GB.
Inside, we are expecting to see Qualcomm’s latest 845 Snapdragon processor, but would not be wholly surprised to discover the Samsung-developed Exynos 9180 chip that they have been working on for ages. RAM choices seem to be either a 6GB or 8GB which many expect to be tied to storage choice, which will be either the 128GB or 512GB.
Unlike many of its competitors, Samsung has opted to keep bezels for their new flagship, although many are reporting that they will be smaller than on previous versions to accommodate for the slightly larger screen.
Although just rumored, we are also expecting a bump in battery size. Power consumption has always been a concern for Note owners, but with a rumored bump from 3500mAh to 4000mAh many of those complaints should be quieted, if not entirely put to bed.
The Galaxy Note 9 is rumored to have not one, but two physical unlock options. A fingerprint scanner on the back of the device has become somewhat expected, but current rumors seem to suggest that Samsung may also be including an underscreen reader, much like what is seen on the Vivo X21 and what has been rumored for the upcoming S10 that is expected to launch in February 2019. I’m not entirely convinced that this will be the case, mostly because this particular tech has been very finicky and slow in other devices and barring any major leaps in the supporting software, I don’t see this as being ready for primetime in 2018.
Less rumor and more conjecture would be the dual-lens camera system that so many flagships are moving towards at the moment. What is rumored, however, is less exciting. No major updates to the camera system between the Note 8 and Note 9 are expected, so we’ll likely just see better software managing the dual 12MP lenses (one portrait, the other a 2x zoom). One interesting rumor, though, refers to a variable shutter on one of the lenses that will change the aperture from f1.5 to f2.4 given the shooting environment. If true, this would be a welcome addition to those of us that use our phones as primary shooters in our day-to-day lives.
The last rumor we’ll touch upon is the upgraded S Pen Stylus. New rumors this week have suggested that the new Note 9 will come with a Bluetooth equipped stylus. Some possible uses for this would be to trigger phone behaviors remotely (like snapping a pic) or to take control over music or video from a distance. Less confirmed is the inclusion of any kind of Harry Potter tie-in, which I believe to be a mistake.
Since the launch of its Nexus series of phones, Google has been making no secret of its plans to dominate the global cell phone market. With outstanding releases like the Huawei developed Nexus 6P and the first generation Pixel, the team from the Alphabet company seem to be making great headway. With the rumors swirling about everything from docks to smartwatches, let's take a look at the two devices we can be certain to see this fall.
Google typically launches their new handhelds each October, but if the recent deluge of rumors can be believed, we may be seeing the all-new Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3XL as soon as September, which would place it in direct competition with any new Apple devices launching this year.
Sizing for the GP3 is rumored to be 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm with an OLED screen from LG that will measure 5.4 inches on the diagonal.
If these specs are correct, then the Google Pixel 3 would be a great fit for our all-new Armpocket X while the larger Google Pixel 3 XL would be a good fit for our Mega i-40 line of armbands or even the AQUA armband for those adventurous souls that need a waterproof carrying solution.
The Google Pixel 3XL is rumored to be one of the largest phones available when it launches. Rumors have it coming in at a whopping 158 x 76.6 x 7.9mm and sporting a 6.2-inch screen, also from LG.
With an interior compartment measuring 17.8 cm x 9.5 cm x 1.9 cm, the Mega i-40 Plus or Racer Edge should be able to easily accommodate the GP3XL, while the appropriately sized Ultra i-35 should be a perfect fit for the Google Pixel 3.
Even with the newly rumored top notch on the GP3XL, the Mega i-40 Plus and Racer plus would still expose the entire screen, meaning no quirky workarounds or obscured notifications.
Speaking of notches, only the larger GP3XL is rumored to have one. The smaller of the pair is likely to have a screen reminiscent of the 2XL with slight bezels at the top and bottom to accommodate for cameras, sensors, mics, and speakers.
Like its predecessor, the new GP3 and GP3XL will not mark the return of the oft-missed headphone jack. It seems that with the explosion of bluetooth enabled headphones in our everyday life, the need/want for this as a feature is mostly contained to a very vocal minority of their customers.
The added benefit of this means that we expect to see both handsets come in at least as waterproof as their predecessors (IP67), although in recent weeks, more and more talk has circled a bump in that rating to IP68 which would protect the handsets from dust, dirt, and sand in addition to being briefly submersible to 3ft.
Pricing for these handsets is expected to come in at roughly the same as the Google Pixel 2 and 2XL. The GP3XL is likely to start at $849 for a 64GB version and $649 for the GP3 32GB model.
We also expect everything else to be in about the same place on the newer devices: fingerprint scanner on back, USB-C charging, and single lens camera setup.
With a company as large as Google has become, it is not all that surprising that we know so much about the upcoming Google Pixel 3 and 3XL. With a release imminent, more details are likely to escape, but here are a few things that have been loosely rumored or that we would like to see in the upcoming devices.
Wireless charging. Apple is already dabbling in this technology that many other flagship models already sport. With advances in construction and materials, it has been heavily suggested that the newest Pixel phones will sport wireless charging in some form. Confirmation has come, in part, with new software updates that seem to point to the launch of an all-new wireless smart dock. This dock would, in theory, turn your Pixel device into a smart screen (much like Amazon's Echo Show).
Another area where rumors abound is what'll be driving these handsets. The most reliable rumors point to the use of Qualcomm's brand new Snapdragon 845 chip, paired with 4GB of RAM and running the latest build of Android P (9.0.1). If true, this would be likely the most surprising of the rumors as it is very uncommon for a flagship in 2018 to be running so little RAM. It is possible that multiple configurations could be available depending on tier, but even at peak efficiency, 4GB might have a difficult time chugging along with that Snapdragon processor.
Apple is rumored to be releasing, not one or two devices this fall, but three new handhelds that should cover most of their current product line. After their success in bifurcating their market into a high-low arrangement, it looks like Tim Cook and Co. are looking at shoring up any holes they may have grown over the past few years since the death of Steve Jobs.
The criticism of Cupertino over the past few years has largely revolved around the vanilla-safe designs and minimal spec bump with each successive generation of the iPhone juggernaut, but last year much of that was put to bed with the release of the iPhone X. Now, mere weeks before a planned mobile event, we have a trove of rumors, much of which veer into the fanciful. So here's what we think we know:
Apple is likely to release at least three new devices this September and likely dropping the prices on a few holdovers from last year. The three new handsets are rumored to be the iPhone 9, iPhone X2, and iPhone X2 Plus (the latter sometimes are also referred to as the iPhone 11 and 11 Plus, respectively).
Like the other items in this post, sizing is speculative at this point, but some educated guessing has the three devices clocking in at 6.1-inches for the iPhone 9, 6.1-inches for the X2, and a very healthy 6.5-inches for the X2 Plus. Rumored thickness is likely to be the same or similar to the current iPhone X, but cheaper construction may mean that the iPhone 9 could be slightly thicker or denser than the X2 or X2 Plus.
If these sizes remain true, then both the new iPhone 9 and the iPhone X2 would look great inside of our brand new Armpocket X while the iPhone X2 Plus might be more comfortable inside of our line of Mega i-40 Plus armbands which would provide unfettered access to the screen.
No firm rumors regarding the pricing for the X2 or X2 Plus, but most speculators expect that the iPhone 9 will be positioned as the new "entry level" device, meaning we should expect the pricing to fall in line with the current iPhone 8/8 Plus, so possibly $699/$799 off contract.
All rumors point towards a late September release, at least for the iPhone 9. This would fall in line with past releases of the iPhone 8 (September 22, 2017) and the iPhone 7 before it (September 16, 2016). There is no firm release info about the X2 or X2 Plus at this time.
All three devices will sport a metal body sandwiched by glass. The iPhone 9 is rumored to be made from aluminum, while the X2 and X2 Plus should follow the iPhone X's design cues and be made from stainless steel.
The glass body construction also lends itself to the possibility of wireless charging for all three models. With new speculation surrounding the launch of the long-awaited AirPower Station, this seems to be inching towards a fall reality.
Speaking of bodies, we are also expecting that Apple will be adding a few color options to its iPhone 9 line. Currently, iPhone 8s are available in space gray, black, rose gold, and Project Red. If the rumors out of Shenzen are any indication, however, we could be looking at a color selection closer to what we saw for the iPhone 5SE: blue, red, and orange!
With rumors increasing about the inclusion of FaceID on the upcoming iPhone 9, I believe it is more likely than not that we will be seeing a device with a notched screen. Many speculators have also ventured so far as to say that this will be the design aesthetic for at least the next few generations. Myself, I am not convinced about the longevity of this design choice, but there is no denying that Cupertino is very committed to the notch as they keep finding cameras or sensors to cram into it.
As far as the front camera is concerned, I think we are likely to be getting full versions of Apple's TrueDepth camera system which would support Apple Pay as well as FaceID. Those fans of animojis and memojis should find this to be very welcome news.
What we don't know about Apple's upcoming devices could fill a swimming pool, frankly. That said, there are some not-so-terrible guesses we can make about their upcoming devices.
One rumor which almost made it to the section above was that most expect that the iPhone 9 will not have the super fancy OLED screen that the iPhone X (and later X2, X2 Plus) has. Cost has been frequently cited as the reasoning behind this, which makes sense as Apple seems to still be able to squeeze some resolution out of their LCD retina displays.
If the iPhone 9 does not, in fact, have an OLED display, then it is very unlikely that they will be able to support true HDR on this cheaper handheld. Again, with advances in their retina tech, I would not be surprised to find Apple announcing a new HDR-light display option that works by pumping the vibrance and saturation.
Another piece of interesting speculation is that the iPhone 9 will not have the dual camera setup on it's back that the X, X2, and X2 Plus will have. Instead, we are much more likely to see a slightly revamped single-lens sensor taken from the iPhone 8 that is better supported by software improvements.
For all three devices, rumors are rampant about Apple announcing a new processor. Most suggest that we will be seeing three variations on the same chip with the two flagship models being called the A12 and the iPhone 9's processor referred to as the A11X. In all three cases, rumored performance is supposed to clock in at least 10% faster and more efficient than the current A11 processor.
Lastly, and again with a grain of salt, many reports are pointing towards the loss of 3D touch in all three models. 3D touch has not been the boon I think that Apple has expected it to be. With many developers ignoring it and most users unaware of this feature, it isn't wholly surprising that they would abandon it a la Thunderbolt, but it would be nice if they decided to give it a little extra time to mature as I've found this to be a very useful feature.
Although we've attempted to include only the most accurate and up-to-date information for this post, all these details are subject to change between now and when these products begin launching. We expect the first confirmations to slip out just ahead of the August 9th press conference currently scheduled for Samsung. Apple typically announces new phones in September, and though Google typically announces their devices in October, we expect to hear something from them in September as they ramp up their attack on Apple's market share.
For questions or comments, please feel free to contact a member of the Armpocket team and we will get back to you within 48 hours.