Get ready for the next smart­phone smack­down next month

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - HAY­LEY TSUKAYAMA

Ap­ple and Sam­sung are set for an­other big face­off in the com­ing months as both pre­pare for ma­jor smart­phone launches. Which means that we, as the phone-buy­ing pub­lic, are be­ing in­un­dated with ru­mours about what th­ese phones could do.

Keep­ing track of pre­re­lease ru­mours can be ex­haust­ing, and the pre­dic­tions should al­ways be taken with a grain of salt. But this past week brought us more cred­i­ble glimpses of what prospec­tive phone buy­ers should ex­pect and of­fered food for thought on to­day’s smart­phone mar­ket.

Let’s start with Sam­sung, which will show off the Galaxy Note 8 on Aug. 23. The phone is Sam­sung’s fol­lowup to its (ex­plod­ing and re­called) Note 7. Its de­but will beat Ap­ple’s next iPhone, which is tra­di­tion­ally launched in Septem­ber, to mar­ket — per­haps by a lot, if ru­mours of a de­lay for a re­designed iPhone are true.

Ren­der­ings posted by re­porter Evan Blass — who has an ex­cel­lent track record when it comes to pre­re­lease leaks — show a Note 8 with the same fin­ger­print reader con­fig­u­ra­tion as the Galaxy S8. That wasn’t a pop­u­lar de­sign de­ci­sion with users, who found it awk­ward and pretty smudge-prone for the cam­eras.

In those ex­am­ples, the phone would also have a dual cam­era and what ap­pears to be the same ded­i­cated but­ton for Bixby — Sam­sung’s voice as­sis­tant — that’s al­ready in the Galaxy S8.

Ap­ple, mean­while, turned out to be the source of some of its own leaks, af­ter iOS de­vel­op­ers tweeted that they found ref­er­ences to the next iPhone in a re­lease of firmware for the up­com­ing HomePod speaker. The rev­e­la­tions ap­pear to con­firm that new iPhones will have ad­vanced fa­cial recog­ni­tion and bio­met­ric fea­tures.

There ap­pears to be a bezel, or bor­der, in the im­age in­cluded in the tweet, but de­vel­op­ers com­ment­ing on the thread said that the bor­der would not ap­pear on the phone.

What will show up on the real de­vice, they say, is the cutout at the top of the phone — what some have dubbed a “re­ced­ing hair­line.” That spot is sup­posed to house the cam­era and speaker, while pro­vid­ing lim­ited in­tru­sion on the screen. The Note 8 is ex­pected to have a thin bar all the way across the top.

A Red­dit user pointed out other code in the HomePod firmware in­di­cat­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of wire­less-charg­ing in the new iPhone, tech blog BGR re­ported. That matches a much-touted fea­ture that Sam­sung and com­pet­ing phones have had for a while.

So, what does this mean for con­sumers? Chances are that if you’ve fallen into one camp or the other, noth­ing that leaked over the past week will change your mind about which phone you’d buy.

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