The next version of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S smartphone -- the S7 -- will have a pressure-sensitive display, according to reports. In addition to that feature, which echoes Apple's recently released 3D Touch, the Galaxy S7 could also come with a high-speed charging port and, possibly, a retina scanner.
As with Samsung's previous release, the next Galaxy S smartphone will also come in a curved-screen Edge version (pictured, with the Samsung Galaxy S6), The Wall Street Journal reported, citing "people familiar with the matter." The new phones are likely to be announced during the next Mobile World Congress, set to be held in late February in Barcelona.
Faced with a large number of low-cost Android competitors from China, Samsung has been struggling to boost the profitability of its mobile business. According to the Journal, how well the Galaxy S7 does in the market could be a critical test for D.J. Koh, who last month replaced former mobile communications head J.K. Shin.
Samsung Needs a 'Big Splash'
William Stofega, head of IDC's mobile device technology and trends research program, told us the Galaxy S7's rumored features are "interesting." But whether those change the dynamics of the market is very up for grabs. he said.
Unlike Apple, whose iPhones offer luxury-product appeal to its customers, Samsung is operating in an ecosystem in which Google's Android operating system is really more of a commodity, Stofega said. In such an environment, grabbing control of the market requires coming out with new smartphone features that are "really incredible," he said.
"Samsung has to pick its battles," Stofega said, adding that it needs a dramatic innovation -- maybe like a phone that folds to fit into a pocket -- to get more consumer attention. "You need a big splash."
Market Miscalculation with Edge
The South Korean company did succeed at creating appeal earlier this year with the introduction of its curved-screen Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. However, it misjudged just how popular the Edge would prove to be, which led to a shortage of supply.
According to Samsung's most recent earnings figures, released in late October, mobile sales increased 2 percent between the second and third quarter of this year. However, mobile profits declined "due to S6 price adjustment and product mix change."
The company is also facing an overall slowdown in global smartphone sales. IDC's latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, released earlier this month, reported that 2015 will be "the first full year of single-digit worldwide smartphone growth."
In its outlook for the fourth quarter, Samsung predicted the continued quarter-on-quarter growth of smartphone sales, although competition was expected to "intensify under strong seasonality." The company's most recent release, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha smartphone, came out in September.