Seriously? They put the fingerprint scanner there???

The leak of the first live images of the Samsung Galaxy S8 has given us lots to talk about. Despite obvious family traits, the Galaxy S8 represents the biggest design overhaul since the GS6 — with a wacky new, math-defying aspect ratio (18.5:9!), no clicky home button, and talk of the new Bixby AI assistant getting its own special key on the side.

While I hesitate to pass judgment based on just a handful of leaks, there are a few real head-scratchers thrown into the mix too. First of all, that fingerprint sensor. It's on the back of the phone — which is fine, plenty of other devices get by just fine with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. (Even behemoths like the 5.9-inch Huawei Mate 9.) But it's way up top to the right of the camera lens. Consider that the smaller of these two has a 5.8-inch display, and the larger an enormous 6.2-inch screen. Even if, as rumored, the footprint isn't considerably larger than current 5.1- to 5.5-inchers, that's an awfully long way to reach — especially for left-handed folks. (Try it on a current phablet-sized phone, if you have one to hand.)

GS8 leak

Iris recognition needs to be a whole lot better on the GS8 than it was on the Note 7.

My conspiracy theory — one shared by Daniel Bader on the most recent podcast — is that it's up there to funnel GS8 owners towards the iris scanner surely lurking around the front. Samsung first brought us iris-scanning technology in the Note 7, and it wasn't great. (In fact, it was pretty much useless.) Hopefully the implementation in the GS8 will be better.

The lack of any kind of home button also provides an impetus for Samsung to up its game when in terms of gesture support. Features like raise-to-wake, double-tap to wake and (possibly) some kind of sensor-driven hand gesture, a la Moto, become increasingly important when you can't just press a big obvious button on the front.

Best case scenario: Samsung has all this stuff covered, in ways that won't become clear until the presumed March 29 announcement. After all, the company isn't stupid, and has been making top-tier smartphones for a very long time. Thus, it's smart enough to work out any glaring usability issues, you'd hope.

Best case scenario: Samsung has all this stuff covered.

No organization is infallible, however, and it's also possible that pressure to move to taller display with minimal bezels — already an emerging trend for phones in 2017 — has pushed Samsung into a corner. Even then, you'd think the established fingerprint scanner spot — right in the center, where it's easy to hit — would be the obvious choice. Or perhaps the rumors are wrong, and the final GS8 design will feature the speculated in-display fingerprint scanner.

All of these things are possible, and it's going to be an interesting run up to the Galaxy S8 launch season, with many questions to answer. Among them:

  • How will the phone perform on "only" 4GB of RAM? The GS7 isn't great at holding apps in memory with the same amount of RAM. But with the "Bixby" assistant running in the background too?
  • On paper, the GS8's (rumored) camera is identical to the GS7's, but surely there are some under-the-hood and processing changes, and it's these which increasingly make up the difference between a good camera from a great one.
  • A bigger display with a smaller battery rarely results in barnstorming battery life. Sure, the GS8's guts will be more efficient than ever, but it'll be interesting to see how a more conservative battery capacity (post-Note 7 debacle) affects longevity.

But hey, at least we'll always have the headphone jack!