The usually reliable ETNews (via The Information) says Samsung has managed to integrate pressure sensitive technology into the Galaxy Note 8’s huge 6.4-inch display. This will enable users to apply different levels of pressure to the display to toggle new functionality.
Of course this should sound familiar because it’s exactly what Apple has provided in the last two generations of iPhone. Apple calls it ‘3D Touch’ and it expands upon similar pressure sensitive technology first used in MacBook trackpads called ‘Force Touch’.
This leads to the inevitable jokes about Samsung copying Apple, though it is worth pointing out the iPhone 8’s headline features this year – a 5.8-inch almost bezel-less display, wireless charging, fast charging and the return to a glass back – are all already featured on Galaxy smartphones. In short: everyone copies each other.
Samsung is also expected to build upon the 3D Touch functionality used by Apple to “replace all the functionality of a home button and open a hidden menu with shortcuts to different features”. How smoothly this works in practice remains to be seen.
If ETNews is correct, however, it may explain why the Galaxy Note 8 will feature a smaller battery than the Galaxy Note 7 (despite its physically larger dimensions). This is because the motor Apple uses for 3D Touch is relatively large and it is noticeable that Apple was forced to reduce the size of the iPhone 6S battery to accommodate it. A year later Apple got this space back by removing the headphone jack.
A simpler solution would be what Google did with the Pixel and Pixel XL: make a slightly longer press operate like a physically harder press. It requires no extra hardware and Android has long been designed to recognise long presses all over the UI to deliver extra functionality.
That said, and despite ETNews’ good track record, I still have my doubts whether Samsung will make this move. Firstly it seems late in the day to only hear about this now when so much has already leaked, and secondly it’s such a blatant and needless duplication of Apple technology I fail to see the point.
Still the Galaxy Note 8 is going to cost well over $1,000 so it might be one more feature that helps users accept the rise. And besides Apple just so happens to be increasing the iPhone 8 price by a similar amount when it launches a month later.