In one critical way, Samsung's Galaxy S8 may end up smoking the iPhone 8.
Theis the fastest phone when it comes to tapping into cellular network speeds. That's because it includes Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor or, in some markets, Samsung's own Exynos 8895 chip -- both of which can work with an advanced form of 4G wireless tech called Gigabit LTE.
Gigabit LTE will be a signature feature on many high-profile, premium phones this year. Yet Apple's next iPhone, which is still months away from becoming an official product, may not be one of them. Apple designs its own processor and uses modems from Qualcomm and Intel. But Intel's latest commercial-ready modem won't hit Gigabit LTE speeds, which could force Apple to slow down the Qualcomm version to ensure all iPhones are on the same footing.
If Apple opts to skip out on Gigabit LTE, thewill hit the market with a key disadvantage when the company is trying to position the 10th iteration of its iPhone franchise as the most advanced phone yet. The Galaxy S8 is just the first premium phone to tap into the technology. Qualcomm expects up to 10 Android phones this year to follow suit.
"This is not an area where Apple should want to cede competitive ground to Google and Samsung," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at research firm GlobalData.
While consumers would normally ignore something as wonky as Gigabit LTE, carriers are starting to trumpet the technology as a catalyst for their faster networks. T-Mobile CEO John Legere boasted in January that his company would be the first with Gigabit LTE this year, providing a public spotlight to what could have been an obscure technical term.
What would the next iPhone presumably miss out on? Gigabit LTE promises a significant speed boost to your phone -- think 18 times faster than the average speeds posted by the likes of T-Mobile and Verizon in a recent test by OpenSignal. With those kinds of speeds, you can say goodbye to buffering as downloads zip by in a flash.
Carriers, meanwhile, also want more phones on Gigabit LTE because it makes for a more efficient network better able to handle more users and traffic.
Apple, Qualcomm and Intel declined to comment.