Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes a new Galaxy S8 model, Microsoft’s plans to use Samsung’s smartphone, the S8 fighting the iPhone 7, rumors of three new Pixel smartphones, leaked details on the Nokia 9, Huawei’s Honor 10 Plus, Sony’s bezel fetish on the new Xperia, and an update to Apple Music on Android.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).

There’s A Better Galaxy S8 Model Out There

How do you improve on the Galaxy S8? Samsung is about to find out as it confirms a premium model of the S8 Plus on its South Korean Website:

Samsung’s website carried details of an improved Galaxy S8 Plus handset. It increases the memory to 6 GB and offers double the storage of the base models to 128 GB. Of course with microSD card support owners of the 64 GB models can still increase their storage to match this device (and have the OS regard it as a contiguous block of storage), but nothing can be done about increasing the RAM.

This S8 Plus variant is expected to sit alongside the existing Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus in the market. Consumers who chase the edge of the performance will be eager to get a hold of the handsets,  but it’s not going to be easy. Initially Samsung is only offering it to South Korean customers, although it has also been certified by the Chinese authorities so is unlikely to remain a single-country exclusive.

The question now is if consumers looking for ‘the best’ smartphone will wait to buy this premium version, or be happy with the S8 and S8 Plus models that have already been announced.

Microsoft Gets In On The S8 Action

Microsoft is getting in on the action as well, with Microsoft Stores across America ready to stock the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus handsets when they go on sale at the end of April. With store assistants ready to install Microsoft’s cloud-based apps and services, it’s another subtle way of bypassing the OS layer to grab more users for the cloud:

Let’s be clear, by making this handset available only through its US-based bricks and mortar stores its going to be an incredibly low volume of sales when Samsung adds up all the S8 numbers. But it’s a solid talking point after the launch of the Galaxy S8 across the tech press. Samsung does the big lift of showing the Galaxy S8 as its own flagship and one of the top Android handsets, Microsoft makes its apps and services available on Android, and the perception can be sold that the S8 runs ‘Microsoft’.

Galaxy S8 Fights The iPhone 7

Of course the real competition for the Galaxy S8 will come in the form of Apple’s iPhone 7. Gordon Kelly has taken a closer look at the two devices to compare and contrast the leading flagships, starting with the displays:

It’s 5.8-inch OLED display is simply stunning, it fills almost the entire front of the phone (compared to the limp 65.6% of the iPhone 7) and it is sharper, brighter and offers more contrast than Apple’s handset. The Galaxy S8 is also the first smartphone to attain Mobile HDR Premium certification, making a truly stunning device for video on the move.

It is worth pointing out the Galaxy S8 ‘only’ defaults to 2220 x 1080 pixels by default to save battery life (a key concern, more later) but that’s still miles ahead of the iPhone 7 and another reason Apple is finally expected to produce an OLED iPhone later this year. It’s simply a better technology.

Google’s Fishy Clues For The New Pixel Smartphone

Sharp-eyed watchers of the Android codebase have spotted references to the 2017 edition of the Google Pixel smartphones. Widely expected to be announced in October and to be one of the first handsets to run Android O, we could be looking at three models here, presumably the small, medium, and large form factors. Gordon Kelly reports:

Following news last month that the company is planning to launch a third super-sized Pixel 2, a Google slip has confirmed the two ‘normal’ models. Credit for this goes to the eagled eyed team at Android Police, after the codenames ‘muskie’ and ‘walleye’ were picked up on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP)

…Consequently what we know about the 2017 Pixels is they have the fishy codenames walleye (typically circa 11kg / 24lbs), muskie (17kg / 38lbs) and – the monster – taimen (100kg / 220 lbs).