The Samsung Galaxy S9 will launch at a Galaxy Unpacked event on Sunday 25 February and go on pre-order on Friday 2 March. (Image credit: @evleaks)
Samsung Galaxy announcements are always exciting, but this update isn't going to be as big as in previous years. We'll see a performance improvement with the 10nm Snapdragon 845 (or 10nm Exynos 9810 in certain territories).
The Plus model will also get a dual-camera at the rear, while the standard model will retain its 12Mp camera but could gain the ability to shoot 480fps 1080p slow-mo videos. Samsung has also responded to consumer criticism and moved the fingerprint scanner below the rear camera, rather than to its side.
It's a shame this fingerprint scanner is not going to be embedded into the screen - the technology is ready. Instead Samsung is said to be improving its iris scanner tech, combining it with face recognition for better results in all conditions.
The core specifications have been outed by a leaked image of retail packaging, giving away the fact the Galaxy S9 will feature:
There are surprisingly few Galaxy S9 renders circulating on the web, and that's because it's going to look an awful lot like the Galaxy S8 (complete with dedicated 3.5mm headphone jack). This certainly seems to be the case, judging by early renders and the first Galaxy S9 cases and Galaxy S9 screen protectors from accessory maker Olixar.
(It's so similar, in fact, you could probably download the Galaxy S9 wallpaper on your Galaxy S8 and totally get away with it.)
Samsung has also now revealed its accessories for the Galaxy S9, albeit via Mobile Fun. The accessories vendor tells us there's a new 'Hyperknit' cover; that the cases indicate we'll see the same core colours (Gold, Silver, Black and Blue) but potentially also a red special edition; there's a new wireless charging pad for the Galaxy S9; and that there's a new 'DeX Pad', which it says could be a wireless version of the current DeX dock.
Evan Blass says the colour will be Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Coral Blue and Lilac Purple and also mentions further special editions. You can see the leaked Lilac Purple option below.
As before we'll see a 5.8in Infinity Display on the Galaxy S9, and a 6.2in version on the S9+. It's rumoured that there will be a new purple colour option, too.
Something that isn't changing is the battery capacity or charging speed. The Galaxy S9 will have a 3,000mAh battery and the Galaxy S9+ 3,500mAh, both with support for 15W adaptive fast charging.
Samsung has sent out invites for a Galaxy Unpacked event on Sunday 25 February 2018 at 6pm. CET.
Respected leakster @evleaks suggests the Galaxy S9 will be available to pre-order from 1 March and go on sale on 16 March. This information has come from a C-level exec at a major case maker, he says.
Friday is the day Samsung usually plumps for with pre-order dates, however, and Friday 2 March is the date suggested by leaked info from Korea.
If you want to make sure you can grab an S9 as soon as it's on sale, if you're in the UK you can pre-register your interest with Carphone Warehouse or Mobiles.co.uk. They'll then let you know all the details about the phone as they're officially announced, as well as give you the chance to pre-order it.
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ were Samsung’s most expensive S-series phones to date at £689 and £779 respectively. Part of this extra cost can be attributed to the new features, but finances following both Brexit and the Note 7 disaster have almost certainly come into play here, too.
Until this year, Samsung always kept its pricing reasonably constant, and in line with other flagship phone makers. For that reason we’d be surprised to see the price go any higher than the current RRP.
It’s always worth considering with Samsung phones that - more so than with any other manufacturer’s smartphones - SIM-free prices fall rapidly in the few months following launch.
Leaked info from Korea suggests the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus will go on sale there at KRW950,000 and KRW990,000.
The Galaxy S9 has not yet been officially confirmed, but we have a fair idea of what to expect. It's a bit faster and more efficient than the Galaxy S8 with some subtle design tweaks, but the Galaxy S8 is fast enough and the design is already top-notch.
We don't see any reason to upgrade from Galaxy S8 to Galaxy S9. We'd recommend instead waiting for the 2019 model, which will surely come with the embedded fingerprint scanner we've been waiting for, as well as other improvements.
However, if you're running an older smartphone such as the Galaxy S6 or S7 then the upgrade is recommended. The 18.5:9 display is gorgeous, and fully integrated Bixby support useful. The performance jump between S7 or older and S9 should also be noticeable.
Samsung reportedly began working on the Galaxy S9 in late March 2017, which would mean it is already six months ahead of schedule compared to where it was with the Galaxy S8 and S8+ last year. And that means more time for quality control, more time for building in new features and, hopefully, more happy customers.
Amazingly, in July 2017 an early version of the alleged Galaxy S9 was spotted in the Geekbench database - that's some seven or eight months before we expect to see the phone announcement. A device with the model name SM-G9650 is listed with a 1.78GHz quad-core Snapdragon 845 processor and just 4GB of RAM. It scored 7371 points in the RenderScript test, which is lower than the Galaxy S8 managed in the same test. There are no performance scores.
The sizing of the Galaxy S9 screen is not expected to change from the Galaxy S8, so we'll see a 5.8in Galaxy S9 and 6.2in Galaxy S9+.
We’d expect to see the same 2960x1440, 570ppi, Super AMOLED ‘Infinity’ panel on the S9, and another 529ppi panel on the S9+. Given that Samsung by default limits the screen resolution to Full-HD+ (2220x1080) in the Galaxy S8, we really don’t think it will push up the resolution up to 4K.
It is possible that despite keeping the same dimensions and resolution the display technology itself could be improved. Samsung is reportedly using screen tech codenamed ‘Sunflower’ for the Galaxy S9 - it’s still Super AMOLED, but should improve display fidelity and be more consistent and reliable.
The new virtually full-screen 18.5:9 ratio will also likely remain, as will features such as the always-on display and edge functionality.
Samsung will allegedly implement its Y-OCTA tech into both models this time around, with only the standard Galaxy S8 getting the treatment in 2017 (the Galaxy S8 Plus does not and the Note 8 apparently will not get it either). Y-OCTA uses a single manufacturing process for the screen and the touch-film element.
In 2016 Samsung patented a glass-coating technology that helps water to bounce off the screen, making it much easier to use in the rain. This tech could well be introduced in the Galaxy S9, which will itself most likely be waterproof. (The Galaxy S8 is rated IP68, which means it is resistant to submersion up to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.)
In the UK we'll almost certainly see the Snapdragon 845 powering the Galaxy S9, which was in early December confirmed by Qualcomm.
The 10nm Snapdragon 835 Samsung helped Qualcomm to manufacture was 27 percent faster and 40 percent more energy-efficient than the company’s previous 14nm chips. The upcoming Snapdragon 845 is said to be built on the second-gen 10nm manufacturing process, and will be even faster and more efficient than ever.
(The nm figure relates to the distance between transistors, and the more you can squeeze on to a chip the faster it will be.)
Key new features offered by the Snapdragon 845 include a secure processing unit (SPU) that Qualcomm says offers "vault-like security" with the microprocessor, memory, crypto engine and random number generator all sitting on its own power island. Performance and battery life will also improve, thanks to an octa-core Kryo 385 CPU with four 2.8GHz high-power cores and four 1.8GHz low power cores; the 845 is 30 percent more efficient than the 835 for gaming, video and AR/VR, says Samsung.
Qualcomm's new super-fast X20 LTE modem is built-in, offering CAT 18 speeds of more than 1Gbps, as well as an enhanced Spectra 280 image signal processor. Qualcomm has bumped up video recording potential to Ultra-HD, and added in various AI improvements.
Performance from the Galaxy S9 with the Snapdragon 845 inside is expected to get a real boost. Geekbench 4 scores for the Galaxy S9+ have been revealed on the site's database, and as you can see in the chart below they are quite a bit faster than that of the Galaxy S8+. (Interestingly the database also reveals 5GB of RAM, suggesting there is 6GB on at least one of the Galaxy S9+ models.)
Elsewhere in the world Samsung uses its own Exynos chips, and has just announced the Exynos 9810 which is the most likely candidate. Interestingly this is a 10nm chip, though built on the second-gen process.
Samsung's next-gen Exynos chips are capable of supporting iPhone X-like features such as animoji and Face ID, with deep learning for more sophisticated face detection and object identification in images.
They also feature LTE modems that support six carrier aggregation (6CA). A first in the industry, Samsung says this unlocks a max download speed of 1.2 gigabits per second (20 percent faster than the Galaxy S8, which has a 5CA modem). It should allow you to download an HD movie in just 10 seconds, and eliminate buffering.
Samsung is also said to be looking to build AI processing right into its chips, which will perform better when hard-coded to the chip than left to the software. So Bixby could become a lot more efficient.
This is unlikely to change over the Galaxy S8, with 64GB storage (with support for microSD) and 4GB of RAM. We're surprised Samsung is not bumping up the memory to 6GB, however.
The battery is not getting a boost in the Galaxy S9, which means we'll see the same specs as in the Galaxy S8: 3,000mAh in the S9 and 3,500mAh in the S9+. Both will support 15W adaptive fast charging, as well as fast wireless charging.
However, efficiency should still be improved by the new processor and operating system.
Samsung traditionally leads the pack when it comes to new smartphone features, so we’re somewhat puzzled by the fact it has yet to introduce a dual-camera on its S series. Nevertheless, one does feature in the Note 8, so expect it to feature in the Galaxy S9 too - but only in the Plus variant.
Samsung’s Note 8 has a 12Mp dual-lens camera with dual-OIS and 2x optical zoom.
It's been claimed that the Galaxy S9 will be able to shoot incredible 1000fps slow-mo video. This will apparently be achieved using a three-layered image sensor that adds DRAM to the sensor and logic chip. This builds on the two-layered approach seen in current high-end smartphones, though Sony has also used a three-layer system in its XZ Premium and XZ1 phones.
Samsung has not yet copied many of its rivals in ditching the 3.5mm audio jack in favour of USB-C audio, though it did make the switch from Micro-USB to USB-C in the Galaxy S8. All the renders we've seen suggest there will be no change here: the Galaxy S9 will feature a dedicated headphone jack.
It is also said to come with wireless AKG headphones in the box. They might just be tuned by AKG like the current Galaxy phones, but these still sound good.