Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything you really need to know
The Samsung Galaxy S9 is the next big thing for Samsung, and there’s already no shortage of hype – especially now that Apple has released its new flagship, the iPhone X. How are the two likely to compare? In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about the Galaxy S9, including:
- What’s the latest Galaxy S9 news?
- When is the Galaxy S9 release date?
- What will be new about the Galaxy S9 design and specs?
- What will be the Galaxy S9 price?
Samsung has moved from strength to strength, and is arguably the most successful Android phone maker of the year. The company is consistently turning out high-quality flagship phones that always review well in our own tests, so it’s fair to say we’re excited to see what’s next.
The working theory is that Samsung plans to release a new top-end phone called the Samsung Galaxy S9 in the early part of 2018 – we’ll go into more specifics on launch timing further down this page. The handset is expected to introduce a number of hardware and software upgrades, and possibly even a new design.
Read on for a full guide on what to expect from the Samsung Galaxy S9, or scroll down to the bottom of the page for a very brief summary of the key details. Our latest update features new details on the Galaxy S9’s release date and its likely battery spec.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Release Date: When will the Galaxy S9 come out?
We’ve been waiting for a while, but it now seems like we have our first real Galaxy S9 release date leak, courtesy of respect mobile tipster Evan Blass, aka @evleaks.
In a recent tweet, Blass posits that the Galaxy S9 will indeed – as we’ve been privately predicting for some time now – be unveiled at MWC 2018 in Barcelona. However, we reckon the big reveal could actually take place a day before Blass thinks, on February 25, 2018.
Why? Well, while Blass points a February 26 Samsung event, the nature of the mobile accessory supply chain means it’s likely that his mystery insider is based near Samsung’s South Korean base. Because of time difference, an evening event in Barcelona on Sunday, February 25 would be the morning of Monday, February 26 in Seoul, and therefore makes quite a bit of sense.
Let’s review historical Samsung Galaxy S phone launch timing to see if this holds up:
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- Samsung Galaxy S8 – Reveal: March 29 | Release: April 21
- Samsung Galaxy S7 – Reveal: February 21 | Release: March 11
- Samsung Galaxy S6 – Reveal: March 1 | Release: April 10
- Samsung Galaxy S5 – Reveal: February 24 | Release: April 11
- Samsung Galaxy S4 – Reveal: March 14 | Release: April 27
- Samsung Galaxy S3 – Reveal: May 3 | Release: May 29
- Samsung Galaxy S2 – Reveal: February 13 | Release: May 2
- Samsung Galaxy S – Reveal: March | Release: June 4
It’s not difficult to discern an obvious pattern.
The overwhelming majority of Samsung Galaxy S phone announcements take place in either February or March, with incremental upgrade years (such as 2018) typically coinciding with Barcelona’s annual Mobile World Congress technology trade show. They also typically take place on the day before the show opens to the public, so Samsung and its latest flagship can properly bask in the limelight.
It doesn’t look like this year’s going to be any different either, with the firm’s mobile chief DJ Koh revealing in January that it’s preparing to take the wraps off the Galaxy S9 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – though he didn’t specify an exact date.
That said, given we now have a reliable leak and with Mobile World Congress scheduled to run from February 26 through March 1, we expect the Samsung Galaxy S9 launch date to be February 25, 2018.
But what are the rumour-spinners saying?
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Well, back in May, Korea’s The Bell reported that Samsung is already working on the Samsung Galaxy S9 under the codenames of ‘Star’ and ‘Star 2’ – to denote the standard and ‘Plus’ editions.
The post also notes that development is ahead of schedule compared to previous years, although it’s worth taking that with a pinch of salt.
Then in September, Korea’s The Investor said that the displays being used in the Galaxy S9 will be ready by November, which means we may see an earlier-than-usual launch. For context, the Galaxy S8 launched in March, with its displays reportedly having arrived in January. So we could see the Galaxy S9 being ready to debut as soon as February, if Samsung follows a similar timeline.
According to a SamMobile report in late September 2017, Samsung has already begun development of the firmware for two Samsung Galaxy S9 models. For reference, SamMobile is a specialist Samsung blog that has a highly accurate track record for Samsung mobile leaks.
The report notes that the firmware names are as follows: G960FXXU0AQI5 and G965FXXU0AQI5. From those monikers, we’re able to discern the model numbers for the next flagship Samsung phones, too. The Samsung Galaxy S9 will probably be called SM-G960, while the Galaxy S9+ will likely be dubbed SM-G965.
It’s also worth noting that back in 2016, Samsung’s firmware development for the Galaxy S8 began two weeks later, so we could be seeing a slightly earlier launch for the Galaxy S9. That’s already been rumoured to be the case, with previous leaks suggesting we’d see a debut in February, and a retail release very shortly thereafter.
It’s also worth noting that a Samsung official reportedly told the Korea Herald that the reveal of its next flagship phone at CES in January is “unlikely”.
- Buy Now: Samsung Galaxy S8 at Amazon UK for £549.99
- Buy Now: Samsung Galaxy S8+ at Amazon UK for £641.50
Samsung Galaxy S9 Design and Display: What will the Galaxy S9 look like?
Despite the Samsung Galaxy S9 being far off in the future, we’re still privy to a very high number of leaks and rumours about the phone.
Here are some of the key Galaxy S9 display and design tip-offs.
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Curved on four sides: In an article published in April 2017, Korean news outlet ETNews reported that Samsung was working on a new lamination process that would allow phone screens to be curved on all four edges. The report, which cited unnamed industry sources, tipped the technology as being available as early as the end of 2017, making the Samsung Galaxy S9 a potential host device for the new display.
Familiar sizing: A separate report by The Bell suggested that we’d see the same size panels on the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ as we have on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. The article notes that Samsung has already placed an order with suppliers for 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch edge-to-edge, curved Infinity Displays.
However, the report goes on to suggest that these displays will be improved by the addition of an in-screen fingerprint sensor. That’s good news, as one of the chief complaints about recent Samsung phones is the awkward placement of the fingerprint scanner next to the rear camera – smudge central, basically.
Unfortunately, latest industry rumours suggest that the in-screen scanner won’t actually be available on the Galaxy S9 – but may be ready in time for the Galaxy Note 9 later in 2018. The criticism hasn’t gone unnoticed, though. Samsung has reportedly relocated the fingerprint reader to just below the camera on the rear of the handset, making it easier to reach with one hand.
Is that an iPhone?! Another fun rumour comes courtesy of the Korean Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS) – please, stick with us here.
According to the KIPRIS, Samsung has successfully managed to bag a patent for a smartphone chassis with a cutout in the top centre part of the display. This ‘notch’ aesthetic is the same sort of design we’re seeing on the iPhone X. The design allows for a display to cover almost all of a phone’s front, while providing a small amount of surface to house essential external components – like a camera and sensors.
It doesn’t, however, seem likely that Samsung is planning on using the patented design for the Galaxy S9 as reliable Weibo tipster Ice Universe revealed in December that the handset will feature the same symmetrical design as the Galaxy S8, with a black bar occupying both the top and bottommost section of the Infinity Display.
Modular madness: Next up is a leak from Eldar Murtazin, a well-known tipster in mobile leaking circles, who claims that the Galaxy S9 may feature a modular design.
This means it would utilise a system whereby users can attach and detach “modules” that upgrade the phone with new features. It’s a similar system to the MotoMods functionality we’ve already seen on flagship Motorola phones – and the Essential Phone.
According to the tip-off, Samsung is planning to introduce magnetic pins on the back of the phone that will allow external modules to be attached. These modules could include improved camera lenses, a battery pack, or additional sensors.
However, modular phones have had mixed success, with Google’s Project Ara having struggled to get off the ground, and the LG G5‘s modular system largely deemed a failure. That’s why we’re not counting on Samsung to adopt the system until we hear more solid rumours in its favour.
Incredible new camera: The Galaxy S9 is widely rumoured to ship with a single camera configuration à la Galaxy S8, though it could benefit from a souped up sensor that’s capable of shooting at an eye-watering 1,000 frames per second, putting it head-to-head with Sony’s Xperia XZ and Xperia XZ Premium in the camera department.
The Galaxy S9 Plus, on the other hand, is expected to come with a dual-camera. Details are sparse, though esteemed tipster Evan Blass revealed in November that it could be vertically-mounted, like the setup found on board Apple’s flagship iPhone X. There’s no word on whether it too could tout a 1,000 frames per second sensor – but it seems likely.
New colour: Specialist blog SamMobile has reason to believe that the Galaxy S9 will be available in four different colour options: black, gold, blue, and purple.
The latter is interesting, mainly because the Galaxy S8 was also rumoured to come in a purple/violet variant – a tip-off that never came to fruition.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Specs and Features: What’s new?
We won’t hear much information about finer Samsung Galaxy S9 details for a while, but given the long run-up to a processor launch, we already have a good idea about what to expect in terms of the Galaxy S9’s CPU.
Samsung phones typically ship with two different chips, either of which will be selected for a certain market region where the phone will be on sale. You’ll either get a Samsung-built Exynos chipset, or a Qualcomm-designed Snapdragon chipset.
The Snapdragon 845 chip has already been confirmed by Qualcomm, and will once again be manufactured by Samsung’s chip-making division. It will be built on an efficient 10nm process, just like the Snapdragon 835 before it.
The 10nm chip architecture denotes the manufacturing process, and simply refers to the distance between each transistor – those are the tiny electronic switches that enable computing tasks to take place. A smaller number is better, because it means you can fit more transistors onto a single chip, paving the way for more power and better power efficiency overall.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 ran on a 10nm chip, which is already seriously efficient – so we’d expect similar capabilities from the new model.
Also interesting was a report in late August from Ice Universe suggested that Samsung would be hoarding 2018’s initial supply of Snapdragon 845.
This was followed in early October by a tweet written by leaker Eldar Murtazin, who said much the same:
According to Google Translate, the tweet reads: “In terms of availability, 845 goes to S9 / S9+ for the USA at the beginning, the rest will be later. S9 a month earlier than usual.”
Last year, Samsung was accused of buying up the early Snapdragon 835 stock – a processor that Samsung’s own chip-making arm manufactured for Qualcomm – for the Galaxy S8 in North America, forced LG to utilise last year’s Snapdragon 821 for the LG G6, with other phone makers like Sony and HTC allegedly having to delay their flagship handsets in order to acquire Snapdragon 835 units.
According to Ice Universe, it seems we’ll be seeing a similar story play out in 2018, but there’s no proof yet.
The other big news is that the Asian, European and Middle Eastern variant of the Galaxy S9 is going to pack Samsung’s recently-announced Exynos 9810 chipset, which features an octa-core setup, as well as a standalone security management unit that’s complete with an enhanced face-tracking engine for improved face recognition.
It’s also equipped with the industry’s first Cat. 18 LTE modem for faster data transmission (up to 1.2Gbps); a dedicated imaging processing unit, capable of shooting 4K Ultra HD video at an eye-watering 120fps; and a deep learning-based artificial intelligence software.
The6CA-supported LTE modem is 20% faster than last year’s and will likely make it into select regional versions of the Galaxy S9, including the variant that’s set to hit the shelves in the United Kingdom. Samsung says the modem will make the most of existing 4G networks and help set the stage for 5G.
“With the increase of high-quality online content services, the demand for high-performance LTE modems continue to rise as well,” said Woonhaing Hur, VP of LSI Protocol Development.
“The 1.2Gbps maximum downlink speed with 6CA support highlights Samsung’s leading design capabilities and well positions Samsung for the upcoming 5G era.”
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One last spec titbit is the rumoured inclusion of an environmental sensor. This rumour can be traced to a patent application filed by Samsung in South Korea, which describes a sensor that could be built into smartphones and measure the amount of harmful particles in the air – expect depressing readouts in London, folks.
Finally, we expect that the Samsung Galaxy S9 will run on Google’s new Android Oreo software, which you can read about here: Android 8.0 Oreo.
As far as accessories go, the firm’s reportedly working on a second-generation version of its DeX desktop accessory, which is rumoured to launch alongside the Galaxy S9.
Not a great deal is known about the unit, other than that it can lie flat, leading us to believe that you’ll be able to use your handset’s high-resolution edge-to-edge Infinity Display as a touchpad or virtual keyboard, thus eliminating the need to lug around a – wired or wireless – mouse or keyboard.
Elsewhere, a recent filing with Brazilian telecoms regulators seems to reveal that both the S9 will pack the same 3000mAh capacity battery as its predecessor – though chipset improvements are likely to mean it will still benefit from added stamina. If that’s the case, expect the Galaxy S9+ to also sport the same, slightly beefier 3500mAh cell as the S8+, though this information is purely based on a leak and we can’t independent verify it.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Price: How much will the Galaxy S9 cost?
Samsung Galaxy S9 price leaks are in short supply for now, but we can take a good guess at retail pricing.
For a start, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ were available at £689 and £779, respectively, when they launched in 2017. We’d be very surprised if the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ were any cheaper, and our money is on them matching the price.
The Galaxy Note 8 launched at an even pricier £869, but we don’t think the base variant of the Galaxy S9 will go that high. The Note phones are typically powerhouse handsets that include bonus features – like an S-Pen stylus – that jack up the price, so we’re more convinced by pricing estimates of between £649 and £799 for the new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Summary: What to expect
Here’s an in-brief look at what to expect from the Galaxy S9 when it launches:
Samsung Galaxy S9 Release Date: The Galaxy S9 will almost certainly be announced at MWC 2018, with the smart money on February 25-26. It should be available shortly after launch.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Design, Specs and Features: The main rumours include a new display that’s curved on all four sides, and a powerful new 10nm processor that could increase performance and power efficiency.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Price: Expect to pay somewhere between £649 and £799 for the new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+.
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