Samsung Galaxy S9: What you need to know about the iPhone X’s future rival

Everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S9

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is the next big thing for Samsung, and there’s already no shortage of hype – especially now 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?

Update (September 18, 2017): The evidence is mounting that Samsung is hard at work on a custom version of Google’s new mobile OS, which suggests that the Galaxy S9 will be launching with the upgraded software right off the bat. We’ve also heard that Samsung is working on a slick new camera for the Galaxy S9 to boot. Read on to find out more.

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 next year – 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.

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Credit: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S9 Release Date: When is the Galaxy S9 out?

We’ve yet to see any specific release date leaks, although some significant clues have already emerged.

But first, let’s review historical Samsung phone launch timings:

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, and typically coincide with Barcelona’s annual Mobile World Congress technology tradeshow.

Similarly, the vast majority of actual retail releases take place in either April or March, so both are a safe bet.

The good news is that we already have dates for Mobile World Congress next year: it runs from February 26 to March 1, 2018. With that in mind, we’d expect the Samsung Galaxy S9 launch date to be February 25, 2018.

But what are the rumour-spinners saying?

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Credit: Samsung

Well, in May this year, 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 January or February in 2018, if Samsung follows a similar timeline.

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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Credit: Samsung

Curved on four sides: In an article back in April, 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.

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Credit: Samsung

Is that an iPhone?! Another fun rumour comes courtesy of the Korean Intellectual Property Rights Information Service – 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.

Samsung is under no obligation to ever use the patented design, but it’s entirely possible that we could see a ‘notch’ on the Galaxy S9 next year.

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.

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Credit: Samsung

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: A tip-off from South Korea’s ETNews suggests that Samsung is working on a camera sensor that’s capable of shooting at 1,000 frames per second, in a bid to rival the one featured on the Sony Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Premium.

The sensor is tipped to enter mass production in November, which should make it possible to be included in the Galaxy S9 – especially given that other components destined for the phone are also expected to be available at the same time.

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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 CPU.

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Credit: Samsung

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.

Back in April 2017, Aju Business Daily reported that Samsung and Qualcomm were already in development on the upcoming Snapdragon 845 chipset, the processor expected to power the Galaxy S9. At the time, it was reported that the chip would be manufactured by either Samsung or Taiwan’s TSMC.

More excitingly, a report from ZDNet Korea reported that Samsung was already hoping to produce 7nm CPU architecture for use at the beginning of 2018. This would gel perfectly with the estimated release timeframe for the Snapdragon 845 chipset.

The 7nm 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.

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Credit: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S8 ran on a 10nm chip, which is already seriously efficient. But if Samsung can effectively and efficiently make the leap to 7nm, we could see significant performance gains with the Galaxy S9.

Also interesting was a report in late August from renowned tipster Ice Universe suggested that Samsung would be hoarding 2018’s initial supply of Snapdragon 845.

This year, Samsung was roundly 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. This seemingly 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.

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Credit: Samsung

According to Ice Universe, it seems we’ll be seeing a similar story play out in 2018, but there’s no proof yet. For a start, Qualcomm hasn’t even announced a Snapdragon 845, never mind confirming Samsung as a manufacturing partner. We’ll have to take this leak with due caution until we hear more, unfortunately.

 

The other big news is that Samsung is going to pack its next Exynos chipset with an LTE modem capable of 1.2Gbps download speeds.

The Cat.18 6CA-supported LTE modem is 20% faster than last year’s and will likely to make it into select regional versions of the Galaxy S9. 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.”

Related: Android Oreo features

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The chip will go into full production by the end of the year, almost certainly guaranteeing its presence in next year’s phones.

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.

Samsung hasn’t launched any phones with Oreo on board just yet, but it’s heavily rumoured that the company is already hard at work on an Android 8.0 update for the Galaxy S8. That’s partly why we’d be very surprised if the Samsung Galaxy S9 didn’t have Oreo on board from the get-go.

We’re also going by precedent, as new Samsung Galaxy S-series phones typically always launch with the latest version of Google’s Android mobile OS on board.

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 earlier this year. 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 Samsung 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 devices.

Samsung Galaxy S9 News Summary: What to expect

Here’s an in-brief of what to expect.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Release Date: The Galaxy S9 will almost certainly be announced on February 26, and could be available very 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 7nm 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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