Even with solid competition attempting to overthrow it last year, Samsung’s trailblazing Galaxy S8 and its larger sibling the S8+ remain one of the best smartphones that we’ve ever tested and it’s only fitting that its successors the Galaxy S9 and the S9+ will be the ones to take up the mantle as one of best phones ever made.
There’s a lot of excitement around Samsung’s latest wunderkind and as usual, everyone who’s anyone is guessing just what the new phones will have to offer this time around with the rumour mill going into overdrive and leaks aplenty.
We’ve rounded up some of the more interesting bits of news about Samsung’s latest flagship phone making their way around the grape vine though as with anything ahead of an official launch, it’s all best to be taken with a grain of salt.
When will the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ launch?
The official global launch of the Galaxy S9 was first confirmed by DJ Koh, President of Samsung’s Mobile Communications business to take place at Mobile World Congress at a press conference in Las Vegas earlier this month at CES, as reported by ZDNet.
This has been further confirmed via Samsung’s official Facebook page which shows an image of a stylised 9 along with the tagline of the new phone ‘The Camera. Reimagined’ as well as the date: 25 February which chimes nicely with Mobile World Congress 2018.
Renowned leaker Evan Blass also states that global preorders will start on March 1st with shipping on March 16th. If that’s the case we could likely see the Galaxy S9 and S9+ on our shores much sooner than expected. Last year, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ were launched in Malaysia in May 2017.
As another piece to add to the puzzle, two new Samsung phone models have made appearances on the FCC US website: SM-G960 and SM-G965. Previously, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ had the model numbers: SM-G950 and SM-G955. By logical deduction, these would most likely be the new model numbers for the Galaxy S9 and S9+.
What processor will the Galaxy S9 and S9+ have?
Much like previous incarnations, the new phones will have either a Snapdragon or Exynos processor based on region of issue with China and the United States packing Snapdragon processors, in this case the new Snapdragon 845 while the rest of the world, including Malaysia, will have the new Exynos 9810 octacore. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ had a Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 8895 processor.
The new Exynos 9810 octacore processor will be built on a 10-nanometer FinFET process and offer a number of enhancements such as faster data transfer speeds up to 1.2GBps, improved face recognition and the ability to capture 4K UHD video at 120fps.
It’s extremely likely that the new S9 and S9+ will follow the same doctrine and will both feature a similar processor though likely with different amounts of RAM and storage for both sizes and possibly for different markets starting out from 4GB RAM/64GB storage and up, if the leaked box image from Weibo making its way around the internet is anything to go by. One bonus is that the phones will, if the packaging is legit, have a pair of earphones tuned by AKG bundled with it which is quite a bonus as last year’s S8 and S8+ benefitted from getting a decent pair of earphones straight out of the box. According to VentureBeat, the Galaxy S9+ will pack better hardware, further differentiating both phones with the S9+ packing 6GB RAM/128GB storage and up from the get-go.
What will the Galaxy S9 and S9+ look like?
If the plethora of renders festooning the internet and also the renders released by VentureBeat are anything to go by, the two new phones won’t wander far in terms of design from the proverbial Galaxy S-series tree. The released render for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ show a silhouette very much akin to their immediate predecessors with an ultra wide Infinity display up front, a power button in the right, a volume rocker and the Bixby button on the left.
It’s somewhat hard to tell how heavy or how thick both phones will be but the major design change on the S9 and S9+ is to its rear where the cameras have been repositioned to a vertical orientation with the fingerprint sensor to the bottom of the camera based on a conceptual render on Weibo along with conceptual videos on Concept Creator.
Case vendor Ghostek also released a page for preorders of a Galaxy S9 waterproof and shockproof protective armoured case which confirms the vertical orientation of the rear camera. This is akin to the design of the recently released midrange Galaxy A8 and A8+.
A welcome feature retained is apparently a 3.5mm audio jack. Most likely retained is also the microSD card slot; something that was a source of dismay in the S6 which lacked it entirely. It will most likely come in single SIM/single microSD card and hybrid SIM card slot variants depending on region.
There is no confirmation on colours that the phone will come in but odds are good it will feature in black, silver, gold and most likely blue if previous examples from their playbook are any idea. To wit, the S9 and S9+, assuming the renders are authentic, looks the business with their luscious displays up front and their mirrored backplates.
What specifications will the Galaxy S9 and S9+ have?
In keeping with its tagline, the purported emphasis on the successors to the Galaxy S8 are oriented around its camera. According to renowned leaker Evan Blass, the phones are not so much radical departures from the original S8 and S8+ as they are enhanced refinements of the design with much better hardware.
If you inspect the leaked retail packaging for the S9 closer, you’ll discover its rather substantial stats. According to the packaging, the Galaxy S9 will have a Quad HD Super AMOLED display that measures in at 5.8-inches. In keeping with their ‘The Camera. Reimagined’ tagline, the S9 will have a single rear Super Speed Dual Pixel 12-MP camera with optical image stabilisation and a variable mechanical aperture with the ability to switch from a stunningly bright f/1.5 to an f/2.4 aperture. It will also have super slow-mo 720p@480fps video capture capability.
The front will have an 8-MP autofocus selfie camera while the chassis is IP68 water resistant. Other S8 staples like the front-facing iris scanner, wireless charging and AKG-tuned headphones come as standard on the S9 along with a noted improved – stereo speakers. Prior incarnations of the Galaxy S series phone including the S8 usually had a loud, single speaker at the base of the phone.
VentureBeat reports that the larger S9+ will have a 6.2-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED screen. And, as mentioned previously, will likely have a better specced array of hardware too along the lines of 6GB RAM paired with 128GB storage and up. The biggest departure though is the rear camera that will have a dual camera array somewhat akin to the Note8 albeit vertically oriented.
For imaging, the Galaxy S9+ will have a rear 12-MP camera with hardware akin to the S9 in that it has a mechanically variable aperture from f/1.5 to f/2.4 but tacks on a second 12-MP camera at the bottom with a fixed aperture and optical zoom. The front will also have an 8-MP selfie cam with autofocus as well as stereo speakers too.
This somewhat jives with material released on their global website regarding their new ISOCELL camera sensors which come in four different variants – ISOCELL Bright, Fast, Slim and Dual.
Of note is their ISOCELL Fast variant that has advanced phase detecting auto focus (PDAF) tech that integrates their vaunted Dual Pixel tech seen earlier on the S7 and S8 though this time around it integrates a 3-stack Fast Readout Sensor for fast video capture at Full HD.The ISOCELL Dual is a dual-camera array which offers optical zoom, low light sensitivity and depth effects in shots. The end result? Faster, more accurate autofocus speeds to nix those pernicious cat pictures and videos. Odds are good that these ISOCELL sensors will see service in the Galaxy S9 and S9+.
While it used to be a case that the larger sibling is all but identical save for a larger display, the new S9 and S9+ have (purportedly) slightly different storage configurations and, more important, different rear cameras too which will make things interesting for buyers.
How much will the Galaxy S9 and S9+ cost?
If prior historical prices of Samsung flagship phones are anything to go by, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will likely cost as much as or more seeing their enhanced hardware. At launch last year, the Galaxy S8 retailed for RM3,299 while the S8+ retailed for RM3,699.
Odds are good that both new phones will likely retail at or about these prices though if the purported enhanced storage and better camera of the Galaxy S9+ are thrown into the mix, it is rather likely that the S9+ may be pricier though it won’t likely reach the Galaxy Note8’s price ceiling of RM3,999. Our bet is that it’ll likely hover at around the RM3,899 mark, give or take a RM100 though until the official launch at MWC, anything and everything is still open to speculation until the official launch this February 25 in Barcelona.