The Samsung Galaxy S9 is the newest flagship phone set to be released by Samsung in just a few weeks. How do the specs compare with its predecessor, the S8, and how much is it expected to cost? We dive into the latest news on the Galaxy S9 here.
Update: Samsung is poised to jumpstart the MWC with its official unveil of the S9 a full day (February 25th) before the exhibition begins on February 26th.
Update 2: The Galaxy S9 is expected to have a launch price of between $875 and $925 USD. That’s over $100 more from the launch price for the S8. Will the S9 hold up to this value? Keep reading to find out!
Update 3: Everyone rejoice! According to recent leaks on Twitter by @evleaks (Evan Blass), the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will keep the headphone jack, along with the USB-C as noted from pictures of Samsung’s next-gen DeX docking station.
Update 4: To make up for the lack of a dual camera rear-facing setup, Samsung is releasing a “super slow-mo” mode that will be featured on the S9 and S9+. Read more below.
The Galaxy S9 will be part of the biggest smartphone launch for 2018 thus far, yet despite the world’s eyes on the South Korean tech giant, it doesn’t seem like Samsung is pulling out all the stops.
Samsung is known for repeatedly releasing top-tier smartphones and electronics to the masses (not counting the Note 7 disaster). Needless to say, we’re always excited to see the level of technology that they manage to fit into such a small device.
This time around, Samsung looks to be going for iterative updates of the features and specs that were missing in the S8.
Latest Samsung Galaxy S9 News
With Apple’s iPhone X featured as the smartphone of 2017 from many sources, it comes as no surprise that Samsung is ready to retaliate with its latest flagship phone.
What follows is a list of rumored and confirmed features about the S9 that will be updated as we hear more about the device.
What will the Galaxy S9 price be?
Arguably, a new phone’s price is the ultimate decision-maker for people on the fence. With last year’s iPhone X breaking the $1,000 barrier, it seems there’s no limit to how much people are willing to shell out for the latest smartphone.
Yet above $1,000, most people could get the same quality and specs in an equivalent laptop. With these price tags, it’s no surprise that users looking to get the newest device are looking for top-notch specs and design.
Here’s what we know about the price for the Galaxy S9:
CONFIRMED – The Galaxy S9 will cost $719.99 USD direct from Samsung. Prices go up to $790.20 from AT&T and $800 from Verizon.
With the new price jump, many people looking to get their hands on the new device are now asking the question – “Is it worth it?”
People who purchased a brand new iPhone X knew exactly what they were getting with the price. Mainly Apple’s first bezel-less phone, complete with their proprietary Face ID biometric authentication system and rear dual-camera setup. Until orders start rolling in, it’s hard to say if the Galaxy S9 will be able to match expectations.
When is the Samsung Galaxy S9 going to be released?
With rumors circulating for months about the release date for the Samsung Galaxy S9, there’s been some confusion as to when the device will be showcased to the public.
Luckily, we now have confirmed details about the unveiling:
CONFIRMED – The Galaxy S9 will be revealed at MWC in Barcelona on February 25th. The picture below hints at a revolutionary camera that will be featured in the device.
As for the device hitting markets, according to a senior Samsung executive, pre-orders are expected to start on March 1st, and devices will begin to ship on March 16th.
According to a C-level executive at a major casemaker, the go-to-market schedule for Galaxy S9 / S9+ is as follows:
Launch – 2/26
Pre-orders – 3/1
Ships/releases – 3/16
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 16, 2018
What do the Galaxy S9 specs look like?
We’ve rounded up all of the specs that we could find on the Galaxy S9. We present them here, then we go into further detail on them below:
– Build: Corning Gorilla Glass 5 (front and back), aluminum frame
– 5.8in QHD+ Super AMOLED curved display (1440 x 2960 pixels), 568ppi
– 4GB RAM
– 64GB internal storage, up to 400GB with microSD card slot
– 12MP Dual Pixel camera with OIS (f/1.5, f/2.4) / Vertical rear-facing camera, 8MP front-facing camera (f/1.6)
– Sensors: Iris scanner, accelerometer, proximity, gyroscope, compass
– Non-removable 3000-mah battery
– Bixby AI assistant with dedicated button
– Cat 18 LTE support (1.2GBps download speeds, available with both the Snapdragon and Exynos processors)
– Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
– USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack (Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic)
– Stereo speakers
– Wireless charging support
– IP68 water and dust resistance
– Built-in FM radio
– Updated DeX docking station
– Colors: Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Coral Blue, and Lilac Purple
Samsung Galaxy S9 design: How will the new flagship look and feel?
- Less bezel, more screen
- A fingerprint sensor underneath the rear camera
- Sleek, curved edges and display
Even though it seems like Samsung is going for a more iterative approach for the S9 instead of a big upgrade, they certainly didn’t skimp out on the design.
Reports suggest that the Galaxy S9 will feature less bezel and more screen. The S8 had about an 83.6% bezel-to-screen ratio, whereas the S9 may have about a 84.5% bezel-to-screen ratio. This fits in nicely with rumors suggesting that the ratio may be as high as 90%.
Another feature in the S8 that had shaken the hornet’s nest of Samsung users is reportedly being rectified as well.
Samsung is moving the fingerprint sensor underneath the rear camera, meaning that your friends won’t make fun of you for having small hands, which is always a plus.
Seriously though, the fingerprint sensor beside the rear camera in the S8 was certainly annoying, and it didn’t fit with the overall aesthetic of the phone. Luckily, Samsung heard the masses and seems to have fixed the issue. Oh, and expect no rear camera bump either.
Lastly, Samsung is sticking to its use of sleek, curved edges, along with the “Infinity display” that have now defined the Samsung phones.
Samsung Galaxy S9 screen: The beautiful Infinity display
- A superhydrophobic coating
- A 5.8-inch QHD+ display
- Less bezels
A Superhydrophobic Coating
In the second half of 2016, Samsung licensed a “superhydrophobic coating” from the Dept. of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The article states that “water literally bounces off (the display), taking away dust particles”. This would mean that devices that feature the new coating will be easier to use in the rain.
The new coating results from over three years of research into glass-based coatings in the lab. This is an exciting update for us, as Samsung has had almost a year and a half to work with ORNL to perfect the coating in time for the release of the Galaxy S9.
The question is – will it be featured on the Galaxy S9 or will Samsung wait until the Note 9 or possibly even later?
A 5.8 QHD+ Display
The Samsung Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch screen, and it looks like Samsung will continue the size in the Galaxy S9.
The Galaxy S9 appears to have a slightly higher screen-to-bezel ratio than the S8, which will make the phone appear thinner and slimmer. Samsung also seems to be sticking to the “Infinity display” concept, and it will most likely be featured in the S9.
The display is also almost guaranteed to be curved, and it will continue to have Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology, which allows for stunning colors. This comes from a leaked image of the Galaxy S9 box that the device will almost certainly be shipped in.
The Galaxy S9 camera: The most anticipated feature
- Ultra slow-mo recording
- Mobile HDR video recording
- A single-lens variable aperture camera
- “Intelligent Scan” facial recognition
The Galaxy S9 camera setup will be one of the most (if not the most) heavily anticipated features in the device. Samsung even sent invites to the MWC featuring the number nine and the words “The camera. Reimagined.”.
Yet instead of focusing on a dual-lens, rear-facing dual camera setup for the S9, Samsung appears to be rolling out more qualitative features.
Ultra Slow-mo Recording
The first of these features is a super slow-mo recording mode that, according to Sammobile will draw “inspiration from the Sony Xperia XZ by offering a mode where users can start recording a normal video, then tap on an additional button that shows up to take slow-motion at specific moments”. We are hoping that this feature will be a competitor to Apple’s slow-mo recording mode, which they first introduced in the iPhone 5S.
Mobile 4K HDR Video Recording
It has been heavily rumored that Samsung’s new camera will be the first smartphone to be able to record video in 4K HDR, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 going into the Galaxy S9 and S9+. For now, it doesn’t look like the Exynos 9810 chip will support HDR video recording, but it will support HEVC (high-efficiency video coding), which is almost equivalent to HDR.
This would be a huge step for the South Korean company, as having a true 4K HDR camera will enable the use of around 1.07 billion colors, instead of the standard 16.7 million colors.
A Single-lens Variable Aperture Camera
Unfortunately, it looks like for the S9, Samsung is sticking with tradition from the S8 and is keeping a single-lens rear-facing camera. Yet it will have an aperture of f/1.5, compared to other recently released smartphones that have an aperture of f/1.6. The camera will also be capable of sizing to a smaller aperture of f/2.4 for brighter shots.
Having a wider aperture will enable the S9 camera to absorb more light, resulting in better low-light shots. It will also help immensely with the ultra slow-mo mode, as the shutter speed needs to be very fast, causing less light to be absorbed by the camera.
“Intelligent Scan” Facial Recognition
It looks like Samsung hasn’t forgotten about the front-facing camera either. According to an APK teardown by SamCentral, new features were found in the settings strings in the Note 8 Oreo beta settings APK that do not exist in any Samsung phone as of yet.
These new features include 3D stickers, a shot-tagging camera mode, and “Intelligent Scan”.
It looks like Intelligent Scan is Samsung’s response to Apple’s Face ID in that it uses iris scanning and facial recognition to unlock the phone.
In Samsung’s PR, the Exynos 9810 chip has a “separate security processing unit to safeguard vital personal data such as facial, iris and fingerprint information”. The chip will also use neural-network deep-based learning to accurately recognize people or things in photos.
Hopefully this means that the S9 camera won’t be so easily fooled as the S8 front-facing camera. Below is a short video of how Intelligent Scan would work in both low and high light.
The Galaxy S9 battery and OS: More efficient power management
The Galaxy S9 has some great features that are being implemented or upgraded from the S8. As for the battery though, it appears Samsung has kept the same capacity as it’s predecessor – 3,000 mAh.
Despite the same battery capacity as the S8, according to Samsung, the Exynos 9810 chip “is built to achieve optimal efficiency to improve battery life between charges”.
The chip will be constructed using a less power-hungry micro-architecture which has a better clock-gating feature. This feature will allow certain circuits to be switched off if not in use. This means that there will be better energy conservation on the chip.
Of course, the operating system definitely has a part to play in power management. Android 8.0 (Oreo) doesn’t skimp on that front.
While some manufacturers such as Google have taken it upon themselves to provide custom ROMs for their devices that support Oreo, the OS provides its own battery management.
Like previous Android versions, Oreo allows you to see which apps and processes use the most battery life, and then limit background processes on those apps.
While the biggest battery hog on Android is usually the screen, limiting background apps will definitely help to ensure the longest battery life.
The Galaxy S9 internals: What will be powering the new flagship?
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Samsung Exynos 9810 chips
- 4GB of RAM
Users in the US will get the Snapdragon 845, whereas the rest of the world will get the Exynos 9810. Like with past Snapdragon chips, it seems that Samsung has bought all of the stock for Q1 in order to power the S9 and S9+, leaving other phones in the dust until at least April of 2018.
Now you may be saying – “Whoa! Is Samsung favoring the US with a different chip?”
Despite the confusion between the two chips, with each having their upsides and downsides, it looks like the Exynos 9810 is marginally better. According to SamMobile, “Samsung has a habit of optimizing the Exynos variants of Galaxy flagships better than the Snapdragon variants.”
This means that the Exynos chip could provide more performance in some areas, however it completely depends on the tests the device is being put through.
Let’s look at the main differences between the two chips:
- CPU: 4 x 2.9GHz Exynos M3 + 4 x 1.9GHz Cortex-A55
- GPU: ARM Mali-G72 MP18
- Video Recording: Up to 4K @ 120FPS
- CPU: 4 x 2.8GHz Kryo 385 + 4 x 1.7GHz Kryo 385
- GPU: Adreno 630
- Video Recording: Up to 4K @ 60FPS
Preliminary benchmarks have just been released for both the Exynos 9810 and the Snapdragon 845, and from what we see, it looks like the Exynos 9810 scores modestly better than the 845 in the CPU testing. In the GPU testing, the Adreno 630 featured in the Snapdragon 845 outshines it’s counterpart in the Exynos chip.
Keep in mind though that these are very preliminary benchmarks and that we expect to see more accurate results as devices are shipped around the world.
From the specs, we can see that the Exynos 9810 shoots video at 120FPS. This means it will be more capable of powering Samsung’s “Ultra Slow-mo Mode” that is reportedly going to be featured in the S9.
Of course both chips will be helped by 4GB of RAM, which will be more than enough, seeing as the chips focus on being more efficient. It looks like we’ll have to wait for 6GB of RAM though, which will most likely be featured in the Galaxy S9+.
To recap, we’ve seen how much the S9 will cost, the complete spec list, and the design of the phone. We’ve also seen the screen, the camera, the battery power, and the chipsets.
The Galaxy S9 looks to be a solid phone that will definitely draw in customers. Yet will the improvements from the S8 be enough to justify the price tag?
We think the Galaxy S9 will be a major player for Samsung, but we’ll have our eyes on the S9+, as it looks more feature-packed than the S9.
What do you think about the Galaxy S9? Will you be the first one in line for the new device or will you wait and see how users review it? Let us know in the comments!