The Samsung Galaxy S9: Here’s everything we know
While Samsung is expected to launch the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus in the coming days, there’s still plenty of rumors and speculations about what’s to come. Some rumors, like Samsung’s accidental release of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus promo video on the eve of Mobile World Congress, have provided a lot of insight into what we expect to see; others are a little less definitive. Here’s everything we think we know about Samsung’s next flagships.
We have a pretty good idea what the Galaxy S9 will look like now — it will look a whole lot like the Galaxy S8. A promo video accidentally leaked by Samsung on the eve of its big announcement all but confirms that the devices are nearly identical to their predecessors.
Samsung’s UNPACKED 2018 app is the major hub for anyone looking to get to the main event or who wants to stay updated. Samsung recently updated it to contain some minor AR content — basically just showing the time and date of the reveal if you scan a Samsung or Galaxy logo. Except, an intrepid Redditor by the name of u/thesbros decompiled the app and found that if a user scanned one of Samsung’s lanyards then the app would show a detailed, 3D Galaxy S9 AR model.
The Reddit post itself seems to have disappeared now, but evidence persists thanks to XDA Developers, who saved all the images. The AR model confirms most of what we’ve seen rumored for some time, including the moved fignerprint sensor, and the new Lilic Purple color. There wasn’t a model of the S9 Plus shown, so the one major difference separating the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus — the potential dual-lens rear camera on the larger Plus model — has yet to be confirmed in such an overt manner. Still, the dual-lens system has been seen in several different leaks, so that’s likely to pass.
Expect the Galaxy S9 to come in four different colors, according to mobile leaker Evan Blass. The Samsung Galaxy S9 will be available in midnight black, lilac purple, titanium gray, and coral blue at launch. You can also expect to see limited-edition finishes throughout the year.
A render posted on Twitter supposedly showing the Galaxy S9 also shows a single camera lens and fingerprint sensor on the rear, flanked by a flash unit and other sensors. The front shows similarly sized bezels above and below the screen to the Galaxy S8. A USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack can be spotted on the bottom of the phone. If a leaked image of the packaging for the Samsung Galaxy S9 is correct, it also appears that the phone will retain its IP68 rating; a video accidentally published by Samsung all but confirms the rating as well. You can learn more about IP ratings in our guide to ruggedized phones.
The Galaxy S9 will use Android, but what about any new features? A new social network, or location-based service, is possible according to the Korea Herald. It’s named Uhssup, which the article says is derived from, “You, what’s up?” The name may not be final, correctly leaked, or anything but a code name. The article also mentions another service named Woohoo, which may be the same or related to Uhssup. The social network apparently shares location in real-time and allows messages to be exchanged between people.
If you’re wondering about Samsung’s familiar ringtone, named Over the Horizon, the company has remixed it for 2018 and the Galaxy S9’s launch. While a part of it will inevitably find its way on to the phone itself, it will certainly be played in its entirety during the launch event on February 25. If you can’t wait until then, Samsung has published the new version for all to hear. This year it has partnered with Icelandic composer Pétur Jónsson to create a minimalist arrangement of the tune.
Elsewhere, in a press release focused on features about the Exynos 9 Series 9810 Samsung may have hinted at some other new software features coming to the Galaxy S9, including improved facial unlocking and Animoji-type animated selfie features. The animated emoji have also been discussed elsewhere, including a report from Android Authority, which said the S9 will monitor facial expressions of the user with the front-facing camera to create customized 3D emoticon.
In a Reddit ask-me-anything session with a user claiming to have used the Galaxy S9 in a retail training session, the feature is referred to as AR Emoji, and adapts a picture into an animated character that can be shared in GIF form, or as a sticker. It’s described as more like Bitmoji than Apple’s Animoji.
While little has been heard specifically about advances for Bixby in the Galaxy S9, Samsung has said the virtual assistant’s technology will be improved in 2018, and become a selling point for its premium devices. Leaked code, first reported by XDA Developers, shows the Samsung Galaxy S9 will use Bixby to complete a voice-guided setup. An early Galaxy S9 rumor suggested Samsung may be working on a new user interface named Galaxy AI UX, but nothing has been heard about this since.
For those who were hoping the Galaxy S9 would launch with Android Oreo 8.1, you may be out of luck. A report from XDA Developers states the S9 will ship with Android Oreo 8.0. A report from the Netherlands based Android Club seems to confirm this rumor and attributes the delay to the addition of Samsung Experience Interface. A Reddit contributor claiming to have used the Galaxy S9 in a retail store training session also said the phone was running Android 8.0.
Release date and price
Samsung will hold a launch event at Mobile World Congress on February 25, where it’s almost certainly going to reveal the Galaxy S9. While the invitations don’t specifically mention the Galaxy S9, given the big “9,” it’s safe to say the Galaxy S9 will be the highlight of the show.
A few choice words hidden in Samsung’s end-of-2017 financial report remove almost all doubt about when we’ll see the Galaxy S9. The report says the “upcoming release of the Galaxy flagship, which will launch next month,” will help boost smartphone shipments for the firm. The report was published on January 31. Samsung had also discussed a February reveal before the event invitation was sent out.
March 2 is the date rumored for pre-orders in South Korea, according to ETNews, quoting a senior official at Samsung; but it may be slightly more expensive than the Galaxy S8. In the U.K. the Galaxy S9 may cost 780 pounds, or 100 pounds more than the Galaxy S8, according to an industry source speaking to TechRadar. This converts over to $1,115, although previous rumors have put the South Korean converted price at at between $880 and $920 in converted local currency, which fits with a similar increase over the Galaxy S8 in the United States.
Samsung may operate a trade-in deal for buyers in the United States, according to an anonymous source conducting an ask-me-anything session on Reddit. The source was part of a Galaxy S9 training session at a retail store, where it was stated up to $350 may be deducted from the Galaxy S9 at the time of purchase, when trading in a suitable device. However, it’s not clear which carriers or stores will run this promotion.
The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus have been cleared for use on all major U.S. networks by the Federal Communications Commission, revealing the model numbers to be SM-G960U and SM-G965U respectively.
The Galaxy S line features Samsung’s most powerful devices, and some of the best smartphones you can buy, so expect the S9 to follow the tradition. All that power and the amazing screens need plenty of energy, so what abut the battery? The Galaxy S9 will potentially have a 3,000mAh cell, while the larger Galaxy S9 Plus may have a bigger 3,500mAh cell. Images along with the capacity were posted to Twitter by @slashleaks. Both these battery sizes are the same as inside the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus.
Like previous iterations, the Samsung Galaxy S9 will likely have two different chips. U.S. models will likely feature Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 845 chip, while international models will have run on the Exynos 9 Series 9180. According to Forbes, the Galaxy S9 will be the first phone to feature a Snapdragon 845 chip, and an agreement between Samsung and Qualcomm ensures the smartphone manufacturer has exclusive access to the chip for a few months.
In addition to the usual incremental upgrades, Snapdragon 845 will boast improved image processing, a much improved Gigabit LTE capable modem theoretically offering speeds up to 20 percent faster than the modem on Snapdragon 835. The processor will feature a sophisticated onboard AI processing platform called Hexagon 685 DSP, that will rival that of Apple’s A11 Bionic chipe
In terms of storage, the Galaxy S9 may have eight times the built-in storage capacity of its predecessor. A December 2017 announcement from Samsung stated the company began mass-production of a 512GB flash storage solution for future mobile devices. While it did not confirm which phones would have the chip, it may make its first appearance in the company’s flagship Galaxy S9. Earlier reports from Android Headlines, Geekbench, and a leaked image on Reddit, however, state the phone will ship with 64GB of storage. The Geekbench report also claims the Galaxy S9 will have 4GB of RAM on board.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 will also feature band 71 support, according to a Federal Communications Commission filing. Band 71 is a low-frequency (600MHz) band that provides better coverage in both rural areas and large buildings. T-Mobile will be the only carrier to benefit from the inclusion of band 71 support, as it owns the 600MHz spectrum.
When the Samsung Galaxy S8 was introduced last year, people questioned why the phone had such sub-par speakers. It looks like Samsung may have taken note. A leaked image of the packaging for the Galaxy S9, first posted on Reddit, states that the phone will have stereo speakers. According to a leak first reported by Android Authority, the S9 will feature a speaker on the top and bottom of the phone. It also looks like Samsung partnered with AKG (which is actually owned by Samsung), to bring high-end audio to the Galaxy S9. Headphones for the S9 appear to get the AKG treatment as well.
The Galaxy S8’s camera is great, but it was overshadowed by the competition, and eventually by the Galaxy Note 8. What will Samsung do for the Galaxy S9? Samsung says it is making the camera the big focus of the phone, revealed not only by the event invitation it sent out that reads, “The Camera. Reimagined,” but also in a financial statement. It states better camera technology will help sell its premium smartphones in 2018.
With little more than a week before its expected announcement, Samsung released three preview videos for the Galaxy S9. Each video appears to show a camera feature on the upcoming phone. One video clearly displays the low-light capabilities of the camera, while another shows a sequence in stunning slow motion, perhaps signaling the “Super Slo-Mo” feature that has been teased. The final video hints at the updated Animoji-like 3D emojis that will be available on the Galaxy S9.
Recently, promotional photo samples surfaced that could have potentially been taken using the Galaxy S9, MySmartPrice reports. Originally leaked on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, the three photos showcase the features we can expect with the new device.
Each photo demonstrates the camera’s different capabilities, BGR notes. By looking at all three, you see the ability to capture motion with quick shutter speed or depth of field, along with different lighting features.
The Galaxy S9 Plus will also feature 3D stickers according to a story in Venture Beat. This feature will allow Galaxy S9 Plus users to place stickers and photos on images at different depths in their photos. While there are not a lot of details on this feature it sounds like it may be a sticker and filter feature similar to Snapchat.
Leaked code also shows a new feature on the Samsung Galaxy S9 called Tag shot. This feature will use GPS data to add location and weather information to your photos.
Most rumors, even early on, show the Galaxy S9 having a single rear camera, and the Galaxy S9 Plus having a dual-lens camera, similar to the way Apple differentiates between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus. The camera may use a newly announced Samsung Isocell image sensor for improved images in low light by cleverly clustering groups of pixels together to create a large pixel. The sensor will also feature optical focus for dual cameras and ” high-speed captures at Full HD video.”
It’s also capable of shooting video in 1080p at 460 fps. That leads us to believe this might be the “Super Slo-mo” feature that’s listed on the retail packaging. While we’ve focused on the features that may pertain to the Galaxy S9 here, you can check our our Isocell coverage to get more in-depth information on the sensor and its features.
If a leaked packaging image on Reddit is to be believed, it looks like the Samsung Galaxy S9 will feature a “Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (F1.5/F2.4).” Since we’re expecting the Galaxy S9 to feature a single camera, it appears that its camera will be a variable aperture camera that will switch between F1.5 and F2.4 based on lighting conditions.
The front-facing camera on the Samsung Galaxy S9 looks to be much the same as the S8. A leaked image of packaging for the Galaxy S9 states it will have an “8MP AF Selfie Camera.”
How will you unlock your Galaxy S9 and keep the information on it secure? Both a fingerprint sensor and an iris/facial scanner are rumored for inclusion. To improve the security of face unlock, Samsung may combine its iris and face recognition feature into one, called Intelligent Scan, according to references discovered in software destined for the Galaxy Note 8. A video accidentally published by Samsung shortly before the start of Mobile World Congress shows this feature in action.
It looks like Intelligent Scan will allow you to choose between facial and/or iris scanning features to authenticate according to leaked code. The same leak appears to confirm that Intelligent Scan can be used for third-party app authentication.
This fits in with previous rumors about the S9’s iris scanner. An anonymous source speaking to The Korea Herald said the iris camera lens will be increased from 2 megapixels to 3 megapixels for the S9, helping it recognize faces in more challenging environments, and also when the eyes move during scanning or are behind glasses. The improved iris scanning capabilities appear to be confirmed a recent press release from Samsung.
The new lenses will also be accompanied by updated and improved software, according to the source, which will also increase accuracy and lower the response time. It’s claimed the response time will fall by an entire second over the current lens system fitted to the S8 and Note 8.
We don’t believe the Galaxy S9 models will feature a fingerprint sensor under the display, despite Samsung working on the technology for some time.
The Galaxy S8 set a precedent for Samsung’s flagships with its edge-to-edge curved display, around the same time that many other manufacturers were also introducing 18:9 aspect ratio displays. How will it change the already stunning screen for the Galaxy S9?
It may not, and could instead play it safe and stay with a winner. Despite talk of changing the screen aspect ratio to 21:9, Samsung will stay with the same 18:5:9 ratio and resolution screen for the Galaxy S9, according to an anonymous source speaking to GalaxyClub. The report goes on to say the screen-to-body ratio may still change, as this will depend on the size of the bezels, rather than a different screen.
This fits in with a previous rumor saying Samsung had decided on screen sizes for the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. According to South Korean publication The Bell, by way of The Investor, the regular-size S9 will feature a 5.77-inch panel, while the bigger S9 Plus will sport a 6.22-inch screen. Those sizes are exactly the same as the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.
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