While phone makers and operating system developers of dubious numeracy skip straight from eight to ten, Samsung stays strong and gives us the Samsung Galaxy S9+ (sans notch, even). Only teardown will tell if this phone is a true contender, or just a weird AR Emoji machine.
There’s way more to iFixit than just teardowns!
The S9+ bumps specs, and the number of aperture sizes. Here’s what we know:
- Notchless 6.2″ AMOLED Display with resolution of 2960 × 1440 (570 ppi)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Samsung’s own Exynos 9810, depending on location
- 12 MP OIS dual-aperture main camera—f/1.5 and f/2.4 modes—plus a 12 MP OIS secondary camera and an 8 MP selfie cam
- Headphone jack and microSD slot
- IP68 water/dust-proofing rating
- Android 8.0 Oreo
- Topside, we find the standard SIM slot, and a slightly rearranged camera/fingerprint sensor array. Say goodbye to smudgy lenses!
- The bottom end looks almost the same as the S8—yes, that means the 3.5 mm audio jack lives!
- At first glance , the speaker grille seems to be replaced with a port—but no, that’s still a grille, with the mesh tucked wayyy back there. Is there a benefit to speaker holes you can fill with lint?
- As if the SIM-eject-impersonating microphone hole topside wasn’t enough, now we’ve got a false charging port to match.
- Admirably, in a sea of iPhone imitators, Samsung stays notchless, and manages some pretty teeny bezels.
*** S9+ featured left and “bezel-less” notched iPhone X on the right.
- On the backside, the iPhone X camera bump may reach ugly heights, but the S9+ sensor arrangement is more sprawling and awkward looking in comparison.
- For once the iPhone is the one converging on an old Samsung design, by adopting a glass back. Bad news for butterfingers.
- While it’s no S4, the S9 is actually a welcome respite from our more recent, destructiveteardowns.
- The standard application of heat and opening pick helps us along, but it’s definitely no picnic!
- Thanks to prior experience—no thanks to Samsung—we are able to safely dispatch the sensor assembly cable with no casualties. Documentation makes the dream work!
- After navigating a treacherous opening, we find our way into the back of the phone.
- We head straight to the rear camera to get a look at the fancy new dual aperture camera in action.*** The camera auto-adjusts the aperture to adjust for low light (at f/1.5 it’s got the widest aperture of any phone) while maintaining a more standard (and sharper) f/2.4 for normal photos.
- Standard camera lenses use at least five aperture blades to keep the aperture roughly circular throughout many f-stop adjustments. This Galaxy’s aperture has just two rotating, ring-like blades for its single adjustment.
- The relocated fingerprint sensor becomes our first victim as we pry it from its home. A ring of stickiness keeps the sensor in, and your liquids out.
- We’re a little disappointed Samsung hasn’t yet thunk up a better way to route that fingerprint sensor cable—it got ensnared in some nasty glue as we pried off the back cover, nearly costing us the sensor. Next year Samsung?
- Sixteen screws later, the familiar two-piece midframe wafer pops out, with its integrated wireless charging coil, antenna assembly, and lower speaker all aboard.
- What do you need to remove a glued-down battery from a Galaxy phone?
- * Option 1: lots of heat, a pry tool, a fire extinguisher, a bucket of sand, and nerves of
- * Option 2: a syringe loaded with a little iFixit Adhesive Remover.
- We opt for the latter and splash a bit of the blue stuff into the little tub that cradles the battery. A few minutes later, we have our prize.
- This here’s a 3.85 V, 3500 mAh battery weighing in at 13.48 Wh. Sound familiar?
*** Yep, those are the exact same specs as the battery we found in the S8+ last year… and the infamous Note7.
- By the way, Samsung really likes to put this sticky black webbing on top of their batteries, and we’ve never learned why. Give us a shout if you can offer a clue.
- We’ll have the motherboard free as soon as we twirl away this screw and spudger off a couple FPC connectors.
- No one could have expected this display cable to be threaded through a slit in the chassis and latched onto the motherboard as if trying to pull it down to its doom…
- …No one except for you, if you’ve read pretty much any of our Galaxy teardowns in recent years.
- Samsung, we see why you did it, but we’re pretty sure you’re smarter than this. It’s 2018—show us a display we can disconnect and replace without having to carve off a glued-down back cover. We dare you!
- Motherboard achievement: unlocked.
- Despite the dual image sensors, this double camera is a single unit, on a single PCB, with a single connector!
- The S9+ camera grand total now comes to four—in addition to the (newly) dual main camera, we have the selfie and iris cameras.
- An argument can be made that with the addition of the dual-aperture camera, the total is five cameras. Four image sensors yes, but five ways to capture those images.
- The camera line appears to be called Star this time, compared to last year’s “Dream” cameras.
- Our friends over at TechInsights pulled the camera modules apart, and there are chips lurking in there. Samsung claims that their integrated DRAM helps the camera wrangle up to four times more image data. 960 FPS slo-mo, anybody?
- The mighty headphone jack makes a valiant return. Its gasket protects the phone, and its modularity promises an inexpensive repair should it need replacement.
- We snag the multi-purpose daughterboard assembly, featuring coaxial interconnect cables, microphone, USB-C connector, and oodles of spring contacts.
- The daughterboard-mounted charging port is a cheaper and easier replacement than one on the motherboard. Thanks, Samsung!
- Next out is the second of the speakers—the earpiece—which newly doubles as a loudspeaker, enabling not just stereo but “surround” sound (such as a phone can offer).
Throw that mobo on the table and give it a spin! Side A has all the big hits:
- Samsung K3UH6H6-NGCJ LPDDR4X 4 GB DRAM, layered over a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- Toshiba THGAF4G9N4LBAIR 64 GB UFS (NAND flash + controller)
- AVAGO AFEM-9096 KM1746
- Qualcomm Aqstic™ WCD9341 audio codec
- Maxim MAX77705F PMIC
- Qualcomm QET4100 envelope tracker
- Maxim MAX98512 audio amplifier
Side B has all the hits they couldn’t fit:
- Murata KM7N16048 (likely Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module)
- NXP 80T17 (likely NFC controller)
- Qualcomm PM845 (likely PMIC)
- Qualcomm SDR845 101 (likely modem)
- Skyyworks 78160-11 15575.1 1748 MX
- Qualcomm PM8005 PMIC
- It’s a hotbed of teardown activity as we attempt to unseat the display—but this glue is trying our patience, and we abandon our pile of iOpeners in favor of a heat gun once again.
- As before, the heat and opening pick can do the job, but it’s a marathon slog to get here if you’re replacing a broken screen.
- The Samsung-made display cable, like the cameras, is labeled Star, and combines both display and digitizer in one sealed unit.
- There’s one last chip piggybacked onto the display:
- *** Samsung S6SY761X touch controller (as seen on the S8 series)
- Time for a biometrics faceoff.
- On the left, looking pretty much exactly like what we found last year, we have the S9+ hardware: iris scanner, front-facing camera, IR emitter, and proximity sensor.
- On the right, the raison d’être for Apple’s infamous notch: Face ID hardware including a front-facing camera, IR dot projector, IR camera, plus room for the flood illuminator and rangefinder embedded in the display.
- Some assembly required : Based on early reviews, it may have been overly ambitious of Samsung to jump on the Animoji train without a hardware update to bring it up to speed.
- That’s a wrap! For now anyway. Feast your eyes on these Galaxy S9+ bits and look forward to more teardown fun from iFixit!
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- Pro (√) : Many components are modular and can be replaced independently.
- Con (-) : The battery replacement is technically possible, but accessing it is an unnecessary challenge.
- (X) : Display and rear glass increase the chance of breakage, and make repairs difficult to start.
- (X) :Replacing the screen requires removing the glass rear panel and disassembling the entire phone while battling tough adhesive.