The Galaxy Note 8 is debuting at an Aug. 23 press event. But that’s not stopping people from thinking about Samsung’s next phone.
How will Samsung top the Galaxy S8 with next year’s phone? (Credit: Tom’s Guide)
That would be the Galaxy S9. And if it seems early to start thinking about that phone — the Galaxy S8 just started shipping four months ago, after all — consider that Apple’s about to unveil its 10th anniversary iPhone 8. When that happens, expect the bar for the leading smartphones to be raised once again.
How will Samsung respond? Here’s everything you need to know right now about what’s planned for the Galaxy S9.
When Will the Galaxy S9 Be Released?
If history has taught us anything, it’s that Samsung announces a smartphone in its Galaxy S lineup every spring — sometime between February and April. We don’t have an exact date at this point, but Samsung hasn’t strayed from that timeline since the first Galaxy S smartphone was unveiled back in 2010.
Right now, it seems likely that Samsung will take the wraps off the Galaxy S9 on or around Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The 2018 version of that event kicks off Feb. 26.
What Features Should We Expect from the Galaxy S9?
Here are the features that sound the most likely to ship in Samsung’s flagship next year.
- Modular Design: According to a leak by Mobile-Review editor in chief Eldar Murtazin, Samsung may make the Galaxy S9’s design modular, similar to the Moto Z series and Essential phone. In other words, you would be able to snap on various modules that would add functionality to the handset.
- Insanely Powerful Processor: Samsung worked with Qualcomm to produce the most powerful mobile processor on the market, the Snapdragon 835. For a while, that CPU was exclusive to the Galaxy S8, though it’s since arrived in other phones like the OnePlus 5 and HTC U11.
After the Snapdragon 820 (left) and 835, look for a more powerful mobile processor in the Galaxy S9. (Credit: Qualcomm)
Look for Samsung to up the ante on the S9 with a next-gen CPU that’s more efficient and features better performance than even the impressive 835. Samsung is on board, according to SamMobile. In fact, a new report from Tech Radar says that the Galaxy S9 could be one of the first phones to pack the new Snapdragon 845 chip.
• Embedded Fingerprint Sensor: Don’t expect the Galaxy S9 to look a whole lot different from its predecessor, except when you flip it over. Samsung will reportedly ditch its physical fingerprint sensor, which moved to the back of the Galaxy S8 to make room for the edge-to-edge Infinity Display.
A Qualcomm innovation has enabled Samsung to bake that sensor directly into the OLED screen. Samsung was reportedly developing its own embedded fingerprint sensor for the S8, but couldn’t get it to work properly.
Now that Qualcomm has solved the technical problems and is making its fingerprint sensor tech available early next year, it seems likely that the S9 will be one of the first devices out of the gate offering that feature. (Rumor has it that Apple would also like to place a fingerprint sensor under the screen of the iPhone 8, and Samsung is almost certainly paying attention to its chief rival’s plans.)
The Galaxy Note 8 is expected to add dual rear cameras, and the S9 should follow suit next year. (Credit: Tung Ha/Facebook)
• Dual Lens Camera: After the iPhone 7 Plus debuted with a dual lens camera last fall and LG followed up with its own dual lens system with the G6, you’d figure that Samsung would do likewise. That didn’t happen with the S8, though the Note 8 is expected to add dual rear lenses. Analysts expectthat feature to make its way to the Galaxy S9, too.
• Faster Modem: Samsung says it’s working on a next-generation version of its Exynos processor with an LTE modem that supports six-carrier aggregation. What does that mean? Theoretically, it means the Galaxy S9 could achieve download speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps, or 20 percent higher than the Galaxy S8’s modem.
Imagine downloading an HD movie in 10 seconds, livestreaming from your smartphone and making video calls with no buffer time. What a world!
In reality, though, that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon — not because of Samsung’s chipset, but because smartphone carriers have to support six-carrier aggregation, too. That almost definitely won’t happen this year or next. But Samsung is future-proofing its phone when 5G is ready to roll out (whenever that may be).
• The Return of the Infinity Display: Why mess with a good thing? The bezel-free screen Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S8 is one of that phone’s best features, so it’s no surprise Samsung apparently won’t tinker too much with the S9’s appearance.
The S9 should be the same size as this Galaxy S8. (Credit: Tom’s Guide)The Bell, a South Korean site, reports that Samsung has already ordered 5.8- and 6.2-inch displays for the S9. Those are the same sizes that the S8 and S8+ offer. To which we say: good.
Samsung has a lot on its plate right now. The next-generation Galaxy Note, due out this month, has to erase all memories of the exploding Note 7. But even though Samsung hasn’t turned its full attention to the Galaxy S9, every early rumor indicates this phone will improve upon many of the features that makes the Galaxy S8 so great.