The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 are battling it out with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. 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. Expect the bar to be raised once again when Samsung releases its flagship — most likely in the first half of 2018 — as it will reportedly add key missing features to what already is the best Android phone.
What should you expect? Here’s everything you need to know right now about what’s planned for the Galaxy S9.
Update Nov. 21: Latest Galaxy S9 Rumors
- It doesn’t look like Samsung will be offering a direct Face ID competitor on the Galaxy S9.
- Samsung could release three models of the Galaxy S9, including a new S9 Mini.
- The first Galaxy S9 renders reveal a design that’s even sexier than the original, and with a fingerprint sensor that’s much less awkward.
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.
That was bolstered by a September report in BGR that suggested Samsung will announce and release the Galaxy S9 sooner than it did the Galaxy S8.
Another report in Forbes said that Samsung has already started working on its Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ and could actually unveil the handsets on Feb. 25 with a launch date sometime in March 2018.
However, Ice Universe, a serial Samsung leaker who has been accurate more times than not about the company’s plans, says the company is actually moving ahead of schedule and plans to start mass production in December. That could mean we could see the Galaxy S9 line launch sooner than expected, and perhaps as early as late February or very early March.
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.
• Some Dimensional Talk: A report in Android Headlines contends that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will be slightly shorter than their predecessors. According to the report, the Galaxy S9 will come in at 144.1mm in length, making it about 5mm shorter than the Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S9+ could measure 155.2mm in height, a 4.7mm drop. Width and thickness, however, should be the same.
• Hello, Notch? Samsung could decide to take a design cue from Apple’s iPhone X, according to a Forbes report. To make the smartphone’s screen appear even bigger and cover more of the face, Samsung is considering slimming down the bezels and only leaving a depression or a notch at the top of the screen. A report discovered by Android Headlines added that a slimmer bezel design choice was indeed in the works, but Samsung still wants to retain the 18.5:9 aspect ratio it used in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8.
• Insanely Powerful Processor: 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. A report from SamMobile seemingly confirms that the Galaxy S9 will be the first Android phone with a Snapdragon 845 chip inside.
That was followed by a report from BGR that said the processor will be a Samsung exclusive initially, giving it an early advantage over other Android-based devices.
After the Snapdragon 820 (left) and 835, look for a more powerful mobile processor in the Galaxy S9. (Credit: Qualcomm)
While the processor might be powerful, there’s also talk that Samsung might skimp a little on the RAM side and offer only 4GB of onboard memory. It would be nice to see a little more from the company, and that could change, but with memory prices sky high right now, Samsung might be trying to preserve its margins by only offering 4GB.
Some of those shortcuts might be present, if a new benchmark test from Geekbench is any indication. That site recently published the results of a Geekbench 4 test on a device believed to be the Galaxy S9. It found that the smartphone is significantly less powerful and capable than Apple’s iPhone X. But it’s a bit more powerful than previous generation Samsung handsets, including the Galaxy Note 8.
The Galaxy Note 8 is expected to add dual rear cameras, and the S9 should follow suit next year. (Credit: Tung Ha/Facebook)
• Physical Fingerprint Sensor According to a report from an unidentified SamMobile source, Samsung is ditching plans for a fingerprint sensor integrated into the screen and will instead place a physical sensor on the back. It’s unknown, however, whether the sensor will still be placed in the awful position next to the rear camera or find a more convenient location in the middle of the panel.
A person who goes by the name Ice Universe on Weibo and Twitter claimed to be “100% sure” Samsung will not go with “screen fingerprint recognition” in the Galaxy S9. Ice Universe has a rather strong track record. Whether Samsung will opt to remove the fingerprint sensor entirely or stick with a physical sensor, however, is unknown.
• 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 added dual rear lenses. Analysts expect that feature to make its way to the Galaxy S9, too.
According to an Android Headlines report, the rear-facing camera will come with a 16-megapixel sensor. The front camera will deliver 12 megapixels and could come with a dual-sensor layout.
Credit: jPzamoraS/Android Headlines
• A Face ID Competitor? Not likely. Samsung could come out swinging against the iPhone X’s flagship security feature. That is, if you believe some thinly-sourced Twitter accounts suggesting it. The smartphone would come with a “3D sensor front camera” that won’t be duped by photographs like the 2D scanner in the Galaxy S8. Iris scanning will still be there, too.
However, a more recent report from Business Korea says Samsung won’t be able to integrate 3D face scanning in time, citing “technological limitations.”
• Super Slow-Mo: There’s also talk of the possibility of Samsung’s Galaxy S9 delivering images in super slow-motion, thanks to a rear-facing camera sensor that would support 1,000 frames per second. That would put the Galaxy S9 on par with Sony’s Xperia XZ1 and allow for the possibility of incredible photo and video captures.
• 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.
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 likely future-proofing its phone for when 5G is ready to roll out (whenever that may be).
• Headphone jack could go away: Watch out, Apple: Samsung might have decided to ditch the headphone jack in the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, according to an Android Headlines report. Samsung had considered the same move in the Galaxy S8, but ultimately decided to keep the port.
• 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.
Another report from Android Headlines said Samsung wants to keep the 18.5:9 aspect ratio, even if the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ come with slightly shorter cases than their predecessors.
How Many Models Will We See?
Conventional wisdom over the last several months has suggested that Samsung is only planning two new models: updates to the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. However, a few new reports say that’s all wrong and the company might actually offer a smaller model to complement those bigger alternatives.
Ice Universe, a highly respected Samsung leaker, recently revealed that Samsung is planning a version that would come with a sub-5-inch screen. The Galaxy S9 Mini, as it might be called, would come with all the same high-end components, like the Snapdragon 845, but have a smaller screen to accommodate smaller devices, Ice Universe predicted, according to Forbes.
The Ice Universe claim was given a bit more credence soon after, when Valuewalk said that the company is indeed planning a Galaxy S9 Mini. That report said the smartphone would have a screen with a 4-inch display, but exactly how big is unknown.
Could This Be the Galaxy S9?
Samsung isn’t tipping what its Galaxy S9 might look like, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill and designers from churning out renderings and concept art based on all the rumors.
The latest comes from DBS Designing, which has floated a possible design concept that features a flat front and back and metal edges. It’s unknown whether Samsung would even deliver a design like that, but it would certainly stand out against the iPhone X.
Credit: DBS Designing/BGR
Not to be outdone, designer Benjamin Geskin has released new renders based on all of the rumors surrounding Samsung’s smartphone. His renders envision a smartphone with a curved screen and smaller bezels around the display than the Galaxy S8 line. He also believes that the fingerprint sensor will be moved below vertically aligned dual rear-facing lenses rather than next to the horizontal cameras like the in the previous models.
Here’s his prediction:
Samsung has a lot on its plate right now. The Galaxy Note 8 is off to a strong start, but that product is targeted at early adopters and power users, and isn’t as key to the company’s fortunes as the more mainstream Galaxy S line. The good news is that every early rumor indicates the Galaxy S9 will improve upon many of the features that make the Galaxy S8 so great.