The Galaxy S8 pioneered the edge-to-edge design, which became the most sought-after smartphone feature of 2017. Samsung needs another strong year to compete with the iPhone X, and the Galaxy S9 will be the first device out the gate in 2018.
We have heard a lot of rumors and leaks regarding the S9. To kick us off, Samsung is reportedly going to launch the S9 on February 25, one day before Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Samsung has kept to a February-March launch schedule for the S series for the past five years. The exact date has not been confirmed, but officials said January is ‘unlikely’.
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Design – are foldable phones coming?
We have also heard rumors of a modular design for the S9, similar to Moto Mods. Samsung will supposedly use magnets to connect accessories to the device, according to Twitter user Eldar Murtazin.
Galaxy S9 скорее всего получит аксессуары на магнитиках сзади. В чем-то идея схожая с MotoMods. Пока этот вариант не утвержден
— Eldar Murtazin (@eldarmurtazin) August 17, 2017
This rumor is not supported by most Samsung leakers. Magnets would make the S9 significantly chunkier than the S8, if added, which goes against the push for thinner devices every year.
The S9 may be even better equipped for splashes in the rain, if a new coating technology is used on the S9.
Samsung has an exclusive license to use the technology, shown in the video below, but has not said if it will be used on the S9.
The headphone jack and microSD card slot is expected to stay on the Galaxy S9, going against the industry trend for less wires and holes. Samsung may add a 512GB storage option for customers that want even more on-board storage.
Some commenters have called on Samsung to launch a smaller version of the S9, similar to Apple’s iPhone SE or Sony’s Xperia Compact.
We do not expect this to happen, Samsung already has a few popular smartphones that are smaller than 5.5-inches. An S9 Compact may cannibalize the company’s mid-range offerings.
Display – extending infinity
This is the year of the edge-to-edge display and we expect Samsung to trim even more bezel off the Galaxy S9.
A report from SamMobile said the S9 will have a screen-to-body ratio of 90 percent – a six percent improvement on the S8+.
Screen-to-body ratio is difficult with a device that has curved edges, so we cannot directly compare it to the iPhone X. GSM Arena did not mention the Galaxy S8 or Note 8 in its device comparison because of the edges.
Samsung started working on the display for the S9 six months sooner than it did for the S8, according to South Korean website The Bell. The report did not say what Samsung is trying to achieve with the new display technology.
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One change may be the introduction of a fingerprint sensor inside the screen. Qualcomm has developed a fingerprint scanner that can sit underneath a thick OLED display.
Engadget’s Richard Lai tested the sensor at MWC Shanghai in June and found it significantly slower than other fingerprint scanners.
Apple was supposedly shooting to add this on the iPhone X, but suffered technical problems. It switched to Face ID, a facial authentication system, but may come back to Touch ID in the future.
Instead of stuffing all the sensors on the back of the device, Samsung looks to be designing a notch. It takes cues from the Essential Phone, but will be placed at the bottom of the device.
We are not sure if this will appear on the S9 or future smartphones, as leaked renders, seen above, show the front sensors bunched up at the top of the device.
Camera – super-fast shutter speed
We haven’t heard any major changes to the aperture, optical zoom or megapixels for the Galaxy S9, but ET News said Samsung has created a sensor that can shoot 1,000 photos a second.
It’s not clear whether the super-fast image sensor will appear on the S9, but if it does, it would vastly improve slow-motion and frame-by-frame shots.
Renders show the S9 has a single lens, while the S9+ has a dual-lens. Samsung already added x2 optical zoom to the Note 8, we expect the same with the dual-lens on the S9+.
An optical zoom is far more accurate than a digital zoom, even if the digital zoom has more magnification.
Galaxy S9 will use 3D sensor front camera
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) October 12, 2017
A 3D sensor on the front of the S9 may be used for Face ID, according to Universe Ice. Samsung may also update the Iris scanner megapixels from 2 to 3, to improve the performance of its own facial recognition technology.
Internals – expect the best
Qualcomm recently announced the Snapdragon 845 and we expect to see it in the U.S. and Chinese version of the Galaxy S9.
The 845 has an octa-core CPU with a clock speed of up to 2.8GHZ. Qualcomm designed the chipset to “enable” mixed reality experiences and artificial intelligence.
For international customers, the Galaxy S9 will use the Exynos 9810 chip. Samsung announced the chipset in November and it should be ready for mass production by February.
Samsung will reportedly stick to 4GB of RAM for the Galaxy S9, staying away from 6GB of RAM. That’s according to a note from Tencent Digital News.
A direct comparison of the iPhone X and assumed S9 specs shows Samsung in front, but iOS and Android allocate resources differently and it is hard to judge performance by specifications alone.
Battery – not another Note 7
Samsung may still be fearful of overloading the S9 with juice after the Note 7, so don’t expect any major upgrades in the battery department this year.
A PhoneArena report said the S9 may see a 200mAh increase compared to the S8, which, combined with the power saving features on the Snapdragon 845 and Exynos 9810, may slightly improve battery life.
Software – don’t call it TouchWiz
Samsung is bound to be a few steps behind the current Android version, expect Oreo 8.0 out of the box. Samsung Experience UX 9, the new name for TouchWiz, will run overtop of it.
We haven’t heard of any major updates coming to the UX, although we may see performance updates to Samsung’s personal assistant, Bixby.
Samsung has some tough competition in the high-end market. The iPhone X is the main challenger, but Google’s Pixel 2 XL, LG V30+ and Huawei P10 all have features that put them ahead of the pack.
Whether they’ve done enough with the S9, we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, what features do you think should be on Samsung’s next device? Leave a comment under the article and let us know!
IMAGE CREDIT: ANDRI KOOLME, JAE C. HONG, UNIVERSE ICE, SAMSUNG
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