Samsung's new Galaxy S9 flagship phone will be launched in the UK in 2018, updating the Galaxy S8's specs and adding some innovative new features. Despite being some way off, the Galaxy S9 has already been the subject of several leaks and here's what we know so far, along with our most-wanted improvements and whether an S9 Plus model will also be released.
Samsung isn’t one to rest on its successes, or let its battery-related failures bog it down. The Galaxy S8 has been hailed as one of the best phones ever made and the follow-up Galaxy Note 8 is also getting lots of love thanks to that excellent S Pen stylus and feature-packed software. So the bar has already been set sky high for the incoming Samsung Galaxy S9.
We're certainly not surprised to hear that the Korean tech giant is reportedly already hard at work on making its 2018 flagship phone the best yet.
The rumour mill is already firing up for the Galaxy S9, expected to launch in a few short months, as the display tech is already being manufactured. But that’s not all we’re hearing about Sammy’s next-gen flagship smartphone. Here's everything leaked and rumoured so far on the Samsung Galaxy S9, as well as essential features we're really hoping to see.
Samsung Galaxy S9 release date and price
This is the big question, right? When can we get the Samsung Galaxy S9 and what will it cost us? You’d be right to start looking into this now as the one thing for certain is that the Samsung Galaxy S9 is going to cost plenty and saving early can’t hurt.
The current S8 was released at the £689 price mark, so the S9 will almost certainly cost at least this much when it rolls out in 2018.
When in 2018? That’s less clear. Samsung announced its Galaxy S8 flagship handset in late March 2017, which was a little tardy; we're used to the new Galaxy flagship launch happening towards the end of February. Perhaps the result of extra-stringent battery testing, following the Note 7 debacle?
Right now there are murmurs of a January 2018 release for the S9 because of that early start on development that we’re hearing about. But when you consider that Samsung wants people’s contracts coming to a close for a yearly upgrade, this makes that early release seem less likely.
Of course, contracts are becoming more flexible all of the time, so who really knows? Only Sammy so far. Personally, we'd stick a fiver on a February launch date, just like the Galaxy S7 and its predecessors.
Samsung Galaxy S9 specs and features
So what do we know about Samsung's next flagship phone so far, and how will it improve on the Galaxy S8? Here's the latest rumblings on the internet, along with some wish list features and tweaks we're hoping Sammy will incorporate.
What processor will the Galaxy S9 use?
Samsung is reportedly working with Qualcomm to create a new Snapdragon 845 platform, which will make its first appearance in the Galaxy S9. That Snapdragon chipset should be a clear step up from the current top-dog, the Snapdragon 835, which is found in nearly every premium Android phone of 2017. Performance will be improved, while general energy efficiency is supposed to be better too, if the rumours are right.
Some regions however will see the Galaxy S9 released with an Exynos 9810 chipset of Samsung's sole creation. This includes some enticing modem smarts, with download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps theoretically supported (just like the Kirin 970 packed inside of the Huawei's Mate 10 Pro). That's fast enough to get a full HD movie downloaded in just 10 seconds. Wowsers.
Expect there to be at least 4GB of RAM onboard too, although we'd expect the same 6GB as the Note 8.
Will the Galaxy S9 have a bigger battery than the S8?
While Samsung has been playing it safe on the battery front of late, going small and stable, we may see a tentative jump up in capacity for the Galaxy S9.
Samsung is reportedly using a Substrate-like PCB material on its Exynos chips, which basically means larger battery support without increasing the processor size. Does that mean Asian markets with the Exynos model will get a larger battery, while Snapdragon phone owners in the West get downsized? Well, that would mean two different constructions for the same smartphone, which seems unlikely.
Finally, a fingerprint sensor built into the screen?
A new Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensor that can sit below thick displays - even OLED tech, such as the panels found on Samsung's blowers - has already been announced. Impressively, this scanner can even detect heart rate and blood flow through metal, which frankly sounds like some sci-fi craziness to us.
One of the biggest possible beneficiaries of this sensor tech is the Samsung Galaxy S9. After all, one of the S8's most iffy bits was that rear-mounted scanner, which was awkwardly pushed away and difficult to grope at times. With a front-facing sensor built into the screen, this problem would be resolved, while maintaining that gorgeous edge-to-edge bezel-free panel.
However, some recent rumours reckon that this feature will in fact be missing in action when the S9 is finally launched. Some other web whisperings point to Samsung's new flagship phone using an updated version of the iris scanner as its main security feature instead, or perhaps even using a 3D face scanner like the iPhone X. Right now a lot of the arguments are simply speculation, so we'll have to wait and see.
Will we see a 4K display on the Galaxy S9?
The hearsay that first fuelled this Galaxy S9 early release date rumour are based on a report out of South Korea that Samsung Display will start shipping the OLED screen for the S9 as early as November. Some early rumblings pointed to a foldable screen appearing at long last on this handset, but we doubt very much that this will happen. The expense versus demand doesn't add up on that one, while the slender Infinity Display design means a foldable phone isn't necessary just yet.
But will the screen feature a 4K UHD resolution with HDR support? After all, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, released early in 2017, boasts just such a panel. This wouldn't just be for enjoying a spot of Ultra HD Netflix on the go, either. Samsung is serious about mobile VR, spending plenty of time and money on its own Gear VR solution, and a 4K screen would make for seriously immersive visuals. That would give the Galaxy S9 a leg up over the competition, such as Google's Daydream VR.
What can we expect from Samsung's design and build?
Samsung has opted to lead its 2017 flagship charge with the S8 and that Infinity Display, which made for one of the more innovative and attractive mobiles of the year. Unsurprisingly, the design work barely changed at all for the later-launched Note 8.
So it’s a fair bet to expect the Galaxy S9 to also come with a dual curved edge, no front home button and super minimal bezels like the Infinity Display offers. You can also expect lots of glass and smooth edges, plus water resistance as standard.
Will the Galaxy S9 use a dual-lens camera?
The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S9 should be a dual camera setup, if rumours (and our expectations) are correct. Since the Galaxy Note 8 already offers two 12-megapixel cameras, with up to 2x optical zoom, you will almost certainly see the Galaxy S9 matching that setup.
We don't know much at all about the S9's optics just yet, although inside sources have pointed to Samsung developing a super slow motion mode to rival Sony's own 960 frames-per-second capture. Apparently Samsung's version would capture footage at a whopping 1000 frames-per-second, for the ultimate in genital-swinging slow-mo results.
The front-facing camera setup on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ offer iris recognition and facial recognition, so expect these features to appear on the S9 too. We wouldn't be surprised to see voice recognition tied in as well, so you can unlock your phone and get Bixby up and running with just a quick command.
What new software features will Samsung add to the Galaxy S9?
The Samsung Galaxy S9 will certainly launch with Android 8.0 Oreo OS onboard. That should mean a much faster phone that’s also built to optimise battery efficiency. You'll get picture-in-picture, ideal for video calls, as well as fast auto-filling for passwords and the like. Plus there's Android instant apps, notification dots for quick info without opening the app, new emojis and plenty more besides.