Samsung is about to release its next flagship — it's set to make its debut at Mobile World Congress on Feb. 25 — and the Galaxy S9 will reportedly add key features to what already is the best Android phone.
What should you expect? From a revamped camera and new AI features to the release date and specs, here's everything you need to know right now about what’s planned for the Galaxy S9.
Update Feb 23: Latest Galaxy S9 News and Rumors
- Leaked European pricing for the Galaxy S9 points to a price hike in the U.S. for both the S9 and S9+.
- Images reportedly pulled from a Samsung app give us a good look at the Galaxy S9's final design.
- A report claims that the S9 will go on sale March 16, with pre-orders starting at the end of February.
Galaxy S9 Release Date
The world will get its first look at the Galaxy S9 at Samsung's Unpacked 2018 event on Feb. 25 in Barcelona, a day prior to the start of Mobile World Congress. The invitation doesn't mention the Galaxy S9 by name, though it prominently features a "9" and contains the "Camera Reinvented" tagline we've been hearing as of late.
As for when the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will land on store shelves, that's still up in the air. However, Evan Blass previously claimed Samsung is targeting a March 16 release, based on information he says he received from an executive at a prominent case maker. Blass says the devices will go up for pre-order a little more than two weeks earlier, on March 1. A more recent report from SamMobile also cites the March 16 release date, though that report claims pre-sales start Feb. 28.
Biggest Galaxy S9 Change: The Camera(s)
Samsung has made it quite clear what to expect from the S9 — a radically redesigned camera.
We first learned about the Galaxy S9's new camera from a leaked image of the box, shared via Reddit. While the list of specs on the packaging didn't give away much, mostly because many of the details have been carried over from the Galaxy S8, the rear shooter still looks to see a notable upgrade in the form of a new 3-stack ISOCELL sensor.
A page on Samsung's website that was briefly published and noticed by SamMobile before being taken down detailed the new camera technology. The main appeal of the sensor appears to be its layered design, which allows for quicker and more accurate focusing. SamMobile also reports the new shooter may support slow-motion video at 960 frames per second and 720p resolution. If true, this would put it on equal footing with Sony's Xperia XZ1 — the only phone that currently supports the feature. A Samsung teaser video seemingly confirms that super slo-mo is coming to the new phone.
Samsung's phase detection autofocus tech could see an upgrade in the Galaxy S9 as well, with the ability to measure the distance to fast-moving objects even in poor lighting situations.
Meanwhile, the leaked image of the phone's packaging mentions a 12-megapixel sensor in Samsung's upcoming flagship that can shoot at two different apertures: f/2.4 and f/1.5. The latter would make for the widest aperture of any smartphone on the market and would come in handy in low-light settings.
Expect a single lens on the back of the Galaxy S9. The Galaxy S9+, however, is expected to add a second lens, following the lead of the dual-lens Galaxy Note 8.
How Much Will the Galaxy S9 Cost?
Get ready to pay up for this new phone. Noted leaker Evan Blass posted on Twitter about the new phone's price tag. According to Blass, the Galaxy S9 will cost €841 while the larger S9+ will go for €997. That's substantially higher than the respective €799 and €899 debut prices for the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
ETNews also reports a slight price hike is planned for Samsung's home market, of South Korea, from the equivalent of $875 to anywhere from $895 to $935. That's somewhat consistent with other reports on the S9's price, which claims that the new phone will cost $100 more than the Galaxy S8, which cost $749 at launch. The S9+ would cost about as much as the $850 Galaxy Note 8, based on these rumors.
Galaxy S9 Specs
We've got a more detailed look at how the Galaxy S9's rumored specs compare. But here's an overview of other features likely to ship in Samsung's new phone.
• Powerful Snapdragon 845 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. That would be the Snapdragon 845, which Qualcomm first previewed at its Snapdragon Technology Forum in December. We were recently able to benchmark the Snapdragon 845 for ourselves, and found that while the phone doesn't completely close the gap to the A11 Bionic chipset powering the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X, it does diminish Cupertino's advantage. And it certainly outperforms the Snapdragon 835 inside last year's Samsung's flagships.
In addition to faster performance, the Snapdragon 845 chip promises better security, longer battery life and enhanced camera capabilities.
• More RAM and Storage: The Galaxy S8 and S8+ made do with just 64GB of on-device storage, though there was the MicroSD slot for optional expandability. According to a report from SamMobile, that could change for the Galaxy S9. The latest details claim Samsung is planning a 128GB version of the Galaxy S9 to complement the base 64GB configuration, alongside three different Galaxy S9+ models sized at 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. Better yet, the S9+ is expected to get an increase to 6GB of RAM across the board, putting it on equal footing with the Galaxy Note 8.
• Similar battery capacities: A report from BGR says that the S9 will pack a 3,000 mAh battery and the Galaxy S9+ will have a 3,500 mAh battery, so you should expect more endurance from the Plus model. A more recent report from Android Headlines backs up this claim, citing battery replacement listings from a Hong Kong-based repair shop.
A more recent report says the Galaxy S9 could last 1.5 days on a charge, which would be very impressive.
• Hello, Android Oreo: This will hardly shock anyone, but the S9 and S9+ will both feature Google's latest OS, though it's unclear whether it will be Android 8.1 or any earlier version of Oreo.
What About the S9's Design?
Did you enjoy the bezel-free screen Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S8? Good, because it's coming back in the S9.
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.
Even better, Samsung looks like it's going to fix one of the biggest flaws with the S8's design. Leaked renders of both the Galaxy S9 and S9+ show that the fingerprint sensor has moved below the rear cameras, instead of being right on the side where it was too easy to smudge the camera's lens.
How Will the S9 Compare to the iPhone X?
Although rumors indicate Samsung won't be able to challenge Apple on the Face ID front, the Galaxy S9 shouldn't be completely upstaged when it comes to face-scanning tech. An instructional video discovered by an XDA Developers member who tore down the Settings app on the new phone has revealed that Samsung is planning a new authentication system called "Intelligent Scan." By the looks of it, Intelligent Scan combines two-dimensional iris and facial scanning for a more secure method than either alone.
However, while the system may be more robust than what Samsung already had in place on the Galaxy S8, there's no indication it will be dependable enough for applications besides unlocking the phone, like mobile payments.
Intelligent Scan recently surfaced again in a patent filing picked up by LetsGoDigital. The application details how the system works, and even alludes to Intelligent Scan making the jump to other products like PCs and televisions in the future.
While the Galaxy S9 probably won't support the depth-sensing imaging tech necessary to enable something like Face ID, it should still be powerful enough to handle it from a computational standpoint. Samsung recently announced its new Exynos 9810 chipset, which is expected to power overseas models of the phone. Like Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845, the processor that will more than likely be used for U.S. models, the new Exynos chip is built for 3D facial recognition as well as face tracking filters.
Finally, Samsung could try to replicate Apple's Animoji feature, according to a report circulating in Korea that claims the S9 will support 3D emoji. Adding fuel to this particular rumor is a Samsung teaser video that ends with an emoji-like twist.
What Will the S9 Look Like?
After a steady stream of leaked images and renders from those who claim to have seen the phone, we've established a pretty firm idea of what the Galaxy S9 will look like. The latest leak comes from Samsung itself — or at least an app that the company put out for its Feb. 25 launch event. An enterprising Reddit user found AR images of the Galaxy S9 and pulled them out of the app; they've since appeared on the XDA Developers site.
Another look at the S9 comes again from Evan Blass, a respected leaker, who posted an image of the 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 and 6.2-inch S9+ side by side. Both phones look to be consistent with the rumors we've heard to date. Samsung reportedly opted for a more conservative approach to this year's flagships, and decided to skip a comprehensive redesign. As a result, these devices look quite similar to the Galaxy S8 line.
Blass also shared a new color Samsung is planning for the Galaxy S9 — Lilac Purple — in addition to a returning Coral Blue hue. Both will reportedly join Midnight Black and Titanium Gray. In the past, Samsung hasn't sold all colors of Galaxy S devices in all territories, and at this time we don't know if some of these won't make the jump to North America.
In January, we got another look at the Galaxy S9 thanks to a video that recently surfaced on China's Weibo social network. In it, an individual rotates a dummy unit of a black Galaxy S9, showing off the new rear camera and central fingerprint sensor arrangement.
Renders from case producers and other third-party accessory makers have also shown devices that emulate the S8 duo, even down to the headphone jacks. All leaks surrounding the Galaxy S9+ point to a second lens for the rear camera, which appears to be the only significant difference between the two models besides the size.
We knew Samsung was planning a revision of its DeX Station for the Galaxy S9, though until now we didn't know the form it would take. According to the latest leaks shared by VentureBeat reporter Evan Blass and blog SamMobile, the new dock will function more like a pad, rather than holding the device up like the current generation model.
The DeX Pad, as it's being called, will transform the Galaxy S9 into makeshift desktop PC when connected to a monitor with an HDMI cable. The render shared also shows two USB 3.0 and one USB Type-C port on the back, while the phone is connected to the dock through a USB Type-C module that raises up out of the surface of the pad.
Just as the current DeX Station utilizes on-board fans to prevent overheating, this design sports a ventilation grille that would sit underneath the phone, cooling it as it's used. However, the Ethernet port appears to have been omitted from the design. Finally, Blass says the DeX Pad will be backwards compatible with Samsung's previous-generation flagships.