Galaxy S9 Has a Problem, and It's Not Even Out Yet

Samsung's Galaxy S9 might not be attracting the kind of market appeal that the company might have hoped.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Samsung's new handsets, which are slated to hit store shelves on March 16, have so far tallied "about the same or slightly lower" pre-order numbers than last year's Galaxy S8, according to the Yonhap News Agency. That data came from an unidentified Samsung official, who said the lack of growth is due to the two-day span between when Samsung unveiled the smartphone and actually offered it on pre-order. His comments were earlier reported on by BGR.

But one analyst has a different take on what might be happening. In a note to investors, Jeff Johnston from Arthur Wood Research, said that his channel checks suggest pre-orders are down about 50 percent compared to where they were last with the Galaxy S8. In the note, obtained by Barrons, Johnston said that the Galaxy S9 line is "significantly underperforming" Samsung's expectations. He added that upgraders might not see much value in the new features.

MORE: 8 Reasons the iPhone X Beats the Galaxy S9

Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S9 last month a day ahead of Mobile World Congress. The handset, along with its larger alternative, the Galaxy S9+, offers a design nearly identical to last year's models. The biggest change is the new Super Speed Dual Pixel camera, which offers better low-light performance and a new Super Slow-Mo video mode.

Other upgrades include stereo speakers, brighter screens and new features like AR Emoji, which didn't impress in our hands-on S9 preview.

But whether the problem is actually unique to Samsung is decidedly up for debate. Johnston said in his note that "smartphone sales are starting to decline at an accelerating rate." Other handset makers, in other words, are also dealing with the same problem. And although there could be less interest in Galaxy S9, there appears to be less interest in smartphone upgrades in general.

Samsung is planning to release its Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ on March 16. It'll be available on every major carrier network.

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.