Update: The Samsung Galaxy S9’s battery probably won’t be getting any bigger, but there’s growing evidence of big improvements to the iris scanner.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 launch is February 25 and will be the biggest of 2018 so far, with the eyes of the world firmly placed on the South Korean firm as it introduces its retort to Apple’s iPhone X, which arrived towards the end of 2017.
The invites for the event have gone out, and we know we’ll be seeing the S9 at Samsung’s official launch event at MWC 2018 at the end of February.
There’s no question that this is when we’ll see the refined sequel to last year’s Samsung Galaxy S8, with the invite clearly teasing the number nine, and we already have a good idea of what this Android smartphone looks like.
The thing is, the S9 isn’t looking like a phone to redefine the space. All the rumors, leaks and speculation to date point towards an iterative update. For those hoping for a game-changing device in the Galaxy portfolio, you may have to wait until 2019.
It won’t just be the S9 though, with rumors heavily hinting at the larger Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus set to arrive alongside – following the trend of launching dual flagships phones that the firm started back in 2015 with the Galaxy S6.
What’s the new Samsung Galaxy S9 news?
What will the Samsung Galaxy S9 price be?
What’s the Samsung Galaxy S9 release date?
Check out our Galaxy S9 rumor round-up video below
Samsung Galaxy S9 release date
- Galaxy S9 launch date: confirmed for February 25
- Galaxy S9 pre-order date: rumored for March 1
- Galaxy S9 release date: rumored for mid-March
The Samsung Galaxy S9 launch date is locked down for Sunday, February 25 in Barcelona.
We know that, because Samsung has sent us an invite to its Unpacked event on that date, teasing the number nine in the process.
This makes the Galaxy S9 launch earlier than 2017’s S8 announcement, which happened after MWC, in March.
The pre-order date is rumored to be March 1, while the Samsung Galaxy S9 release date is tipped to be mid-March according to our sources close to the S9.
TechRadar’s take: The Galaxy S9 launch date is now locked in, and while the pre-order and release dates aren’t confirmed, the rumored timings make sense, but are certainly subject to change.
Samsung Galaxy S9 price
What we can safely predict is that the Samsung Galaxy S9 price is sure to be steep, as the Galaxy S8 launched at $720, £689, AU$1,199.
The Galaxy S9 price will, at the very least, mirror that launch price of the S8, but there’s always a chance it could cost even more.
TechRadar’s take: We expect the Galaxy S9 to inherit the same launch price as its predecessor as it’s set to be a more iterative update, rather than a whole new reboot of the series.
Samsung Galaxy S9 screen
- An in-screen scanner
- A water-repellent coating
- A 5.8-inch QHD+ screen
The Bell reports unnamed industry sources saying that Samsung has been hard at work on the display panels for the Galaxy S9 since late March 2017. If true, that’s apparently about six months earlier than usual.
As for the form the screen will take, it’s rumored (and likely) to retain the Galaxy S8’s 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
Samsung Galaxy S9 specs
Based on the rumors so far, this is what the Galaxy S9’s spec sheet looks like.
Display resolution: QHD+ (1440 x 2960)
Display size: 5.8-inch
Display tech: Super AMOLED
Chipset: Exynos 9810/Snapdragon 845
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 8MP
Rear fingerprint scanner
There’s also a good chance the display will be the same size as the Galaxy S8, coming in at 5.8 inches, despite some rumors to the contrary. It’s also sure to be curved and continue Samsung’s trend of using Super AMOLED, which delivers vibrant visuals and good contrast.
An image seemingly showing the Galaxy S9’s retail box has also leaked, listing a 5.8-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED screen.
Rumors of an in-screen fingerprint scanner abound, like the new Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensor can sit below quite thick displays, but we don’t anticipate this coming to the S9.
Synaptics has announced an in-screen scanner and mentioned not just OLED but also “infinity display” (which is what Samsung calls the S8’s screen) and that it’s being used on a phone made by a top five manufacturer – but we don’t see it being Samsung.
Aside from that, in late 2016 Samsung licensed a new glass coating technology that makes water bounce off your smartphone screen. Samsung plans to include this tech in an upcoming phone, so it may mean the Galaxy S9 is much easier to use in the rain.
Watch the video below to see how the new glass coating technology works
TechRadar’s take: The screen is likely to be a similar size to the S8’s and will probably retain that phone’s 18.5:9 aspect ratio, since that’s the new popular form. Don’t count on an in-screen scanner though.
Samsung Galaxy S9 design
- Smaller bezels
- A repositioned fingerprint scanner
The most recent design leak comes in the form of a render found on a skin-maker’s site, showing both the front and the back of the Samsung Galaxy S9.
You can make out details such as a single-lens camera with a fingerprint scanner below and an almost bezel-free screen, along with ‘Samsung’ and ‘Galaxy S9’ branding on the back.
We’ve also seen a short video, seemingly showing the Samsung Galaxy S9 from the front and back, albeit with the screen off.
This all matches up with an earlier render video and rendered images supposedly showing the Samsung Galaxy S9, which show a device that looks very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8, albeit with the fingerprint scanner moved beneath the camera lens (but not in-screen as some rumors have suggested).
The front and back both look to use curved glass, the bezels are small and there’s both a 3.5mm headphone port and what’s presumably a Bixby button. We’ve also seen another leak that suggests the phone will keep its 3.5mm headphone jack, unlike the iPhone range.
While you can’t tell from these images, the bezels might actually be smaller than on the Galaxy S8, as a source claims the S9 will have around a 90% screen-to-body ratio, up from roughly 84% on the Galaxy S8.
In fact, a leaked image complete with dimensions backs that up, as it suggests that the Galaxy S9 will be marginally shorter than the S8, but will otherwise look similar, albeit with the scanner moved beneath the camera lens, just like in the images above.
We’ve taken a look at the website and considering there are so many conceptual images of future Samsung phones on the page detailing the Exynos 9810, we don’t believe this is an accurate depiction of the Galaxy S9.
Elsewhere, Samsung has trademarked a new material called ‘Metal 12‘ which is light and strong, so there’s a chance this could be used in the S9, but it probably needs more development, so we doubt it.
We’ve also heard that the Galaxy S9 could have a modular design, with magnets on the back letting you attach hardware accessories (which could take the form of battery packs, zoom lenses or any number of other things), a bit like Motorola’s Moto Mods.
Only one source has mentioned this possibility so far, so we’d take it with a huge pinch of salt as we’ve not seen it in any renders or pictures so dar.
And a minor design tweak could come in the form of a new color for the Galaxy S9, with the phone supposedly landing in purple.
Recently, we’ve seen yet another leak of renders claiming to show the phone, which seem believable given what we’ve heard this far.
TechRadar’s take: We’d expect a similar design to the S8, but likely with smaller bezels and a repositioned fingerprint scanner. In other words, exactly what we’re seeing in most leaked images.
Samsung Galaxy S9 camera
- Samsung: “The Camera. Reimagined”
- A single-lens camera with variable aperture
- Super slow motion video
- Mobile HDR video recording
The Galaxy S9 camera is going to be a key feature of Samsung’s phone this year, and not because of a dual-lens camera or higher megapixels.
Instead, we’re expecting to see a variable aperture, super slow motion video and the possibility of the world’s first phone with HDR video capture.
The MWC 2018 launch event invite heavily teases the Samsung Galaxy S9 camera by including the words “The Camera. Reimagined.”
This could mean that the Galaxy S9 camera may beat the top-of-the-line Google Pixel 2 camera if it includes a variable aperture or becomes adds the world’s first camera that can capture Mobile HDR video.
Samsung Galaxy S9 camera rumors point to a 12MP Dual Pixel lens with optical image stabilization and a variable f/1.5-2.4 aperture. That means it would be able to switch between f/1.5 (great for low light shots) and f/2.4 (ideal when the lighting is better and you want more of the photo to be in focus).
This rumor comes from a leaked image of the Galaxy S9’s box, which also lists it as being ‘super speed’, having an 8MP front-facing camera and supporting ‘super slow-mo’.
That last point is something we’ve heard rumored before, as industry sources claim Samsung is working on a rear camera that can shoot at 1,000 frames per second, which would be better than anything on the market in a phone right now.
We’ve also heard more generally that the Galaxy S9 will have an upgraded camera system. Phone screens can display HDR video, but capturing it on a phone is currently impossible.
Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 mobile chipset, however, is supposed to change all of that, and we expect this chip to be inside the Galaxy S9 in the US.
Either way, Samsung might offer a new way for you to unlock your phone, with leaker @UniverseIce claiming that the Galaxy S9 will have a ‘3D sensor front camera’.
Galaxy S9 will use 3D sensor front cameraOctober 12, 2017
They don’t explain what they mean by that, but it sounds a lot like the iPhone X‘s Face ID system which allows you to use facial recognition to unlock the phone. And the 3D part suggests that like Apple’s solution it won’t be fooled by a picture.
More rumors have been found in the Note 8 Oreo source material on this – whether this will be for the S9 or just the S9 Plus only.
We wouldn’t count on this feature as the information has been limited, but we wouldn’t rule it out either.
TechRadar’s take: New camera modes and features are likely and a 3D face scanner is possible, as is a variable aperture camera, but most evidence suggests the Galaxy S9 won’t have a dual-lens camera.
Samsung Galaxy S9 battery
- A 3,000mAh battery
- More power efficiency
The latest battery rumor comes in the form of a picture of a replacement unit on sale already for the phone, and it has a 3,000mAh capacity – the same as the Galaxy S8.
This lines up with a certificate supposedly originating from Brazil’s telecom regulator Anatel, which also shows the Galaxy S9’s battery as being 3,000mAh.
That’s disappointing news, especially since an earlier report suggests Samsung will now use substrate-like PCB tech that will allow the Exynos chipset manufacturer to include a bigger battery without increasing the size of the processor.
However, whatever the size, efficiency improvements in the new chipsets should help the battery last longer.
Wireless charging is all but a given too, since the Galaxy S8 already sports it, and a photo supposedly showing the retail box (above) lists wireless charging.
TechRadar’s take: Samsung is probably likely to be cautious about packing too big a battery into the phone given what happened with the Note 7, but a slight size increase is possible.
Samsung Galaxy S9 OS and power
- Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset
- Just 4GB of RAM
Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon 845, which will likely be powering US versions of the Samsung Galaxy S9.
It’s an octa-core chip with four cores running at 2.8GHz and four at 1.8GHz, with the fastest cores delivering up to 30% better performance than the fastest cores in the Snapdragon 835. AI processing and graphics performance have also been improved, while power use has been reduced.
The chipset also allows cameras to record 4K Ultra HD video at 60fps.
Outside of the US, buyers are likely to get Samsung’s own Exynos 9810.
It includes an LTE modem which supports theoretical download speeds of 1.2Gbps – faster than any other phone, meaning you could potentially download an HD movie within just 10 seconds.
However, it seems unlikely that we’ll get 6GB of RAM inside, which is what many smartphone brands (especially Asian ones) are doing – with Samsung apparently set to stick with the much-more-sensible 4GB spec instead.
That’s a claim that’s been echoed by a recent benchmark for the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, but the benchmark is questionable
While it lists the Exynos 9810 chipset, which is likely to be used, along with Android Oreo, the actual scores achieved by the phone in the benchmark are far lower than we’d expect from a Samsung flagship, so the listing could be fake.
However, we’ve heard talk of 4GB of RAM yet again, with another source saying that while the S9 Plus might have 6GB, the standard S9 will have just 4GB, alongside 64GB or 128GB of storage. And that 4GB claim has also appeared on a leaked box photo, above.
TechRadar’s take: As unlikely as just 4GB of RAM might seem most of the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction. What we can be more sure of is that you’ll get either a Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset (depending on where you are) and that the phone will run Android Oreo.
Check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy S8 below.
Samsung Galaxy S9 other features
- An improved iris scanner
- Stereo speakers
Samsung will likely improve the iris scanner ifor the Galaxy S9, with rumors suggesting it will be boosted to 3MP (from 2MP on the S8) and better able to recognize your eyes, even if you wear glasses or the lighting is poor. It will also apparently be faster than on the S8.
We’ve also heard that it could leverage ‘Intelligent Scan Biometrics‘ to combine both iris scanning and facial recognition, along with the ability to work better in poor lighting.
A recent patent has detailed a similar system, with an iris camera that would recognize both of your eyes and part of your face.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 might also have good sound, as there are rumors of it both having AKG stereo speakers and a free set of Bluetooth AKG headphones. Both of those things have now also been listed on an image seemingly showing the phone’s box.
The Galaxy S9 has also now passed through the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and in the process we’ve learned that it will support all major LTE bands and that it will be manufactured in Vietnam – that latter point is interesting because the leaked box image pictured above was first shared in Vietnam, so this further suggests it might be accurate.
We’ve also seen a Samsung patent for a sensor which would analyze atmospheric conditions and alert you to how much pollution there was in the air.
Plus, one source has also claimed the Dex docking station we saw debut alongside the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus will get an update that will make it work more like a charging pad and allow you to type on the screen too. It means you won’t need to use a keyboard and mouse when connecting your phone up to a monitor.
And there’s evidence that the Galaxy S9 could have a dual-SIM slot, as there’s mention of one at the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), though that model might be limited to parts of Asia.
TechRadar’s take: With the exception of a pollution monitor all of these features are believable, and the iris scanner upgrades seem especially likely.