Spring is almost here which means its almost time for Samsung to release its latest Galaxy.
Whereas Apple uses the Fall to announce new iPhones, Samsung prefers to release new Galaxies in the Spring. And with a press event scheduled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 25, it looks like 2018 will be no different.
Here’s what we expect to see in the Galaxy S9.
Last year’s Galaxy S8 featured one of Samsung’s most radical redesigns, with the electronics giant becoming one of the first major manufacturers to release a phone that covered nearly the entirety of the front with a screen (what Samsung calls the “infinity display”).
Like the Galaxy S7 to the S6 in 2016, rumors point to this year’s design looking a lot like last year’s.
VentureBeat’s Evan Blass reports that Samsung will once again launch two flagship Galaxies, the Galaxy S9 and S9+. The S9 will feature a 5.8-inch display while the S9+ will keep the 6.2-inch screen, both the same sizes as the S8 and S8+.
Both phones will be the first to utilize Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processors, which promise zippier power and longer battery life. The new chip should also bring improvements to the camera.
Other notable S8 features that are expected to remain in the S9 line includes a fingerprint sensor (now moved to below the camera lens on the back of the phone as opposed to being right next to it) and a button on the side for summoning Samsung’s Bixby virtual assistant.
It remains to be seen if the Bixby button will be able to be customized to open an app or call up the more useful Google Assistant. Thankfully, the regular 3.5mm headphone jack that Apple and others have thrown away will remain, according to leaked images of the bottom of the phone posted by Blass on Twitter.
On the topic of sound, multiple reports indicate that the phones will have stereo speakers, a welcome addition that was long overdue.
In its invitation for the upcoming S9 launch, Samsung makes it pretty clear the new phones will be boosting improved optics. And according to recent teasers and reports, this is indeed going to be the biggest differentiator from last year’s phones.
Both the S9 and S9+ will sport rear 12-megapixel cameras, the ability to capture videos in super slow motion as well as a variable aperture that will presumably offer greatly improved low-light performance.
According to VentureBeat the S9+ will also feature a second 12-megapixel lens which should allow for a “portrait mode” similar to last year’s dual-rear camera Galaxy Note 8.
A portrait mode would also allow the S9+ to better compete with Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus and X, both of which already offer the feature.
On the software side, Korean website ET news reported last week that Samsung will take a page out of Apple’s playbook and introduce its own version of “Animoji” (or animated emoji) that use the phone’s front camera and sensor to digitally animate the emoji based on your facial reactions.
Samsung has posted multiple teasers on some of its YouTube pages that seem to all but confirm these reports.
Pricing and release date
When it comes to the Galaxy S9’s pricing and release, well, things are looking like a bit of a mixed bag.
The good news: Blass reports that the phone will be available for pre-orders on March 1, with a release roughly two weeks later on March 16.
A new report on Monday from German website Winfuture.de has Samsung moving even faster, with pre-orders starting on Sunday and the phones being released on March 8.
Now the bad news.
Similar to the iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8 all the technology in the Galaxy S9 won’t be cheap. ET News has the phone coming in at more expensive than the Galaxy S8 and S8+, which cost roughly $720 and $840, respectively, at launch last year.
The report speculates that S9 will be cheaper than the starting price of last year’s Galaxy Note 8, which was roughly $930, but that it is possible for the S9+ will be more expensive than the Note, possibly encroaching on the iPhone X’s $1,000 starting price.