The Galaxy S9 and S9+ are launching at Mobile World Congress, with a special event on February 25, and the new phones are reportedly hitting store shelves March 16.
But what should you expect from these two flagships? Similar designs to the current Galaxy S8 lineup but with significantly upgraded cameras, a much more powerful processor and a few surprises.
Based on various leaks and rumors from multiple sources, including a leaked retail box, here’s what the specs for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ look like at this stage. These specs are by no means final a lot could change between now and the end of February but should provide a good picture of what to expect from Samsung.
Design and Displays
The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ may not look much different than their predecessors — and that wouldn’t be a bad thing. We loved the design of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, thanks to their Infinity Displays that nearly go from edge to edge, as well as the sharp 2960 x 1440-pixel resolution on both phones. One tweak that will please is that Samsung should be moving the fingerprint reader beneath the camera lens, so it should be easier to reach without looking. This sensor was to the right of the lens on the S8.
The S9 and S9+ are expected to sport similar Super AMOLED panels at 5.8 inches and 6.2 inches, respectively. However, we’re hoping that Samsung can boost the brightness as well as the color accuracy on the screens for its new flagships, as the iPhone X beat the Note 8 and S8 in our OLED screen face-off. We also hope that Samsung leaves the headphone jack alone, as having this feature is an advantage over Apple’s lineup as well as other Android flagships like Google’s Pixel 2 or Motorola’s Z2 Force.
We’ve seen evidence that Samsung will be trumpeting the “reimagined” cameras in the Galaxy S9 and S9+, and recent reports seem to back that up. Specifically, a leaked image of the Galaxy S9’s packaging shows that it will feature a Super Speed Dual Pixel camera with a 12-megapixel resolution. We’re not exactly sure what Super Speed means, but we’re guessing that both the S9 and S9+ will offer even faster capture than the S8.
Even more interesting, the S9 will apparently have two rated apertures: f/1.5 and f/2.4. This would allow the f/1.5 would kick in when you’re shooting in low light. And as ArsTechnica reports, the f/2.4 aperture would enable the S9 to have a wider depth of field.
The Galaxy S9+ should be even better, as it will reportedly include a second lens that should provide a 2x optical zoom and portrait mode-style shots like the Galaxy Note 8. In addition, you should expect a Live Focus feature that lets you customize how much of a blur effect you want on the background. As with the Note 8, you should be able to adjust this on the fly while you shoot or after the fact.
CPU, RAM and Storage
According to a report in VentureBeat, the Galaxy S9 will offer 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage standard, while the S9+ will step up to 6GB and 128GB. A microSD card slot should still be on board for expansion.
The biggest news is the all-but-confirmed addition of the Snapdragon 845 processor. This CPU will not only be up to 25 percent faster than the Snapdragon 835 chip in the Galaxy S8, it will offer several other advantages.
For one, the 845 processor will boast an improved image signal processor, which means the S9 and S9+ should be able to capture images more quickly, as well as possibly shoot slow-motion video at 480 frames per second. The 845 chip also enables better HDR photos, which should enable the S9 to better compete with the Google Pixel 2.
Faster charging should also be available through the Snapdragon 845, as sell as improved biometric security and super fast gigabit LTE speeds.
Stereo Audio and Headphone Jack
Despite rumors that Samsung might be ditching the headphone jack for the Galaxy S9 and S9+, more recent reports point to Samsung keeping it around. And that’s a good thing, even though there are plenty of great wireless headphones now available for those looking to cut the cord.
Samsung already demonstrated with the S8 that it could deliver a IP68 water resistant design along with a 3.5mm jack, and we don’t see why Samsung would mess with that formula, as the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X all lack a jack.
One welcome change on the audio front could be stereo speakers for both the Galaxy S9 and S9+, which will reportedly be powered by AKG. Samsung has trailed behind the likes of HTC when it comes to sound quality, so it would be great to see the company step up its game here.
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will likely pack the same size batteries as their predecessors. That’s according to Android Headlines, which says that the S9 will feature a 3,000 mAh battery and the S9+ will have a 3,500 mAh battery. However, these phones should still be able to last longer on a charge. That’s because Qualcomm promises that the GPU in the Snapdragon 845 chip has 30 percent better power efficiency. In addition, the 845 processor has four dedicated A55 efficiency cores.
It’s safe to say that the Bixby assistant on the Galaxy S8 didn’t set the world on fire. In fact, many lobbied for Samsung to allow users to re-map the Bixby button to another function. However, it looks like the Galaxy S9 should do a better job of integrating Bixby’s AI into the overall user interface, as opposed to the feature being a siloed thing.
According to leaker Ice Universe, a new Galaxy AI UX will power the Galaxy S9, which would include more elements of artificial intelligence and machine learning. It’s also safe to assume that Samsung will try to build on the momentum behind Bixby being a way to tie all of its other electronics and appliances together, which was a central theme for the company at CES 2018.
On the surface, the specs for the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ don’t look that different from the Galaxy S8 and S8+. But Samsung doesn’t need to make radical changes. A much improved camera, smarter software, faster processor, longer battery life and beefier audio could help Samsung retain the title of best Android phone and make a serious challenge to the iPhone X as best phone overall.