Sam­sung Galaxy S9

MARIE BLACK rounds up ev­ery­thing we know so far

Android Advisor - - Contents -

It’s in­ter­est­ing, given that the Galaxy S9 is ru­moured to ap­pear in early 2018, just how few im­ages have leaked. We’ve yet to see a photo of the Galaxy S9 in the flesh, and even ren­ders and con­cept im­ages are no­tably thin on the ground. At a guess we’d say this is be­cause it’s go­ing to look an aw­ful lot like the Galaxy S8.

That cer­tainly seems to be the case, judg­ing by the first Galaxy S9 cases from ac­ces­sory maker Olixar (shown at the top of this page). With the Galaxy S9 on the left and Galaxy S9+ on the right, it’s clear that a

key dif­fer­ence be­tween the two is a dual-cam­era on the larger model. This is backed up by a rear Galaxy S9 panel un­earthed by Sam­mo­bile, which re­veals space for only a sin­gle cam­era and fin­ger­print scan­ner.

In­ter­est­ingly, both im­ages – and the Galaxy S9 schematic that leaked via Weibo (shown above) – sug­gest there will be a fin­ger­print scan­ner on the rear, but in a new po­si­tion be­low the cam­era. This goes against ru­mours that the S9 will get an em­bed­ded un­der-glass fin­ger­print scan­ner at the front.

As be­fore we’d ex­pect to see a 5.8in In­fin­ity Dis­play on the Galaxy S9, and a 6.2in ver­sion on the S9+. The new phones should see a per­for­mance boost with ei­ther the 7nm Snap­dragon 845 or 10nm Exynos 9810 in­side de­pend­ing on your lo­ca­tion. With a Snap­dragon 845 in­side the Galaxy S9+ has posted a multi-core score of 8351 points in Geek­bench 4 (that’s very fast).

There is ru­moured to be a new pur­ple colour op­tion, but less likely are re­ports that the Galaxy S9 could have a mod­u­lar de­sign. Sam­sung is al­legedly

plan­ning to in­tro­duce mag­netic pins on the back of the phone that will al­low the at­tach­ment of ex­ter­nal mod­ules. And the DeX dock, sold as an op­tional ex­tra, will now op­er­ate wire­lessly and re­sem­ble a pad rather than a dock, re­veals Galaxy Club.

Re­lease date

Pre­dict­ing the Galaxy S9 re­lease date is no longer as easy as it once was. Tra­di­tion­ally Sam­sung has launched its flag­ship the day be­fore MWC, which would put its an­nounce­ment on 25 Fe­bru­ary 2018.

How­ever, in 2017 it de­layed the Galaxy S8 launch un­til March, with the phone go­ing on sale at the end of April. While it said it used this ex­tra time for thor­ough bat­tery test­ing (the ear­lier Note 7 was taken off sale due to bat­tery prob­lems), it also had the ex­clu­sive on the Snap­dragon 835. By de­lay­ing its launch it pre­vented other man­u­fac­tur­ers us­ing that chip in their flag­ships un­til after it had gone on sale.

Though we are fairly cer­tain the Snap­dragon 845 will fea­ture in the Galaxy S9, at least in the UK, we do not yet know whether Sam­sung again holds the ex­clu­sive on the chip. If it does, we may see an­other March launch event.

In 2018 there is talk of LG an­nounc­ing its ri­val G7 early in Jan­uary at CES 2018, which Sam­sung may choose to copy. There are some ru­mours to back up this the­ory – Sam­sung be­gan ship­ping OLED pan­els two months early in Novem­ber, and the Galaxy S9 was (al­legedly) first spot­ted on Geek­bench way back in July – but the com­pany has de­nied that a Jan­uary un­veil­ing is likely. (To be fair, if the G7 re­ally is com­ing early we should ex­pect the com­pany to start re­veal­ing its fea­tures via press re­leases in the very near fu­ture.)

Ven­tureBeat sources claim the phones will be on show at CES 2018. It’s usu­ally a very re­li­able source, though we sus­pect it might merely mean that the Galaxy S9 will be seen by some peo­ple be­hind closed doors at CES.

Price

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ were Sam­sung’s most ex­pen­sive S-series phones yet at £689 and £779 re­spec­tively. Part of this ex­tra cost can be at­trib­uted to the new fea­tures, but fi­nances fol­low­ing both Brexit and the Note 7 dis­as­ter have al­most cer­tainly come into play here, too.

Un­til this year, Sam­sung al­ways kept its pric­ing rea­son­ably con­stant, and in line with other flag­ship phone mak­ers. For that rea­son we’d be sur­prised to see the price go any higher than the cur­rent RRP.

It’s al­ways worth con­sid­er­ing with Sam­sung phones that – more so than with any other man­u­fac­turer’s smart­phones – SIM-free prices fall rapidly in the few months fol­low­ing launch.

New fea­tures and spec­i­fi­ca­tions

Sam­sung re­port­edly be­gan work­ing on the Galaxy S9 in late March 2017, which would mean it is al­ready six months ahead of sched­ule com­pared to where it was with the Galaxy S8 and S8+ last year. And that means more time for qual­ity con­trol, more time for build­ing in new fea­tures and, hope­fully, more happy cus­tomers.

Amaz­ingly, in July 2017 an early ver­sion of the al­leged S9 was spot­ted in the Geek­bench data­base – that’s some seven or eight months be­fore we ex­pect to see the phone an­nounce­ment. A de­vice with the model name SM-G9650 is listed with a 1.78GHz quad­core Snap­dragon 845 pro­ces­sor and just 4GB of RAM. It scored 7371 points in the Ren­derScript test, which is lower than the Galaxy S8 man­aged in the same test. There are no per­for­mance scores.

Dis­play

An un­named source sug­gests the first work on the Galaxy S9 be­gan with the screen, and that there is not ex­pected to be any change with the siz­ing: so we’ll see a 5.8in Galaxy S9 and 6.2in Galaxy S9+.

The Bell re­ports that Sam­sung has al­ready or­dered these screens from sup­pli­ers, but with one key dif­fer­ence: they will fea­ture the in-dis­play fin­ger-print-scan­ning tech that was ru­moured for but never made it into the fi­nal spec of the Galaxy S8.

As we ap­proach the Galaxy S9 re­lease date, how­ever, that’s look­ing in­creas­ingly un­likely. The In­vestor re­ports that the in-dis­play fin­ger-print-scan­ning tech won’t be ready in time, while Ice Uni­verse says the fin­ger­print scan­ner will re­main on the rear but un­der the cam­era rather than to its side.

We’d ex­pect to see the same 2960x1440, 570ppi, Su­per AMOLED ‘In­fin­ity’ panel on the S9, and an­other 529ppi panel on the S9+. Given that Sam­sung by de­fault lim­its the screen res­o­lu­tion to Full-HD+ (2220x1080) in the Galaxy S8, we re­ally don’t think it will push up the res­o­lu­tion up to 4K.

It is pos­si­ble that de­spite keep­ing the same di­men­sions and res­o­lu­tion the dis­play tech­nol­ogy it­self could be im­proved. Sam­sung is re­port­edly us­ing screen tech code-named ‘Sun­flower’ for the Galaxy S9 – it’s still Su­per AMOLED, but should im­prove dis­play fi­delity and be more con­sis­tent and re­li­able.

The new vir­tu­ally full-screen 18.5:9 ra­tio will also likely re­main, as will fea­tures such as the al­ways-on dis­play and edge func­tion­al­ity. How­ever, in 2018 we could see Sam­sung fol­low the route Ap­ple has taken with the iPhone X and min­i­mize the top bezel even fur­ther.

Rather than a thin strip at the top in which to house the sen­sors, cam­era and speak­ers the iPhone 8 fea­tures a notch at the top and then min­i­mizes the bezels to the left and right of this. It’s not an at­trac­tive de­sign, but it does al­low for a higher screen-to-body ra­tio. Patents un­earthed by Galaxy Club sug­gest Sam­sung has the same idea.

Sam­sung will al­legedly im­ple­ment its Y-OCTA tech into both mod­els this time around, with only the stan­dard Galaxy S8 get­ting the treat­ment in 2017 (the Galaxy S8 Plus does not and the Note 8 ap­par­ently will not get it ei­ther). Y-OCTA uses a sin­gle man­u­fac­tur­ing process for the screen and the touch-film el­e­ment.

In 2016 Sam­sung patented a glass-coat­ing tech­nol­ogy that helps wa­ter to bounce off the screen, mak­ing it much eas­ier to use in the rain. This tech could well be in­tro­duced in the Galaxy S9, which will it­self most likely be water­proof. (The Galaxy S8 is rated IP68, which means it is re­sis­tant to sub­mer­sion up to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 min­utes.)

Pro­ces­sor

In the UK we’ll al­most cer­tainly see the Snap­dragon 845 pow­er­ing the Galaxy S9, which was in early De­cem­ber con­firmed by Qual­comm at a spe­cial press event in Hawaii. It may once again hold the ex­clu­sive on this chip, forc­ing ri­vals to wait un­til the Galaxy S9 has been un­veiled to use that same chip, but for now that is merely a ru­mour.

The 10nm Snap­dragon 835 Sam­sung helped Qual­comm to man­u­fac­ture was 27 per­cent faster and 40 per­cent more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient than the com­pany’s

pre­vi­ous 14nm chips. The up­com­ing Snap­dragon 845 is said to be built on the 7nm man­u­fac­tur­ing process, and will be even faster and more ef­fi­cient than ever.

(The nm fig­ure re­lates to the dis­tance be­tween tran­sis­tors, and the more you can squeeze on to a chip the faster it will be.)

Key new fea­tures of­fered by the Snap­dragon 845 in­clude a se­cure pro­cess­ing unit (SPU) that Qual­comm says of­fers “vault-like se­cu­rity” with the mi­cro­pro­ces­sor, mem­ory, crypto en­gine and ran­dom num­ber gen­er­a­tor all sit­ting on its own power is­land. Per­for­mance and bat­tery life will also im­prove, thanks to an octa-core Kryo 385 CPU with four 2.8GHz high-power cores and four 1.8GHz low power cores; the 845 is 30 per­cent more ef­fi­cient than the 835 for gam­ing, video and AR/VR, says Sam­sung.

Qual­comm’s new su­per-fast X20 LTE mo­dem is built-in, of­fer­ing CAT 18 speeds of more than 1Gb/s, as well as an en­hanced Spec­tra 280 im­age

sig­nal pro­ces­sor. Qual­comm has bumped up video record­ing po­ten­tial to Ul­tra-HD, and added in var­i­ous AI im­prove­ments.

Per­for­mance from the Galaxy S9 with the Snap­dragon 845 in­side is ex­pected to get a real boost. Geek­bench 4 scores for the Galaxy S9+ have been re­vealed on the site’s data­base, and as you can see in the chart be­low they are quite a bit faster than that of the Galaxy S8+. (In­ter­est­ingly the data­base also re­veals 5GB of RAM, sug­gest­ing there is 6GB on at least one of the Galaxy S9+ mod­els.)

Else­where in the world Sam­sung uses its own Exynos chips, and has just an­nounced the Exynos 9810 which is the most likely can­di­date.

We don’t know a great deal about the 9810, but we do know it’s built on the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion 10nm process, which is in­ter­est­ing given that the Snap­dragon is thought to be 7nm. We also know that it fea­tures M3 cores, and builds in im­prove­ments to the GPU, which may now be the Mali-G72.

Sam­sung has an­nounced that its next-gen­er­a­tion Exynos chips will fea­ture LTE modems that sup­port six car­rier ag­gre­ga­tion (6CA). A first in the in­dus­try, Sam­sung says this un­locks a max­i­mum down­load speed of 1.2Gb/s (20 per­cent faster than the Galaxy S8, which has a 5CA mo­dem). It should al­low you to down­load an HD movie in just 10 sec­onds, and elim­i­nate buffer­ing.

Sam­sung is also said to be look­ing to build AI pro­cess­ing right into its chips, which will per­form bet­ter when hard-coded to the chip than left to the soft­ware. So Bixby could be­come a lot more ef­fi­cient.

Stor­age and RAM

You get 64GB of stor­age as stan­dard with the Galaxy S8, along with mi­croSD sup­port. That’s al­ready quite gen­er­ous, so we’re not ex­pect­ing to see any changes here. Some­thing we might see in the S9, though, is for Sam­sung to fi­nally push up the RAM al­lo­ca­tion from 4GB to 6GB, as it has done for the Note 8. This is by no means out of the ques­tion, with some phones that are now a year old of­fer­ing this amount of mem­ory. It would also help it in its quest for ev­er­in­creas­ing per­for­mance.

Bat­tery

Al­though the size of the phone is not ex­pected to change, we could see bat­tery ca­pac­ity get a boost with the Sam­sung Galaxy S9. ET News re­ports that Sam­sung will fa­cil­i­tate this us­ing a new type of moth­er­board that uses sub­strate-like PCB tech­nol­ogy to squeeze in more lay­ers of com­po­nents – or ex­tra room for the bat­tery pack.

Fast charg­ing – both wired and wire­less – will likely fea­ture, though we sus­pect Sam­sung will con­tinue to use its own Adap­tive Fast Charg­ing tech rather than the Quick Charge built into Snap­dragon pro­ces­sors.

Cam­era

Sam­sung tra­di­tion­ally leads the pack when it comes to new smart­phone fea­tures, so we’re some­what puz­zled by the fact it has yet to in­tro­duce a dual-cam­era on its S series. Nev­er­the­less, one does fea­ture in the Note 8, so ex­pect it to fea­ture in the Galaxy S9 too, but likely only in the Plus vari­ant.

Sam­sung’s Note 8 has a 12Mp dual-lens cam­era with dual-OIS and 2x op­ti­cal zoom.

It’s been claimed that the Galaxy S9 will be able to shoot in­cred­i­ble 1,000fps slow-mo video. This will ap­par­ently be achieved us­ing a three-lay­ered im­age sen­sor that adds DRAM to the sen­sor and logic chip, which be­gan mass pro­duc­tion in Novem­ber. This builds on the two-lay­ered ap­proach seen in cur­rent high-end smart­phones, though Sony has also used a three-layer sys­tem in its XZ Pre­mium and XZ1 phones.

Ports and con­nec­tions

Sam­sung in­tro­duced USB-C rather than Mi­cro-USB for the Galaxy S8, though it didn’t fol­low the likes of Ap­ple in re­mov­ing the 3.5mm head­phone jack and re­ly­ing on wire­less or USB-C au­dio. There is a danger it could take that plunge this time around, though noth­ing has yet been con­firmed.

Fin­ger­print scan­ner

One change we would like to see in the de­sign, and some­thing we hope Sam­sung will take into ac­count fol­low­ing sig­nif­i­cant con­sumer crit­i­cism, is the awk­ward plac­ing of the rear fin­ger­print scan­ner. It’s not so much be­ing on the back of the hand­set that of­fends us, but how it is wedged in be­side the cam­era as if it were an af­ter­thought. It’s look­ing likely that this will be moved to a new po­si­tion be­low the pri­mary cam­era.

How­ever, the Galaxy S9 could be the phone in which we fi­nally see the fin­ger­print scan­ner built into the screen glass it­self. Qual­comm has an­nounced

Qual­comm Fin­ger­print Sen­sors, a new ul­tra­sonic tech­nol­ogy that al­lows fin­ger­print-sens­ing tech to be built di­rectly into a phone’s OLED screen. It also works in glass and alu­minium.

Sy­nap­tics has also an­nounced its Clear ID FS9500, an un­der-glass fin­ger­print sen­sor that it says will be found in a top five smart­phone com­pany in a bezel­free OLED in­fin­ity dis­play. There’s no ev­i­dence that it is re­fer­ring to the Galaxy S9, but that is the ex­act same name used by Sam­sung for it own dis­plays.

Just in time for the Galaxy S9’s re­lease Sam­sung has been awarded a patent for an un­der-glass fin­ger­print scan­ner. Ac­cord­ing to GSMArena, the patent sug­gests that a smart­phone could have up to 12 pres­sure points on the whole screen for the fin­ger­print to al­low se­cure apps, con­tacts, and mes­sages.

Au­dio

The au­dio on a phone can be a bit for­got­ten but Sam­sung won’t with the Galaxy S9. Ac­cord­ing to ru­mours it will not only keep the head­phone jack but also come with wire­less AKG head­phones in the box. They might just be tuned by AKG like the cur­rent Galaxy phones but it still sounds good.

Soft­ware

An­droid O is al­most cer­tainly the op­er­at­ing sys­tem you’ll find on board the S9 and S9+, al­beit with the TouchWiz UI on top. Sam­sung also in­tro­duced the Bixby AI as­sis­tant in the Galaxy S8, which we would have thought would have only got more in­tel­li­gent for the Galaxy S9.

Sam­sung Galaxy S8

Sam­sung Galaxy S8

Sam­sung Galaxy S8

Sam­sung Galaxy S8

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