We’re counting down the days to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. There’ll be gadgets galore emerging from the annual tech event along with some of the most anticipated smartphone launches of the year. Included in the agenda is the latest Galaxy S9 flagship from Samsung. Here’s what we know so far from the generous helping of rumours and leaks that are floating around.
Leak: The S9 Will Be Very Similar to the S8
Evan Blass is a regular leaker of smartphones and at this stage, I’m pretty sure manufacturers like Samsung are just feeding him leaks. Regardless, this all means that when he leaks something it’s usually true. Sure enough, he leaked the Samsung Galaxy S9 quite some time ago:
These are the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ https://t.co/deXGg39m0d pic.twitter.com/RNGezrF4Bs
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 26, 2018
At first glance, there would appear to be little or no difference between last year’s flagships and the S9 range. This leak was given even more credibility through a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) chat. A user claiming to have spent twenty minutes with a ‘close to production Samsung S9’ confirmed the Blass leak to be accurate. The AMA leaker has since deleted their comments but can still be found; nothing is ever really deleted from the internet.
According to the AMA leaker, the S9 is practically indiscernible to the S8.
About a week away from the next #GalaxyS9 and #GalaxyS9Plus launching at #CES2018 – here's a fairly likely leak of what they'll look like. pic.twitter.com/kvNjeaFISt
— Martin Meany (@martinmeany) February 18, 2018
Leak: The Galaxy S9 Will Have a Headphone Jack
Between the Blass leak and the AMA, it’s become apparent that Samsung continues to resist the urge to remove the headphone jack from their smartphones. The S9 is going to push sound as a key feature too, with Dolby branded speakers pumped out equalised audio. This is likely to be all show and little substance in the way of delivering an amazing audio experience. With that said, it’s not like the audio will be terrible and is apparently better than the S8.
The headphones in the box are set to be wired AKG buds, just like the ones that come with the Note8. I can vouch for these; they’re great.
Leak: Bixby Returns With a Dedicated Button Again
I personally love my Samsung Note8. It’s the best phone I’ve ever bought; hands down. But Samsung decided to install a physical button which launches Bixby; Samsung’s smart assistant. The problem with this is that Bixby is a little crap. I’ve never really had much of a desire to use Bixby leaving that button to just sit there as a big pile of useless. Customising the button isn’t an option that Samsung felt they should bring to the table either. Bah!
The Bixby button returns on the S9 and I’m pretty sure that Samsung won’t want anyone customising what it does. The AMA discussion did fire up someone saying they customised what that button does on their current phone, but these features are shut down as they come out. We’ll wait and see what happens.
Rumour: S9+ Users to Get the Note8 Camera
It’s a real pity that Samsung hasn’t seen fit to bring the Note8 camera setup to all Galaxy users. Honestly, the camera on the Note8 has blown me away with a cracking dual-lens setup. As a result, the phone can deliver stunning deep images now famous thanks to the iPhone’s Portrait shot. Galaxy S9+ users, however, will get to enjoy the dual-lens setup and be able to take those quality bokeh style shots.
Now, the surprising thing is Samsung’s launch teaser.
The S9+ adopting the Note8-style dual-lens surely is great news, but will something else groundbreaking be in store for S9 regular users? Samsung’s Unpacked invite clearly implies a massive improvement in the regular S9’s camera. A reimagining surely needs a fair improvement to justify such a hearty call out. Given the lack of a second lens, it would appear that Samsung’s updates are going to be software based, not hardware. That’s slightly underwhelming as a key call out on a flagship launch.
The only possible challenge to my logic is that Samsung is focusing on the front-facing ‘selfie’ lens. There’s one massive leak from Samsung themselves suggesting this might just be their focus.
Leak: Samsung’s Take on Apple’s Animoji
According to a Valentines Day YouTube post on Samsung’s Korean channel, the next generation S-range will have some sort of take on Apple’s surprisingly popular Animoji feature:
The video suggests it’s all about getting your emotions across through your phone. Actually, I think that’s what the video suggests. It’s a little cryptic, right? The Animoji feature certainly was a random win for Apple with the launch of the iPhone X so it’s quite likely that Samsung will try and pull off something similar with their own front-front facing camera. Just how they will without the plethora of sensors and lenses available on the iPhone X remains to be seen.
Leak: The Fingerprint Scanner Moves
The Galaxy S8 fingerprint scanner positioning boggles the mind. It’s off out in the middle of nowhere. Actually, I felt the exact same about the Note8’s fingerprint scanner until the official Samsung case made finding the right position to unlock the phone second nature. Samsung obviously trawled through online forums and realised everyone thought their decision to land a fingerprint scanner to the right of the camera lens was pretty damn stupid.
The Galaxy S9 fingerprint scanner will, by all accounts, move below the camera lens. The same is true for the S9+ with two lenses and a fingerprint scanner lining up horizontally on the read of the device.
Rumour: The Most Expensive Galaxy Yet
Smartphones are getting bloody expensive these days. I’ve been harping on about how great the Note8 is but I really paid for the honour to have it. Take the good with the bad right. The Samsung Galaxy S9 will be about €120 more than last year’s model. We’ll hopefully have network pricing in the next few days, so be sure to sign up to our newsletter below.
When is the Samsung Galaxy S9 Officially Launching?
Samsung officially launch the next generation Galaxy flagships on 25 February 2018 at their annual Unpacked event.
Our Verdict on the Samsung Galaxy S9
As is often the case, whether or not the Galaxy S9 is worth picking up or not comes down to your own phone right now. If you’ve got a Galaxy S7, the Galaxy S9 is a cracking upgrade. If you’ve got the S8, you’ll be left wondering how Samsung can really call this an upgrade. The perennial churning out of phones seems to be a force of habit rather than neccesity, but manufacturers are raking in the cash because the demand is out there.
I’m sure the Galaxy S9 is going to be a cracking phone and the S9+ will be even better still. But, if you are in the market for a new phone, you’ll likely be just as well served by a Galaxy S8 and you’ll have a few bob left in your pocket.