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December 07, 2017

Samsung Galaxy S9 – What we know

It feels like barely any time has passed since the release of the stunning Galaxy S8, which launched in April 2017 to near-unanimous praise from the tech press. But taking the last few years as a guide, we tend to get a new Galaxy S every March or April – which means the S9’s probably not too far away.


Samsung usually announces new phones at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which takes place at the end of February and beginning of March each year, so we’ll likely hear the full story then. But what do we know so far?


All the technical bits

One event that got the rumour mill spinning was Samsung’s announcement in late November that it had commenced mass production of system-on-chip (SoC) products using second-generation FinFET, 10LPP (Low Power Plus) process technology.


According to Samsung, its new design allows up to ten per cent higher performance or 15 per cent low power consumption compared to its last generation of chips. It also dropped the hint that these chips “will be used in digital devices scheduled to launch early next year” – and it’d be very unusual if Samsung didn’t show off its next-generation SoC on its flagship smartphone.


This new SoC is probably the Exynos 9810 in European S9s, which, among other things, comes with a Category 18 LTE modem capable of 1.2Gbps download speeds, and an “upgraded” GPU – Android Authority suggested this could be a Mali-G72, a powerful and highly energy-efficient graphics unit.


In plain English, all this means that if the rumours are true, the S9 could be a significant leap forward for mobile gaming and day-to-day usage, both in terms of performance and battery life. It would also come equipped for ultra-fast broadband speeds: 1.2 Gbps is enough to download an entire HD movie in under ten seconds.


What about the camera?

Snap-happy Samsung fans will be delighted to hear it’s been widely rumoured that the S9 may be getting the market-leading camera that will debut on the Samsung W2018 flip phone.


If true, this could be something really special. The W2018’s camera features an f/1.5 variable aperture, which is capable of switching to f/2.4 in the right lighting conditions. This could mean incredibly sharp, detailed shots with greater field depth than anything we’ve seen in a smartphone before. It also uses the same wide-angle imager seen on the Galaxy Note 8.


There’s no guarantee that the S9 will get the same camera, but given the headline-grabbing potential of putting such a cutting-edge camera on its flagship device, we’ve good reason to think they might.


Is the S9 getting a Mini?

Perhaps the most exciting rumour, though, is that Samsung may be preparing to announce an S9 Mini – a version last seen in the S5. Although both the S7 and S8 were rumoured to get a Mini, they never materialised.


But now, a Chinese man of mystery who goes by the impressive handle “Ice Universe” has leaked that a five-inch Mini, which would retain all the cutting-edge specs of the larger models while boasting an Infinity Edge display, may be on the cards. Ice Universe has a good track record with Samsung leaks, so this is definitely one to keep an eye on.


Pricing and launch date

With regard to pricing, obviously nothing has been announced yet, but the venerable TechRadar are betting on a £639 price point, similar to that of the Galaxy S8, along with a March 2018 launch.


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