Samsung just held its Galaxy S Series Unpacked 2018 event in the city of Barcelona, Spain. The South Korean giant officially unveiled the much-anticipated and long-awaited Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ to mark the beginning of MWC 2018. Rather than holding a private event as it has done for flagship smartphone announcements in recent years, the company bypassed the idea in favor of a return to old times by showcasing its new flagship pair at a trade show in front of lots more people. As usual, there was a livestream, and we have all the information for you. Here’s a full roundup that should answer all if not most of your questions about Samsung’s “Next big thing,” the Galaxy S9.
Since the very beginning, Samsung’s Galaxy S Series has brought industry firsts, and this year’s Galaxy S9 duo is no stranger with changes in design and added features. Samsung has yet again positioned itself well among the late 2017 and early 2018 global competition, and we think you’re going to like what it has in store for this year.
Despite a major set back in 2016 that took a hit to the company’s brand image, Samsung hit all-time highs in 2017 and looks to continue the success it achieved, in 2018. Samsung continues to drive innovation forward and push the boundaries of what’s possible in mobile, this time with a ninth product installment. Like every year, fans and power users around the globe look forward to the arrival of Samsung’s newest phone, and market competitors never fail to take cues. Leaks, rumors and reports indicated what to expect, but Samsung managed to keep a few secrets.
In 2017, Samsung reached new heights. A higher than ever stock price was hit, and profits soared just about all year-long. Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 were two of the top-selling smartphones globally in just about every market, and even broke some of the company’s own sales records. Unfortunately, the same can not be said about other Android manufacturers such as LG and HTC, who continue to struggle in earning a profit. The two competitors also seem like they’ll skip MWC 2018, thanks to Samsung taking over all the attention. Perfection has always been the goal for Samsung, so few comprises were made in making the Galaxy S9.
With Galaxy S9, Samsung has provided enough change to keep buyers hungry for the latest and greatest, and that starts with design. Samsung has invested years of experience to engineer best in-class hardware. The Galaxy S9 comes with a 5.8-inch display while the larger Galaxy S9+ has a 6.2-inch screen. Both are Super AMOLED 18.5:9 Infinity displays with a Quad HD+ resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The AMOLED screen technology has been tuned to offer the best possible quality with high contrast, exceptional brightness for outdoor visibility, and true to life colors. Both handsets support HDR Video and are IP68 certified against water and dust.
The Galaxy S9 models are downright beautiful, even more so than last year’s models with Samsung’s curved dual-edge panels that make for a high screen-to-body ratio. The top and bottom bezels have been shrunken down even more to match what the competition has been able to do. Plus, the smaller Galaxy S9 can be controlled using a single hand. Around the handset is a combination of familiar metal and glass, which melt into each other giving to a rounded back. The devices are clean with an invisible home button instead of a physical key, and contain few logos. There is no fingerprint reader below the glass, but Samsung has relocated it to a more accessible spot centered on back below the camera to satisfy users who hated the positioning found on Galaxy Note 8.
This year’s handsets once again feature an 18.5:9 aspect ratio, which is becoming the norm for high-end Android flagships. It’s taller and narrower than 16:9 and shows more content on the screen at once. The latest version of Samsung Experience UI makes good use of it despite a major drawback in that of letter-boxing while watching video. Inside the Galaxy S9 models will be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor with Quick Charge 2.0 (via USB Type-C), making these phones first to include the ultra high-end unit. However, buyers in some countries will get an in-house Exynos 9810 chipset, expected to perform similarity. Also present will be 2GB of extra RAM at 6GB total for the larger Galaxy S9+ model, and 4GB total for the smaller Galaxy S9. 3,000mAh (Galaxy S9) and 3,500mAh (Galaxy S9+) batteries are included (with air gap and 8-point check!) with Qi for fast wireless charging.
Storage will start at 64GB for both variants, which is a huge plus taken from the Galaxy Note 8. Samsung will also offer 128GB and 256GB capacities at an added cost, despite all models coming with microSD card expansion (up to 256GB extra). This port along with a SIM card tray, power button, and volume controls have been placed along the sides of each handset with addition to a hardware button for Bixby, which uses machine learning and AI to create a personalized and ever-improving experience. A much-needed update is coming to the voice assistant, but it’s not version 2.0 just yet. This will bring a handful of useful features including Live Translation, Food Identification including automatic plugging in of nutrition details, the ability to make purchases (only in US, Canada, Korea, China), and even try on clothes or makeup virtually. Some of these could also make way to older generation models. On back is that fingerprint scanner as well as an enhanced Heart Rate Monitor that can now measure pressure. On front is a new Samsung Intelligent Scan that combines both Iris and Facial recognition. MST and NFC are also inside for Samsung Pay, the most widely accepted form of mobile payment out there.
On the camera side of things for the first time in a while for Samsung, we have a split. The Galaxy S9 features a single 12MP rear shooter while the Galaxy S9+ sports a dual rear camera arrangement similar to the Galaxy Note 8. Both have a dedicated DRAM chip capable of processing 4 times as much info and include Dual Pixel Multi-Frame processing, OIS (photos and videos), dual LED flash, minimal protrude, a 1.4µm pixel size, 2X zoom, and auto-adjusting Dual Aperture (f/1.5 – f/2.4) for low-light, which maxes at the widest aperture ever included in a smartphone camera. However, only the big brother has an additional 12MP telephoto lens for shooting depth and wide-angle. As for selfie cameras, both models have the same 8MP lens, which is also the same as last year’s models. It’s capable of shooting 4K and 60fps, 1080p video. It comes with smart auto-focusing and OIS.
Samsung’s newest flagships get it right when it comes to software with Android 8.0 Oreo. The duo will also jump to the front of the pack for monthly security patch updates. Some of the latest features from Google include new notifications, performance and battery improvements by further restricting background data, picture-in-picture mode, new adaptive icons, and system-wide auto-fill. Also on board is the Google Assistant, which will come in addition to Bixby Voice. Both assistants will learn about you using incorporated fifth-generation programming technology. To top everything off, Samsung’s updated Experience UI is present atop Android that’s now lighter and faster than before ever. It entails a newly-designed SmartThings app, support for Google AR Core, and enhanced security with KNOX that’s enterprise ready. There are also new AR Emoji that use AI so you can create and personalize emoji that look like you. You can even add audio to them, choose from 18 generated creations, share with anyone you want even over some third-party social apps, and, turn yourself into a Disney character.
Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ introduce a handful of new features. The camera app has been touched up with AR features that use Bixby and Live Focus is here to, a mode for taking profile pictures that blurs any background in real-time and is adjustable post-shot. There’s also 960fps Super Slow-Mo with Auto capture, which can be used in conjunction with background music, be played in reverse, set as your lockscreen, and even turned into GIF images. App Pairing is new to Samsung’s S Series this year and allows one to pin two apps to Apps Edge for dual window access.
Both Galaxy S9 phones also come with Harman and Dolby Atmos high-quality audio through both an included 3.55mm headphone jack and new stereo sound top and bottom speakers, which are the loudest ever in Galaxy phone. This should give the pair wider amplitude, clearer treble, and deeper bass. As was the case last year, Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ come with a pair of Harman AKG audio headphones ($99 value) in the box. Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11/a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and the various fitness sensors you’ll need to track exercise are all here as well, though support for Google Daydream, the virtual reality platform from Google, seems to have been left out of the equation, at least for now. But there’s always Gear VR!
With Galaxy S9, Samsung is putting competitors on notice for a great 2018 year. The company will release its new flagships alongside an Enterprise Edition globally on March 16 in over 100 countries, and pre-orders will begin on March 2. This is a bit earlier than usual. The handsets will be available on most US cell carriers and there will be an unlocked model as well to be sold by Samsung and select retailers. As a reminder, buyers can sign up for ‘Samsung Premium Care,’ which is essentially an insurance program allowing for the return of the device for a full refund, or, a screen replacement with the only cost being a small monthly fee. Pricing for the unlocked models has been set at $719 or $30/month with 24 months financing for the Galaxy S9, while the Galaxy S9+ will go for $839 or $35/month with 24 months financing. With all these lower-priced premium mid-range phones from companies such as Huawei and OnePlus, the new Galaxy phones might be a tough sell. It’ll surely be interesting to see how the market responds. Hopefully there will be some free goodies.
Samsung’s newest Galaxy phones have a Black front and come in choice of Midnight Black, Lilac Purple, Coral Blue, and Titanium Gray color options for the rear. However, availability of these will vary by location and carrier. The handsets will release in stores on March 16. We’ll have a separate post detailing availability, all the deals and the handset’s release information. Be sure to bookmark this page and return back as the news continues to pile up. Those interested in buying the phone can sign-up for email status updates over at Samsung.com. Be sure to let us know your initial thoughts about the next Galaxy in the comment section below this post.
We’ll keep you posted on everything Unpacked 2018 and MWC 2018 right as they happen! Follow us on social media for up to the minute updates from Samsung’s Unpacked 2018 event as well as continued MWC 2018 coverage.
View our constantly updating MWC 2018 guide at the link below.