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Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price

Samsung may be feeling antsy. Since the iPhone X debuted in September, Apple has monopolized most of the smartphone attention. The notch. Face ID. Animoji.

Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price

Will Samsung unveil a dramatic redesign or toe the line with the Galaxy S9?

Sarah Tew/CNET

But Samsung, which sells more phones globally than Apple or any other vendor, is rumored to have no shortage of new, cool features on deck for its next flagship — which we’ll call the Galaxy S9 for now — due sometime around… well, that’s actually up for debate. The rumors about the phone’s features range from bleeding-edge (i.e. it will be foldable) to vintage (such as, it will have a headphone jack).

Everything we recently learned about Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon 845 processor, which is likely to power the Galaxy S9, points to significant advancements in camera and security technology.

Read: What Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon may mean for Galaxy S9 As Apple’s iPhone X and iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus continue to dominate the spotlight through the holiday season, Samsung is undoubtedly waiting in the wings, eager to launch its response in 2018. (And move even further on from the debacle of its Note 7, which was recalled twice in 2016 due to exploding batteries.) With an announcement likely to come sometime in the next few months, more details are sure to leak.

What follows is a collection of what we know for sure and what we’re hearing in the wind about the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S9.

Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price

Apple has made “X” and “10” its own.


Rumor: It might not be called the Galaxy S9

The iPhone X, named in honor of the device’s 10th anniversary created a problem — or perhaps an opportunity — for Samsung. If the company sticks with the natural sequence of its own naming convention, it risks creating an inferiority complex among customers; who wants a Galaxy S9 when you can already get an iPhone X (pronounced “ten”)? According to Forbes, Samsung may follow suit with the Galaxy X.

Of course, they could one up Apple by going to the Galaxy S11 — or something else entirely.

Rumor: We’ll see it soon

Samsung usually announces its new flagship in March — the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus were unveiled on the 29th last year — and ships it in April. We think it’s a long shot, but VentureBeat has reported that Samsung may debut the new phones this year at CES, scheduled to begin on Jan.

9 in Las Vegas. If that doesn’t happen, Samsung could debut the Galaxy S9 in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress in February.

Otherwise, we’re probably looking at March.

Rumor: First with a Snapdragon 845 processor

We know that the next flagship will run Samsung’s own Exynos 9 Series 9810 processor, at least in Asia. We think that the US version will run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, which is expected to enable a whole bunch of new features plus better battery life. So far, however, only Xiaomi’s forthcoming Mi 7 is confirmed to use the Snapdragon 845.

Read: What Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon chip may mean for the Galaxy S9

Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price

Apple raised the bar with Face ID.


Rumor: Samsung has its own version of Face ID

Even before Apple upped the ante with the iPhone X, Samsung had something to prove in the facial recognition department after hackers fooled the Galaxy S8’s iris scanner using a photo and contact lenses. The Korea Herald reports that Samsung has been working to improve its technology and will bring it to its budget phones in 2018 or 2019. That noted, Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 processor, rumored to power the Galaxy S9, supports the type of 3D face mapping that’s used in Apple’s Face ID technology.

And while Apple’s Face ID technology uses 30,000 dots of infrared light to map your face, Qualcomm’s capacity is 50,000 dots, theoretically giving it an accuracy edge.

Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price

The Galaxy S8 and its loathsome fingerprint scanner.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Rumor: The fingerprint scanner is back (and on the back)

Regardless of whether Samsung’s answer to Face ID is finished in time for the Galaxy S9, we pray that the company figures out a better solution for its fingerprint scanner. The early buzz suggested that the new model would ditch its predecessor’s most cursed feature — the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner — in favor of one embedded in the display. (Note that a display-integrated scanner was a popular fantasy about the iPhone X before it launched, too.) According to The Investor, however, it sounds like the Galaxy S9 will follow in the footsteps of its ancestors, hamstrung with a rear-facing scanner.

Rumor: The Galaxy S9 could be foldable (but probably won’t be)

Last year, Samsung filed a patent for a foldable phone, and this summer Bloomberg reported that the company was considering releasing two models with bendable screens. Since then, the president of the company’s mobile business told the Associated Press that Samsung would launch such a phone once it resolved “some problems.”

Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price 8 Samsung could make this phone that ‘flips’ and folds

In some ways, the design resembles the Nintendo 3DS or the ZTE Axon M, a two-screen device that can be viewed four ways and opens to make one big 6.75-inch screen.

But it incorporates Samsung’s curved edge-to-edge displays, which may aid in the illusion that you are looking at one big screen when the phone is opened up. In November, the company’s Korean website listed a phone with the model number SM-G888NO, which is rumored to be the bendable model. Despite the circumstantial evidence, however, we’ll file this one under improbable.

Rumor: Dual cameras on the front and back

This one is up for debate.

Early reports said that the Galaxy S9 would go full iPhone X, with two cams on the front but more recent chatter suggests maybe not. For now, the consensus seems to be dual rear cams — at least for the Galaxy S9 Plus — equipped with “3-stack layer image sensors” that can shoot more than 1,000 photos per second.

Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price 21 Does the Galaxy S8 take better photos than the iPhone 7 Plus?

Rumor: The Galaxy S9 will record super high-quality video

The Snapdragon 845 would give the Galaxy S9 a big advantage, at least on paper, over other phones with killer cameras. In addition to securing bragging rights as the first to record 4K Ultra HD video, Qualcomm says the chip will produce brighter photography and video, reduce noise, and make it possible to embed tiny videos within still portraits.

Rumor: Killer battery life

Explosion issues aside, the Galaxy line is known for long battery life.

The S8 and S8 Plus both lasted about 16 hours in our tests, and the Note 8 about an hour longer. One other benefit of stepping up to the Snapdragon 845 is better power efficiency — 30 percent better, according to Qualcomm. If true, this could push the Galaxy S9 beyond the vaunted 20-hour threshold.

Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price

The Galaxy line has long allowed for expandable storage via SD card.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Rumor: 512GB of storage built in

Samsung may dramatically raise the stakes when it comes to internal storage.

It’s announced the beginning of mass production of a 512GB chip that would give the Galaxy S9 eight times the integrated capacity of the 64GB Galaxy S8. A 512GB Galaxy S9 would totally dwarf the competition: the highest-end, late model iPhones top out at 256GB of storage and the Google Pixel 2 XL comes in 64GB or 128GB versions. It’s worth noting that Samsung chips often find their way into non-Samsung phones, including the iPhone.

Rumor: The Galaxy S9 could have a headphone jack

The once-mundane 3.5mm headphone jack has become an increasingly rare, “vintage” feature that could make the Galaxy S9 that much more attractive to people who aren’t ready to ditch their collection of wired headphones.

Apple walked away from the legacy port with its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and hasn’t looked back, and the Google Pixel 2, Moto Z, Essential Phone and others have followed suit.

Rumor: It could cost way more than the current generation

There are a lot of factors that contribute to price. Apple’s £999 base model iPhone X has cleared the way for more four-figure phones in the future.

And if Samsung delivers on all of the rumored camera upgrades, that would almost certainly push the price up.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on news and rumors in the run-up to the Galaxy S9’s official debut in early 2018.


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