Update: The Samsung Galaxy S9 launch date has been revealed, while the latest leaks include a video seemingly showing the phone, plus rumors pointing to the size of the battery and the makeup of its outside material.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 launch will be one of the biggest of the year in the phone space, with the eyes of the world firmly placed on the South Korean firm as it introduces its retort to Apple's iPhone X, which arrived towards the end of 2017.
There's no question that this is when we'll see the refined sequel to last year's Samsung Galaxy S8, with the invite clearly teasing the number nine, and we already have a good idea of what this Android smartphone looks like.
The thing is, the S9 isn't looking like a phone to redefine the space. All the rumors, leaks and speculation to date point towards an iterative update. For those hoping for a game-changing device in the Galaxy portfolio, you may have to wait until 2019.
It won't just be the S9 though, with rumors heavily hinting at the larger Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus set to arrive alongside – following the trend of launching dual flagships phones that the firm started back in 2015 with the Galaxy S6.
Check out our Galaxy S9 rumor round-up video below
Samsung Galaxy S9 release date
- Galaxy S9 launch date: confirmed for February 25
- Galaxy S9 pre-order date: rumored for March 1
- Galaxy S9 release date: rumored for mid-March
The Samsung Galaxy S9 launch date is locked down for Sunday, February 25 in Barcelona.
We know that, because Samsung has sent us an invite to its Unpacked event on that date, teasing the number nine in the process.
This makes the Galaxy S9 launch earlier than 2017's S8 announcement, which happened after MWC, in March.
The pre-order date is rumored to be March 1, while the Samsung Galaxy S9 release date is tipped to be mid-March according to our sources close to the S9.
TechRadar's take: The Galaxy S9 launch date is now locked in, and while the pre-order and release dates aren't confirmed, the rumored timings make sense, but are certainly subject to change.
Samsung Galaxy S9 price
What we can safely predict is that the Samsung Galaxy S9 price is sure to be steep, as the Galaxy S8 launched at $720, £689, AU$1,199.
The Galaxy S9 price will, at the very least, mirror that launch price of the S8, but there's always a chance it could cost even more.
TechRadar's take: We expect the Galaxy S9 to inherit the same launch price as its predecessor as it's set to be a more iterative update, rather than a whole new reboot of the series.
Samsung Galaxy S9 screen
- An in-screen scanner
- A water-repellent coating
- A 5.8-inch QHD+ screen
The Bell reports unnamed industry sources saying that Samsung has been hard at work on the display panels for the Galaxy S9 since late March 2017. If true, that’s apparently about six months earlier than usual.
As for the form the screen will take, it's rumored (and likely) to retain the Galaxy S8's 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
There's also a good chance it will be the same size as the Galaxy S8, coming in at 5.8 inches, though one rumor puts it at 5.65 inches. It's also sure to be curved and continue Samsung's trend of using Super AMOLED, which delivers vibrant visuals and good contrast.
An image seemingly showing the Galaxy S9's retail box has also leaked, listing a 5.8-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED screen.
The biggest change could be an in-screen fingerprint scanner, which has been rumored. Notably the new Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensor can sit below quite thick displays, and OLED technology (used in Samsung flagship phones) was specifically mentioned.
Synaptics has also announced an in-screen scanner and mentioned not just OLED but also "infinity display" (which is what Samsung calls the S8's screen) and that it's being used on a phone made by a top five manufacturer.
All of that points to the Samsung Galaxy S9 having fingerprint-sensing technology below the glass.
Aside from that, in late 2016 Samsung licensed a new glass coating technology that makes water bounce off your smartphone screen. Samsung plans to include this tech in an upcoming phone, so it may mean the Galaxy S9 is much easier to use in the rain.
Watch the video below to see how the new glass coating technology works
TechRadar's take: The screen is likely to be a similar size to the S8's and will probably retain that phone's 18.5:9 aspect ratio, since that's the new popular form. Don't count on an in-screen scanner though.
Samsung Galaxy S9 design
- Smaller bezels
- A repositioned fingerprint scanner
Most recently we've seen a short video, seemingly showing the Samsung Galaxy S9 from the front and back, albeit with the screen off.
It matches up with an earlier render video and rendered images supposedly showing the Samsung Galaxy S9, which show a device that looks very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8, albeit with the fingerprint scanner moved beneath the camera lens (but not in-screen as some rumors have suggested).
The front and back both look to use curved glass, the bezels are small and there's both a 3.5mm headphone port and what's presumably a Bixby button. We've also seen another leak that suggests the phone will keep its 3.5mm headphone jack, unlike the iPhone range.
While you can't tell from these images, the bezels might actually be smaller than on the Galaxy S8, as a source claims the S9 will have around a 90% screen-to-body ratio, up from roughly 84% on the Galaxy S8.
In fact, a leaked image complete with dimensions backs that up, as it suggests that the Galaxy S9 will be marginally shorter than the S8, but will otherwise look similar, albeit with the scanner moved beneath the camera lens, just like in the images above.
A possible alternative could come in the form of a fingerprint scanner built into a notch at the bottom of the screen, a bit like the one on the Essential Phone but at the bottom rather than the top.
That theory is based on a patent which shows exactly that, but patents often don't get used in products, so it may well not happen.
We've taken a look at the website and considering there are so many conceptual images of future Samsung phones on the page detailing the Exynos 9810, we don't believe this is an accurate depiction of the Galaxy S9.
Elsewhere, Samsung has trademarked a new material called 'Metal 12' which is light and strong, so there's a chance this could be used in the S9, but it probably needs more development, so we doubt it.
We've also heard that the Galaxy S9 could have a modular design, with magnets on the back letting you attach hardware accessories (which could take the form of battery packs, zoom lenses or any number of other things), a bit like Motorola's Moto Mods.
Only one source has mentioned this possibility so far, so we'd take it with a huge pinch of salt, but it could be a key selling point of the S9 if true.
And a minor design tweak could come in the form of a new color for the Galaxy S9, with the phone supposedly landing in purple.
Recently, we've seen yet another leak of renders claiming to show the phone, which seem believable given what we've heard this far.
TechRadar's take: We'd expect a similar design to the S8, but likely with smaller bezels and a repositioned fingerprint scanner. A modular design is very unlikely.
Samsung Galaxy S9 camera
- Samsung: "The Camera. Reimagined"
- A single-lens camera with variable aperture
- Super slow motion video
- Mobile HDR video recording
The Galaxy S9 camera is going to be a key feature of Samsung's phone this year, and not because of a dual-lens camera or higher megapixels.
Instead, we're expecting to see a variable aperture, super slow motion video and the possibility of the world's first phone with HDR video capture.
The MWC 2018 launch event invite heavily teases the Samsung Galaxy S9 camera by including the words "The Camera. Reimagined."
This could mean that the Galaxy S9 camera may beat the top-of-the-line Google Pixel 2 camera if it includes a variable aperture or becomes adds the world's first camera that can capture Mobile HDR video.
Samsung Galaxy S9 camera rumors point to a 12MP Dual Pixel lens with optical image stabilization and a variable f/1.5-2.4 aperture. That means it would be able to switch between f/1.5 (great for low light shots) and f/2.4 (ideal when the lighting is better and you want more of the photo to be in focus).
This rumor comes from a leaked image of the Galaxy S9's box, which also lists it as being 'super speed', having an 8MP front-facing camera and supporting 'super slow-mo'.
That last point is something we've heard rumored before, as industry sources claim Samsung is working on a rear camera that can shoot at 1,000 frames per second, which would be better than anything on the market in a phone right now.
We've also heard more generally that the Galaxy S9 will have an upgraded camera system. Phone screens can display HDR video, but capturing it on a phone is currently impossible. Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 845 mobile chipset, however, is supposed to change all of that, and we expect this chip to be inside the Galaxy S9 in the US.
It's possible there could be differences between the cameras on the S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus though, with one source saying that while the S9 Plus will have a dual-lens snapper, the S9 will just have a single-lens one. The sketch above echos that sentiment, as do some case renders.
On the other hand, a leaked backplate apparently for the Galaxy S9 has a cut-out large enough for two camera lenses. Based on previous leaks it's likely that the lower part of the cut-out will house a fingerprint scanner, but you never know.
Either way, Samsung might offer a new way for you to unlock your phone, with leaker @UniverseIce claiming that the Galaxy S9 will have a '3D sensor front camera'.
They don't explain what they mean by that, but it sounds a lot like the iPhone X's Face ID system which allows you to use facial recognition to unlock the phone. And the 3D part suggests that like Apple's solution it won't be fooled by a picture.
We wouldn't count on this feature as the information has been limited, but we wouldn't rule it out either.
TechRadar's take: New camera modes and features are likely and a 3D face scanner is possible, as is a variable aperture camera, but most evidence suggests the Galaxy S9 won't have a dual-lens camera.
Samsung Galaxy S9 battery
- A 3,000mAh battery
- More power efficiency
The latest battery rumor comes from a certificate supposedly originating from Brazil's telecom regulator Anatel, which shows the Galaxy S9's battery as being 3,000mAh – the same size as the Galaxy S8's.
That's disappointing news, especially since and earlier report suggests Samsung will now use substrate-like PCB tech that will allow the Exynos chipset manufacturer to include a bigger battery without increasing the size of the processor.
However, whatever the size, efficiency improvements in the new chipsets should help the battery last longer.
Wireless charging is all but a given too, since the Galaxy S8 already sports it, and a photo supposedly showing the retail box (above) lists wireless charging.
TechRadar's take: Samsung is probably likely to be cautious about packing too big a battery into the phone given what happened with the Note 7, but a slight size increase is possible.
Samsung Galaxy S9 OS and power
- Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset
- Just 4GB of RAM
Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon 845, which will likely be powering US versions of the Samsung Galaxy S9.
It's an octa-core chip with four cores running at 2.8GHz and four at 1.8GHz, with the fastest cores delivering up to 30% better performance than the fastest cores in the Snapdragon 835. AI processing and graphics performance have also been improved, while power use has been reduced.
The chipset also allows cameras to record 4K Ultra HD video at 60fps.
Outside of the US, buyers are likely to get Samsung's own Exynos 9810.
It includes an LTE modem which supports theoretical download speeds of 1.2Gbps – faster than any other phone, meaning you could potentially download an HD movie within just 10 seconds.
However, it seems unlikely that we'll get 6GB of RAM inside, which is what many smartphone brands (especially Asian ones) are doing – with Samsung apparently set to stick with the much-more-sensible 4GB spec instead.
That's a claim that's been echoed by a recent benchmark for the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, but the benchmark is questionable
While it lists the Exynos 9810 chipset, which is likely to be used, along with Android Oreo, the actual scores achieved by the phone in the benchmark are far lower than we'd expect from a Samsung flagship, so the listing could be fake.
However, we've heard talk of 4GB of RAM yet again, with another source saying that while the S9 Plus might have 6GB, the standard S9 will have just 4GB, alongside 64GB or 128GB of storage. And that 4GB claim has also appeared on a leaked box photo, above.
TechRadar's take: As unlikely as just 4GB of RAM might seem most of the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction. What we can be more sure of is that you'll get either a Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset (depending on where you are) and that the phone will run Android Oreo.
Check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy S8 below.
Samsung Galaxy S9 other features
- An improved iris scanner
- Stereo speakers
Samsung will likely improve the iris scanner ifor the Galaxy S9, with the latest rumors suggesting it will be boosted to 3MP (from 2MP on the S8) and better able to recognize your eyes, even if you wear glasses or the lighting is poor. It will also apparently be faster than on the S8.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 might also have good sound, as there are rumors of it both having AKG stereo speakers and a free set of Bluetooth AKG headphones. Both of those things have now also been listed on an image seemingly showing the phone's box.
The Galaxy S9 has also now passed through the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and in the process we've learned that it will support all major LTE bands and that it will be manufactured in Vietnam – that latter point is interesting because the leaked box image pictured above was first shared in Vietnam, so this further suggests it might be accurate.
We've also seen a Samsung patent for a sensor which would analyze atmospheric conditions and alert you to how much pollution there was in the air.
Plus, one source has also claimed the Dex docking station we saw debut alongside the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus will get an update that will make it work more like a charging pad and allow you to type on the screen too. It means you won't need to use a keyboard and mouse when connecting your phone up to a monitor.
And there's evidence that the Galaxy S9 could have a dual-SIM slot, as there's mention of one at the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), though that model might be limited to parts of Asia.
TechRadar's take: With the exception of a pollution monitor all of these features are believable, and the iris scanner upgrades seem especially likely.
Samsung Galaxy S9: what we want to see
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is still the new shiny, but we've had a brainstorm about the improvements we'd like to see on the Galaxy S9.
1. A foldable screen
Rumors of the Samsung Galaxy X – a phone with a foldable display – have been building for the past few years.
A Samsung executive has told the media that the company doesn't plan to launch a fully foldable phone until at least 2019, but plans may change in the coming months.
For Samsung to build the first truly foldable phone and sell it in 2018 would be a major boost to the South Korean company, and may change the way we use our phones forever.
2. A smaller version
Samsung doesn't offer an Android alternative to the iPhone SE. Instead the company has the Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus for the mid-sized and larger phone lovers out there.
We'd like to see Samsung embrace a smaller display on the Galaxy S9, or offer up a third version that includes a smaller screen instead.
3. A fingerprint sensor under the screen
It's clear Samsung wanted to move the fingerprint sensor under the screen for the Galaxy S8, but didn't have enough time to make it work.
Instead Samsung included a touch-sensitive home button under the display, which is useful, but we'd like to see the company go the full way and include a fingerprint sensor below the screen.
4. A lower price
Samsung has had to increase the price for the Galaxy S8, making it one of the most expensive flagship phones on the market.
If you're buying it as part of a two-year deal it's not as expensive as you'd expect, but we'd like to see Samsung reduce the price for next year's phone if at all possible.
5. Dual-lens camera
Considering the camera improvements on the Galaxy S8 seem to be rather limited it would be great for Samsung to push the camera tech in the phone to a dual-lens setup on the Galaxy S9.
Given that the Galaxy Note 8 has now launched with just such a snapper, this is looking likely.
- Everything we know so far about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9