UPDATE – 15 January 2017: A significant leak appears to reveal the full specifications of the upcoming Galaxy S9, with the supposed retail packaging for Samsung’s upcoming phone being posted online. It also seems likely that the S9 will be announced at MWC towards the end of February 2018. We’ve updated our S9 rumours story with all the latest goings-on.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 was one of the most anticipated smartphones of 2017, and now attention has turned to its successor, the S9.
Nothing has been confirmed, but that hasn’t stopped tech enthusiasts from making predictions and sharing leaks and rumours. Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the key ones we’ve uncovered, as well as what we expect to see. Plus we point you to our expert reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ if you’re looking for a new smartphone now.
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The latest Samsung Galaxy S9 rumours
Price and release date
It’s almost a dead cert that Samsung will announce the Galaxy S9 and S9+ at Mobile World Congress (MWC), probably on Sunday 25 February 2018. We imagine the phones will then be available to buy a couple of weeks afterwards.
The S8 and S8+ were announced after MWC, making Samsung enthusiasts wait until the end of March 2017 for details. But MWC has typically been the venue for the latest high-end S-series Samsung phones.
Even though we don’t know the price of the upcoming models yet, we’re certain that they’ll be expensive. These are Samsung’s highest-profile phones and will be packed with the latest technology, which comes at a price.
Last year’s S8 launched at £689, while the S8+ was £779. Expect similar prices for the new phones in 2018.
The Infinity Display is here to stay. It went down a treat on the S8, so the only question here is how much Samsung will be able to refine it. What’s on the inside is the real question. If the rumours are true, we now have a fairly good idea.
Below is a leaked image supposedly showing the Galaxy S9’s retail box. If legitimate, we can expect to see a 5.8-inch Quad HD+ super AMOLED screen – essentially the same as last year’s S8.
The S8 is also likely to have the same 18.5:9 aspect ratio, which means it will be just more than twice as long as it is wide. This is to make large-screen phones easier to hold and use with one hand. Most phones have a 16:9 aspect ratio.
In September 2016, Samsung licensed optically clear superhydrophobic film technology. In terms of what this could actually mean for the S9, there are a few suggestions that water will jump off the screen’s display, making the phone much easier to use if you’re strolling in the rain. We’re looking forward to seeing whether there’s any credence to this.
In case you were worrying about Samsung following in the footsteps of a few other manufacturers and removing the headphone socket, we don’t think this will happen with the S9.
What else does the supposed leaked image of the S9’s retail box suggest?
The Samsung Galaxy S9 could have a 12Mp rear camera with variable aperture – this relates to how much light is let into the lens. It looks like the camera automatically uses a large f/1.5 aperture (which would be class-leading, and significantly larger than the f/1.8 on rivals like the Google Pixel 2 and iPhone X) for better results in low light and greater depth of field effects.
If this is the case, you should be able to rely on the S9 to automatically take good photos whatever the lighting conditions, and without you having to manually fiddle with the camera settings.
Another upgrade on the S8 could come in the form of stereo speakers – ‘tuned by AKG’, referring to the company that Samsung continues to use to improve its audio prowess and to supply its in-the-box headphones.
The iris scanner may get a tweak – but it’s unlikely to be nearly as advanced as Apple’s Face ID – and wireless charging may also be a bit faster.
Otherwise, we could be looking at a fairly iterative upgrade. Dust and water-resistance, a headphone jack and fingerprint reader should remain.
Fingerprint sensor – moved or hidden?
The placement of the fingerprint sensor on 2017’s S8 was criticised by some. It sits next to the rear camera as part of Samsung’s effort to create symmetry in the design. It’s not the most practical location for it, though, as it’s all too easy to put your fingerprints on the camera lens, which could make your photos look a little smudged.
We think Samsung will rectify this with the S9, but we’re not exactly sure how. It could retain its spot on the back of the phone, but move under the camera lens.
Dual rear cameras on the S9+?
In August 2017, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 8, the first in its series to feature dual rear cameras. Both of its cameras are 12Mp, but one is a telephoto lens while the other is wide angle. The theory is that this lets you zoom in on objects without losing clarity, and it also lets you play around with some depth-of-field effects (to blur the background, for example).
We imagine we’ll see a dual rear camera set-up at least on the S9+, although it doesn’t look like it’ll appear on the smaller S9.
Some sources suggest that the rear camera on the S9 will be able to shoot 1,000 frames per second. This means that motion in videos should be really smooth, and could lead to some exceptional slow-motion footage. What’s not confirmed yet is whether this feature will make it into UK models.
Samsung smartphones in the Which? test lab
Samsung Galaxy S8
As one of the most talked about smartphones of 2017, the Samsung Galaxy S8’s specs sheet makes for an impressive read.
The Android-powered mobile features a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge display and comes with 4GB of Ram, a 3,000mAh battery and 64GB of internal storage. If that doesn’t sound like much, you’ll be pleased to hear it also has a Micro-SD card slot offering expandable storage. It also has a 12Mp rear camera, and an iris scanner on the front of the mobile for quick unlocking.
At around £670 Sim-free, the Galaxy S8 doesn’t come cheap, so is it worthy of its hefty price tag? See how this smartphone fared in our test lab with our full Samsung Galaxy S8 review.
Samsung Galaxy S8+
The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is larger than its sibling, featuring an attention-grabbing 6.2-inch edge-to-edge display.
At the time of writing a Sim-free model will set you back around £750. That’s a big chunk of money to spend on a mobile, so read our full Samsung Galaxy S8+ review to see if this gadget’s worth it.