The Galaxy S9 is coming, but what has Samsung in store to encourage you to step back onto the smartphone treadmill and upgrade? The Galaxy S9 and S9+ won’t make their official debut for another week, at Samsung’s first Unpacked event of the year at Mobile World Congress 2018, but the rumor machine hasn’t been idle as we wait.
In fact, just about all of the features – as well as the industrial design – of the new smartphone pair have leaked out over the past few weeks. That should, on the face of it, be bad news for Samsung: after all, it’s in the company’s best interest to preserve the surprise for Sunday, February 25. Far from douse the pre-show enthusiasm, however, the leaky details have only got potential buyers more enthusiastic.
Here, then, are the three big improvements rumored to be coming to the Galaxy S9 and S9+ that will make you want to upgrade…
Dual aperture camera
It’s getting harder to find a flagship smartphone without a dual-camera option, and indeed the twin sensors are increasingly being spread down through the price ranges into mid-tier and even entry-level handsets. Nonetheless, with the Galaxy S8’s photographic talents held in high esteem, all eyes are on what Samsung might do to differentiate the Galaxy S9 and S9+. If the rumors are true, it could well be groundbreaking.
Samsung, it’s said, plans to use a twin aperture lens. Rather than two separate sensors, this is two different physical apertures – the component which controls how much light makes it through to the sensor – applied to a single sensor. By switching between them, you can choose either an f/1.5 aperture for low-light shots, it’s suggested, or an f/2.4 for getting more of a daytime scene in focus.
On top of that, the Galaxy S9+ – though not the smaller S9 – is expected to add a second camera. That’s believed to borrow the strategy from the Galaxy Note 8, using a 2x telephoto lens for the second camera for a lossless optical zoom. It would also open the door to an iPhone X-like portrait mode.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Qualcomm and Samsung have been close buddies when it comes to chips in recent years: after all, it has been Samsung Semiconductor’s production lines off which the last couple of generations of Snapdragon have been rolling. It also means we’re expecting to see the new Snapdragon 845 make its commercial debut in the Galaxy S9 and S9+, at least in the US market. It’s a faster chipset than the Snapdragon 835 in the S8, and there’s even chatter of up to 6GB of RAM to go with it.
What’s important, though, isn’t how fast the Galaxy S9 is on paper, but what you can do with that power. Android should run more smoothly, of course. However, dock the S9 or S9+ into the DeX Station which also leaked earlier this month, and it should make for a more powerful desktop replacement as well. Final specs for the DeX Station haven’t leaked quite yet, but it looks like Samsung has listened to some feedback about the first-generation dock and redesigned it so that the S9 is easier to access – along with its ports – even when its docked in place.
Repositioned fingerprint scanner
Speaking of listening to feedback, one of the simplest Galaxy S9 and S9+ changes might ironically be one of the most compelling. The location of the fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S8 was one of the most controversial aspects of that phone, not to mention one of the most complained-about. Positioning the sensor right next to the camera on the rear was a recipe for lens smudges and general frustration.
If the leaked Galaxy S9 images are anything to go by, therefore, there’s a pleasant ergonomic change in store. They show the fingerprint sensor still mounted on the rear of the Android smartphone, but now underneath the camera rather than alongside it. A small tweak, certainly, but one which could improve your day-to-day experience with the phone immeasurably over its predecessor. And, with improvements in smartphones getting more and more incremental, it’s little tweaks like this which might well persuade Galaxy S7 and S8 owners to trade in and upgrade to the newest, shiniest phone.