Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Handsets reported to debut at CES 2018 in January

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ could be coming as soon as January 2018, with a report suggesting that Samsung’s latest will make an appearance at CES 2018.

Even Blass at Venturebeat says “someone briefed on the company’s plans” has pointed to Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show as a debut location for the S9 and S9+. These handsets will, apparently, be “nearly identical” in appearance to their predecessors, with changes being internal rather than external.

Unlike the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the upcoming flagships will differ in terms of core hardware. The S9+ will allegedly have 6GB RAM compared to the S9’s 4GB, as well as a second rear camera, reminiscent of the Note 8.

The potential January unveiling matches with other reports we’ve heard. More on that below.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know

If you’re looking to buy a smartphone in 2017, you could do worse than the Samsung Galaxy S8. Our five-star review named it as 2017’s best, but since then we’ve seen the release of the Google Pixel 2, as well as the iPhone and iPhone 8. And that means Samsung will need to make the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the larger S9+, better than ever. So what can we expect from Samsung’s next duo of flagship phones? Keep reading to find out.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ release date and price

Samsung usually launches its Galaxy S flagships early spring, with the Galaxy S8 pushing this window back to the tail end of March. We’d say a similar timeframe is likely for the Galaxy S9.

However, a recent rumour, suggests that Samsung may buck this trend to push its Galaxy S9 and S9+ handsets as soon as January 2018.

This comes from a report by South Korean Media, which claims Samsung Display’s OLED panels are due to ship at the beginning of November. The thinking is that, because this date is two months earlier than this year’s shipment for the Galaxy S8, the Korean tech giant is also planning to launch a device a couple of months earlier than March. The main argument is, with Apple’s iPhone X predicted to make a big impact on consumers, Samsung wants to shorten the distance between the S9 unveiling and the iPhone 8 and iPhone X launch.

Price-wise, the Galaxy S8 costs a whopping £689. If it sells well, Samsung will have no real reason to slash this down. Besides, the Galaxy S9 will be pitched as a premium flagship phone, so something slightly shy of £700 is probable.

The Samsung Galaxy S9, like previous models before it, will come in two major variants. That’s according to information gathered by Sam Mobile, which points to a pair of firmware codes as evidence for two handsets.

It’s not an enormous leap in logic to assume that Samsung would plan two Galaxy S9 devices, much like it did with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. But the information obtained by Sam Mobile backs this up with two pieces of firmware notation, G960FXXU0AQI5 and G965FXXU0AQI5, along with model numbers for SM-G960 and SM-G965. These are thought to be for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ respectively. 

The site also notes that firmware development seems to be starting two weeks earlier than it did with the Galaxy S8 last year. Could this point to an earlier release date? If so, it would chime with previous reports that Samsung may be planning a launch as soon as January or February.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ in brief

  • Samsung’s 2018 flagship, as inevitable as rain
  • Expected release around March or April 2018, but could be as soon as January
  • Likely to be very expensive, close to the £700 mark, and around £800 for the S9+

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ features

No headphone jack?

It looks like the Samsung Galaxy S9 could actually be planning to take a page out of Apple’s book, with a recent spec leak sourced by TechDroider hinting the upcoming handset will not have a headphone jack.

The supposed leak covers a couple of sketches, purporting to be the Galaxy S9 and S9+. A number of bullet points cover a range of features for the devices, including a note that they will have “no headphone jack”.

The notes also claim the S9 will have “more secure facial recognition”, an “under-screen fingerprint sensor”, a dual 16MP rear camera and a 5.8-inch screen. The S9+ looks much the same, except for a 6.2-inch screen.

If true, the facial recognition note is likely a response to the similar ability in Apple’s iPhone X. The under-screen fingerprint sensor has also been rumoured, although it’s unsure whether the tech will be up to scratch in time for the Galaxy S9.

As always, these should be taken with a pinch of salt. A few of the details chime with previous rumours, although it could just be a case of someone mocking something up based on those reports.

Slow-mo camera

A new rumour is circulating that the Samsung Galaxy S9 will come with a camera capable of 1,000 frames per second. That means the next Samsung flagship could be used to capture high-quality, super-slow-motion videos.

The murmur comes from Korean tech site ETNews, which claims Samsung’s next smartphone camera will be developed to a standard close to that of expensive broadcasting equipment. The device’s slow-motion capabilities will be on par with those used by sports referees, the report suggests.

ETNews claims Samsung is about to start mass production on a three-layered image sensor, comparable to the approach taken by Sony with the camera on its Xperia XZ Premium – capable of capturing 960 frames per second.

Seeing as Sony has patented the technology, Samsung will need to create a technical workaround for its own three-layered sensors, to avoid stepping on Sony’s legal shoes. 

There’s not much to go on in terms of gauging the truth behind these claims, and seeing as the Galaxy S9 isn’t likely to launch until Q1 2018, it may be some time before we get a definitive answer. If Samsung does push for a super-slow-mo camera, it may help to give it a leg up over Apple’s new iPhone X.

Dual cameras

According to financial service group KGI Securities, the S9 will integrate a dual-camera setup that’s similar to the one found on the Note 8. While KGI’s analyst Ming-Chi Kuo didn’t get into specifics about the Galaxy S9’s setup, he did suggest the handset will approach its camera much like the Note 8. That device has two 12MP sensors, combining an f/1.7 wide-angle lens with an f/2.4 telephoto lens with up to 10x optical zoom. That knocks the 2x zoom on the iPhone 7 out of the water, bringing it level with the iPhone 8 Plus, and it sets a high standard for Samsung’s next flagship.

As 9to5Google reports, adding dual-cameras seems like a logic step for Samsung to make with the Galaxy S9, but it will be interesting to see exactly how the Korean company divvies out the modules – whether it sticks with the Note 8’s telephoto lens or goes with something else. 

This comes on the back of a report from renowned tipster Eldar Murtazin, who claims the upcoming flagship will have replaceable modules, comparable to the “MotoMods” of past Motorola phones. 

If true, the claim could point to the Galaxy S9 having parts that can be clipped on the handset, such as camera kit, a sound system or a mini projector. The LG G5 also used a modular design, before the approach was canned by the company for the LG G6. It’s a technique that’s being adopted in a looser sense by the Essential Phone, which has a removable camera module.

Murtazin claims Samsung is planning to introduce magnetic pins on the rear of the phone, where modules for battery packs or camera lenses could be attached. Given the industry’s movement away from modular design, it doesn’t seem like the most likely direction for Samsung to take. Then again, it is becoming increasingly difficult for new handsets to steal headlines with innovative features, so perhaps the company is thinking outside the (removable) box.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ design

Apple may have launched the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, but a newly surfaced patent shows Samsung may already be planning to echo the design of the latter for the Galaxy S9. The iPhone X is expected to come with a “notched” screen; a compromise between the end-to-end display and the necessity of leaving room for critical components like the front-facing camera, speaker and other sensors. The result is a display with that curves like two ears, around a jutting area for the modules that can’t be hidden beneath the screen.

A patent filed by Samsung in May – crucially, before it released the Infinity Display-design of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 – has now been approved by Korean Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS). It shows a similar line of thought, with a comparable notch at the top of its display.

(Credit: KIPRIS)

Given the success of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8, it may be that the Korean company abandons this patent in favour of honing its curved Infinity Display approach. If it does decide to pursue the “notched” design, however, we can expect a continuation of the numerous patent wars fought by the two companies.

Samsung might be working on a Galaxy S9 Mini

Samsung could be readying a miniature version of its upcoming Galaxy S9 handset, with a renowned tipster hinting that the Korean company is working on a small screen handset. 

The suggestions comes from leaker i Ice universe [i冰宇宙], who has written on Chinese blogging site Weibo that a Samsung Galaxy S9 variant will have a display measuring under 5 inches. For comparison, the screen on the Galaxy S8 is 5.8 inches.

There’s no name given for the smaller handset, although the hint of a “full screen”, at least according to Google Translate. That means it may have a similar Infinity Display design to the Galaxy S8 and, presumably, the Galaxy S9. That points to a Galaxy S9 Mini.

i Ice Universe doesn’t mention a release date – so it’s unclear if the device will be framed as an S9 Mini, or an iPhone SE-style standalone handset. Of course, all of this may end up being false – expect to hear more in the coming months. 

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs

Elsewhere, as reported by XDA, unnamed sources claim that the Samsung Galaxy S9 is slated to feature the follow up to this year’s Snapdragon 835 chipset, apparently dubbed Snapdragon 845.

For the uninitiated, the recent pattern for Samsung Galaxy S phones has been to split processor duties between Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips and Samsung’s own Exynos chips. The former have tended to feature in North America, and the latter in other markets. Given this precedent, the rumour of a Snapdragon 845 chip looks likely, although nothing has been officially announced so far.

Weibo tipster Ice Universe has also claimed that Samsung is hoarding 2018’s initial supply of Snapdragon 845 chips. Again, while the chip has yet to be revealed by Qualcomm, this does follow a similar pattern to reports this year of Samsung buying up early Snapdragon 835 stock for the Galaxy S8.

Tipster Benjamin Geskin has also tweeted a spec list, claiming the S9 and S9+ will have 6GB RAM, and 128GB internal storage with an SD slot. He points to the S9 having a Snapdragon 845 in the US and China, and the Exynos 9 Octa chipset in other territories.


It’s early days, but there are already several reports about technology that could find its way into the Galaxy S9. The Investor claims chipmaker Qualcomm is working with Samsung on a new mobile chip, thought to be called the Snapdragon 845, predicted to be used in the Galaxy S9.

Elsewhere, Korean publication The Bell is reporting that Samsung has been working on Galaxy S9 display panels since March 2017. Jesus, take a holiday Samsung.

Battery life

Previous news also points to the Galaxy S9 boasting the bigger battery than the S8. A report from Korean site ETNews claims Samsung is looking into using Substrate-like PCB technology that would allow manufacturers to include more layers of components without having to increase the size of the board itself. The site says Samsung will start to use this in time for the Samsung Galaxy S9 when it launches in 2018, noting that it would only work with the Exynos variant of the device. If successful, the new motherboard setup could give the Galaxy S9 room to fit a larger battery than the 3,500mAh cell used in the S8.

Samsung revealed that it has created LTE modems for the upcoming batch of in-house Exynos mobile chipsets that come with support for six-carrier aggregation (6CA). What does that mean? Mainly, faster cellular download speeds of up to 1.2Gbits/sec. How? Carrier aggregation increases LTE speeds by using multiple LTE bands across the spectrum simultaneously. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 currently offers 5CA, while the new Exynos processor will allow 6CA – that means it could boast 20% faster data speeds.

All this relies on carriers supporting 6CA on their side of things, which makes the figures somewhat academic at the moment. EE, for example, which has just launched gigabit LTE in the UK, is only using three-carrier aggregation. Still, the potential is there for super-speedy downloads, and that Exynos chip is almost certainly set to feature in the Galaxy S9.

More recently, rumours have suggested Samsung’s Galaxy S9 won’t feature an in-screen scanner, as had been previously hinted. Instead, it will retain the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner with a view to having an in-screen scanner by the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 release date. 

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ 4 things we’d like to see

We had a quick ask-around the office and came up with four things we’d like to see in the Galaxy S9.

  1. A fingerprint sensor not near a camera lens 
    The Galaxy S8 made the odd decision to place its fingerprint scanner directly beside the phone’s rear camera. That’s a clear recipe for smudging up your lens, so we’d like Samsung to move the sensor, ideally beneath the front screen.
  2. A price that’s a bit more affordable 
    We’re not expecting a massive reduction, but we’d like to see Samsung cycle back from the price increase in the Galaxy S8. Given the critical success of this year’s handset, however, it’s unlikely that Samsung will pull back its prices on the Galaxy S9.
  3. A dual-lens camera 
    The camera improvements on the Galaxy S8 weren’t enormous, so it would be good to see Samsung go the way of the iPhone 7 Plus, Mate 9 and LG G6 and introduce a dual-lens camera into the Galaxy S9.
  4. Make Bixby more useful 
    Samsung made much of the addition of its AI assistant, Bixby. In practice, however, Bixby hasn’t proven all that useful. If they’re committed to the onboard AI, we’d like to see more widespread Bixby integration on the Galaxy S9.

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