- Pixel 2 along with the iPhone X pose a serious threat
- The design has barely changed
- Fingerprint reader now easier to use
- Plus model to come with 6 GB RAM and dual cameras
- Betting big on the camera
- Pricing has increased but so has the performance
It's another Mobile World Congress (MWC) and it's time for a brand new Samsung Galaxy S series smartphone.
In the past two years, it almost appeared as if Apple was falling behind in the smartphone race, while devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 moving ahead in the game with not just bending edge to edge displays but better cameras as well.
By the end of 2017 there was another player in the premium segment, the Google Pixel 2. As humble as new Pixel 2 may appear in the looks department, it makes up for those plain Jane looks with some machine learning smarts. What is more surprising is how Google went from nothing to one of the best smartphone makers in the premium smartphone segment in less than two years.
And while Google may claim its not serious about smartphone sales, it's easy to deduct that it will be eating into Apple and Samsung's share of premium segment pie in the years to come.
Apple showcased the iPhone X with Face ID, Animoji and an edge-to-edge Super Retina display, so Samsung will have to do much more before it can even dream about setting a similar asking price (which is well over Rs 1 lakh).
While the launch on 25 February will tell us whether its beats the iPhone X or not, rumours and leaks from around the web have a lot to tell about the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.
From the currently available leaked images reported by WinFuture, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus look very similar to the Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus.
On the front, the bezels may have reduced by a small margin, but it will definitely be hard to tell the S8 from the S9 by simply looking at the display and the bezels.
The same applies to the sides, where Samsung seems to have used the same sandwiched metal chassis between two sheets of curved glass, like on the currently available Galaxy S8.
Move to the back and its here that you will notice the one and only change, the camera setup.
Samsung seems to have finally offered some differentiation between the two Galaxy S models it has been releasing every year.
The Galaxy S9 features a single camera setup with the camera ring now hosting the fingerprint reader as well. However, unlike the annoyingly placed fingerprint readers in the past, the new one sits below the camera instead of the right side, which was difficult to reach.
On the Galaxy S9 Plus, the camera set up looks like it was picked off the Note 8 with dual cameras and fingerprint reader on the right, but this setup is now placed vertically.
While it looks different, the fingerprint reader now is even more accessible than ever before because of its placement that reaches closer to the center of the back panel.
Moving to the display, Samsung will add a similar QHD+ displays on both the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9 Plus.
These will be the same SuperAMOLED Infinity displays but an 18.5:9 display ratio. The Samsung Galaxy S9 will feature a smaller display at 5.8-inches, while the bigger Plus model is expected to be unveiled with a massive 6.2-inch unit.
While the details are not too clear, we do know that Samsung has worked on making these displays appear almost bezel-less. This time there are rumours that the Korean electronics giant has reduced the chin of the smartphone even further to make way an even better bezel-less appearance than the S8.
Hopefully Samsung has gotten rid of that red tinge which plagued the handsets last year.
Chipset, Storage, RAM:
Unlike last year, Samsung is expected to be a bit more generous this year when it comes to hardware differentiations between the standard and the Plus model.
It's no secret that some markets will get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (with lesser performance) SoC while others like India will get the Exynos 9810 SoC. The benchmarks of both chipsets leaked out only recently.
But for once, buyers of the Galaxy S9 Plus will get something more with 6 GB RAM instead of the 4 GB RAM on the standard model. Sadly, for all the monies spent on these shiny new devices, Samsung will only offer 64 GB of internal storage. Fortunately, for those who crave more storage space, there's storage expansion up to 256 GB.
Unfortunately, Samsung will couple microSD storage expansion with its dual SIM slot (hybrid SIM), so if you have two SIM cards you can wave goodbye to that. Hopefully, Samsung does launch a higher storage variant soon like they did last year.
If there is one area that Samsung has excelled in the past two years, it has to be the cameras. Samsung has been churning out some class leading camera hardware (and software) but with Pixel 2's machine learning chops, we expect Samsung to do better this year.
Being a bit old school, Samsung could once again choose to go all hardware or add a pinch of AI to create its own secret sauce.
From the current rumours, a leaked package indicated that the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus could feature dual aperture. While most cameras work with a fixed aperture, Samsung's flagships should be able to deliver better bokeh images even in low light using hardware magic. Better so, if both cameras can click using different apertures, the images no matter what the lighting condition should look pretty good as explained in our detailed report here.
As for the sensors, the Galaxy S9 should feature an 8 MP autofocus front-facing camera and a 12 MP rear facing camera with OIS and a stunning f/1.5 to f/2.4 aperture.
Another detail we are hoping to see on the Galaxy S9 is 4K 60 fps video recording, which is found on Apple's iPhone 8, 8 Plus and the iPhone X. While we have yet to see any evidence of 60 fps 4K video recording, we do know through recent Samsung teasers that the phone will feature a super-slow motion video recording mode.
Another cool new camera feature that will debut with the S9 and S9 Plus could be an Apple-like 3D emoji. Samsung's version of the same adds a body to the character and even allows for character customisations, letting you use your own face in the Animoji. This has been revealed by Samsung's very own teaser videos that also showcase a super slow motion feature and better low light photography.
Pricing is an area that Samsung could win a few customers, with Apple's iPhones, getting pricier every year. Since the brand manufactures units in the country itself, there are plenty of chances that the price tags of the new Galaxy S9 smartphones could be the same. However, news around the web weave a different story.
According to various sources, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is expected to be priced around Rs 72,000. As for the bigger Galaxy S9 Plus, expect it to be priced at a hefty Rs 80,000.
Indeed the big question here is whether Samsung can deliver some revolutionary new features, that will convince buyers to spend more in comparison to last year's flagships.
Looking at all of the above rumours and leaks, it seems like Samsung has done its homework and will bring something new to the table. But without a new design, will it still wow audiences in the premium segment? This is worrying as Apple launched a beautiful iPhone X last year, with an edge-to-edge display, that looks like a million bucks. At the launch on 25 February, we will know for sure!