Having opted against what would have been an uncharacteristic debut at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — in teaser capacity or otherwise — Samsung is now gearing up to launch the 2018 versions of its flagship Galaxy S lineup in a much more traditional fashion, just prior to Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress. These are the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ (pictured top, left to right).
As VentureBeat reported previously, more than screen dimensions will separate the two models this year (the Galaxy S8 and S8+, in contrast, are nearly identical save for their Super AMOLED display diagonals). However, as this year is mostly a component upgrade following a comprehensive redesign in 2017, neither the 5.8-inch S9 nor the 6.2-inch S9+ will be significant departures from their predecessors.
Even in an industry built on iterative upgrades, these stand out as adhering closely to the existing script.
Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 in the U.S. and China, and Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 systems-on-chip in the rest of the world, the first differentiator between the S9 siblings (codenamed Star and Star 2) lies in their memory configurations: 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage for the S9+, but the same 4GB/64GB pairing as last generation for the standard S9. With this distribution of basic components, Samsung is making it more difficult for users, some of whom may even want a smaller screen, to choose the basic S9 without additional trade-offs.
As the Unpacked invitation suggests, the main highlight for both the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will be refreshed imaging hardware and software — a notion confirmed by two people briefed on Samsung’s plans. Besides motion-detected, “super slow-mo” video capture (rapid movement triggers 480fps recording at 720p), both devices are said to feature variable aperture on their primary 12-megapixel cameras. It’s a mechanical adjustment that switches between f/2.4 and smallest-in-class f/1.5.
The Galaxy S9+ adds a second 12-megapixel rear module, but this one has a standard fixed aperture. In what will be important to many, all of the phones’ rear elements are aligned vertically, instead of horizontally like the S8, with the fingerprint scanner located more naturally at the bottom of the stack. Around front, both 2018 S-series models sport 8-megapixel selfie cams. On the bottom, another welcome change: stereo speakers.
Expect the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ to begin shipping, and selling through retail, on March 16 (further evidenced by that date appearing in the official press shots).