With Mobile World Congress just around the corner, we're getting ready for a stack of announcements from most of the big smartphone vendors. And at the top of the list of new phones is the Samsung Galaxy S9. Samsung's flagship smartphone sets the agenda for many of the others and is part of the Korean manufacturer's ongoing game of catch-up and leapfrog with their main rival Apple.
What can we expect from the Galaxy S9? Let's take a look at the most credible leaks and rumours.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Design
Edge-to-edge displays are now a standard feature of high-end smartphones so it's not surprising that the Galaxy S9 sports a screen that completely dominates the front face. And, unlike the iPhone X with its controversial "notch" - Samsung has squeezed the mic and cameras into the the top border while maintaining a nice, straight edge.
A video, purporting to be of the the new S9, shows off the new device. I suspect Apple will be scrambling to work out how Samsung got those cameras on the back without the protruding border.
The two variants, the S9 and S9+, will sport 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch Super AMOLED screens respectively. And it's possible there will be dual-SIM models in some markets.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Cameras
The press invitation for the Galaxy launch focuses completely on camera technology.
Samsung has been dropping all sorts of hints around camera tech, with a bunch of information published on their website about ISOCELL - technology that they say "enables slimmer mobile devices to offer ultimate camera performance with rich detail, vivid color and accurate focus".
ISOCELL and its associated tech will allow people to shoot better photos in low-light situations, deliver better auto-focus, smaller cameras and will work better in dual-camera situations.
The thinner and smaller cameras will also give Samsung a leg up over Apple. I reckon the lip around the cameras on their phones must be a source of frustration to their design guru, Jony Ive, and his obsession for minimalist industrial design.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Face Tech
Facial recognition is now mainstream so it's not surprising that we'll see this become a standard feature on all new smartphones. SamCentral report that this feature is being touted as "Intelligent Scan" in the S9 and will use both face and eye recognition to offer better security.
That recognition is expected to deliver an equivalent feature to Apple's silly animojis. 3D stickers will let you create annoying animations that you can send to your friends that are animated with your facial expressions and voice.
I've sent a few animojis around for a laugh. I've been banned by most people I know from ever doing so again.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Processor
As Samsung is a chip and component company, as well as a consumer electronics business, they drop a lot of hints about what might be under the covers of their upcoming hardware.
The Exynos 9810 chip has been given an extensive product page by Samsung. It pulls together four dual-core processors, an embedded LTE modem that supports downlink and uplink speeds of up to 1.2Gbps and 200Mbps respectively, support for 4K UHD video recording and playback with frame rate up to 120fps and dual Image Signal Processors that support up to four image sensors such as a dual-camera in the rear along with a camera and an iris sensor in the front.
Gamers are looked after with an ARM Mali-G72 GPU while security is managed by a number of different tools. For example, internal firewalls within the processor prevent errant processes from dragging down performance.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Release Date
Mobile World Congress kicks off on 26 February 2018. And that's the day pre-orders are expected to open according to the usually-accurate Evan Blass. We can then expect the first shipments to start about two weeks later.
According to a C-level executive at a major casemaker, the go-to-market schedule for Galaxy S9 / S9+ is as follows:
Launch - 2/26
Pre-orders - 3/1
Ships/releases - 3/16
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 16, 2018
That's consistent with the pattern of release dates for most of the recent Galaxy smartphones.
Samsung's Unpacked event will be broadcast at 4am AEDT on February 26, where most of the details should be revealed. We will have a livestream link ready when it all goes down, if you're keen to get up early and see what's next for the Korean giant.
Samsung Galaxy S9 pricing
When Apple released the first iPhone, it was ridiculed for making a device that cost hundreds of dollars in an era when such a proposition was considered beyond crazy. Then they did the same last year with the US$1000 iPhone X.
According to a recent leak, we can expect the Samsung Galaxy S9 to cost about £789 in the UK.
An entry level iPhone X costs £999 there. So, playing around with exchange rates, we can expect the Galaxy S9 to have a starting price that will be pretty close to what we're paying for the iPhone X. However, after the initial rush to be the first kid on the block with the latest toy, we often see some discounting on Samsung handsets so, if your patient, you may be able to save a bit on those high prices.
Additional reporting by Jackson Ryan