2017 has been an excellent year for Samsung. Its Galaxy S8 flagship was a major success. Pre-orders for the recently unveiled Galaxy Note 8 have been far better than industry experts anticipated. However, the Note 8 is expected to face fierce competition from Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone. The rumor mill is now shifting its focus to Samsung’s 2018 flagship. Two separate reports have revealed the Samsung Galaxy S9 features and release date, even though the device is about six months away.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Features Concept
Image Source: GalaxyS9Blog.com

A few Samsung Galaxy S9 features may disappoint you

Sources familiar with the matter told XDA Developers that the Galaxy S9 had been assigned the model number SM-G960. The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus released earlier this year had the model numbers SM-G950 and SM-G955. Though XDA Developers’ sources did not talk about a Plus variant of Galaxy S9, there is no reason to believe that there won’t be a Galaxy S9 Plus.

Some of the rumored Samsung Galaxy S9 features may disappoint Samsung fans. For instance, the device is said to pack only 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage. The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus come with 4GB RAM, but the Korean company moved to 6GB RAM with the Galaxy Note 8. Users would hope for at least 6GB RAM on the 2018 flagship. Fortunately, you’ll be able to expand storage using a microSD card.

If you were hoping for a major design change with the Galaxy S9, you are going to be disappointed. Samsung has a strong reason not to change the design. The Galaxy S8’s beautiful Infinity display has been loved by one and all. Samsung used the same Infinity display on the latest Galaxy Note 8. Sources said the Galaxy S9 would retain its predecessor’s QHD+ Infinity display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio.

XDA Developers reports that the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus would also retain the screen sizes of the S8 (5.7-inch) and S8 Plus (6.2-inch). Both the smartphones would run Android Oreo out of the box. Sources told XDA Developers that the fingerprint sensor would remain on the back panel. Fans who were hoping for an in-display fingerprint sensor are going to be disappointed. However, the device is still in the early prototype stage. Things may change in the final version.

Snapdragon 845, dual camera, SLP mainboard

The Galaxy S9 will be powered by Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 845 processor. Samsung has reportedly secured the initial batch of the Snapdragon 845. It means other Android vendors looking to use the new Snapdragon will have to delay their phones by a few months. If it turns out to be true, the S9 will have fewer competitors during the first few weeks of launch. Samsung had done something similar with the Snapdragon 835 earlier this year. It had been hoarding the initial batches of the chipset for its own Galaxy S8.

Just like Galaxy Note 8, the upcoming S9 would sport a dual camera setup on the back. The Note 8 camera setup includes a telephoto and a wide-angle lens, both of which support OIS. We can expect to see a similar, albeit improved, camera setup on the S9. Other expected Samsung Galaxy S9 features include a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the IP68 water-resistance rating.

An earlier report from ETNews claimed that Samsung would use a Substrate-like PCB (SLP) mainboard on the Galaxy S9 to free up some internal space, which can be used to include a bigger battery. The SLP allows for thinner connections between components such as the NAND flash memory, DRAM, and application processor. It will have a huge effect on component suppliers because it will be the first time the world’s largest smartphone vendor will be using SLP on its flagship products.

Galaxy S9 to be unveiled in January

Korean site The Investor reports that Samsung is planning to unveil the Galaxy S9 earlier than usual. If the report turns out to be true, the smartphone will be unveiled by January end and go on sale in mid-February. That’s what Samsung’s current assembly schedule suggests. By comparison, this year’s Galaxy S8 was unveiled on March 29 and hit the store shelves on April 21.

Samsung Display will start shipping the OLED panels in November for the S9. There is a 2-3 month of gap between the OLED shipments and unveiling. Panel shipments for the S8 started in January this year. Display panels are shipped earlier than other components such as camera modules. Component manufacturers had already predicted an earlier than usual Galaxy S9 launch because the panel development had begun in April last year.

Samsung is bringing the Galaxy S9 earlier than usual to defend its premium smartphone sales against Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone. The iPhone 8 is set to debut in September, and would give the Galaxy Note 8 a tough time. With its massive design changes and exciting new features, it will be one of the hottest gifts this holiday season. Industry analysts expect the iPhone 8 demand to remain strong through 2018.

The early launch of Galaxy S9 could help Samsung attract some customers who might otherwise end up buying the iPhone 8.