With the Galaxy S9 set to release sometime in early 2018 — likely at the end of February — the world is eagerly anticipating the latest Samsung flagship. It seems like a few Chinese companies are taking the hype a step further, however, with the recent reveal of Galaxy S9 Clones.
Galaxy S9 Clones
While we don’t even officially have an announcement, information has been steadily leaking, and it’s clear that the Galaxy S9 clones from these companies take some major inspiration from previous leaks. Provided the upcoming flagship actually follows the specifications we expect, it’s likely it will look shockingly similar to the budget phones that try to capitalize on Samsung’s flagships’ status as luxury devices.
The main offender when it comes to Galaxy S9 clones is Chinese manufacturer Vkworld, who is currently offering a much more affordable device that uses the potential aesthetic of the upcoming device. Despite the affordability, it seems that the phone will ship with a much larger battery. This may be one of the few cases where a Chinese knock-off may actually compete with the phone that it imitates.
While Galaxy S9 clones would probably not fly outside of China, there’s a large market in the country for affordable handsets that emulate the appearance of high-end phones. Considering the large amount of money required to buy a luxury device from the likes of Samsung or Apple, a device that looks pretty much the same is a hot commodity when it comes to impressing your family and friends.
The images included below, courtesy of Androidguys, show a phone from Vkworld that strikingly emulates previous renders of the yet-unannounced Galaxy S9.
The phone features a bezel-less display, which is a trend with the majority of luxury flagships — including Samsung’s S and Note lines. The Galaxy S9 clones also feature an 18:9 aspect ratio as well as a fingerprint scanner that sits below a dual camera setup. With only the Galaxy S9+ featuring a dual camera, it’s possible that this model from Vkworld may actually provide a much more affordable alternative that competes with the base S9 model.
The phone is impressively powerful as well, with incredible specifications for the price. The Galaxy S9 clones will ship with an impressive Helio X30 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and an astounding 5000 mAh battery. The battery is one of the biggest we’ve seen in any phone, and the fact that these Galaxy S9 clones may actually outperform the devices they emulate is more than a little ironic.
Now for the most exciting part of Vkworld’s offering: the phone will go on sale for around $300. That’s significantly less expensive than even the base Galaxy S9 model — expected to retail for around $700. While smartphone manufacturers have cited increased manufacturing costs as the reason for inflated prices on recent flagships, the truth remains that it’s possible to offer impressive performance at a much more affordable price — at least in China.
A Moral Dilemma
One thing to keep in mind is that in many foreign countries, the idea of leasing a phone and paying monthly payments is not as much of a concept as it is in the United States. With phones like the iPhone X coming in at over $1000, the devices would not be accessible to the majority of smartphone users if the cost had to be paid entirely upfront. In Asian countries where it’s far more common to buy a phone outright, luxury devices are a privilege primarily reserved for the wealthy, and budget models that emulate flagships in terms of aesthetic and performance thrive.
There’s a moral question when it comes to discussing whether or not these Galaxy S9 clones should exist. On the one hand, they clearly emulate the work of another manufacturer in both form and function. But Vkworld has also made a phone that looks beautiful and performs admirably — available at a much more affordable price. Samsung could potentially have a valid copyright claim against the company, but pursuing legal action for these sort of Galaxy S9 clones may be a dead-end in a country where these practices are so prolific.
At the end of the day, we’re torn when it comes to deciding whether these Galaxy S9 clones are a good thing or a blatant rip-off that takes another company’s hard work and passes it off as their own. It’s probably a little bit of both. It’s obvious from the low price of the phones that it’s possible to offer this luxury aesthetic for far cheaper. Is it reasonable to spend nearly $1000 on a phone when another manufacturer can do it for far cheaper? It’s a question between the idea of savings and having the “real deal,” and it will largely be a personal decision. Just keep in mind that these phones may be difficult to get your hands on outside of Asia.