Samsung Electronics will be releasing the Galaxy S9 soon. And there’s a lot riding on its new flagship smartphone. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is wowing customers with the iPhone X, as well as offering the iPhone 8.
Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Google Pixel 2 is setting new standards for what a smartphone camera can do. And China’s Huawei is knocking on the door of the U.S. smartphone market. To add even more pressure, the company had a disappointing fourth quarter that led to Samsung stock dropping 7%.
With that backdrop, here’s what the Galaxy S9 rumors are pointing toward.
Galaxy S9 Design
Samsung investors have been concerned that the Galaxy S9 will look virtually identical to last year’s Galaxy S8. The latest Galaxy S9 rumors have Samsung at least moving the fingerprint sensor on the back, so owners won’t accidentally smudge their camera lens.
However, the basic design is expected to be very familiar, including the curved edges and small bezels at the top and bottom of the display. As has become the company’s custom, there will be two sizes, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ and both look to continue sporting a headphone jack.
As usual, expect that display to be a bright, saturated and with a high-resolution Samsung OLED panel, just like the iPhone X.
Once again, Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) appears to have the nod as the processor supplier for the Galaxy S9.
Samsung has reportedly signed an agreement to secure a supply of Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 chip. Outside of the U.S. market, Samsung typically uses its own custom Exynos CPU.
The latest Exynos 9 features AI-optimization including the power for enhanced facial recognition — like the iPhone X.
Many people choose a smartphone based on the camera. Apple’s iPhone has traditionally led in this area, but the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 have been winning rave reviews for their cameras — even if the LG-made OLED displays on the Pixel 2 XL made for a launch headache for Google.
The camera is shaping up to be one of the key areas where Samsung is hoping to leapfrog the competition, at least according to the latest Galaxy S9 rumors. BGR dug up a Samsung trademark filing for the phrase: “The Camera. Reimagined.”
Reimagining apparently includes moving to the dual-camera setup Apple introduced with the iPhone 7 Plus, and also offers on the iPhone X. This would be available on the Galaxy S9+ only, basically sticking with Apple’s strategy of driving consumers to the larger and more expensive model if they want that camera.
The more innovative part of things seems to be a variable aperture primary camera that should provide extremely high-quality low-light shots, without impacting performance when used in other situations.
Release Date and Price
This year, there is pressure from investors who see a successful flagship smartphone launch as a key way to reverse the slide in Samsung stock. Even without the Q4 earnings drop, Samsung stock has been on a downward trajectory since hitting record highs at the start of November.
The company also needs to hit back against the iPhone X and Pixel 2 before they have the opportunity to gain ground. And then there’s Huawei.
Even though its plans for an American carrier launch in 2018 were thwarted, Huwaei continues posting double-digit growth in market share and is coming after Samsung with a new flagship smartphone in the rest of the world.
In response to these factors, Samsung confirmed it is taking the offensive, moving up the Galaxy S9 launch to Mobile World Congress, which runs Feb. 26 to March 1.
As for price, that will be announced when Samsung takes the wraps off the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, but it seems likely the company will stick to the $750 and $850 sticker of the previous generation.
The Galaxy S9 is one of the key smartphone releases of 2018, and it looks like it will also be one of the first of the year. It has significant implications for Samsung stock, and an early release may take some of the wind out of Apple’s iPhone X sales. Stay tuned…
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.