Samsung's flagship Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones were unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 25, ushering in a wide range of new features and refinements that the company hopes will translate into fresh sales and upgrades by smartphone buyers.
Replacing last year's S8 and S8+ flagship models, the S9 and S9+ include main cameras that offer improved low-light photographs due to a dual aperture lens which is more sensitive to available light, as well as expanded slow-motion video capabilities and improved speakers for better sound.
Bolstering the performance of the latest S9 handsets are faster 64-bit, octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPUs, which replace the older Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 chips used on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets. The new S9+ model also includes 6GB of memory, which is an increase over the 4GB in the previous S8+. The new S9 still includes 4GB of memory.
The latest S9 series phones now ship with the Android 8.0 Oreo operating system, replacing the Android 7.0 Nougat system used in the S8 series models.
Display screen sizes remain unchanged from their S8 and S8+ counterparts, with the S9 using a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED quad HD Infinity display with 2960x1440 resolution and 570 ppi, while the S9+ includes a 6.2-inch Super AMOLED quad HD Infinity display with 2960x1440 resolution and 529 ppi. The handsets continue to be offered with 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of internal storage, along with microSD slots which can handle storage cards with a capacity up to 400GB.
Battery capacities are also the same for the mew S9 versions, with the S9 including a 3,000mAh battery and the S9+ featuring a 3,500mAh battery. Both models also continue to support wireless charging and offer IP 68 resistance to water, dirt and other environmental threats.
The phones will be offered in Lilac Purple, Midnight Black and Coral Blue in the U.S. and will be offered by major carriers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless and Xfinity Mobile. Unlocked versions of the handsets will also be sold directly to consumers by Samsung.
Preorders for the S9 and the S9+ will begin March 2 with availability through the carriers beginning on March 16. The handsets will also be available in stores including Best Buy and BestBuy.com, Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target and Walmart. Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS will offer the Galaxy S9 and S9+ models in Midnight Black.
The Unlocked Galaxy S9 is priced at $719.99 or $30 a month for 24 months directly from Samsung, while the unlocked Galaxy S9+ will sell for $839.99 or $35 a month for 24 months from Samsung.
Individual mobile carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, are offering their own purchasing deals on the new S9 and S9+ models, as well as trade-in offers that vary with each carrier. Samsung is offering trade-in deals to customers who place preorders on one of the new phones, with savings up to $350 per handset.
Other enhanced features in the new S9 and S9+ smartphones include new super slow-motion capabilities for the main cameras, as well as automatic motion detection that reacts to movement in the frame and automatically begins to record. Samsung's new dual aperture lens, which automatically can switch from F1.5 to F2.4, lets in more light when it's dark and less light when it's too bright, mimicking the human eye.
With the new AR Emoji feature, users can create an emoji that looks, sounds and acts like themselves using a data-based machine learning algorithm that analyzes a 2D image of the user and maps out more than 100 facial features to create a 3D emoji.
Samsung's Bixby intelligence platform is included with the new phones and uses augmented reality and deep learning technologies to provide information about a user's surroundings, including when the built-in cameras are used. With Bixby, users can see instant information directly on top of the image that the camera is pointing at, as well as receive language translation services and online purchasing capabilities in real time.
AKG stereo speakers provide improved sound performance the new handsets also have Dolby Atmos-enabled surround sound.
Both the S9 and the S9+ also support Samsung's new SmartThings app, which can be used as a central hub to manage connected devices in the user's home, workplace or elsewhere. The handsets also support Samsung's Knox 3.1 defense-grade security services, which include three different biometric authentication options – iris, fingerprint, and facial recognition – so users can choose the best way to protect their device and applications.
New to the S9 and S9+ are Intelligent Scan, a verification mode that brings together iris scanning and facial recognition technology to allow users to quickly unlock their devices, as well as a new Dedicated Fingerprint feature, which allows a different fingerprint to be used to access specific secures folder on the handset.
Samsung is also marketing special enterprise version of the Galaxy S9, called the unlocked Galaxy S9 Enterprise Edition includes custom features that enable the central configuration, management and customization of the devices for mobile workers. The Galaxy S9 Enterprise Edition will also offer added security assurance through enhanced security updates.
"The way we use our smartphones has changed as communication and self-expression has evolved," DJ Koh, president and head of the IT and mobile communications division of Samsung Electronics, said in a statement. "With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, we have reimagined the smartphone camera. Not only does the Galaxy S9 and S9+ enable consumers to shoot the best photos and videos anywhere, it’s a smartphone that’s designed to help them connect to others and express themselves in a way that’s unique and personal to them."