February 25 is the specific date for Samsung’s Unpacked 2018 launch event in Barcelona and we’ll be there in person, among the first with the breaking news.
Knowing the definitive launch date of the next Android phone sheds a lot of light on what’s to come, including when it’ll likely ship to stores, what it may look like, and how the Samsung Galaxy S9 will compete with Apple’s iPhone X.
Here’s what the Samsung Galaxy S9 launch date details tell us so far, less than four weeks until we expect that all-important release date news.
1. Samsung Galaxy S9 release date timing
The Galaxy S9 will be announced on February 25, according to Samsung’s own invite to its MWC launch event. This is unmistakable given the giant ‘9’.
The launch date gives credence to leaks and word from our own sources, which indicate that pre-orders will begin on the last day of MWC, March 1.
The timing also backs up the Friday, March 16 release date we’ve also heard about (when it ships to your doorstep or you can buy it in stores), two weeks after pre-orders.
The four-day wait between the announcement and the pre-orders is different this time around. Samsung pre-orders typically begin immediately (it’s different for each country and carrier), but it usually waits at least two weeks to deliver the first phones.
2. What is says about Galaxy S9 features
What’s really different about the rumored Samsung Galaxy S9 release date is the fact that it’s coming sooner than anyone had expected.
It’s expected to ship just 10 months and 23 days after the Samsung Galaxy S8 came out (or 329 days to be even more dramatic), not 12 months (or 365 days) later. This is another sign we’re in for the more iterative ‘tock’ end of the ‘tick tock’ cycle seen in many annual smartphone updates.
This suggests a decidedly smaller update that patches a lot of what we didn’t like about the redesigned Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. Think: a fingerprint sensor location we can easily reach and Bixby software that works correctly out of the box.
Even with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 we were still having trouble with Bixby, as explained in our Note 8 review:
“‘Blow the pooper app’ is what Bixby heard. What we actually said was ‘Download the Uber app’, on a New York City street that wasn’t particularly loud.
“We were 80% amused and 20% annoyed at its mistake, but, since we were carrying heavy stuff and clutching a large phone, those percentages flipped after about five ill-fated attempts.”
We expect simple refinements to the sensor and Bixby in less than 11 months, without the proper time for revolutionary updates like an in-screen fingerprint sensor, sadly.
3. An S9 camera to match the Pixel 2
Samsung’s MWC invite doesn’t hold back: it’s ready to introduce ‘The Camera. Reimagined.’ It’s right alongside the February 25 launch date and giant ‘9’ tease.
The animated version of the invite is even clearer – by being less clear. It shows these words in focus and then immediately out of focus, more than hinting at the long rumored variable f/1.5-2.4 aperture.
Being able to switch between f/1.5 for low light shots and f/2.4 for improved depth of field is a trick that can rival all of the awesome Google Pixel 2 photos we’ve been taking over the last three months. This is way more important than upping the 12MP camera number, something other phone companies do.
4. Hidden fees
So you bought the Samsung Galaxy S8 at launch and you’re eagerly awaiting the Galaxy S9 release date, right? Consider yourself a Samsung superfan, but also someone who is in for some unforeseen device fees.
Anyone who bought the S8 when it came out on April 21 and signed a year-long monthly payment plan (most US phone buyers pay monthly) will have to pay off their remaining balance, even after trading in the phone.
That’s a little over a month of payments, so you could be on the hook for paying up to two months worth of equipment fees, depending on your carrier and when your contract started.
Those feel good ‘A new phone every year’ plans are great, except when it hasn’t quite been a year and the next phone you want is out.
These hidden fees are on top of the almost certainly high S9 price. Being an early adopter is never easy or inexpensive.
5. Axed Galaxy S9 features to grace the Note 9?
We wrote that the Samsung Galaxy S9 really needs a revolutionary in-screen fingerprint sensor, but with a sped up release date, it may not get this perk.
It’s perfect for all-screen phones and, frankly, Samsung handsets in particular. Its long-time fans are used to the fingerprint home button being on the front.
But this is brand-new fingerprint sensor technology and, so far, it’s in one phone (currently unreleased) from Chinese manufacturer, Vivo. We got to test it at CES 2018, but it’s untested in the marketplace.
If Galaxy S9 release date was later than normal, that’d be a sign Samsung was waiting to implement the fingerprint sensor tech.
The opposite is happening right now. And with rumors that Samsung is working on Face ID clones, we’re expected the new senor to skip the S9 and head straight for the Galaxy Note 9.
6. Supercharged by the Snapdragon 845
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset is the latest and poised to be the fastest chipset for Android smartphones (and it may launch on Windows 10 laptops down the road given the current Snapdragon 835 on Windows campaign).
The first device to get the all-new 845 chip? We’d place all of our money on the Galaxy S9. Samsung, after all, is Qualcomm’s partner in fabricating the chip and that same deal was worked out for the Galaxy S8 last year, leaving the LG G6 with an older Snapdragon 821 chip.
The Snapdragon 845 details went public one month sooner than the 835 did a year ago. There seems to be a trend here of everything being shifted up one month. The timing shouldn’t go unnoticed.
7. Samsung likes to be quick with an Apple punchline
Samsung loves to poke fun at Apple. Loves it. It teased iPhone fans at the Galaxy Note 7 launch event, as its phone retained the headphone jack (wow, did that joke literally backfire a month later). It also pointently makes fun of the iPhone X notch in its Galaxy Note 8 commercial.
iPhone X sales are weaker than expected, and it’s time for Samsung to pounce while that news is fresh. It can do so by giving us all of the features that Apple has left out, and mentioning them again and again on stage at MWC 2018.
What’s up next in Samsung’s card catalogue of Apple jabs? We may be in for a press conference that repeatedly touts the 3.5mm headphone jack in the Galaxy S9 and also highlights a new feature that’s better than Apple’s Face ID – while still giving us that sorely missed fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone. Samsung might never mention Apple, but we all know who it’s targeting.