Samsung formally introduced the Galaxy S9 and S9+ on Sunday February 25th during the opening of 2018 Mobile World Congress and the Closing Ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics. As shown in Figure 1, relative to the iPhone X it features higher resolution, a higher screen to body ratio, lighter weight despite a larger battery and a significantly lower price. Hardware differences between the S9 and S8 appear to be limited to the S9 being slightly shorter and thicker and heavier than the S8. Relative to the 8+, the S9+ appears to have a slightly higher screen to body ratio of 84.2”, a second 12MP camera and is slightly shorter, wider, thicker and heavier. It is also $10 cheaper.
Figure 1: Samsung’s Galaxy S9/S9+/S8/S8+ vs. Apple’s iPhone X
Figure 1 demonstrates the pricing power that Apple has over Samsung as from a display and form factor standpoint, you can certainly argue that the S9 is a better value. However, there is a time and content compatibility cost to switch the iPhone to the Galaxy, which many uses are unwilling to incur.
Other features introduced on the S9 include a new Super Speed Dual Pixel Camera, which some reviewers are calling the best smartphone camera on the market. It includes dual apertures with one f/2.4 aperture for crisp pictures of well-lit scenes and a second f/1.5 aperture for clear low light photos. It also embeds a DRAM chip in the camera to process data right away rather than use the phone’s main RAM, which reduces noise. It also features a Super Slow-mo feature so slow that it can take 6s to play 0.2s worth of content. It captures 720p vide at 960fps. The clarity of the Super Slow-mo videos are reportedly amazing.
Samsung also introduced its take on the iPhone X’s Animoji’s through its AR Emoji’s. It is quite similar as you can select a character or you can scan your own face to create your own 3D avatar and it will mimic your expressions, head gestures, mouth movements, etc.
There is a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone as well as built-in iris scanning which Samsung claims results in only a 1 in 10 million change of someone other than you unlocking your phone with an iris scan. They claim it is 10 times more secure than Apple’s Face ID.
Reviewers also claimed that the S9/S9+ displays were noticeably brighter than the S8/S8+ versions. We will have to wait for Ray Soneira to measure them. Despite the higher brightness, reviewers also claimed that the Snapdragon 845 chipset provided more efficient power consumption and faster speeds. The S9+ is reportedly able to last a day and a half of usage on a single charge. Just imagine what it will be when there is a high efficiency blue OLED material available.
Will the S9 and S9+ improve Samsung’s fab utilization issues? We will quantify its shipments and utilization in our next Quarterly OLED Shipment and Fab Utilization Report.