It’s that time of the year. It’s Safaricom Jazz day. The reason I dragged Safaricom Jazz into this whole Mobile World Congress charade is because for the last 3 years (since 2014), I have somehow found myself following a high-profile smartphone unveiling from the event. The music usually gets too good for me to remember to leave on time to go and enjoy a terrible stuttering live stream somewhere else nice and quiet and bang my keyboard hopelessly shortly afterwards. Last year, when this site was barely a few days old, it was the Nokia event that coincided with my 15 seconds of lying to myself that I have acquired exotic tastes and that I belong to the class that enjoys jazz. This year, it will be Samsung’s turn, for the first time.
However, unlike with past launches, I won’t be incessantly staring at my phone and moving from Twitter page to Twitter page following live commentary instead of putting my two left feet to good use, this time round. This is because, firstly, some other people have already done the job for me. Honestly, I don’t expect any surprises with regards to the two devices that we expect Samsung to show us later in the day: the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. Secondly, the event starts at 8PM Kenyan time by which time I will be tired enough to seek the solace of either the YouTube app on my phone where I expect Samsung to livestream the event or the bulky Unpacked 2018 app (check it out, it has some cool Augmented Reality stuff).
Over the years, Samsung, love it or hate it, has grown so big in the mobile world, that it can’t be ignored, ever. Like the company it is often accused of aping, Apple, it has grown to become a trendsetter. Some of the features that make it to Samsung flagship devices, mostly for the first time, go on to become the main subject of lots of no-name cheap devices from China that eventually flood downtown Nairobi hoping to cash in on their popularity.
Here’s what we know about the Galaxy S9 and S9+, so far:
- 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch 2960 x 1440 pixel resolution 18.5:9 aspect ratio displays.
- Pretty much the same design as last year’s Galaxy S8/S8+ i.e. Infinity display and whatnot… However, there is one expected change: a repositioned fingerprint sensor. The placement of the fingerprint sensor right next to the camera meant that the latter is more likely to end up being clouded by smudges since accidental swipes are bound to happen. With the S9/S9+, the sensor moves directly below the module which is perfect.
- The Galaxy S9’s biggest feature is expected to be the camera. The device is set to arrive with a redesigned camera app that lets users access the various modes straight from the app (viewfinder) instead of having to swipe right as is the case currently.
- The Galaxy S9+ is said to have the Live Focus feature that debuted on the Galaxy Note 8 last year while the smaller standard S8 will miss out on the fun. Live Focus allows users to take advantage of the dual cameras on the device to add DSLR-like bokeh effects to photos (by changing the amount of background blur) and viewing the changes in real-time. Additionally, the camera, it is said, will have a super slow-motion feature that will allow users to capture video at 960 frames per second
- Apparently, the Galaxy S9/S9+ will have a 3D emoji feature dubbed AR Emoji that is tipped to be more advanced than Apple’s Animoji feature found on the iPhone X which it draws inspiration from. Hmmm
- A live lock screen feature, reportedly, also awaits later today. This is how it is expected to work, if at all it exists: users take a short (7-second) video which can then be set as the lock screen “wallpaper”. This video then autoplays every time the display is turned on. The feature is expected to not add much to the device’s battery drain something that may be a concern to many.
- Both devices will have stereo speakers tuned by AKG that offer surround sound. The earpiece will also double up as a front-facing speaker. AKG has partnered with Samsung on matters sound for a while now and while some may have their own strong opinion about the last collaboration by the two, there’s no doubt that AKG knows its way around sound stuff and, excellent as the speakers on the Galaxy S8 have been, there’s still need for something better. Does this mean that users should expect AKG-tuned earbuds in the box? The leaks say yes…
- I wouldn’t hold my breath for this one, to be honest. Samsung is known to just blow up our huge expectations of some of the features it packs on its premium smartphones. I saw it almost 6 years ago when S Voice debuted and I witnessed the same thing last year when I took Bixby for a spin. Bixby, the Samsung personal assistant that debuted on the Galaxy S8 and S8+, is expected to feature on the S9 with upgraded features like live translation i.e. point the camera at text and, using Bixby Vision, get real-time translation pasted over the actual text… an Augmented Reality (AR) feature.
- Intelligent scan… What the hell is this, even? Well, according to Max at SamCentral, the feature combines face and iris scanning to improve accuracy and security… And, it’s confirmed in the video that Samsung couldn’t help but publish early on YouTube (see below).
- 3,000mAh and 3,500mAh respectively for S9 and S9+ batteries.
- A choice of either Snapdragon 845 and Exynos 9810 processors (the latter is what will be coming to Kenya).
- I saved the best for last. The price is to die for, literally. I mean, other than auctioning your poor soul, you’ll need to figure out ways of getting the Galaxy S9 and S9+ if the prices being bandied about recklessly (as if that is supposed to be normal) are anything to go by. A starting price of more than Kshs 100,000 is, apparently, a high possibility. Let me just hope that these are bad rumours and that I (and the leakers whose reports I am relying on) am terribly wrong.
Oh, and there’s a video to go with all these leaks (that shows us some features I did not focus on in the above points).