At the end of this month, Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus — its flagship handsets for 2018. Riding high on the success of the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 from last year, Samsung seems to be following an ‘S’ upgrade style this year. Leaks point to the Galaxy S9 looking largely the same as its predecessor but packing major under the hood changes.
It goes without saying that the Galaxy S9 and its Plus brethren will be filled to the brim with the latest available tech, offer improved performance, battery life, and camera performance — the usual improvements that you’d expect from a new flagship phone launching in 2018. However, apart from the usual improvements, I’d also like to see Samsung make some other improvements to the Galaxy S9 this year. Improvements that will help make the overall experience of using the Galaxy S9 better over a period of time. After all, with smartphone hardware reaching a saturation point, software and overall user experience are going to play a bigger role than ever.
Keeping that in mind, here’s my wishlist for the Galaxy S9. They are all realistic wishes — demand actually as a consumer — which Samsung can very well fulfill without having to come up with some breakthrough new technology. Its all about getting the existing things right and not innovating new tech.
#5 Usable Fingerprint Scanner
The fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S8 is terrible, to say the least. It fails to properly read one’s fingerprint most of the time and is placed in a very ergonomically unfriendly location. Sure, Samsung does offer iris scanning and face unlock on the Galaxy S8 but they don’t always work properly. With the Galaxy S9, I hope Samsung gets around to using a fingerprint scanner that actually works. Leaks do point to the company moving the fingerprint scanner slightly lower to make it easier to reach. Plus, the fingerprint scanner also seems to have been redesigned and feature a new shape which should help make it more accurate. But then, ultimately it all boils down to software and Samsung’s implementation, and that’s an area where Samsung does not particularly excel at.
#4 Faster Fast Charging
Samsung is the last known major OEM which continues to offer Fast Charging on its flagship devices, with its charging speeds being similar to Quick Charge 2.0. While QC 2.0 was fast when it was first unveiled, it has now been replaced by QC 3.0 and other charging technologies which are capable of charging your device even faster with a better power efficiency. It is understandable why Samsung stuck to Quick Charge 2.0 on the Galaxy S8 last year, *cough* Galaxy Note *cough* but it is now high time the company makes the switch to a faster version of Fast Charging/Quick Charge 3.0 or even better, Quick Charge 4.0+. With the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus coming with the same battery capacity as their predecessor, Samsung needs to offer a faster charging technology to make up for the possibly same or reduced battery life on its upcoming flagship handsets.
#3 Improved Image Processing
Samsung flagship phones are known for their camera performance. Despite the Korean company not making major improvements to the Galaxy S8’s 12MP rear shooter, it was considered to have among the best cameras in a smartphone launched in 2017. However, there’s one aspect that Samsung sorely needs to improve when it comes to imaging: the image processing.
This is not something that you will notice in daylight, but in low light, Samsung’s image processing ends up washing away all the fine details from a photo leading to a heavy loss in details. Before the Pixels arrived, this was not really an issue but when you compare the photo taken from a Galaxy S8 and a Pixel 2, you immediately notice the difference. Samsung really needs to take a cue from Google’s book here and implement a similar HDR+ implementation on the Galaxy S9 to ensure it preserves as much details as the Pixel 2, if not more despite coming with a superior imaging hardware.
The Galaxy S9 will come with a 12MP shooter with a variable aperture — a rarity among smartphone cameras. In low-light, the rear camera can open its aperture to as wide as f/1.5 which should allow it to absorb a lot of light, while in daylight, the camera can use a smaller f/2.4 aperture. If Samsung is able to combine this imaging hardware with an HDR+ algorithm similar to what we see on the Google Pixel, the S9 will end up offering a huge leap in camera performance.
Samsung is hyping the camera of the Galaxy S9 via the teaser image accompanying the press invites, so its only fair that it puts in that extra effort in the software to ensure the device lives up to the hype it is creating.
#2 Faster Face/Iris Unlock
Samsung first introduced iris scanning with the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 after which the feature found its way in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8. Samsung was actually the first company to offer a secondary and equally secure biometric authentication option on its flagship devices before Apple debuted Face ID on the iPhone X later in the year.
While iris scanning on the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 is definitely more convenient than using the terrible fingerprint scanner, it is far from perfect. I found iris scanning on the Galaxy S8 a bit too slow for my liking. On the Galaxy Note 8, I did notice that the iris scanner was a bit faster but still not as good as it should be. As for face unlock, it was faster than iris unlock but then it struggled to work properly in low-light situations. Plus, it is not as secure as using the iris scanner or the fingerprint scanner at the rear.
Ideally, Samsung should look to combine the security offered by iris scanner and the speed of face unlock into one. Thankfully, this is one wish of mine that Samsung might just fulfill with the Galaxy S9 as leaks point to the company offering ‘Intelligent Scan’ on the handset. This feature will combine both iris scanning and face unlock to offer a secure and faster unlock experience. Plus, Samsung is also planning on using a higher resolution iris scanner and revamp the underlying software to make iris scanning and face unlock more accurate on its upcoming flagship handset.
#1 No Performance Issues
Its almost going to be a decade since Samsung released its first Android device. However, even after all these years and designing its own chipset, the company still not make sure that its flagship devices do not start lagging after a few months of use. Every major flagship Samsung device launched over the last few years starts exhibiting performance issues like random lags and freezes, skipped frames, overall sluggish performance after a few months of use. This includes the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S8, and even the Galaxy Note 8 which comes with 6GB of RAM.
At this point, there’s just no excuse for Samsung to get away with this issue. It is the world’s largest smartphone OEM with a vast amount of resources at its disposal. There really is no reason for its devices to start lagging after a few months of use then. Whatever the issue is, Samsung needs to fix it with the Galaxy S9. Even budget mid-range Android devices perform better than the company’s flagship handsets after a few months of use.
The company also needs to ensure that its flagship devices are given a flagship-like treatment when it comes to software. The Galaxy S8 continues to run Android 7.0 Nougat almost 10 months after its release. Forget Oreo, the handset never got the Android 7.1 update which it should have as it contained a number of bug fixes.
For the Galaxy S9, I wish that Samsung gets around to launching the device with Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box. While a point release, Android 8.1 contains a number of bug fixes and performance improvements which should help improve the overall user experience. Given that the Galaxy S9 will start shipping to consumers almost three months after Android 8.1 was first released, there is no reason for Samsung to not launch the device with it.
Customizable Bixby Button
A man can dream, right? There’s no harm in hoping that Samsung will allow one to customize the Bixby button on the Galaxy S9. It took Samsung over six months after releasing the Galaxy S8 to allow one to disable the button completely. With the Galaxy S9 releasing six months after that, there is always a possibility that Samsung will now allow users to customize the button to launch other apps on the device. I know its wishful thinking, but then who expected Samsung to offer an option to disable the Bixby button completely on the S8 six months after its release?
Samsung will likely double down on Bixby with the Galaxy S9 and announce a major update to its digital assistant with a plethora of new features. But given just how far ahead Google Assistant is compared to Bixby, I don’t really think Samsung’s virtual assistant is going to find many takers this time around as well.
What are your expectations from the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus? What do you wish Samsung gets around to including or fixing on its upcoming flagship handsets of 2018? Drop a comment and let us know!