If recent Galaxy S9 leaks are to be believed, Samsung’s next phone will look practically identical to its last, the Samsung Galaxy S8. And while repeating designs could be seen as a dim-witted move by one of the most renowned smartphone makers in the world, it’s secretly the wisest move Samsung could make.
Sure, Samsung could easily make another great leap forward in design, pushing aside its now-modern bezel-reduced appearance in favor of something new. But what would that look like? And more importantly, would it woo buyers in the same way as last year’s S8 did? Those two questions pose more unnecessary risk than reward for Samsung, coming off a year that couldn’t have gone much better.
As one of the first players to push the bezel-reduced look in 2017, which went on to catch like a fervent wildfire, holding onto its cherished design isn’t just smart, it’s crucial to the Galaxy S9’s success.
These are the small changes we expect
Samsung got mostly everything right design-wise with the Galaxy S8, though there were a few issues that most would agree were not so hot. For instance, the fingerprint sensor was built snugly next to the camera module, making it tough to reach and oh-so-easy to misfire – smudging the glass covering the center-aligned lens instead.
In the S9, Samsung looks to have learned from the feedback by moving it beneath the camera, putting it within easy reach and making it harder to flub an attempt at logging into your phone with a finger. Bixby, the company’s big AI software that didn’t launch in time with last year’s flagship phone, is poised to be greatly improved.
According to the most recent leak of the S9 and S9 Plus, Samsung is packing its tiny bezels with even more tech – a feat of engineering in and of itself. Namely, we’ll be seeing dual front-facing cameras on the latest smartphone, which will (or at least should) give Samsung the advantage when it comes to high-quality selfies with depth of field.
A chance to stand out
I’ve argued that the trend of removing physical (often useful) hardware features from devices will make them boring, and doing the opposite is how the S9 could stand out in 2018. While it will likely lack the hotly anticipated fingerprint sensor built into its screen, it will make up for in other fan-favorite features.
Similar to the forward-thinking S8, the S9 looks to balance new-age features like the aforementioned dual front-facing cameras that will likely enhance its facial detection with trusted ones like a 3.5mm headphone jack and fingerprint sensor. In this regard, keeping a familiar design will win over smartphone users who feel burned by new phones that ditch functionality over form.
It’s almost like there’s already a cheap Galaxy S9 on the market
Another positive effect of introducing a new phone with iterative design is that it works to make its predecessor age better. A year out from release, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a tremendous smartphone that we recommend – even more wholeheartedly as it continues to drop in price.
Given the fact that the S9 looks to introduce small, thoughtful changes inside and out means that the buying decision is easier, not harder, for consumers. It’s almost like Samsung has already introduced a budget-friendly Galaxy S9. Want a more powerful Snapdragon 845 processor and better selfies? Then opt for the S9. But if you stick with the S8, passersby will be none the wiser to your choice to buy the cheaper phone.
A phone’s design is so easy to get wrapped up in, both on the manufacturer and consumer end of things. If the S9 shows up in the form that we’ve seen so far, it’s a nice show of faith in last year’s design, as well as in Samsung’s ability to enhance what’s inside of the phone, which could be the big topic of conversation for smartphone makers in 2018.
We’ll see the S9 launch in Barcelona at MWC 2018 on February 25, so stay tuned for our hands-on review and some interesting features surrounding its unveiling.