- Samsung, the No. 1 maker of smartphones that last year shipped 317.3 million devices, on Sunday introduced its new flagship Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new models have stereo speakers and tools such as facial recognition, augmented reality (AR) emojis, photo language translation and super slow-motion video, per CNN Money. Unlike Apple's iPhone X and Google Pixel 2, the new Galaxy smartphones still have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
- The new Galaxy phones improves upon the line's celebrated camera with a dual aperture that can take sharper photos in difficult lighting conditions, mimicking the capability of the human eye. Not to be outdone by the Apple X’s Animoji feature that bring emoji images to life by mirroring the user’s facial expressions, the Galaxy transforms a person’s face into an animated cartoon based on a selfie. The Super Slow-mo feature can shoot at 960 frames a second, compared with the iPhone’s 240 frames-a-second limit.
- Pre-orders start on March 2 and will be available in stores on March 16. The S9 costs $720 for an unlocked device, while the S9+ is available for $840. The phones are about the same size as the Galaxy S8 and S8+, except the screens are brighter and slightly bigger.
Samsung’s latest Galaxy models appear to have moved the company much further past its difficulties with the Galaxy Note 7 and phones that had faulty batteries and needed to be recalled. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ have many upgraded features similar to Apple’s iPhone X, but at a lower price point. While Samsung has offered facial recognition in the past to unlock phones, in Barcelona it introduced an “Intelligent Scan” that combines iris scanning and facial recognition to rival the iPhone X’s Face ID. But Samsung is again pushing its photo and video capabilities, billing the Galaxy S9 and S9+ as “The camera reimagined.”
For mobile marketers, the new Galaxy phones include improvements to the Bixby intelligent assistant that can scan objects and offer links to shopping. The company demonstrated how makeup virtual try-on’s can link to a beauty retailer like Sephora, per TechCrunch. But Bixby also has many limitations compared with competitors. “Samsung also needs to decide what it wants to do about Bixby, as it’s nowhere close to being the best voice assistant on Android, let alone the market,” David McQueen, research director at ABI Research, said in comments provided to Mobile Marketer. “The company has got to improve it drastically, and quickly — or consider ditching it altogether.”
The new Galaxy models are coming out as the global smartphone market shows signs of maturing. Smartphone shipments fell less than 1% to 1.472 billion units in 2017 from 1.473 billion in the prior year, according to IDC data. However, a more significant 6.3% decline was seen in Q4 2017 to 403.5 million units from a year earlier as high-end phones ran into trouble during the holiday season. Features like bezel-less full-screen displays, advanced biometrics and improved artificial intelligence (AI) weren't enough to compel many people to upgrade their phones.