Samsung Galaxy S9
Esolutions has started selling privacy-focused phones preloaded with the /e/ OS in the US. The /e/ OS is based on an open-source version of Android 10 (LineageOS, specifically) without any Google-controlled services that would enable tracking and data scanning by Google or third parties. /e/ replaces Chrome with its own Chromium-based browser, Gmail with K-9 Mail, and has its own app store and cloud storage service. Many popular third-party apps rely on Google Play Services for important functions like push notifications. /e/ OS includes a dummy API called MicroG to ensure such third-party apps don't crash, but those features like push notifications remain non-functional. Esolutions has offered phones pre-loaded with /e/ OS in Europe for some time, but has just started sales in the US for the first time. There are two refurbished Samsungs to choose from: a Galaxy S9 for $380, or a Galaxy S9+ for $430. The phones come with a one-year warranty and the e Foundation says "We aim to support with at least 3 years of software updates and security patches." The /e/ OS is also available for download for a number of other Android phones.
Google is expanding the list of phones supported by its Stadia game-streaming service on February 20th. Initially supported only on its own Pixel phones, Stadia will support Samsung flagship Galaxy S and Note series phones (S8 and newer), as well as gaming phones from Razer and Asus (ROG Phone and ROG Phone II). For a controller, gamers can either connect a Stadia controller via USB, or third-party controllers via Bluetooth. Stadia competes with Microsoft's xCloud and Nvidia's GeForce Now. Like those other game-streaming services, Stadia runs full console-quality games on powerful servers in the cloud, streaming video of the rendered graphics to the user's device. Such services benefit from the higher data rates and lower latency of 5G networks. Forthcoming 5G SA networks will further reduce latency and improve data rates.
Samsung's newest software will allow the controversial Bixby button on its phones to activate a custom action instead of Bixby. The change will be available on new S10 phones as well as older S9, S8, and Note phones.
Samsung has made several new AR Emoji characters available to the Galaxy S9, S9+, and Note9. The new animated emoji come from Disney's movie Zootopia and include Judy Hopps, Nick Wilde, and Flash. These characters join others such as Disney classics Mickey and Minnie, as well as several from Frozen and The Incredibles. Samsung's AR Emoji allow people to animate avatars with their own facial expressions to create unique messages. The new characters are available from the camera app and the Galaxy Apps Store.
Samsung has made new AR emoji stickers available to its Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones. Owners of these devices can download an AR pack that contains characters from Disney's movie "Frozen," including Elsa, Anna, Olaf and Kristoff. The S9/S9+ launched with access to several core Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Donald Duck, and later added characters from The Incredibles. AR emoji allow people to animate cartoon characters using their own face in coordination with the front-facing camera. The new AR Emoji are free to download from Samsung through the camera application.
Samsung is updating AR Emoji on the Galaxy S9 and S9+ so that the feature works better. To start, AR Emoji will give people new control over the shape of their face. Samsung says users will be able to make more detailed adjustments to their AR Emoji’s hair, ears, and facial features, as well as fine-tune eyes, nose, lips, and cheeks. Samsung says AR Emoji will include more facial tracking points, too, which means the animated characters will offer smoother, more accurate movement when users interact with the AR Emoji. The updated AR Emoji tool is rolling out to S9 and S9+ devices over the next few days.
Samsung today said its Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ phones will be available in gold starting June 24. The company announced the new color last month, but initially said it would be limited to other markets. The gold color joins the red, black, blue, gray, and purple hues that are already available. Samsung says the gold S9/S9+ will only be sold at Best Buy stores, BestBuy.com, and Samsung.com. Pricing for starts at $720 for the gold S9 and $840 for the gold S9+.
Samsung has made new AR emoji stickers available to its Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones. Owners of these devices can download an AR pack that contains Disney's Daisy Duck and Goofy. The S9/S9+ launched with access to several core Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck, and later added characters from The Incredibles. AR emoji allow people to animate cartoon characters using their own face in coordination with the front-facing camera. The new AR Emoji are free to download from Samsung.
Samsung has made new AR emoji stickers available to its Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones. Owners of these devices can download an AR pack that contains characters from Disney's "The Incredibles" movies. The pack includes Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet, Dash, Jack-Jack, and Frozone. The S9/S9+ launched with access to several core Disney characters. The join the initial batch and Samsung says more are on the way. AR emoji allow people to animate cartoon characters using their own face in coordination with the front-facing camera. The new AR Emoji are free to download from Samsung.
Samsung today introduced two new colors for its flagship Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones, gold and burgundy. The new colors join the red, black, blue, gray and purple hues that are already available. According to Samsung, the gold and burgundy colors are being reserved for select markets. Burgundy will reach Korea and China this month, with gold following in Australia, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam, in June.
Samsung will install mobile apps from Verizon's Oath on all its Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones moving forward, according to Reuters. The two have signed a distribution agreement that will see Oath's Newsroom, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, and Go90 mobile apps preloaded on the phones. "The amount of content consumption on phones is continuing to skyrocket and I think brands and consumers want more high quality content," said Oath CEO Time Armstrong. Oath hopes owners of the S9 and S9+ will use the apps and view the advertising therein. Further, Samsung and Oath will let advertisers put ads that resemble content within the apps. "This gets ads one step closer to being direct to consumer," said Armstrong. "You can’t be more direct than being on the mobile phone home screen and app environment." The two companies will split the revenue generated by the ad views. Oath is the combined entity that used to be AOL and Yahoo. The companies didn't say when the apps will be added to S9 and S9+ phones.
Samsung today said U.S. consumers will soon be able to buy the Galaxy S9 and S9+ with more internal storage. Beginning May 1, the 128 GB and 256 GB versions of both phones will be available for preorder on Samsung.com alongside the existing 64 GB model. The devices will ship starting May 18. The 128 GB Galaxy S9 costs $770 and the 256 GB S9 costs $820, while the 128 GB Galaxy S9+ costs $890 and the 256 GB S9+ costs $940. These new storage variants continue to support microSD cards up to 400 GB, and will be available in purple, blue, and black. Samsung says consumers who buy any S9 or S9+ from Samsung.com between May 1 and May 17 will receive either a free set of Gear IconX headphones or the option to buy the Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch for $99.
T-Mobile today made a significant commitment to support members of the U.S. military and their families. First, the company is offering major discounts for military members. The first line in a family plan will see a discount of 20%, with each subsequent line available for half the normal price. For example, the T-Mobile One Military plan will cost $55 for the first line, $25 for the second line, and then $10 for lines three through six. The plan includes all the normal T-Mobile benefits, such as Netflix, T-Mobile Tuesdays, Simple Global, Mobile Without Borders, Scam ID, and Carrier Freedom. Beyond the reduced service rates, T-Mobile is offering military members 50% off the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ (via monthly bill credits). T-Mobile has committing to hiring 10,000 military veterans and spouses over the next few years. Finally, T-Mobile says it will spend $500 million to boost LTE coverage in and around military communities, while also laying the groundwork in those communities for 5G. The T-Mobile One Military plan and associated benefits will be available starting April 22.
Samsung today revealed that the DeX Pad docking station for its new Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones will be available starting next month. The company is accepting preorders online for the accessory, with a stated ship date of May 13. This revised accessory turns the S9/S9+ into a mobile PC. It connects the phone to monitors, keyboards, and mouses (wired or wireless) and allows it to act like a full computer, complete with multitasking. New on this year's product is the ability to use the S9/S9+ screen as a trackpad when in computer mode. The phone connects to the dock via USB-C and will charge when in use. The DeX Pad costs $99.99.
Samsung has acknowledged that some Galaxy S9 and S9+ handsets have unresponsive screens. Early adopters of the handset have taken to Samsung's forums to voice complaints about the issue, which renders areas of the display unresponsive to touch input. "At Samsung, customer satisfaction is core to our business and we aim to deliver the best possible experience. We are looking into a limited number of reports of Galaxy S9/S9+ touchscreen responsiveness issues. We are working with affected customers and investigating," said Samsung in a statement provided to CNET. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ reached store shelves March 16.
Samsung today said those who buy the Galaxy S9 or S9+ smartphones will have access to classic Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse via the phones' cameras. The pair of mice are brought to life in the S9/S9+ device thanks to Samsung's AR Emoji, which uses the front-facing camera to help people animate characters and more. Owners of the S9/S9+ will be able to send animated GIFs of Mickey and Minnie through messaging apps or pin them to their lock screen. "With more than 6 billion emojis sent daily, our goal with developing AR Emoji was to provide a fun, exciting way to communicate and a new way to bring animated images to life,” said Samsung's Younghee Lee. Characters from other Disney films including The Incredibles, Zootopia, and Frozen will roll out throughout the year.
Owners of Samsung's newer high-end phones will soon be able to score same-day repairs for most problems. Samsung has teamed up with uBreakiFix, which has some 370 locations around the country, in order to provide more timely repairs. uBreakiFix offers authorized repairs with genuine Samsung parts. The company says its technicians are all certified by Samsung and repaired devices are restored to factory conditions. uBreakiFix will fix the Note 5 and Note 8, as well as the Galaxy S6, S7, S8, and S9. The partnership officially kicks off March 15. The move helps Samsung become more competitive with Apple, which offers quick iPhone repairs at its Apple Stores.
Microsoft has added the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ to its online store. The devices are pre-configured with Microsoft apps and services. "A Microsoft customization is applied to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ Microsoft Edition when the devices are unboxed and connected to WiFi," explained Microsoft. When users first boot the device, they will be prompted to download Microsoft apps such as Office, Outlook, OneDrive, Cortana, and Microsoft's launcher for Android. Other than the software, the specs and features of the S9 and S9+ are unchanged from other versions of the phone. When purchased from Microsoft, the S9 and S9+ are unlocked. The S9 costs $720 and the S9+ costs $840.
Preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ start today and AT&T hopes its promotion will score with customers. Similar to Sprint's offer, AT&T will give customers up to $500 in account credits through combined promotions. First, customers who port in a number from a competing carrier will be rewarded with a $150 bill credit. Further, those who trade in a smartphone will receive a minimum of $200, and possibly as much as $350, in bill credits. Phones worth $350 on trade are the Apple iPhone 8, 8 Plus or iPhone X; LG V30; Google Pixel 2/XL Phones. Phones worth $300 on trade include any of the Samsung Galaxy S7 variants. With these offers combined, AT&T says the S9 price drops to as low $290, while the S9+ drops to $415. By way of comparison, Sprint is offering $350 off its S9/S9+ lease program and $150 via Visa gift card. The S9 is also sold by T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
Sprint said those who preorder the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ can save up to $500 on the new handsets. First, Sprint is offering $350 off the Sprint Flex price for those who preorder and trade-in an eligible handset. This knocks the monthly price of the S9 to $13.55 and S9+ to $18.55. Further, Sprint will reward those who port in a number with a $150 Visa gift card. The $150 gift card does not require a trade on its own. Sprint says the deals will be offered for a limited time. Samsung is also offering a $350 promo for consumers who preorder the Galaxy S9 or S9+ with a trade. Preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ kick off on Friday, March 2.
Samsung today said it partnered with UCSF to create an app that will allow S9 and S9+ owners to gauge their health. The My BP Lab app, which will be free to download from the Google Play Store, uses the optical heart rate monitor of the S9 and S9+ to monitor blood pressure and stress levels. Over time, it can create personalized insights for people so they may try to improve their daily health. People who download the app will be invited to join a UCSF study to track stress and emotions and how each impacts users' well being. Those who opt to participate will need to report about their behavior over a three-week period, such as when they exercise, sleep, and eat. They'll have to take multiple measurements throughout the day in order to create enough data for the study. Samsung says the My BP Lab app will become available starting March 15.
All four major carriers in the U.S. plan to sell the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ beginning in March. Preorders for the phones kick off March 2 and the handset is expected to be available in stores on March 16. Samsung itself is selling the unlocked version via its web site. The S9 costs $720 and the S9+ costs $840. Customers can apply for financing from Samsung to break down the cost of the phone over 24 months. Samsung is offering app to $350 off the price with a qualifying trade-in. Pricing from U.S. carriers varies significantly.
- AT&T: AT&T is asking subscribers to its AT&T Next plans to pay $26.34 per month for 30 months for the S9 (total: $790), or $30.50 per month for 30 months for the S9+ (total: $915). AT&T says business customers can get a $150 activation credit with they by the S9 or S9+ on an installment plan. The devices support Band 14, and thus the AT&T-run FirstNet public safety network. AT&T's prepaid brand, Cricket Wireless, plans to sell the Galaxy S9 and S9+ at full cost.
- Sprint: Sprint is selling the S9 for $33.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $792). The Galaxy S9+ will be $38.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $912).
- T-Mobile: T-Mobile is asking customers to pay $30 per month for 24 months for the S9 with $0 down (total: $720), and $30 per month for 24 months for the S9+ with $120 down (total: $840) For a limited time, postpaid customers can get up to $360 off either phone with a qualifying trade-in when the S9 or S9+ is purchased on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, will sell the Galaxy S9 starting March 16 for full price.
- Verizon Wireless: Last, Verizon Wireless is charging $33.33 per month for 24 months for the S9 (total: $799) and $38.74 per month for 24 months for the S9+ (total: $930). Customers who switch to Verizon, port in their line, and trade in an old phone may get up to $500 in bill credits towards the purchase of a Galaxy S9 or S9+.
Samsung's new flagship handsets, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, are here and they offer lots to be excited about. Samsung took the wining design of last year's phones and upped the ante with improvements to the chassis, cameras, and software. The S9 and S9+ are Samsung's most powerful, and perhaps most fun, smartphones ever. Here are Phone Scoop's first impression.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones, updates to last year's S8 models. The devices bear a striking resemblance to their predecessors and make only modest changes to the hardware. The S9/S9+ feature 2:1 screens with slightly reduced bezels and glass panels front and back. Most significantly, Samsung rotated the camera/fingerprint module so the reader is in a central location on the rear. The phones also adopt stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos and produce louder sound than the S8/S8+. The S9/S9+ carry over features such as the waterproof chassis, USB-C port, headphone jack, and dedicated Bixby button. Samsung made significant improvements to the camera. The 12-megapixel cameras now include switchable aperture, from f/1.5 to f/2.4, to help with low-light situations. The camera sensor includes embedded DRAM memory — similar to Sony's premium phones — that allows the S9/S9+ to capture 960fps slow-motion. The slow-mo mode includes a motion detection function so it knows when to slow down the video for maximum effect. Each phone also includes an 8-megapixel selfie camera, along with face and iris scanning for security. Samsung added AR Emoji, a tool that echos the Animoji feature on the iPhone X to a certain degree. Users record their face which is then turned into a cartoon avatar and applied to 18 different personalized GIFs. The AR Emoji also let users animate faces such as a devil, and even apply (and purchase) various types of makeup. Further, S9/S9+ owners can easily save and share the AR Emoji with most other devices. Samsung says the S9/S9+ include a more refined version of Bixby that is now able to recognize more actions. More importantly, Bixby Vision now works in real-time, allowing for instant language translation and searches when viewing items through the camera. The devices ship with Android 8 Oreo, the Samsung SmartThings app, and the latest version of Samsung's DeX software. Samsung's SmartThings will allow the S9/S9+ to interact with other connected Samsung devices, such as refrigerators. The DeX software now works with a new dock that lets the phone act as a virtual mouse and/or keyboard. The S9 includes a 5.8-inch quad HD+ screen and 3,000mAh battery, while the S9+ includes a 6.2-inch quad HD+ screen and 3,500mAh battery. The only other difference in the hardware is found on the rear of the S9+, which features a second camera for 2x telephoto images. Both phones rely on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 4 or 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The phones support microSD cards up to 400 GB. Preorders for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ kick off March 2 and the phones will reach stores March 16. Samsung is offering up to $350 for trade-ins when put toward the purchase of an S9/S9+. The phone will be sold in black, purple, and blue in the U.S. AT&T, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and Xfinity Mobile all plan to carry the phone. It will also be available form Best Buy, Amazon, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart. Pricing is about $799 for the S9 and $899 for the S9+.