A man holds a Samsung S9+ mobilephone at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world's biggest mobile fair, on February 26, 2018 in Barcelona. Image Credit: AFP

Barcelona: Samsung is banking on its successful design language and enhanced camera features to match buyer preferences and match Apple’s camera advancements on iPhone X. The company has stuck to the same design of last year’s S8 model for its new Galaxy flagships S9 and S9+.

“The way we use our smartphones has changed as communication and self-expression has evolved,” said D.J. Koh, president and Head of IT and Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics. “With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, we have reimagined the smartphone camera. Not only does the Galaxy S9 and S9+ enable consumers to shoot the best photos and videos anywhere, it is a smartphone that’s designed to help them connect to others and express themselves in a way that is unique and personal to them.”

He said that 1.2 trillion photos were taken, 5 billion emojis shared every day and one billion GIFs exchanged every day in 2017.

The South Korean company launched its S9 and S9+ on Sunday with three different storage capacities – 64GB, 128GB and 256GB.

The S9 has a 5.8-inch Quad HD OLED ‘Infinity Display’ with 4GB of RAM. The fingerprint sensor is moved from the side to below the single lens camera. The battery capacity is 3,000mAh.

The 12MP rear camera will have a variable apperture (f/1.5-f/2.4) with optical image stabilization. The front camera is 8MP with f/1.6 aperture and supports ‘super slow motion’.

 The 6.22-inch S9+ has a 6GB of RAM. It will have a new 12MP dual-lens camera setup (wide and telephoto) on the back and 8MP on the front.

The 6.22-inch S9+ has a 6GB of RAM. It will have a new 12MP dual-lens camera setup (wide and telephoto) on the back and 8MP on the front. Battery capacity is 3,500mAh. The chipset is the same as S9.

The Galaxy S9+ device has also added adjustable aperture in the camera, which allows for automatic switching from f/2.4 to f/1.5 for better low-light performance.

The dual speakers are powered by AKG with 360 degree surround sound.

Samsung said that the SmartThings App [internet of things app] will be introduced with S9 and Galaxy S9+ and will connect to other Samsung and non-Samsung devices.

Wayne Lam, principal analyst for mobile devices and networks at IHS Markit, said in a statement that Samsung needs the Galaxy S9 series to set the pace for 2018, after the company saw shipments decline by 2.2 per cent year-over-year in fourth quarter of 2017, from 76 million units in fourth quarter of 2016 to 74.3 million units.

“While Apple also saw slight decline in shipment numbers, the company was able to raise its average selling price, by shipping more of its super premium devices, like iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X,” he said.

So, the big question is about the price point.

Dh3,099 price of S9 with 64GB capacity (128GB for Dh3,299 and 256GB for Dh3,499). The S9+ with 64GB is priced at Dh3,499, 128GB for Dh3,699.

UAE launch

The S9 with 64GB is priced at Dh3,099, 128GB for Dh3,299 and 256GB for Dh3,499. The S9+ with 64GB is priced at Dh3,499, 128GB for Dh3,699 and 256GB for Dh3,899. It will be available from March 16 in the UAE.

Another industry expert said that pricing above $1,000 (Dh3,673) will make it tough for Samsung to sell in certain markets and they need to find a way to bundle it. Samsung will benefit in the first quarter as there will be no competition as Huawei and LG devices will not be available in the first quarter.

Gerrit Schneemann, senior analyst for mobile devices at IHS Markit, said in a emailed statement that success in the flagship pricing tier will be critical in 2018 for Samsung.

Unless Samsung changes its portfolio strategy, IHS Markit forecasts Samsung’s smartphone shipments will decline by 2.6 per cent in 2018 compared with overall market growth of 3.9 per cent.

According to the IHS Markit Smartphone Intelligence Service. extending the high volume shipment period beyond one quarter will help Samsung offset its declining unit shipments in the next year and maintain profitability.

Schneemann said the dual aperture capability makes the smaller S9 in particular stand out compared with the fixed aperture single camera design of the regular size iPhone 8.