Mobile World Congress isn’t always a huge show for Samsung (last year we got a couple of tablets and some vague 5G news), but this year the company’s not messing around. Between the many teasers and seemingly endless deluge of leaks, the Galaxy S9 is all but announced at this point.
Even so, once of the nice things about the company is that it always seems to have a little something extra up its sleeve, and we’re sure to see a surprise or two at today’s press conference. Besides, it’s still Sunday morning in the U.S., so it’s not like you’ve got anywhere more exciting to be than in front of your computer, watching it all unfold live from Barcelona.
We’ll see you right here at 9AM PT/Noon ET.
All right, thanks for reading. And apologies for everyone who works for Samsung and has to dance.
Yep, it’s a good-looking phone. Anybody who’s into Android and Google services should definitely consider the S9.
@Romain, get up there and show them your moves.
Not exactly a huge upgrade, but definitely some welcome features this time out. Did I mention that it’s cheaper than the iPhone X?
I hope they are being paid well for this
So, to sum up: improved low light shooting, AR emojis, slightly thinner bezels and the fingerprint reader has been moved below the camera.
We’re now looking at an animated video while Samsung employees dancing toward the stage with Samsung Galaxy S9 in their hand.
Samsung reps are in and dancing
One more demo video and we’re out of here.
This phone will make your life “easy, healthier and more fun”, says DJ
“Please, come and check it out.” And that’s all she wrote.
Samsung’s intelligence play is interesting. On the software front, Samsung has lost the mobile operating system war and is now relying exclusively on Android for its smartphones. But Samsung can differentiate its phones from all the other Android phones out there with smart features.
Even so, that’s significantly less expensive than the iPhone X.
The standard S9 will run $720. The S9+ is going to be $840 — a $120 price bump.
S9: March 16th in retail. Pre-orders at Samsung.com and partner retail stores
The phone is launching on March 16. Preorder starts March 2.
Has anyone mentioned the terrible Killers cover they keep playing over and over again? My Wifi was broken before.
DJ Koh is back without his jacket this time. It is pretty warm in here now
We also just got a little hint at the future of Bixby openness — something the company has been promising since it acquired Viiv way back when.
“We’ll be sharing much bigger news about Bixby this year. So please stay tuned.” The screen said “Bixby 2.0”.
And, of course, Bixby. Samsung’s personal assistant got off to a bit of a rough start, but there are some key improvements here, including real time translation.
Samsung breaks down a phone into hardware, security, operating system, basic applications and services. And now, Samsung is adding one more layer — intelligence.
The biggest differentiator here is the fact that you lay the phone flat in the dock, so it can also be used as either a trackpad or keyboard.
Now it’s time to talk about DeX, the desktop dock the company introduced with the S8.
Security is still a key part of this phone, and there are some cool new tricks on that front, including Intelligent Scan, which defaults to either iris or face scanning, based on available light and the ability to tie different security features to different fingerprints.
That was a big part of the reason the company pushed the device out at MWC, so it it wasn’t behind the Snapdragon curve.
Eui Suk Chung is also talking about software and services, such as Samsung Pay, Samsung Health and Bixby. It’s clear that Samsung wants to think beyond the phone in your pocket.
That said, this device will be sporting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 in much of the world, including the US.
That has other advantages as well. If, say, the company has an off year due to exploding phones, it really doesn’t fundamentally impact its bottomline. Samsung is a component company, first and foremost.
Of course, Samsung’s got a big advantage over much of the competition, given the fact that it also develops much of the silicone inside the phone (not to mention the fact that it also gets a cut on every iPhone X sold.
We’re going to talk about futuristic stuff now, VR, AR, AI, ML and all sorts of two-letter acronyms.
Eui Suk Chung, EVP and Head of Software & AI is now on stage.
And now it’s time to start talking software, services and security.
Samsung just showed a multitasking feature which lets you pull down a notification, respond to it via an overlay and then dismiss it — to reduce app switching
“The S9 is our vision for the future of mobile phones.”
Samsung is ticking all the right boxes here. This is a flagship device and Samsung wants to mention all the features you’d expect from a flagship device in 2018.
The home screen works in portrait or landscape and supports fast wireless charging.
Samsung also made sure to mention “the convenience headphone socket at the bottom of the device”. I’m wondering who they’re referring to.
The S9 works with Dolby Atmos too.
The S9 features stereo speakers, and they’re the loudest ever in a galaxy phone. Samsung just played a loud plane sound through the conference hall speakers to prove their point. (I’m now deaf.)
“With the S9 and S9+, we’ve created an unparalleled viewing experience.” It’s an 18.5:9 display in two different sizes.
Mark Notton, Director Product Portfolio is now on stage.
Bixby, Samsung’s smart assistant, is coming to your camera. You can take a selfie and try virtual makeup. Your phone can then tell you what to buy. It’s like Snapchat filters, but for makeup.
And if you’re into Samsung Health, you can take a photo of the food you’re eating. Your phone can recognize the food and count the calories in the Samsung Health app.
The feature is powered by Google Translate. You don’t have to take any photo and it’s built into the phone.
Let’s move on from AR Emojis. You can now open the camera app and point your camera at text written in a foreign language. It’s going to translate the text into a familiar language.
Apple isn’t going to like this as the company loves to partner with Disney.
But Samsung isn’t going to stop here. The company has partnered with Disney so that you can use Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and The Incredibles as AR Emojis.
You can store multiple clothing styles and pick your character depending on your mood.
Samsung emphasizes AR Emojis can be shared with any other smartphone user, regardless of the device they have
Onece captured, you can change the hair, add clothes and glasses and the like.
Jonathan Wong is back on stage to create his own AR Emoji. It looks like you’ll have to select your hair style, glasses and clothes as the S9 mostly scans your facial traits. I have to say it looks quite convincing.
Hair joke got a lot of laughs. “I’m not completely bald”
It’s equal parts cool and creepy — probably a bit more of the latter, honestly.
Samsung just combined Animojis with Bitmojis and I think it’s genius. Obviously Brian disagrees with me but I think it’s great.
The big differentiator here is that the camera actually maps the user’s face to create a 3D avatar.
Samsung just combined Animojis with Bitmojis and I think it’s genius. Obviously Brian disagrees with me but I think it’s great.
This one was rumored for a while. Samsung’s bringing its own Animoji competitor to the phone.
Alright, now it’s time to start talking Emojis!
Onto emojis and AR
Erin Willis, Senior Manager Channel Marketing is now on stage.
Like all of the company’s recent flagships, the new phones are both IP68 rated for water and dustproofing.
Of course, that’ll cost you. There’s a $120 difference between the two phones.
The S9+ has a wide angle and telephoto lens — one a handful of added features it will lord over the S9.
The microSD slot attracted a ton of claps from the audience. It looks like this is the killer feature of the S9.
The Dodo and Buzzfeed were given early access to the phone and have already been uploading that content. We’ve got a video waiting for you as well.
Samsung just reinvented water
The camera also automatically overs up a version in reverse and two different loops. You can also set the slow motion video as the lock screen.
The just demoed water being poured into a glass, slowly. “Have you ever seen water look that good?”
“Have you ever seen water look like this?”
Now a quick on stage demo, pouring a glass of water (woooo! parrrtttty!). The dramatic music makes it sound like a 70s cop show.
Once captured, you can add music or share the video as a GIF.
Cute cat video being deployed to demo super slow mo. Cuuuuuute!
“What’s better than a slo-mo cat video? That’s right, a super slo-mo cat video.”
That’s an important addition, since every second counts in slow motion.
It’s a pretty impressive upgrade that also boasts an intelligent tracking feature, firing up slow motion capture as soon as it detects motion in the frame.
I guess we’re now watching YouTube
Samsung asked the Slow Mo Guys to shoot some videos with the new phone — because, well, that’s what Slow Mo Guys do.
The slow motion moves from 260 frames per second to 960, a pretty significant bump.
The new Super Slow Motion feature meanwhile, appears to be the same tech we saw on last year’s Xperia flagship — of course, now it’s actually on a phone people will buy.
Samsung just turned on all the lights in the room and then turned off all the lights to say that it takes a minute to adapt for the human eye. Samsung says the S9 can adapt instantly.
The dual aperture is actually the same one you’ll find on the company’s recently released flip phone.
“The camera itself can process four times image data as before.”
The F1.5 wide aperture for dark photos is the widest aperture in a smartphone.
“The eye automatically adapts to different light situation.” He’s now describing aperture. And it turns out the S9 has a dual aperture camera. It can switch between two apertures.
He’s calling the Samsung Galaxy S9 “the most groundbreaking camera yet.”
Jonathan Wong, Director of Product Marketing is now on stage. He traded the usual shirt and jacket for a white T-shirt and a bomber jacket.
“What if your smartphone could adapt to your environment just like the human eye?”
“And while it starts with an amazing display, it also extends with one of the most essential tools in our lives — the camera.”
It seems like half of the audience is currently experiencing AR for the first time.
If you’ve already used an AR app with a QR code, this is more or less the same thing.
Denison is now asking everyone to take their badge and scan the badge with the Galaxy Unpacked app. It’s a fairly unimpressive augmented reality representation of the Galaxy S9. You can tilt it to see it from all angles.
There are four colors: midnight black, grey, coral blue and lavender purple.
“We’re also introducing intelligent scan.” It combines an iris scanner with face recognition to unlock your phone. Samsung has always provided a bunch of options to unlock your phone.
You can check off the first ‘no notch’ joke too
(Arguably, the LG G6 jumped the gun and was the first phone with a tall display and small bezels, a few weeks before Samsung announced the S8.)
Some fairly hesitant clapping. “Thank you, thank you”
“When we released the infinity display, most people had never seen something like this.” He’s saying it quickly set an industry standard.
He’s calling smartphones “the most personal devices in our lives.” He’s now talking about the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 “infinite display”, saying that the S9 is building upon this foundation.
He’s probably going to list all the features of the device.
Justin Denison, SVP of Product Marketing is now taking the stage.
DJ Koh is now showing the two new devices on stage.
That was one of the chief hardware complaints of the last generation: accidental fingerprints on the camera. What’s the point of a fancy new one if it’s covered in finger grease?
A few key aesthetic changes here: the bezels on the top and bottom of the Infinity Display are a bit smaller than last time around. Also, the fingerprint sensor has been moved to a better spot beneath the camera.
This video is a 3D rendering of the new device from all angles. It’s floating in 3D on a dark background with some shiny reflections.
As already leaked, the S9 doesn’t look too dissimilar from its predecessor.
Music is very Bladerunner
We’re cutting to a video.
And there we go, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are officially official.
“I’m thrilled to unveil the first smartphone built for the way you view your world today.”
DJ just used the word “breakthrough” — a “breakthrough camera”… so sounding very Applish there
(We’d love to bring you photos of the event, too, but the WiFi is too slow to upload them right now.)
Improved low-light settings are probably the biggest addition to the camera this time out — that’s been the death knell of many a device before this.
This little speech is getting a bit long. While it’s always interesting to hear the philosophy behind a device, there’s nothing groundbreaking here.
“Clearly the social media generation has transformed the way people communicate.”
Of course, the company’s been hyping imaging for months now. There are “The Camera Reinvented” signs up all over Barcelona this week.
He’s saying the phone is all about capturing fleeting moments and sharing them.
“Of all of the changes we’ve seen, nothing is more important than how images have replace words and how videos have become the new conversations.”
So the theory being espoused by DJ is that we need machine learning/AI to help simplify the complexity of technology [thinking emoji face]
Samsung thinks the smartphone is going to become the main remote for your connected home and the central hub for your health metrics.
The rabbit is out of the hat everyone, there’s (gasp) a new phone.
“Today we are unveiling a new Galaxy smartphone with powerful software and services.”
“Technology is still too complicated. There are too many steps, too many features don’t get used.”
“At Samsung we are inspired by the questions you ask”
Those old phones from 2005 look so dated now. While it was just 13 years ago, everything before the smartphone era looks prehistoric.
We’re getting some deep background here now, going through the company’s phone history, dating back to the late 90s.
DJ is giving some background context into the company’s Olympics play now. Samsung’s been interested in the games for years now, and of course, this time it happened in its backyard.
“We may deliver new capabilities and add new features.” But he’s saying these technologies only make sense when they’re in people’s hands. I guess this is Samsung’s answer for the tech backlash.
He’s talking about the Internet of Things with a nice picture of a gigantic house with a swimming pool. You can see a bunch of Samsung appliances, from the fridge to the Roomba-like vacuum cleaner.
DJ Koh is now on stage, the man in charge of the mobile division at Samsung.
It’s an uplifting video with a baby learning to walk, kids snowboarding down a desert hill, etc.
We’re now looking at a video with kids playing soccer, learning how to read the word “can’t”. Some teenagers are using a Samsung phone to live stream a video.
“So you can do what can’t be done.”
“Do what you can’t” kicks off the sloganizing
The show is starting with a very loud video. “Do what you can’t,” it says. “We’re engineers, inventors, problem solvers.”
I expect Mark Zuckerberg will walk in while everybody is looking at some AR demo tonight.
Hall is set up in the round which makes a nice change though
Wi-fi is of course horrendously slow
Samsung has been talking about new camera capabilities for this new device. This is probably going to be the big story of the conference. What can you see through your smartphone camera?
And (surprise!) it looks just like the Galaxy S8 from last year, with some minor differences. The fingerprint reader is located in a better spot for instance.
Everybody is expecting a new phone: the Galaxy S9. The company’s promotional video leaked yesterday, so we already had a good look at the S9.
We’re now 10 minutes away from the press conference. So let’s quickly talk about the rumors we’ve been hearing for the past few weeks.
It’s a boxing ring where the WiFi barely works, though.
“Experience the magic of augmented reality during the launch”
Just like a couple of years ago, Samsung chose to put the stage in the center of the room. It feels like we’re all sitting around a boxing ring.
Samsung is encouraging attendees to download its Unpacked app to see AR elements during the presentation. Current download time for an essential update to this app: 12mins :#
And we’re now in the venue! This year, Samsung is bringing its conference back to the beautiful Fira Montjuic venue.
Hello from sunny Barcelona! The line is moving quickly. We should be seated and ready to blog pretty soon!