SINGAPORE: Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 smartphones will be available in Singapore from Mar 16, announced the company on Monday (Feb 26).
Pre-orders, however, begin on Thursday from noon. Consumers can register their interest with telcos M1, Singtel and StarHub, or at Samsung’s online store.
They can also head to the websites of major consumer electronics stores such as Best Denki, Courts, Gain City, Hachi, Harvey Norman, Lazada and Newstead.
The 64GB variant of the Galaxy S9+ retails at S$1,348, while the 256GB model will be available at S$1,498.
An anticipated feature of the S9+ is its dual aperture lens that provides a variable aperture of between f/1.5 to f/2/4, and a resolution of 12MP.
The Galaxy S9, which does not come with a dual camera, retails at S$1,198. It only comes in 64GB.
The S9 is fitted with Samsung’s Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor. This allows it to produce a software-based bokeh effect without the need for dual cameras.
Operating on the Android 8 OS, both the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be available in three colours – midnight black, coral blue and a new hue, lilac purple.
The phones were unveiled on Sunday on the eve of the official start of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
With no other major handset maker using the annual event to launch a new flagship device this year, Samsung had the opportunity to grab the spotlight.
The S9 features essentially the same design as last year's previous flagship, with the full screen and curved glass edge of the S8.
But it includes louder sound, a faster processor and software that turns selfies into animated emojis, which will appeal to consumers who are increasingly preferring to use their phones to send text messages rather than talking.
A service powered by artificial intelligence (AI) allows users to point its camera to instantly translate a sign in a foreign language.
It is also one of the few flagship phones left that still comes with a standard headphone jack.
Samsung suffered a humiliating recall of its Galaxy Note 7 device in 2016 after defective batteries caused several devices to explode, but its Galaxy 8 smartphone was a consumer and critical success.
While it kept its lead over Apple as the world's biggest seller of smartphones in 2017 with a 21.6 per cent market share, up from 21.1 per cent in the previous year, Samsung faces stiffer competition from Chinese rivals like Huawei and Xiaomi that offer cheaper handsets with many high-end features.
Analysts also warn that the S9’s high price could turn off many consumers.
While the S9's camera is "markedly different" in quality from older smartphones that people already own, "consumers may delay purchase because of rising flagship prices," IHS Markit said in a research note.
"Samsung must work hard to market the benefits of these designs to counter negative pricing perception."
Huawei unveiled a new laptop and tablet in Barcelona earlier on Sunday but will present its new flagship smartphone - the P20 - on Mar 27 in Paris.
Thomas said this will allow it to "fine tune its marketing message based on how the new Samsung S9 devices are perceived by consumers".
Earlier on Sunday South Korea's LG unveiled the V30S - an updated version of its flagship V30 smartphone launched six months ago - which features higher memory and artificial intelligence-based technologies that focus on photos and voice recognition.
More than 100,000 people are expected to descend on Barcelona for the annual show, which features driverless car makers, social media giants and chip companies in addition to handset makers.