Samsung confirms 'slow sales' for Galaxy S9 and a 'reasonable' price for Note 9

Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung's Q2 financial results are in, and while money talk isn't always that exciting, there are some flavorsome tidbits in here that hint strongly at what we'll be seeing from the Samsung Galaxy S10, Note 9 and foldable Galaxy X.

The big news is that Samsung has confirmed that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus phones haven't sold as well as it expected. This won't be a shock to many, given the handsets haven't garnered stellar reviews and look rather similar to the previous year's models, but it's now been confirmed.

Samsung said the 'slow sales' of these phones was down to not only a tough premium smartphone market, but also intensified competition in this sector. 

What's interesting is that other manufacturers have told TechRadar that the premium market is still the key battleground for brands, so it could be that brands like Huawei, Apple, OnePlus and Xiaomi are making phones that have snaffled some of the market share.

Other factors in the lower profits include the phasing out of older lower-end models, which begs the question of whether Samsung has been able to create devices to fill that hole, or whether other brands are also stealing market share at the lower end.

One thing that slow sales does bring is a renewed pressure to make the next smartphone more innovative and exciting, so we could well see a re-tooled Samsung Galaxy S10 early next year... and possibly launching alongside the new Galaxy X (which we'll dig into further below).

A galaxy of questions

The more interesting parts of the report are related to the future of Samsung's smartphones, which have been heavily hinted at.

The first, and most prominent, is the Galaxy Note 9, which was explicitly mentioned (without the number, admittedly). Samsung confirmed that it would be releasing the handset a little earlier than usual, and that it would offer 'exceptional performance for a reasonable price'.

The notion of what's a 'reasonable price' is to be debated, given we saw mention of it costing around $940, £720, AU$1,270 in an Indonesian advert - that's hardly cheap, but in relation to some of the hyper-expensive handsets out there it might actually be more affordable than people think.

The expected Samsung Galaxy Note 9 color line-up. Credit: Android Headlines

The expected Samsung Galaxy Note 9 color line-up. Credit: Android Headlines

It's a surprise to see the Note 9 coming earlier than usual, after the rushed Note 7 caused the catastrophic battery failures that blighted Samsung, so one would have to assume that Samsung has seen the softer S9 sales coming for a while and moved up the Note 9 timescale many months ago to compensate.

A foldable future

One of the most exciting developments in smartphones is future form factors - in particular, foldable smartphones.

Samsung's long been rumored to be releasing the Galaxy X, its first foldable smartphone, and according to the financial report it looks pretty close. 

In the 'looking to the future' section, the brands says that it's going to be bringing 'cutting-edge technology and new form factors' to its phones, with a foldable phone the leading candidate for a new shape of handset.

This is corroborated when looking at the section dealing with the display division, where flexible OLED is set to drive growth for Samsung. 

Flexible OLEDs aren't massively new - they can relate to slightly flexing displays that are used in advertising - but within the report Samsung has confirmed that it will seek 'new growth drivers' in foldable displays.

A very early prototype of Samsung's rollable display

A very early prototype of Samsung's rollable display

That could mean that we'll see a new Galaxy X launching in the first half of next year, as Samsung needs to bring a refreshed form factor to show it still has leadership in smartphone innovation. 

However, the reason such a phone has been on the cards for so long without being released, is the myriad issues that need to be solved with a flexible screen - power, resilience to multiple bends, screen resolution etc, and Samsung needs to make sure these are all bullet-proof before unleashing it on the world.

Has it managed that yet? Recent noises have sounded more positive, with new components being developed, and the fact foldable displays are so widely mentioned in this financial report mean the Galaxy X could be closer than ever before.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.