Samsung thinks an iPhone X-like design will turn China on to the Galaxy S9

samsung galaxy s9 review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Samsung may launch a revised Galaxy S9 specifically for China, where it doesn’t enjoy the same level of success it does elsewhere in the world. How will it win over Chinese smartphone fans spoiled for choice? By taking away some of the key Galaxy S9 design traits we know and love, and replacing them with at least one taken from the Apple iPhone X.

The phone is currently known by its model number, the SM-G8850, one which shares more with the old Galaxy Alpha than it does the current Galaxy S9, which could mean it won’t take on the flagship Galaxy S name when it launches. The phone has passed through the hands of TENAA, the regulatory body in China where new smartphones are cleared for use, and also been spotted revving its engine on the AnTuTu benchmarking site.

Initially speculated to be a Galaxy S9 Mini, the phone has since been viewed as a more powerful version of the Galaxy S9, with an octa-core processor running at up to 2.8GHz, with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM inside. The Galaxy S9’s Exynos chip operates at 2.7GHz, and the phone has 4GB of RAM. To get 6GB of RAM, you’d have to buy the Galaxy S9 Plus. The AnTuTu benchmark says the phone has a Snapdragon 660 processor with 4GB of RAM, considerably less powerful than the Galaxy S9.

samsung sm g8850 news tenaa
Samsung SM-G8850 seen on the TENAA website in China.

Like the Galaxy S9 Plus, the SM-G8850 may also have a dual-lens rear camera. Instead of centrally mounting the lenses, though, the TENAA image shows Samsung has offset them to the left and placed them inside an oval camera bump, just like a trend started by Apple with the iPhone X. The fingerprint sensor sits top center on the back panel. Another change comes with the screen, which does away with the familiar curved edges seen on Samsung’s Galaxy S series for several generations, and opts for a flat screen instead. The TENAA listing indicated it was a Super AMOLED panel with a 2960 x 1440 pixel resolution. Opinion varies on the size of the display, with the latest claiming it’s a massive 6.3-inches, rather than the 5.8-inch size — the same as the Galaxy S9 — first rumored, and mentioned by TENAA.

The SM-G8850 is a mystery. On one side it’s a more powerful version of the Galaxy S9 Plus with a different design, and on the other a less exciting big-screen phone that has received more attention than it expected. But while we don’t know what the phone will turn out to be, we do know Samsung is having a hard time in China. A recent report said it has less than 1 percent market share there, and is willing to try different things to improve on this. Could a redesigned, more powerful Galaxy S9 Plus be one of them?

We’ll keep you updated with all the SM-G8850 rumors here.