All eyes are on Samsung following the launch of Apple’s retooled, redesigned iPhone X. Yet amongst the wild speculation and unconfirmed rumors that the Galaxy S9 will outmatch the iOS flagship at every turn, there are calmer whispers that Samsung’s next marquee S-series devices won’t be the revolutionary phones some fans are hoping for.

This started with a recent report coming out of South Korea that suggested the upcoming Galaxy S8 successor, allegedly dubbed Project Star internally, will not come with an in-display fingerprint scanner. The same feature was ditched for the Note 8, reportedly due to “technical limitations”, but Samsung had been expected to beat Apple to the punch and include the technology in its 2018 flagship.

Unfortunately for expectant fans, the possible bad news doesn’t seem to stop there, as Samsung could be readying a device that refines the Galaxy S8’s basic design, specs, and features rather than innovating in any major capacity.

Samsung is reportedly preparing a 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S9 Plus designed around the same elongated, Infinity Display-centric look we saw with the Galaxy S8.

The first rumblings suggesting that this may be the case began this past Tuesday, after Business Korea released a report citing information from sources “inside and outside Samsung Electronics”. According to the publication, Samsung is preparing a 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S9 Plus designed around the same elongated, Infinity Display-centric look we saw with the Galaxy S8.

While borrowing the same design that wowed consumers is forgivable to some extent (it still looks gorgeous today despite all of the opposition from other manufacturers), the report goes on to note that Samsung is also sticking with the same 2D facial recognition software too.

According to Business Korea’s sources, Samsung has chosen to ignore 3D technology for its front-facing camera due to “technological limitations” and concerns over user security. While recent speculation suggested that the Galaxy S9’s iris scanner and facial recognition tech will still receive a minor boost, the potential lack of 3D sensing features could disappoint buyers looking for advanced augmented reality-focused features.

The unnamed sources also quash rumors that the Galaxy S9 will include two dual-camera units. Instead, the S9 and its larger sibling will allegedly feature a rear, dual-lens camera with a three-layer sensor capable of taking up to 1,000 pictures in a second. The front camera, on the other hand, is said to be a traditional, single-sensor shooter.

On its own, it’d be easy to dismiss the report out of hand, but now tipster Evan Blass has weighed in with his own information that backs up claims that Samsung is in a “tock” year.

Blass explained what he meant by this in a later tweet, clarifying that this would mean an upgrade to an existing model – i.e. improving on the Galaxy S8 specs while retaining the general design – rather than a complete product makeover (a “tick” year).

For those unfamiliar with the term, the “tick-tock” cycle was made famous by Intel, although the chip manufacturer’s now-retired system was slightly more nuanced than the one being applied to Samsung’s approach.

Despite the lack of headline innovation, the Galaxy S9 will almost certainly enjoy an upgrade in the specs department.

Despite the lack of headline innovation, the Galaxy S9 will almost certainly enjoy an upgrade in the specs department, with Qualcomm’s all-but-confirmed Snapdragon 845 and Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 chipset expected to power the next-gen phones in different regions.

Samsung may also be readying an improved artificial intelligence system called Galaxy AI UX that could make it into the Galaxy S9 (via SamMobile). It’s unclear what exactly the Galaxy AI UX is at this stage, although Business Korea’s report references an AI chip used for “voice recognition and neural language processing.”

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One thing which is unanimously agreed in almost every report is that the Galaxy S9 will be more expensive than its predecessor due to component and installation costs. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how close the S9 gets to the Note 8’s bumper price tag.

As always, it’s worth taking all of this with a pinch of salt until Samsung officially unveils its 2018 flagship, and if certain rumors are to be believed, we may not have too long to wait.

What do you think of Samsung’s mooted “tock” year? Should the market leader be doing more to shake things up in the light of the iPhone X? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.