Over the past few years, whenever we saw a new OS update appear for a Samsung flagship device on GFXbench, we took it as a sign that the update is being internally tested by Samsung and that is exactly why it is showing up on sites like Geekbench and GFXbench.
Which is why many people are believing that Samsung may push out Android 9 update for the S9 sets soon, or faster because the S9’s page on GFXbench now mentions the Android Pie build. But well, that’s not what it is.
The thing is, developers weren’t able to create custom ROMs for the past Samsung flagship handsets because of various reasons. So with no custom ROMs based on the latest OS update available, the only way that update makes it to GFXbench or Geekbench was because of the software build that Samsung could be testing internally. Hence we took that as a sign of upcoming OS update. Nothing wrong, right? Right.
But the Galaxy S9 is different. There is an unofficial Android 9 Pie update already available for the device in the form of a Treble GSI — a system image that is based on Android 9 AOSP code. You can download that be flashed on the device as it supports Treble ROMs because of built-in support for this in the Oreo OS that comes pre-installed with the device.
So, yes, without Samsung even needing to even start working on the Pie update for the Galaxy S9 (they might have, who knows!) let alone prepare a build and test one that makes it to GFXbench database, you can still install the Android 9 update on your S9+ thanks to the magic of Project Treble and the available Android Pie 9 GSI.
Now, that’s what you see on the GFXbench too. Someone just ran the GFXbench tool app on his Galaxy S9+ with Android 9 running thanks to Pie GSI image (thank developer phhusson for this) and that made an update to the GDXbench’s database for the Galaxy S9 as shown in the screenshot above).
Related: Samsung Android 9 Pie device list
So, the Android 9 build you see in the screenshot above is not Samsung work.
This is just a custom ROM, not a test build by Samsung’s staff, which used to be the case with Galaxy S7, S8, etc. handsets where a custom ROM based on recently announced major OS update was not available (Nougat, Oreo, respectively). That’s why you see it marked as INVALID, too, by the GFXbench.
Hence, this is not a great news, as this in no way can be taken as an official Samsung Pie build, and thus you cannot presume faster rollout of the Android 9 Pie update by the company.
That said, this is still good news because those eager to try even the alpha build of the Android 9 on their Galaxy S9 sets can do that now — a privilege not available to the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 users as regards Nougat and Oreo update — without waiting for Samsung, which might take the stable rollout well into January 2019. For some perspective, Galaxy S8 and S8+ received first stable Oreo update in mid-January 2018, while the Nougat update for the Galaxy S7 started seeding out in mid-January 2017.
Expected release date then?
All in all, we still think that Samsung would launch the beta program for the Galaxy S9 Pie update sometime in December (hopefully November if we are lucky) and follow it up with the stable release in January 2019, once again hopefully one that doesn’t need to be withdrawn (as was the case with Galaxy S8 Oreo update, which FYI, resumed a week later).