The Samsung Galaxy S9 running on stock Android gives users the best of both worlds
Samsung released the new Galaxy S9 and S9+ towards the end of February. Both devices only just got into end-user hands over the past few weeks, though. The devices launched on Android Oreo, which, of course, means that Project Treble support is mandatory.
Project Treble has been in the headlines for a while now, so it's not exactly a novel feature anymore. For those not in the know, it's a feature on Android Oreo that allows the bypassing of carrier and OEM meddling by the use of a special vendor partition. At its peak, fulfilled state, it's supposed to allow firmware uniformity on Android devices, much like what we have on Windows.
A developer on XDA has succeeded in booting up an Android 8.0 ROM on his Samsung Galaxy S9, with the aid of Treble. It wouldn't be the first time something like this has been done, in any case, as Huawei devices on Oreo have all enjoyed these perks for a while now. Samsung is a much bigger fish in the market, though, so this highlights the potential that Project Treble has more than ever before.
Samsung's skin, Samsung Experience—formerly known as Touchwiz—is very much divisive. While packed with a slew of features, the interface tends to get bogged down over time and just doesn't seem to have the fluidity of stock Android. Treble changes all of that. With Treble support, users of the S9 and S9+ now have the option to swap over to an AOSP ROM, without losing basic functionality. Of course, most of Samsung Experience's features—Samsung Pay, for example—will be missed, but some would say that the gained fluidity is a worthy trade-off. Those who believe the reverse to be the case may want to look away.
On Huawei devices, developers have managed to port the entire camera library over to AOSP ROMs, which means that switching over from Huawei's software no longer comes with the consequence of a gimped camera experience. That's likely to be the case with the S9, although enthusiasts will have to wait for more work to be done on this project.
Of course, to flash a ROM, the phone needs to have an unlocked bootloader. US carrier gimmicks ensure that the company doesn't sell bootloader unlocked devices in the country, so people with the Snapdragon US model will have to wait for a bootloader exploit of some sort. Users in Europe with the Exynos variant and those in China and Latin America with the Snapdragon models, however, are able to flash Generic System Images and Treble-based Lineage OS ROMs.
The smoothest possible software on the best hardware. What's not to love?