Last year, Samsung unveiled the S8 and the S8+, and in the wake of the disastrous Note 7, these proved to be great improvements. In fact, they were among the best phones released last year. Today, we had a hands-on session with the S9 and S9+, and while the camera seems to be a pretty big step forward, it seems like the Korean company has changed little else. So the big question here is, “Is it worth trading up your S8”? That remains to be seen. Here are a few quick features to bring you up to speed with Samsung’s latest offerings.
Since cameras are basically the foremost yardstick to judge a new smartphone, we’ll start with that. Samsung boasts that they have reimagined the camera, and built a smartphone around it. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ are built with a Super Speed Dual Pixel sensor with dedicated processing power and memory, allowing it to take some high-quality photos.
One of the more intriguing aspects of the camera is its super slo-mo capability. At 960 frames per second, the S9 and S9+ crushes the iPhone X‘s 240 frames per second capability, and then some. You can record a quick video, turn it into a gif and send it via Whatsapp with a few taps of a button.
Another area Samsung says it has improved the camera is in low light conditions. Thanks to Samsung’s Dual Aperture (F1.5/F2.4), the phones are able to automatically let in more light and also vice versa. That way, the exposure is better than in smartphones with cameras that have a fixed aperture. We were impressed with the photos we took in low-light conditions today, however, the super slo-mo function seemed to struggle a little under the same conditions.
AR emoji is Samsung’s response to Apple’s Animoji. When you take a selfie, the phone is able to turn you into an avatar that can mimic your expressions and be used as an emoji for all purposes. Now, we still think it’s a novel function that can be done without, but it makes more sense than an animated monkey or chicken.
Design and Entertainment
When we reviewed the Google Pixel 2XL, we said it was a great phone, but the display was a bit of a let down. The iPhone X on the other hand, has a beautiful OLED display, and quite honestly, it makes a pretty big difference in the user experience. So how do the S9 and S9+ stack up?
We’re glad to say the display looks great thanks to curved super AMOLED screens. You’re going to enjoy watching Netflix on the go, especially with the infinity display. The bezels are a little less noticeable on the new phones, compared to last year’s edition, and of course the fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back of the phone, just under the camera, making it more ergonomic.
Oh, and one more thing. Both phones have 3.5mm jack. Let that sink in.
Price and Availibility
Here’s what all of you have probably been waiting for. How big of a hole will it burn in your pockets? Well, the Galaxy S9 64GB will retail for $1,198 and the Galaxy S9+ 64GB and 128GB will go for $1,348 and $1,498 respectively. Pre-orders will go live on 1 March at 12pm, and the phones will be available from 16 March.