The Galaxy S9 preorder started shipping out some days ago, and we got our unit on Monday. It’s no longer news that this phone looks quite a lot like the Galaxy S8 except for some little changes here and there. It still has the same general design and button placement.
If you have the Galaxy S8+ and you’re wondering whether you should upgrade to the Galaxy S9+ or not, the major differences are the bigger 6GBs of RAM, the upgraded rear camera with variable aperture, the new telephoto lens for better zoom and portrait mode, super slow motion, much better stereo speakers and a faster processor.
Here’s an overview of the technical specifications:
|Model||Samsung Galaxy S8+ Duos|
|Display||6.2-inch sAMOLED (quadHD+)|
|Processor||Exynos 9810 Octa (4×2.7 GHz Mongoose M3 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55)|
|Software||Android 8.0 Oreo (Samsung Experience 9.0)|
|Rear Camera||Dual 12MP (Telephoto, variable aperture @ f/1.5 and f/2.4, 4k, super slow-mo at 960 fps)|
|Front Camera||8MP, f/1.7|
|Features||4G VoLTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, micro USB, 3.5mm Audio port, Samsung DeX (desktop experience support), Fast battery charging (Quick Charge 2.0), Qi/PMA wireless charging (market dependent), ANT+ support, Bixby natural language commands and dictation|
The unit I have is the variant made for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and it comes with Samsung Exynos 9810 processor.
As usual, Samsung packs everything you’re going to need to get started inside the box. Apart from the phone, the retail package comes with:
- 1 SIM ejector tool
- 1 transparent case
- 1 fast charging wall adapter
- 1 USB connector
- 1 micro USB connector
- 1 USB Type C cable
- 1 pair of AKG earphone
- and some extra earbuds.
The pre-order came with a free Samsung wireless charging stand which also works great with other Qi-certified devices like the iPhone X.
Checking out the phone, it looks more or less the same as the Galaxy S8/S8+. Samsung is still retaining the design except for some little changes here and there. As usual, the device features Samsung’s amazing Super AMOLED display that has been the standard for a while now. It should be mentioned that the Galaxy S9+ feels different in hand even though it looks like the S8. It has a better grip thanks to the less pronounced curved edges around the back.
When I reviewed Samsung Galaxy S8+ last year, I complained about the position of the fingerprint sensor which was very awkward. Apart from the fact that it was pretty hard to reach, you couldn’t help but leave smudges on your camera lens every now and then.
Samsung listened and put the fingerprint sensor is in a better position below the camera.
Just like the Galaxy Note 8 and other devices in the market following the trend, the Galaxy S9+ now has a dual camera setup. This is another feature that sets it apart from the smaller Galaxy S9 and last year’s S8+.
On this phone, the biggest and most important feature is the camera.
For the first time ever, we have a smartphone lens with a variable aperture, and it switches automatically between f/1.5 and f/2.4 depending on the amount of available light.
Based on my short test, it actually improves low light photography. You can as well adjust it manually in the Pro mode and in my opinion, I think photographers are really going to appreciate this.
AR Emoji is definitely Samsung’s response Apple’s Animoji which I don’t even use on the iPhone X. It looks like another unneeded gimmick. It’s quite different from Apple’s Animoji which does a better job by taking a 3D scan of your face. AR Emoji takes a picture of your face and turns it to a 3D model which you can customize to taste.
There are some too in Animoji style and others look somewhat similar to Snapchat filters. It doesn’t work well; it’s even terrible.
The sound quality on the s9+ is definitely better thanks to the stereo speakers. The Galaxy S9+ has a speaker at the bottom and the other integrated with the earpiece. There’s also Dolby Atmos for that surround sound audiophiles love.
Sadly, the dedicated Bixby button is still there. I’m one of those many people who deactivated Bixby on the Galaxy S8+ and stuck with Google Assistant. I could be wrong, but Samsung’s effort to push Bixby hasn’t convinced a lot of us.
The new Samsung keyboard too looks like a reason good enough to dump third-party keyboards as I’m beginning to love it. I first saw it on the last Oreo update on the Galaxy S8+, and this might be the right time to do away with Swift Keyboard. It’s got all the features you would expect a good keyboard to have and more.
But just like every other phone in the market right now, Samsung Galaxy S9+ is pretty fragile, you don’t want to use this without a case.
Is it worth the upgrade?
It depends on how you look at it. If the new telephoto lens, the dual camera setup, the adjustable aperture, the bigger RAM and the faster processor means a lot to you, it’s worth it. AR Emoji isn’t enough reason to upgrade and there’s no radical design change physically.
If you don’t care about all the new camera features and the bigger processing power, perhaps you should stick with Galaxy S8/S8+.
But then, there’s still a lot to talk about when the full review is published.