Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung Galaxy S9+: Full phone Specifications, Price and Description

Released 2018, March 09 189g, 8.5mm thickness
Android 8.0, up to Android 10, One UI 2.0  64GB/128GB/256GB storage, microSDXC
 6.2″ 1440×2960 pixels 12MP 2160p
 6GB RAM Exynos 9810 3500mAh Li-Ion

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Specifications

ALL VERSIONS

G965F

G965F/DS

G965U

G965W

G9650

Versions: G965F (Europe, Global Single-SIM); G965F/DS (Europe, Global Dual-SIM); G965U (USA); G965W (Canada); G9650 (China, LATAM)

NETWORK Technology GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE
2G bands GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2 (dual-SIM model only)
CDMA 800 / 1900 – USA
3G bands HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100 – Global, USA
CDMA2000 1xEV-DO – USA
4G bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 32, 38, 39, 40, 41, 66 – Global
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, 46, 66, 71 – USA
Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A (6CA) Cat18 1200/200 Mbps
LAUNCH Announced 2018, February 25
Status Available. Released 2018, March
BODY Dimensions 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm (6.22 x 2.91 x 0.33 in)
Weight 189 g (6.67 oz)
Build Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), aluminum frame
SIM Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified)
IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)
DISPLAY Type Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 6.2 inches, 98.3 cm2 (~84.2% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1440 x 2960 pixels, 18.5:9 ratio (~529 ppi density)
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 5
HDR10
3D Touch (home button only)
Always-on display
PLATFORM OS Android 8.0 (Oreo), upgradable to Android 10, One UI 2.0
Chipset Exynos 9810 (10 nm) – EMEA
Qualcomm SDM845 Snapdragon 845 (10 nm) – USA/LATAM, China
CPU Octa-core (4×2.7 GHz Mongoose M3 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55) – EMEA
Octa-core (4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver) – USA/LATAM, China
GPU Mali-G72 MP18 – EMEA
Adreno 630 – USA/LATAM, China
MEMORY Card slot microSDXC (uses shared SIM slot) – dual SIM model only
Internal 64GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM, 256GB 6GB RAM
UFS 2.1
MAIN CAMERA Dual 12 MP, f/1.5-2.4, 26mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto), 1/3.6″, 1.0µm, AF, OIS, 2x optical zoom
Features LED flash, auto-HDR, panorama
Video [email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, [email protected], HDR, dual-video rec., stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS & OIS (30fps)
SELFIE CAMERA Dual 8 MP, f/1.7, 25mm (wide), 1/3.6″, 1.22µm, AF
2 MP (dedicated iris scanner camera)
Features Dual video call, Auto-HDR
Video [email protected]
SOUND Loudspeaker Yes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jack Yes
32-bit/384kHz audio
Tuned by AKG
COMMS WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
NFC Yes
Radio FM radio (USA & Canada only)
USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
FEATURES Sensors Iris scanner, fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2
Samsung DeX (desktop experience support)
ANT+
Bixby natural language commands and dictation
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Ion 3500 mAh battery (13.48 Wh)
Charging Fast charging 15W
Quick Charge 2.0
Qi/PMA wireless charging – market dependent
MISC Colors Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple, Burgundy Red, Sunrise Gold, Ice Blue, Polaris Blue
Models SM-G965F, SM-G965U, SM-G965W, SM-G9650, SM-G965U1, SM-G965N, SCV39, SM-G965X, SC-03K
SAR 0.78 W/kg (head)     0.79 W/kg (body)
SAR EU 0.29 W/kg (head)     1.35 W/kg (body)
Price $ 302.76 / £ 460.00 / € 530.00
TESTS Performance AnTuTu: 246660 (v7)
GeekBench: 8883 (v4.4)
GFXBench: 14fps (ES 3.1 onscreen)
Display Contrast ratio: Infinite (nominal), 4.537 (sunlight)
Camera Photo / Video
Loudspeaker Voice 68dB / Noise 74dB / Ring 80dB
Audio quality Noise -92.6dB / Crosstalk -93.4dB
Battery life
Endurance rating 86h

Also Check: Video Editor Apk

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Brief Description

1. Introduction, specs, unboxing

Introduction

Generation 9 in plus size – this is the Samsung Galaxy S9+. Unlike last year when the S8 and the S8+ had just size setting them apart, in 2018 Samsung’s Plus means more than a higher battery capacity and a larger display diagonal – the S9+ has an extra camera on its back too. It makes you wonder if such segmentation has been done before by other makers. Uhm, nope, nothing comes to mind.

Anyway, adding the Note8’s tele camera to the S9’s dual-aperture wide-angle shooter makes for the first dual camera on a Galaxy S phone – you can’t say Samsung’s ahead of the curve on this one, but at least it’s caught up now. The designers also addressed the universally hated placement of the fingerprint reader of the S8s and have moved it under the cameras, along the central axis of the phone – how hard was that to achieve in the first place?

A mandatory chip update sees the S9+ packing the latest Snapdragon 845 in the US and China and the Exynos 9810 elsewhere. 6GB of RAM come standard (the S8+ could be had with 6GB in some places, some of the time, but the default was 4GB) and storage options now go all the way up to 256GB, though you’d probably be getting the 64GB version – there’s a microSD slot if you need more room.

A relatively big change this time around is the long-overdue move to a stereo speaker setup with the earpiece now joining forces with the main bottom-firing driver. A welcome lack of changes is observed in this vicinity too – the headphone jack is here for another model year. Yay!

Samsung Galaxy S9+

There are, of course, AR emoji – Samsung’s take on personalized animated emoji, which you shouldn’t call animoji. The S9s run Oreo out of the box with the latest Experience on top, while not all S8s have been treated to that official Android 8.0 update (much to the owners’ displeasure).

Pricing

64GB 6GB RAM $ 317.95
128GB 6GB RAM $ 556.98
256GB 6GB RAM $ 499.00

Samsung Galaxy S9+ specs

  • Body: Aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass 5 front and back; IP68 certified for water and dust resistance. Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple color schemes.
  • Display: 6.2″ Super AMOLED ‘Infinity Display’, 2,960x1440px resolution, 18.5:9 (2.06:1) aspect ratio, 529ppi; HDR10 compliant (no Dolby Vision).
  • Rear camera: Primary 12MP, Type 1/2.55″ sensor, f/1.5-2.4 aperture, 26mm Equiv. focal length, dual pixel PDAF, OIS; Secondary 12MP, Type 1/3.6″ sensor, f/2.4 aperture, 52mm Equiv. focal length, autofocus, OIS; 2x zoom. 2160p/60fps, 1080p/240fps slow motion, 720p/960fps super slow-motion video recording.
  • Front camera: 8MP, f/1.7 aperture, autofocus; 1440p/30fps video recording.
  • OS/Software: Android 8.0 Oreo; Samsung Experience 9.0; Bixby virtual assistant; Smart Connect, Smart Connect Home
  • Chipsets: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: octa-core CPU (4×2.7GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7GHz Kryo 385 Silver), Adreno 630 GPU. Exynos 9810: octa-core CPU (4x3rd-gen Mongoose 2.7GHz + 4xCortex-A55 1.8GHz), Mali-G72 MP18 GPU.
  • Memory: 6GB of RAM; 64/128/256GB of storage; microSD slot for cards up to 400GB.
  • Battery: 3,500mAh Li-Po (sealed); Adaptive Fast Charging (same as S7/S8); QuickCharge 2.0 support; WPC (Qi)&PMA wireless charging.
  • Connectivity: Single-SIM, Dual-SIM available in certain markets (hybrid slot); LTE-A, 4-Band/5-Band carrier aggregation, Cat.18 (1.2Gbps/150Mbps); USB Type-C (v3.1); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac MU-MIMO; GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo; NFC; Bluetooth 5.0.
  • Misc: Fingerprint/iris/face recognition; stereo speakers (bottom-firing + earpiece); 3.5mm jack; bundled AKG headphones; DeX dock compatibility.

We aren’t ones to shy away from the odd complaint (or a dozen) but with the S9+ it’s tough to find what to complain about looking at the specs. Sure, there could have been more battery, but with this generation’s weight pushing 200g, perhaps the 3,500mAh cell is for the better. The exorbitant launch price off-contract is another number we’re less than thrilled with, though few people will actually pay that – pre-order promos and carrier subsidies will surely knock a chunk off of it. Let’s see what you’ll be paying for.

Samsung Galaxy S9+ unboxing

Little has changed in the presentation of the Galaxy S9+ and the S9 compared to the last generation which in turn was a slightly modified Galaxy S7 retail bundle. Instead of having the phone on top, its tray now resides below a box that contains the booklets and a SIM pin.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

This year, as well as last, the two different USB-C adapters, the cable, and the charger are black – to match the packaging – and potentially to look more ‘tech’. The charger itself is otherwise the same old unit you could trace back to the S5, supporting Samsung’s own Adaptive Fast Charging (and Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0) and rated at 9V/1.67A and 5V/2A.

An AKG branded headset with braided cables and several extra sets of tips completes the retail package. But let’s turn our attention to the phone itself.

2. Design

Design

A lot is old and familiar, but there’s new too, and where there’s new, the new is better than the old one. There, that’s the Galaxy S9+’s design in one exquisitely eloquent sentence.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – the saying goes. But broke the fingerprint sensor placement was, so it’s a good thing that Samsung didn’t persist and fixed it for this generation. Seriously, the off-center location of the reader, high up on the back of the S8+, made it practically unusable, and (literally) opened the eyes of a few people at the office to the benefits of the iris and face unlock options.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Left – not okay, right – okay

Reaching the sensor was made even more difficult on the Note8 – not only was the phone larger but due to the dual-camera setup, the sensor was pushed even further to the side. The S9+ now shows us that there’s a better way.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Left – not okay, right – okay

There’s more good news for your index finger too. The S9+ is larger than the S9 (well, duh), but the fingerprint sensor is practically the same distance from the bottom of the phone. Nudged one camera module lower, it’s no harder to reach than on the more compact S9. So, no fingerprint reader complaints this year? Definitely!

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Well, when you put it that way, the less careful folks might still give the camera the occasional smudge. That said, it’ll be the telephoto camera and not the main one, so it’s the lesser of two evils.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

But that just might be us being overly eager to criticize – to be fair, the fingerprint reader is recessed into its frame, so there’s tactile feedback where your finger is. Plus, just because you might touch the black glass around the camera, doesn’t mean the prints will be in front of the actual lens. Let’s say that the time spent writing this paragraph could have been put to better use.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The shiny glass back • Fingerprint reader under the dual camera • 9>8

Moving on, one noticeable difference in the new design is the frame. Polished and shiny on last year’s model, matte on the S9 and S9+, it’s now a fraction of a millimeter thicker – our calipers showed 3.4mm on the 9th-gen phone, 3.0mm on the S8+. It doesn’t sound like much, but the change of finish alongside the added thickness has resulted in a more secure grip on the phone – it our experience, at least.

Continuing on the ‘meatier is better’ theme, the buttons are now larger. And that means both longer and thicker (except the volume rocker which is just thicker). Big buttons are nice, we like big buttons.

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

That’s what 3.4mm vs. 3.0mm looks like • In the hand

Speaking of grip, you’re going to need every bit of it you can get as the phone has gained some weight. Higher-strength aluminum and thicker glass are great for durability, but the S9+ now weighs in at 189g – 16g more than the S8+ and just 6g short of the Note8.

Yes, we know, ‘heavy means premium’ and all, but we’re headed for a point where most recent flagships are getting a little too ‘premium’ in terms of weight if you know what we mean. We’ll give the S9+ a pass, but we’re not sure we’re okay with a future where phones weigh 200+ grams.

The S9+ is, in fact, 1.4mm shorter than the model it replaces, 0.4mm wider and 0.4mm thicker – that is to say, it’s essentially the same size.

Over on the front, it’s the Super AMOLED display you know and love, now with a marginally better screen to body ratio. Not that you’d expect otherwise at this point, but the 6.2-inch panel is curved towards the sides, and it’s also had its corners rounded off. That’s all that is missing from the rectangle though – where other makers are going all notched with their phones, Samsung is embracing the bezel. For now, at least. We can’t say we object.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

For the S9 and S9+ they’ve also taken the effort to make the myriad of sensors on top of the display a little less obtrusive – the IR camera, in particular, is now almost invisible, and the selfie cam’s cutout is that little bit smaller than it was on the S8. All the usual stuff is here too, including the ambient light and proximity sensors, and the notification LED.

The earpiece now doubles as a second speaker, taking care of the mids and highs for the right channel when in portrait. It switches between the left and right channels in the landscape depending on orientation. And Samsung’s done it without making it look any different than the old one. So why did we have to wait so long for stereo speakers?

Samsung Galaxy S9+

As part of the sound system’s redesign, the bottom-firing speaker is no longer behind a grille like it was on previous Samsungs. It’s now a single opening, with a mesh somewhere deeper in there for protection against the elements. Oh, yes, the S9+ is IP68-rated, it’s just that we’ve gotten so used to phones being dust and water-resistant now that it’s not that big a deal anymore.

The USB-C port is centered here on the bottom, and there’s a pinhole for the primary mic too. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ remain in the ever-shrinking elite club of smartphones with a 3.5mm headphone jack – to be found on the other side of the charging port.

Our review unit happens to be a Duos version – that’s dual SIM in Samsung speak. It will take either two nano SIMs or a nano-SIM and a microSD card, up to 400GB currently. What it won’t take is two nano SIMs and a microSD at the same time. Not a big deal, but also far from ideal.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
The main speaker, mic, USB-C port, and 3.5mm jack • Card slot will take up to 400GB microSDs

3. Lab tests – display and audio quality, battery life, speaker loudness

SuperAMOLED at its finest, 6.2 inches of it

The Galaxy S9+ is equipped with a 6.2-inch SuperAMOLED display, Samsung’s own. Nothing’s changed in the numbers – it’s still in an 18.5:9 aspect (2.06:1) and resolution is 1,440×2,960px for a 521ppi density.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

We measured a maximum brightness of 631nits in auto mode – that’s when the phone can push out more nits than you can get just by turning the slider all the way up, in which case you’d get something along the lines of 376nits. Both numbers are lower than on the S8+ (647 nits in auto, 442 in manual) and the Note8 (647/412), though the Auto figure is within a few percent. The smaller S9 has a few extra nits in auto (658), and it practically as bright as the Plus in manual (370).

The iPhone X can still go a little brighter, while other high-end OLEDs like the LG V30 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro are marginally dimmer than the S9+ in Auto. The Pixel 2 XL and OnePlus 5T max out some 200nits down.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy S9+ 0 376
Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Max Auto) 0 631
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 0 442
Samsung Galaxy S8+ Max auto 0 647
Samsung Galaxy Note8 0 412
Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Max Auto) 0 647
Apple iPhone X 0 679
Apple iPhone 8 Plus (Standard) 0.392 530 1352
Apple iPhone 8 Plus (Max Auto) 0.471 621 1318
HTC U11+ (EU) 0.176 287 1631
Huawei Mate 10 Pro (vivid) 0 440
Huawei Mate 10 Pro (max auto vivid) 0 623
Google Pixel 2 XL 0 420
LG V30 0.002 414 207000
LG V30 (Max Auto) 0.032 616 19250
OnePlus 5T 0 437

Sunlight legibility is excellent on the S9+, proper top-tier performance in our test. The S9 and the S8+ are marginally better in this respect, but the S9+ is superior to the Note8. The iPhone X remains unchallenged at the top of our chart.

Sunlight contrast ratio

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Color accuracy is awesome if you know what you’re after and are willing to go into display settings and select the appropriate mode. Measured against an sRGB target color space, Basic mode yields an average DeltaE of 1.5, AMOLED Photo is faithful to AdobeRGB within an average DeltaE of 1.9, while AMOLED Cinema can reproduce the DCI-P3 color space with an average DeltaE of 1.7. Adaptive mode (the default setting) measured against an sRGB target will get you an average DeltaE of 4.8.

Samsung Galaxy S9+ battery life

The Galaxy S9+ packs a 3,500mAh battery – that number remains unchanged from the last generation. We’re firm supporters of the ‘moar is better’ philosophy when it comes to battery capacity, but if Samsung thinks 3,500mAh is enough – so be it. A year later, chipsets are more powerful while still made on a 10nm process, so there was a certain amount of anxiety on our part going into the battery tests.

It turns out we were wrong to worry. The Galaxy S9+ posted very similar results to the model it replaces. A 40-minute bump in video playback longevity sees that number verging on 17 hours. Web browsing over Wi-Fi depleted the S9+’s battery in a little over 11 hours, leaving the S8+ reloading pages for an hour more. If voice calls are your thing, the S9+ can do those over 3G for a full day and then some, an hour and a half more than the S8+.

Those numbers translate into an Endurance rating of 86 hours, 2h less overall than the S8+, and 3h less than the Note8. That said, the S9+ outlasts the Note8 in each of the three individual disciplines, only to lose its lead due to the Note’s lower standby consumption.

Even with the drop in the web browsing endurance, the S9+ remains one of the best performers in the field – only the Mate 10 Pro has an edge here (okay, with 15:21h the Mate is a league of its own). And then it’s only the Mate that comes close to the video playback endurance of the S9+.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Samsung Galaxy S9+ for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks.

In 30 minutes of charging, Samsung’s Adaptive fast charger will get the S9+’s battery from flat to 37%. It’s not blazing fast, and we’ve seen much more impressive numbers from, say, Huawei (58% of the larger 4,000mAh battery on the Mate 10 Pro in the same amount of time). The iPhone X, on the other hand, will be at only 20% after a 30-minute charge from flat with the bundled adapter, so there’s that.

A couple of things should be noted. Number one, we had the Exynos version of the Galaxy S9+ for testing, and the Snapdragon variant has been known to post different results (typically not as good). Number two, the effect of the always-on display on overall endurance will vary wildly depending on what percentage of the time the phone will spend in a pocket or purse. The AOD turns off in the dark or when its proximity sensor is covered. Our test takes into account the power consumption as it is while sitting on a desk during the day (when it’ll be on all the time) – so take our numbers as the worst-case scenario.

Loudspeaker

It took a while, but we’re finally there – the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ have stereo speakers. They’ve done it the Huawei way – the bottom-firing driver covers the low end of the spectrum and one of the channels in the stereo pair, while the earpiece is responsible for the other channel’s mids and highs.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

While in a landscape, the speakers switch according to orientation, so the earpiece acts as left channel while the earpiece is on the left, and right channel if you hold the phone the other way around. When in portrait, the right channel goes to the earpiece.

Not only is the sound stereo, but it’s also loud. The Galaxy S9+ placed in the Very good category in our three-pronged loudness test – marginally ahead of the iPhone X and marginally behind the LG V30 in total decibels. The output is clean and full-bodied, and a (strictly non-official) panel of two stereo speakerphone owners at the office ruled it superior to the Pixel 2 XL and the iPhone X in terms of quality.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Samsung Galaxy Note8 67.8 69.5 71.5 Good
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 68.5 69.4 71.6 Good
OnePlus 5T 68.4 73.2 69.9 Good
Google Pixel 2 XL 66.2 70.4 78.2 Good
Apple iPhone X 68.9 74.0 76.2 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy S9+ 68.4 74.0 80.1 Very Good
LG V30 66.9 72.3 84.5 Very Good
Huawei Mate 10 Pro 70.1 73.8 84.2 Excellent
Apple iPhone 8 Plus 76.0 74.6 79.0 Excellent
Razer Phone 69.3 75.0 90.5 Excellent
HTC U11+ (retail) 91.2 75.4 90.7 Excellent

 

Solid audio quality

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ managed to replicate the performance of its smaller sibling when it came to audio output accuracy. The larger of the two flagships had the same perfectly clear output with an active external amplifier and negligible degradation with headphones.

Where the Galaxy S9+ didn’t quite match the Galaxy S9 is loudness – the Plus model was still above average, but it not really impressive. Then again that may not matter much depending on your headphones – for those sticking to lower-impedance ones the S9+ likely won’t be any different.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Samsung Galaxy S9+ +0.01, -0.03 -92.6 92.5 0.0012 0.0076 -93.4
Samsung Galaxy S9+ (headphones) +0.03, -0.03 -92.2 92.2 0.0017 0.042 -76.3
Samsung Galaxy S9 +0.01, -0.03 -93.4 93.5 0.0057 0.0074 -93.9
Samsung Galaxy S9 (headphones) +0.02, -0.03 -93.0 92.9 0.0038 0.048 -75.5
Samsung Galaxy S8+ +0.01, -0.03 -92.1 92.1 0.0020 0.0086 -92.5
Samsung Galaxy S8+ (headphones) +0.03, -0.03 -92.5 92.5 0.0024 0.046 -77.3
HTC U11 +0.05, -0.11 -94.1 94.1 0.0017 0.0067 -94.5
HTC U11 (headphones) +0.05, -0.02 -93.7 93.8 0.0018 0.105 -53.7
LG V30 +0.02, -0.01 -93.2 93.1 0.0008 0.0069 -94.2
LG V30 (headphones) +0.03, -0.02 -92.9 92.9 0.0057 0.051 -68.1

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Samsung Galaxy S9+ frequency response

4. User interface

Samsung Experience 9.0 on top of Android 8.0 Oreo

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are running Android 8.0. As such, they’re the first Samsung phones to boot official Oreo firmware out of the box. On the S9+ there’s a newer version of Samsung Experience on top of Google’s OS – it’s 9.0 now vs. 8.5 on the Note8 and 8.1 on the S8s.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

0.9 difference in Experience between these two at the time of writing

The differences are small and mostly cosmetic, and by no means make the S9+ radically different from the model it replaces. That said, certain settings have been moved around, and if you’re coming from an existing Samsung you may need a few tries to find their new locations in the menu structure.

Take AOD clock styles, for example. If you can’t be bothered to look for AOD in the menu tree, and just type it in the search bar, you won’t be able to find the clock designs in the entry that pops up. They’re under ‘Clock and FaceWidgets’ in the ‘Lockscreen and Always-on display’ section of the ‘Lockscreen and security’ main branch of settings, one down from AOD itself – logical if you access it from the tree, not so much if you go the search route.

Anyways, there’s a whole bunch of new clock designs, and you can even change the clock on the lock screen – so once you’ve found what’s where there are rewards.

Samsung Galaxy S9+    

AOD settings • More AOD settings • Clocks styles are here

The lock screen has the normal camera and dialler shortcuts (which you can reassign to any app), but in our experience, the lock screen gets ignored altogether. The biometric unlock options (fingerprint unlock, or face, or iris, or the new Intelligent combination of all of those) are just too quick to get you to the home screen.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

With the fingerprint reader now repositioned, that’s a much more viable option than on the previous handsets with an 8 in their names. The setup process is even easier too – you can now enroll a print with a couple of swipes across the sensor. Fret not, you don’t need to swipe to unlock like on the Galaxy S5 and Note 4 – here it’s swipe to register, tap to unlock. Unlocking is pretty fast – not the fastest, but not an issue by any stretch.

Now, this particular reviewer used iris unlock on both a Note8 and S8 in day-to-day life and had no issues with it. Others have complained though, and perhaps for those Intelligent will work better. There’s a catch – it will unlock the phone even with your eyes closed – when it can’t find irises it looks for a whole mug. Some of the more privacy-conscious (one way to say paranoid) folks might have an issue with that, and they should stick to iris-only.

You can, of course, have fingerprints enabled too, with either face, iris, or Intelligent Scan on at the same time. PIN, password, and pattern are also options, and you’ll need one of them as a backup for the biometrics anyway. A simple swipe is there for those that just don’t care.

Samsung Galaxy S9+   

Swipe to enroll • All types of locks • Intelligent scan • Iris screen masks

Experience v.9 builds on v.8’s iconography with a new color for the Messages app, and a gradient for the Gallery icon, and that’s about it on the surface. Folders still open fullscreen sending the apps up and away from immediate reach – some wouldn’t even notice, but if you’re coming from a Pixel, it’s a bit of an annoyance.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Homescreen • Folder view • App drawer • …or no app drawer

One new thing this year – you can have a landscape view of the home screen and app drawer. We’re yet to see a use case where that’s needed, perhaps something to do with DeX? Sony’s been doing it on its Xperias for a while though, so it could be us missing something.

Samsung Galaxy S9
In landscape: Homescreen • App drawer

There are no apparently visible changes in the notification shade – that is to say, we saw zero. The task switcher, however, has a neat new trick – you can switch from card view to list view, potentially saving yourself some scrolling if you like to keep a ton of apps open. By the way, the cards no longer have their frames color coded – just the titles. It’s a bit more stylish this way, we reckon.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Notifications • Toggles • Toggle grid options • Task switcher: Thumbnail view • List view

Multi-window was Samsung’s thing before it was cool and Google thought it wise to implement it natively starting with Nougat. Samsung’s still doing it a lot better though and gives a lot more options. You can resize the windows to just about any ratio, you can swap them, and you can even have pop-up apps on top of the two ones that are in multi-window.

A feature introduced with the S8, Snap window, makes it to the S9+ as well. You can crop a small strip of an app, cutting away unneeded interface elements, and have it docked to the top or bottom of the display so you can have it always visible.

App pairs, a shortcut to a split-screen view of two apps that you often use together, came as part of the Note8’s Experience. On that phone, you could save the shortcut in the edge panels, but now on the S9+ you can have it on the home screen – that’s what the house icon is for. Neat.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Split-screen multi-window • Pop-up view • Snap window • Multi-window in landscape

Edge panels, of course. These have been redesigned for the S9 and S9+ though they still offer the same functionality – a set of panes slides in from the side with shortcuts to contacts, apps, tasks, tools or whatnot. Perhaps someone somewhere uses them. For that person, there’s now even a task switcher of sorts, for the edge panels.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Edge panels

Edge lighting has gotten a redesigned interface for customizations – color, width, transparency, plus a couple of effects have been added. You could do most of it on the S8 too, but it was a little more obscure.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Edge lighting

A bunch of familiar gestures and the likes are available on the S9 and S9+ as well. To name a few, you can swipe the fingerprint reader to access the notification shade (was there on the S8, but with that fingerprint placement – no thanks), you can go into a shrunken-down one-handed more (either triple press home, or swipe in from a bottom corner), and you can launch the camera with a double press of the power button. Meanwhile, Smart Stay will use the front camera to determine whether you’re looking at the phone so it won’t go to standby if you’re staring blankly at the screen for a long time. All of these can be switched off.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Notification access from the back • One-handed mode • Smart stay

You can find the Secure folder on the S9s too. It’s where you can keep files, memos, and apps away from prying eyes. It’s locked independently from the lockscreen – one can use a fingerprint, the other an iris. You can also install two copies of an app – one in plain sight and one in the Secure folder. And you can hide the folder too, so people can snoop all they want and will not find anything suspicious.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Secure folder: Intro • Creating in process • Inside it • Icon can be customized

5. Assorted software, AR Emoji, Bixby, performance

Assorted software

Game Launcher has been given some polish but is again essentially the same thing. It groups all your games in one place, so they stay handy instead of being scattered in the app drawer, and then make sure your gaming sessions remain as uninterrupted as possible. The in-play Game tools can disable notifications during a game and disable touch sensitivity around the edges, as well as the pressure-sensitive Home area. You can grab screenshots, and record gameplay too, up to 1080p resolution.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Game launcher

Samsung still insists on using its own Gallery app and it’s quite full-featured. It’s big on Stories – shareable, collaborative albums where your friends can add their own photos from the party or just a Story on a shared theme (e.g. sunsets). The Albums pane gives you a sorted view of your images by origin – camera, screenshots, downloaded images by default, but you can also create your own. The Pictures pane is effectively a timeline – it aggregates all of your images and arranges them chronologically.

Several image editing tools are available – from basic cropping, to collage making, to a more capable editor (which supports image correction, effects, and drawing).

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Gallery: Stories • Albums • Pictures (Timeline) • Single image • Editor

Unlike the in-house Gallery, music playback is left in the hands of Google’s own Play Music. The player and service are ubiquitous and it can play your local files, as well as stream music from the cloud.

Samsung’s extensive sound enhancements do come as standard, and they include the SoundAlive tool – essentially an equalizer with either two simple dials for more genric use or a manual 9-band equalizer for more advanced tweaking. UHQ sound resolution enhancer is available as well – this one upscales compressed audio. There are also features such as Surround sound emulation and Tube Amp Pro simulator. Adapt Sound tunes the EQ to your hearing and your particular pair of ears and headphones by playing multiple frequencies and asking how well you hear them.

Dolby Atmos is the new bit here, with sound optimizations for movie, music, and voices, plus an Auto mode that does the selection for you.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Sound settings

AR Emoji

AR Emoji is Samsung’s answer to Apple’s Animoji – there’s no point in trying to call it something else. It’s different, but it’s the same, and also different. It uses the selfie cam to take a photo of your face, which it then turns into an animated character that you can further customize with hairstyles, skin tones, and eyeglasses, and dress up in different sets of clothes. It also creates a set of GIFs which you can use in any messenger app you choose – GIF are universal like that. You can create AR videos in the camera app and switch your avatar with some animals and fictional creatures. It’s cool, to a point, but it’s not accurate, and it’s also not as customizable as one might want.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
AR Emoji

No offense, but are you still here, Bixby?

One of the most universally disliked features introduced with the Galaxy S8 generation, Samsung’s assistant Bixby returns on the S9 and S9+. As if Samsung acknowledges you might not be super hyped to use it, the option for disabling the hardware button is the only one you get under the gear settings menu. It’s not like you can use it for anything else, but you can turn it off right away and forget about it. Or test the number of clicks it takes before the button dies.

If you keep an open mind and choose to give Bixby a chance, it’ll do stuff around the phone for you with a decent level of proficiency. Bixby Home is one of the assistant’s alter-egos – a home screen pane similar to the older Google Now experience. It’s the leftmost home screen pane (though you could disable that), but you can also evoke it with a triple press on the Bixby button, and it delivers a feed of contextually relevant information.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Bixby Home interface

Cards can be hidden, pinned to the top, or turned off. There is no apparent rearrangement option beyond that. As for the cards themselves, they actually come courtesy of various apps that are installed on the phone.

It is also worth noting that Bixby can put cards on your lock screen as well. Of course, that all depends on whether you permit it to do so, again on a convenient per-app basis.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Editing cards • Apps that can push cards

Reminder is a particularly convenient part of Bixby. It is a calendar, and a task app rolled into one, that is also location- and context-aware. Once you enable the feature, it manifests itself as a separate app. In it, you can input content in an old-school way.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Reminder offers time and location-based conditions

Bixby Vision is there for you to recognize stuff you point your camera at and help you out accordingly. This year’s novel feature is food recognition – counting calories, reimagined. It could tell that a pizza (a bit sad-looking as it may be) is not a hotdog, and quoted an energy value which we apparently have no way of verifying. Same with the brownies. It wouldn’t recognize the mayo, but that has its nutritional values on the jar, so we’re safe. We pulled a bottle of wine and presented it to Bixby for recognition, and that worked too.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Bixby Vision: Food • Wine

Image recognition turned out iffier. A fire extinguisher ended up being paint primer from one angle, and shampoo from another – wonder how fire extinguishers look in other parts of the world.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Bixby Vision: Image recognition

The Google Translate-powered translation doesn’t look much too great either. While it is Google providing the service, somehow the results ended up different between Bixby’s take and the Translate app (on a Pixel, but still). Additionally, Samsung’s rendition does a worse job with superimposing the translation over the object.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Bixby Vision: Translation

Bixby Voice is the third major use of the assistant and it’s perhaps the one that makes the most sense. It can access all the in-house apps and execute commands within them so, for example, you don’t need to fumble through settings to find the settings of the current Wi-Fi network.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Bixby Voice commands examples

It’s not all-powerful though. We never managed to make it switch to the telephoto camera, for one. Or let’s say your phone is locked, and summon Bixby telling it to turn Bluetooth on. That’s one of those requests that require the phone to be unlocked, so you unlock it only to find out Bluetooth was already on.

6. Performance

Synthetic benchmarks

The Galaxy S9+ comes in two versions as far as the chipset is concerned, but it’s not like you’re going to be able to pick and choose – the US and China get the Snapdragon 845 variant, while the rest of the world will have its S9s running on an Exynos chip.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The Exynos 9810 chipset (10nm FinFET) has a new octa-core processor packing four custom third-generation Mongoose cores clocked at 2.7GHz and four Cortex-A55 ones at 1.8GHz. The GPU is an 18-core Mali-G72.

The Exynos chip comes with a new LTE modem with support for 6CA (carrier aggregation) for download and maximum downlink of 1.2Gbps (Cat.18). The uplink supports 2CA and speed of 200Mbps (Cat.18).

Finally, Samsung’s new silicon (much like last year’s, actually) has the oomph to process 4K video capture and playback at 120fps, but those won’t be premiering on the S9 because the Snapdragon 845 can’t handle them. Not that we’ve heard of production-grade smartphone sensors that could.

The Snapdragon 845 chip (10nm LPP) introduces a new octa-core processor with new Kryo 385 cores. The high-performance array of Kryo 385 Gold cores is clocked at 2.7GHz and the architecture derives from Cortex-A75. The power-efficient array of Kryo 385 Silver cores works at 1.7GHz and its architecture is based on Cortex-A55.

There is also a new Adreno 630 GPU, 30% more powerful than the Adreno 540 inside the Snapdragon 835. Qualcomm also has a new modem – the X20 with 5CA and LTE Cat.18 downlink of 1.2Gbps. The uplink is inferior to Samsung’s model with 2CA but LTE Cat.13 support for 150Mbps speeds. The ISP of the Snapdragon is also inferior to Samsung’s with support for 4K at 60fps video encoding and decoding (again, hardly relevant).

We were curious to see how the third generation custom Mongoose core stacks against other processors, so we start with some Geekbenching. Well, Samsung’s new core is definitely trying to catch up with the latest Monsoon by Apple and is the first one to come close. It doubles the performance of the second-gen Mongoose inside the Galaxy S8 and has a 50% advantage over the top of the line Kryo inside the new Snapdragon 845 (Xperia XZ2). So, as far as Android devices are concerned, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ in Exynos trim have the best CPUs for single-core operations.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Running multi-core benchmarks, Apple is still the king, but this doesn’t really matter in the Android world. Obviously, Samsung’s new processor is a mighty beast and the best among the whole flagship gang. It outperforms the old Exynos chip by 30% and even beats Qualcomm’s current best – the Snapdragon 845, represented here by the Xperia XZ2.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The 18-core Mali-G72 is in charge of the graphics department for most of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ units sold around the world. We don’t have the Snapdragon 845 unit of Samsung’s flagship, but we did have the Xperia XZ2 in our office with Qualcomm chip, so we can draw some conclusions from there.

The offscreen tests in GFXBench show the raw power of the GPUs, and at least in the 3.1 Manhattan test, the Galaxy S9+ edges ahead of the iPhone X. The Xperia xZ2 is the winner in this test, and its score is possibly indicative of what users can expect from their Galaxy S9s in North America and China.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The phones with lower screen resolution would have an edge over the Quad HD Galaxy S9+ in terms of framerates and that’s obvious from the onscreen test. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro, OnePlus 5T, Xperia XZ2 and even the iPhone X – they all have 1080p or similar resolution compared to the 1440p screen on the Galaxy S9.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Basemark ES 3.1/Metal is another stress test we like to run, and here it’s the Galaxy S9+ that’s ahead of the Xperia XZ2. The iPhones still remain out of reach at the top.

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

Samsung Galaxy S9+

A crowd favorite, Antutu tries to summarize overall performance in a single number. We’re still catching up with retesting all the phones we have available with the benchmark’s 7th version, but we’ll get there. In the meantime, the S9 and S9+ are a few percent behind the Xperia XZ2, but substantially ahead of last year’s flagships.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

Samsung Galaxy S9+

One of the most predictable updates was the new Exynos chip, which delivers the 30% promised boost. The new custom processor is really powerful and shows a promising future for in-house CPU development. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S9 and S9+’s GPU isn’t the most powerful one on the market, bested by Qualcomm’s latest, but it is the next best thing and still a beast.

As far as real-life experience is concerned – the Galaxy S9 is among the fastest phones on the planet today. But did anyone expect otherwise? No matter if it’s the Exynos or the Snapdragon model, nobody would feel any difference in the years to come.

Much like its little brother, the Galaxy S9+ keeps its body cool most of the time, and it can apply some minor throttling if needed – but we could notice this only in the scores of the most intensive benchmarks and after a few consecutive runs. So, as far as temperature goes – you won’t experience heated spots over the Galaxy S9+.

7. Camera and still image quality

A 12MP camera with variable aperture

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ builds on the S9’s single-camera setup by adding the secondary telephoto cam from the Note8. We were introduced to the wide-angle cam with the S9, but let’s repeat – it’s got a 12MP sensor with a pixel size of 1.4µm (Samsung’s own ISOCELL for the Exynos model) behind a stabilized variable aperture lens – f/1.5-2.4. The positions are fixed though, you can either opt for f/1.5 or f/2.4 and nothing in-between. There’s dual-pixel phase-detection autofocus – that’s what a portion of each of these large pixels is used for.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The telephoto cam is another 12MP unit, but being a smaller sensor, pixels are 1.0µm on this one. The lens has an f/2.4 aperture (just f/2.4, no variations here) and is stabilized too.

In extreme darkness or for fill flash applications, a single LED flash is there to help. Nothing has changed in this matter since the Galaxy S2 – no dual-tone quadruple-LEDs from Samsung.

The camera does 4-frame image stacking, three times, and then combines the three resulting images to cancel out noise. Samsung promises 30% less noise on all images, which is an impressive achievement right there. Combined with the bright f/1.5 aperture, the results should be cleaner low-light images with less noise and more fine detail.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The camera app UI has changed since the Note8 – but we are not sure it was for the better. Now it’s just like Apple’s iOS camera app, but with advanced settings – meaning everything is laid out on a Rolodex of the available modes.

Samsung Galaxy S9+    

Camera interface

There is still no dedicated video recording mode and thus a video viewfinder. This shouldn’t be an issue for most real-world scenarios, but precisely framing is immensely more difficult without seeing the proper viewfinder before you start recording. You can tap and hold the REC button to see the actual video viewfinder, though, and a hint for that would have been appreciated. Returning Samsung users will know about it, but others will only find it by pure accident.

However, Samsung does have an abundance of powerful features it has to fit inside the UI, and we won’t hold that against the Galaxy S9. So, all the important shooting modes are available in the viewfinder, and you switch between those with swipes. The resolution and stabilization options are naturally in the advanced settings.

f/1.5 vs. f/2.4: the theory

How does the variable aperture camera work? That’s probably the million-dollar question, so we’ll start with that. This means brighter aperture versus darker aperture. But it’s not about that per se. The depth of field changes, too, something we rarely pay attention to on phone cameras. Having a variable aperture opens up some new possibilities, and we’ll try to explain the differences without going into full technical mode.

So far, the bright aperture on a mobile camera meant better low-light shots with less noise and more detail. But f/1.5 is quite bright, and the daylight shots may eventually end up overexposed if the shutter speed can’t get high enough. However, at least in Pro mode, the Galaxy S9 can increase the shutter speed up to 1/24000s, which means it should avoid blowing the highlights, theoretically at least. That then rules out the potential for overexposure as the reason behind the f/2.4 setting.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The main camera at the top: f/1.5 on the left, f/2.4 on the right

Depth of field is another consideration. A relatively large by smartphone standards 1/2.55″ sensor with the brightest aperture available is a recipe for shallow depth of field. Again, that is relatively speaking – at smartphone sensor sizes depth of field is pretty huge, which is why we have the whole push for faux bokeh effects to recreate a shallow depth of field. That said, with the right subjects and distances the f/2.4 aperture could bring everything in focus, while f/1.5 might leave some of the subjects blurred.

And the third vantage point is that brighter lenses just tend to be softer at their widest aperture, all other things being equal. Even high-end SLR lenses tend to perform better when stopped down a little, so why shouldn’t that apply on a smaller scale, in your smartphone?

So in the end, we have the f/1.5 aperture for improved low-light photos (video benefits a little too), and f/2.4 for sharper images with (a bit) more depth of field in a good light. The best of both worlds, so to speak.

Image quality

In bright light, the Galaxy S9+ produces great-looking photos with plenty of detail, which are also practically noise-free. The engineers have dialled down the sharpening, and we’re not seeing the halos that the overly aggressive sharpening produced on the Note8. Dynamic range is also nice and wide, in no small part thanks to the always-on Auto HDR (technically, you could turn it off in settings, but we’re sticking with full auto for this test). Those are all taken at f/2.4.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Camera samples, daylight, normal camera

The same holds true for the telephoto camera as well – you won’t be sacrificing image quality when you zoom to 2x.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Camera samples, daylight, telephoto camera

An improvised telephoto shootout ended up pitting the S9+ vs. the Note8 and the iPhone X. Unsurprisingly, the two Samsungs look quite similar, but the iPhone X’s shots are noticeably grainier.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Telephoto samples compared: Galaxy S9+ • Galaxy Note8 • iPhone X

We then compared the output from the S9+’s main camera at the two aperture settings – we forced the f/1.5 setting in Pro mode. The first pair of shots illustrate the different depth of field – on the f/2.4 image pretty much everything is in sharp focus, while in the f/1.5 shot the farthest part of the dotted wall panelling is starting to go blurry.

The other two comparisons show improved detail in the f/2.4 images when viewed next to the f/1.5 ones, though we feel there’s some extra sharpening applied to the narrower aperture photos to make the difference more pronounced. Software algorithms can’t really help with corner softness (the iPhone graffiti), which is typically an issue with large-aperture lenses, and we’re seeing some of it in bottom corners of the f/1.5 shot, but nothing remotely troubling and certainly better than some flagship cameras we’ve tested. The f/2.4 images are sharp all the way to the extremes.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Camera samples, f/2.4 (left) vs. f/1.5

We’ve praised Samsung’s HDR algorithms in the past and also enjoyed the live preview of the effect while with other makers you had to wait for the final image. Well, Samsung’s HDR now does very little. Or, rather, it’s always on, so changing the setting between auto, on and off, doesn’t result in dramatically different shots – often not different at all.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Camera samples, HDR: Auto • Off • On

In low-light, that f/1.5 aperture proves its worth and the Galaxy S9+ can pick lower ISOs than the competition resulting in less noise. Of course, the competent noise reduction and optical stabilization help too.

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

Camera samples, low light, normal camera

The telephoto camera, on the other hand, doesn’t really work in low light, and the S9+ in fact zooms in digitally with the normal one. The end results are therefore soft when looked at 1:1 magnification, but still usable at a fit-to-screen level.

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

Camera samples, low light, telephoto camera

We also shot a few quick comparisons at night with a set of flagships we happened to have in our pockets at the time. The Galaxy’s consistently turned out the sharpest, though the Pixel does have the wider dynamic range.

Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+       

Low-light shots compared: Galaxy S9+ • Google Pixel 2 XL • Apple iPhone 8 Plus • Sony Xperia XZ2

We didn’t think much of the following scene which we shot with the Galaxy S9+ and the iPhone 8 Plus, but it turned up surprising results. We took photos with the normal cameras first, then the telephoto ones and the S9+ actually did end up using the telephoto cam instead of zooming in on the main one. Not the iPhone. The difference is staggering and makes us wonder if the light threshold for engaging the main camera in 2x mode might be set too high.

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Normal camera: Galaxy S9+ • iPhone 8 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S9+
Telephoto camera: Galaxy S9+ • iPhone 8 Plus

Once you’re done examining the real-life samples you can have a look at our Photo compare tool for some studio shots. We’ve pre-selected the Pixel 2 XL and the iPhone X for the normal camera but replaced the Pixel with the Note8 for the telephoto comparison, due to the Pixel’s glaring lack of a telephoto camera. You can, by all means, pick any three phones to compare once you’re there.

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

Normal camera: Galaxy S9+ against the Pixel 2 XL and the iPhone X in our Photo compare tool

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

Telephoto camera: Galaxy S9+ against the Galaxy Note8 and the iPhone X in our Photo compare tool

Live focus

The Galaxy S9+ puts the two cameras to good use for shooting portraits with artificial bokeh (Samsung calls the mode Live focus). The edge detection is mostly good, though stray strands of hair will confuse it – it’s not a marked improvement over, say, the Note8 or the iPhone X/8 Plus.

We compared the S9+’s portraits to the ones from the Note8 and we have to point out that we’re liking the S9+’s skin tones a lot more. The Note’s overly yellowish rendition of the skin may or may not have been the reason for at least one person at the office to part with their Note8. The Pixel 2 XL, on the other hand, favors a more reddish representation.

The S9+’s Live focus mode works quite well with isolating non-human subjects too, and we’re particularly impressed by the rendition of our unofficial torture test, a.k.a. aloe plant.

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

Camera samples, Live focus mode, non-humans (obviously)

8MP selfies with autofocus

The Galaxy S9+ borrows last generation’s selfie cam – an 8MP f/1.7 unit with autofocus. It produces nice-looking images in good light and it’s got a Selective focus mode of its own – blurred background portraits with a single camera.

8. Video recording, slow motion

The video camera has everything

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ supports 4K and 1080p video recording at 60fps or 30 fps, and it can be captured in the widespread H.264 or in the new H.265 (HEVC) format. OIS is available all the time, and you can use digital video stabilization in all but the 4K/60 fps mode. Okay, technically, EIS isn’t available in 1:1 aspect 1440p either, but seriously – 1:1 videos?!

With the H.264 codec, the 4K @ 60fps are captured at 72Mbps bitrate, the 4K @ 30fps – 48Mbps, the 1080p @ 30fps – 13.3Mbps, and the 1080p @ 60fps – 28Mbps. The audio is always recorded in stereo at 256Kbps bitrate.

The H.265 4K videos at 60fps carry a bitrate of 42Mbps, while the audio is still stereo at 256Kbps. The other modes are captured at an almost halved bitrate of their H.264 counterparts.

On the S9 we observed an odd tendency to drop the framerate of 30fps videos to around 26fps, but we experienced no such issue on the S9+.

The videos captured in H.265 are virtually identical in quality to the ones recorded in H.264. Since the bitrate is lower, there is about 100MB difference in the footprint in every the 30s of 4K video footage. This could mean the world to users who record tons of videos, so we’d recommend using the HEVC option for everything. The H.265 compatibility is pretty widespread already – Windows 10 and macOS support it by default, YouTube supports it, new phones can play it – you get the picture. Older computers, however, may struggle to playback the files smoothly.

The 4K videos captured both at 60, and 30 fps are virtually identical in quality. They are free of noise, there is enough detail, but the foliage presentation is not the best we’ve seen. The colors are great though, and so is the contrast and white balance. There are no focus issues or compression artifacts. And the dynamic range is nothing short of impressive.

The 1080p videos at both 30 and 60 fps also exhibit practically the same qualities. They are quite sharp, with plenty of detail, but other than that – they have the same essentials – great dynamic range, accurate colors and white balance, and high contrast.

The output from the telephoto camera is a little bit less sharp. Color saturation is a notch down too, and so is contrast. Overall, however, the zoomed-in videos are very pleasing. Provided you have enough light, of course, because in dimmer conditions you’d be getting a zoomed-in view from the main camera and you should be prepared for some mushy footage.

Slow-mo videos

There is something else to steal the spotlight – 720p Super slow-mo capturing at 960fps.

Yes, Sony had that since last year, so Samsung can’t claim first. The Koreans probably knew that, so they decided to make it a lot better than Sony’s implementation.

Just like the Xperias, the new Galaxies can do 0.2s of slow-mo capturing at 960 fps. But the Xperia phones had a steep learning curve for hitting the button at the right time. We missed a lot of balloon pops, and it took us numerous attempts across a few days until we got the know-how.

Samsung captures the action automatically.

The phone begins the slow-mo sequence automatically thanks to a new clever AI algorithm, and you don’t have to learn how and when to turn it on. And that’s not just PR talk – we tried it, and we didn’t miss a single balloon pop out of 20 or so takes. How about that?!

There is an option for manual triggering too, don’t worry, so the advanced users aren’t ignored either.

Finally, there is one more thing Samsung did better than Sony – an easy edit over the captured clip. After you are done with the shooting, you get a very intuitive preview with all the slow-mo moments visible and easily editable. You can get rid of some or add sound to the ones you choose to keep.

And here is the kicker – in addition to those edits, you can also export the slow-mo parts as gifs, right there from the preview. Upon exporting you can choose one from three effects – loop, reverse, or swing.

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

Slow-mo GIF-making

Indeed, it’s obvious Samsung has worked a lot on bringing a meaningful slow-mo experience to its users, not just the tech and raw footage. And that could mean the world for the mainstream user.

Oh, aside from the Super slo-mo at 720p/960fps, there’s also regular non-Super slo-mo at 1080p/240fps. Only it’s not available by default, you need to enable it in settings – clearly, Samsung doesn’t want it to distract from the headline feature.

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

The path to non-Super slo-mo is rocky

The slow-mo videos work as advertised 8 of 10 tries, which honestly is a lot higher success rate than we expected. The quality is very good. Without further ado, enjoy our playlist of slow-mo videos below.

The last stop is, of course, our Video compare tool where you can compare the Galaxy S9+’s output against other phones we’ve tested. We’ve pre-selected the Pixel 2 XL and the iPhone X, but a different set of devices is but a few clicks away.

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

Samsung Galaxy S9+ against the Pixel 2 XL and the iPhone X in our Video compare tool

9. Alternatives, pros, and cons, the verdict

Competition

Priced a little bit above the iPhone 8 Plus, the Galaxy S9+ is obviously quite expensive, but with the existence of the even pricier iPhone X, the S9+ is almost looking like a good deal. Such is the state of the flagship phone market that numbers close to but still below the 1000 mark, be it dollars, euros or pounds, have gradually become more palatable.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The Galaxy S9+ is then competing with only the best of the best. We mentioned the iPhones and if you’re eyeing the most expensive Samsung, only the most expensive iPhone will do for an alternative. You need a special attitude to be faced with that dilemma though – most people have a firm stance in the iOS vs. Android war and that’s not changing overnight.

Samsung Galaxy S9+  

Apple iPhone X • Google Pixel 2 XL • Huawei Mate 10 Pro • LG V30

If you fall into the second camp, the ultimate droid is Google’s own – the Pixel 2 size XL. It’s a clear case of pure Android vs. all-the-features-you-can-think-of Samsung Experience and instant updates vs. no Android P six months after it’s out, as a consequence. The Galaxy is the more premium handset, no doubt about that, and has an extra cam, but the Pixel can do portraits equally well or better (can’t zoom, tho), and image and video quality is a toss-up between the two. Same with battery.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro should outlast the S9+ in battery life, and has a second camera that’s nothing like the S9+’s – the color+monochrome setup has become synonymous with Huawei flagships. The S9+ has the better portraits and, again, 2x zoom, and even if it’s an excellent performer, the Mate’s display is simply not as sharp as the Galaxy’s. As for software – we’re looking at two very different breeds of ‘custom’, and that’s not a fight we want to go into.

Statistically, LG should have had the G7 out at this point, but this year the Korean archrival has timed things differently (not to mention that the name won’t be G7, in all likelihood), so it’s the V30S ThinQ stepping in for team LG. It’s a lot lighter and more compact, but with (slightly) shorter battery life and (somewhat) inferior display. It does have an ultra-wide camera to go against the Galaxy’s telephoto one (a major differentiator, this), and the New Moroccan blue color is nothing short of stunning. Then again, you could pick the old Moroccan blue V30 non-S, non-ThinQ version and save some cash, without really missing out on much.

Not really an alternative at this point, but some two weeks from now Huawei is going to announce a P20 Pro with three rear cameras. It might be worth waiting to see what they’ll be able to do.

Then there’s the Galaxy Note8. Yes, it’s got last year’s chipset and it’s missing the dual aperture primary camera and the stereo speakers. Those three aside, it’s pretty much the same phone, only substantially cheaper and packing an S-pen. Is it just us or pros > cons on this one?

Verdict

We mentioned how the S9 makes zero sense if you already have the S8, and the S8 can even make a strong case for itself if you’re contemplating between the two right now. It’s not quite as easy with the Plus – a whole extra camera makes a difference in a way a second speaker and a 0.4 stop of light really can’t.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

But the Note8 casts its 6.3-inch shadow over the S9+ – it offers only slightly inferior benchmark performance (which is going to be irrelevant in real life), similar camera experience to the S9+, similar battery life, similar top-tier display quality – similar everything that matters. Only at a price that’s actually meaningfully lower. And it’s got an S-pen.

Pros

  • High-end build
  • Excellent display
  • Long (but not class-leading) battery life
  • Universally great camera performance
  • Feature-rich custom software

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy, almost Note8-heavy
  • Feature-rich custom software might be too feature-rich for its own good

 

Pricing

64GB 6GB RAM $ 317.95
128GB 6GB RAM $ 556.98
256GB 6GB RAM $ 499.00

Samsung Galaxy S9+ official images

 

Samsung Galaxy S9+ official images Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung Galaxy S9+ official images Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung Galaxy S9+ official images Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung Galaxy S9+ official images Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung Galaxy S9+ official images Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9+

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