Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung Galaxy S9: Full phone Specifications, Price and Description

Released 2018, March 09 163g, 8.5mm thickness
Android 8.0, up to Android 10, One UI 2.0  64GB/128GB/256GB storage, microSDXC
 5.8″ 1440×2960 pixels 12MP 2160p
 4GB RAM Exynos 9810 3000mAh Li-Ion

Samsung Galaxy S9 Specifications

ALL VERSIONS

G960F

G960F/DS

G960U

G960W

G9600

Versions: G960F (Europe, Global Single-SIM); G960F/DS (Europe, Global Dual-SIM); G960U (USA); G960W (Canada); G9600 (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 09
BODY Dimensions 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm (5.81 x 2.70 x 0.33 in)
Weight 163 g (5.75 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 5.8 inches, 84.8 cm2 (~83.6% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1440 x 2960 pixels, 18.5:9 ratio (~570 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 4GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM, 256GB 4GB RAM
UFS 2.1
MAIN CAMERA Single 12 MP, f/1.5-2.4, 26mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS
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 3000 mAh battery (11.55 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
Models SM-G960F, SM-G960, SM-G960F, SM-G960U, SM-G960W, SM-G9600, SM-G960U1, SM-G960N, SCV38, SM-G960X, SC-02K
SAR 0.63 W/kg (head)     0.96 W/kg (body)
SAR EU 0.36 W/kg (head)     1.18 W/kg (body)
Price ₹ 24,999 / $ 259.85 / £ 254.97 / € 498.00
TESTS Performance AnTuTu: 250156 (v7)
GeekBench: 8830 (v4.4)
GFXBench: 14fps (ES 3.1 onscreen)
Display Contrast ratio: Infinite (nominal), 4.630 (sunlight)
Camera Photo / Video
Loudspeaker Voice 68dB / Noise 74dB / Ring 81dB
Audio quality Noise -93.4dB / Crosstalk -93.9dB
Battery life
Endurance rating 78h

Samsung Galaxy S9 Brief Description

1. Introduction

Introduction

It’s true what they say – you don’t fix what’s not broken. And that’s what Samsung did for the Galaxy S9 – it didn’t change what was already great, it just tweaked specs wherever possible. And it has worked out just fine for them.

Futuristic is what we used to call the Galaxy S7 and S8 design, but now the iconic glass curves are just mainstream. You can see them shine on the cheapest of smartphones, even on knock-offs, all the way up to the current Galaxy S9 series. The shape might be wearing off, but Samsung has managed to keep its coolness for yet another year thanks to some stunning choice of colors.

There is a new chipset – Snapdragon or Exynos – and regardless which one ends up in the Galaxy S9 which is available in your region, it’s enough to know that they are both blazing-fast.

But the camera is where the company has really pushed the envelope. With a variable aperture of f/1.5 to f/2.4, now the Galaxy S9 should be able to rule the field in either bright daylight or after dark. We also appreciate the 4K at 60fps video recording and the 960fps slow-mo clips with automatic motion detection.

There are even more tweaks which may not be as apparent, but you would appreciate them once you start using the Galaxy S9. The loud stereo speakers tuned by Harman – a first for the Galaxy S lineup – promise immersive sound with Dolby Atmos support. The combined fingerprint, face, and iris recognition for versatile unlocking seems like something we need on every modern phone. There is more, of course, but before we kick off this review, let’s dig into the specs.

Samsung Galaxy S9 specs

  • Body: Polished aluminium 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: 5.8″ Super AMOLED Infinity, 2,960x1440px resolution, 18.5:9 (2.06:1) aspect ratio, 570ppi, HDR 10 compliant.
  • Rear camera: 12MP, f/1.5 and f/2.4 aperture, dual pixel phase detection autofocus, OIS; multi-shot image stacking; multi-frame noise reduction; 2160p/60fps video recording; 1080p/240fps; 720p/960fps super slow-mo with automatic motion detection.
  • Front camera: 8MP, f/1.7 aperture, autofocus; 1440p/30fps video recording.
  • OS/Software: Android 8.0 Oreo; Samsung UX v.9; Bixby virtual assistant with Bixby Vision; KNOX with Intelligent Scan
  • Chipset (review unit): Exynos 9810: octa-core CPU (4×2.7 GHz 3rd-gen Mongoose + 4×1.8GHz Cortex-A55), Mali-G72 MP18 GPU.
  • Chipset (US and China): Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: octa-core CPU (4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver), Adreno 630 GPU.
  • Memory: 4GB of RAM; 64GB / 128GB / 256GB storage; microSD slot for cards up to 256GB, UFS cards support.
  • Battery: 3,000mAh; Adaptive Fast Charging; WPC&PMA wireless charging.
  • Connectivity: Single-SIM, Dual-SIM available in certain markets; LTE-A, 4-Band carrier aggregation, Cat.18 downlink; USB Type-C (v3.1); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS, Beidou, Galileo; NFC; Bluetooth 5.0.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader; iris recognition/face recognition; Stereo Speakers with Dolby Atmos; 3.5mm jack; bundled AKG headphones.

If recent indications floating around are to be trusted, the Galaxy S9 will be sending off a design that has inspired so many. Once a shape from the future, the Galaxy S9 have perfected everything there is to this body, including the fingerprint sensor position. And with the anniversary Galaxy S10 coming next year (please don’t call it X) we are probably enjoying this sleek glass shape in its current form for the last time.

Samsung Galaxy S9 unboxing

The retail package of the Samsung Galaxy S9 should be an example of a flagship treatment and we hope other makers (one Cupertino-based company in particular) take notes. Inside the Galaxy S9 box you’ll find a proper (fast) charging plug, a USB Type-C cable, a microUSB-to-Type C and USB-to-USB-C adapters.

There is also a premium AKG-tuned in-ear headphones with mic bundled with the Galaxy S9.

Samsung Galaxy S9

This complete accessory treatment is one of the things we hope other companies adopt. There is nothing sweeter than popping your phone out of the box and start using it right away instead of going on a shopping spree for adapters and cables.

Okay, we would have appreciated a protective case too, but we’re pushing our luck, we know.

2. Design and spin

Design and spin

It’s made of shiny glass, has stunning looks, you know it’s a Galaxy, and that one down there is the S9. Looking different hasn’t been on the Samsung’s checklists lately, but some designs age well and this curvy glass shape are one of these.

Samsung Galaxy S9

The Galaxy S9 is as big as the S8 as far as anyone is concerned. There are negligible differences in all dimensions – 1mm shorter, half a mil wider and thicker, but nobody could really detect those even when the two Galaxies are sized up next to each other.

Samsung Galaxy S9

Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S8

The gained weight is rather insignificant, too – the S9 has added some 8g for a total weight of 163 g.

Samsung has been a master in the glass design domain and its rule continues with the Galaxy S9. The maker pushed this so-called glass-sandwich shape with a polished metal frame in-between and it’s still as attractive as in the beginning, if not more.

By trimming the screen bezels and bending the panels, the Galaxies have always had this futuristic look, because we all know everything will be round in the future, right? Unless it’s a Blade Runner/Altered Carbon-like future, of course.

Samsung Galaxy S9

No horns on the Galaxy S9, still more futuristic than an iPhone

The Infinity AMOLED, 5.8″ in diagonal for the S9, takes up most of the front. Its long sides are stretching frame to frame, as usual, while the top and bottom bezels are slimmer than ever. The pressure-sensitive Home key is beneath that screen, just like on the S8, while the top bar has seen a minor improvement – the iris scanner is now hidden under the black glass and is one less hole up there.

Samsung Galaxy S9

Both front and rear panels are made of Gorilla Glass, with rounded edges as usual – somewhat of a trademark for the flagship Galaxies. And while Super AMOLEDs at the front hardly suggest the exact model, the back of the S9 is where things get different.

First, the fingerprint scanner is where it should have been a long time ago – just below the camera. That alone makes the Galaxy S9 easy to pick in a lineup of its glass siblings. But if that’s not enough, then there is the forever single LED flash and the heart-rate sensor placed on a new spot.

Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung Galaxy S8 (left) vs Samsung Galaxy S9 (right)

The Galaxy S9 still comes with a single 12MP camera at the back but it has new features. All flagship requirements are met with OIS, dual-pixel autofocus, and image stacking support. There is a new 4-frame noise reduction for 30% less noise than the S8 pictures. But the highlight of the new camera is the variable aperture – you can opt for f/1.5 bright aperture, or f/2.4 darker one. No Fs in between those, sorry.

Samsung Galaxy S9

Lens at F/2.4 (left) and Lens at F/1.5 (right)

Looks can be deceiving, and there is something that got better even though it can’t be spotted at first. The frame has been somewhat refined and now it’s easier to pick the S9 from a table and makes it grippier and thus more secure in the hand. The power key got a little better, too. Now it’s bigger on the S9, which makes and thus slightly more convenient.

Samsung Galaxy S9 

Samsung Galaxy S9

Another invisible (and long overdue) upgrade to the naked eye is the stereo speakers setup. The first speaker is behind the earpiece grille, just like on a bunch of Huawei and iPhones. The other one is at the bottom, firing behind a completely new lattice. Samsung opted for (its own) AKG by Harman speakers with Dolby Atmos support. We’ll see how it fares against the old one later on.

Samsung Galaxy S9

The Galaxy S9 is available in 64, 128, and 256 GB versions – all of those boasting a microSD slot just in case. The Dual-SIM models will rely on a hybrid slot, but it’s still better than not having an expansion slot.

Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Lilac Purple, Titanium Grey are all the colour options you can choose from and it’s a tough choice, we can assure you.

Samsung Galaxy S9 

The Galaxy S9 • Handling the S9 • Galaxy S8 vs. S9 • S8 vs. S9

The Galaxy S9 is slippery, as you can expect from a glass smartphone, but beauty has always come at a price. The S9 is grippier than the S8, which is quite the achievement, premium as ever, and still a real pleasure to hold. But to keep this beauty fresh, you would have to clean it from smudges every now and then.

Samsung Galaxy S9   

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. S9+

3. Lab tests – display, battery life, loudspeaker, audio quality

Infinity, we meet again

The curved 5.8″ AMOLED, also known as Infinity display, returns to breathe life to the Galaxy S9. It has the same specs as the screen we saw and loved on the Galaxy S8 – dual-curved Super AMOLED panel of 2960×1440 pixel resolution in an 18.5:9 aspect ratio.

It’s no secret that Samsung uses Diamond Pentile pixel arrangements on its screens – meaningless blue and red subpixels and a factual resolution of 2,960×720 pixels. But through some complex math for the subpixel rendering and proprietary display driver, the screen is capable of reproducing the promised Quad HD resolution. Yes, the times we live in!

Samsung Galaxy S9

We measured a maximum brightness of 370nits on the S9 when set to manual, somewhat lower than the S8 and in line with the S7. Auto can boost that all the way up to 658nits, slightly higher than its S8 bro, and very bright. We recorded a minimum brightness of 2.8nits, which is also excellent.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy S9 0 370
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Max Auto) 0 658
Samsung Galaxy S8 0 440
Samsung Galaxy S8 Max auto 0 618
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.00 391
Samsung Galaxy S7 max auto 0.00 563
Samsung Galaxy Note8 0 412
Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Max Auto) 0 647
Nokia 8 0.382 703 1840
Apple iPhone X 0 679
Apple iPhone 8 (True Tone) 0.397 554 1395
Apple iPhone 8 (Max Auto) 0.468 640 1368
Google Pixel 2 0 432
Huawei P10 0.416 592 1423
OnePlus 5T 0 437
Oppo R11 0 410

Samsung’s AMOLEDs have always excelled in sunlight legibility and the S9’s unit follows suit by acing our test.

Sunlight contrast ratio

Samsung Galaxy S9

    The Galaxy S9 has a total of four selectable screen modes, each with its own gamut specifics. If you really want to get technical about it, AMOLED Cinema is very accurate as per the DCI-P3 color gamut. AMOLED Photo is what you want to come as close to Adobe RGB as possible and Basic Screen mode aims towards sRGB or Rec. 709. The latter is usually what consumer digital cameras, TVs, laptops and other tech aim for, so it could be a familiar sight if you spend a lot of time in front of other screens.

    We measured the color accuracy against all of those color spaces and the Galaxy S9 was perfectly accurate with average deltaE of 1.8 for sRGB, 1.9 for DCI-P3, and 2.2 for Adobe RGB. The maximum deltaE never went higher than 3.

    However, the fourth mode – Adaptive display – is what you probably want as your day-to-day setting. What it does is try to detect what kind of content is currently on-screen and adjust itself to that. It also makes good use of the entire extra-wide color gamut range of the panel to offset some of the washouts in brighter ambient light. This is great for outdoor use.

    Battery life

    There’s a 3,000mAh battery inside the Galaxy S9 – the same capacity as the cell inside the Galaxy S8. It should be enough for some good power autonomy enhanced by the efficient AMOLED and the new 10nm chipset. There is fast charging supported which fills 38% of a depleted battery in half an hour, while a full charge takes about 1 hour and 40 mins.

    In our tests, the Galaxy S9 clocked in the north of 15 hours looping videos and around ten hours when browsing the web over Wi-Fi. In voice calls, it is close to a full day. Surprisingly, the standby battery consumption was barely average though, which prevented the endurance rating of reaching flagship-grade numbers.

    Anyway, the Galaxy S9 achieved an overall Endurance rating of 78 hours, which is a few hours behind the Galaxy S8 because of the mediocre standby performance. The Always-On Display was turned off by default and we kept it this way for our standby test. Keeping it on will noticeably diminish the endurance rating down to 50 hours.

    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.

    Loudspeaker

    Samsung Galaxy S9 is the first flagship Galaxy with stereo speakers. Samsung is the owner of Harman and thus there is no surprise the new setup has AKG by Harman enhancements.

    Depending on the orientation of the phone the sound changes for better stereo effect and immersive experience. Dolby Atmos is supported on compatible content, too.

    The speakers were noticeably louder than the single one on the S8 and the S9 setup scored a Very Good mark in our loudness test. Indeed, Samsung delivered the promised boost in loudness. And while this is rather subjective, the audio output is among the best we’ve heard from a smartphone to date.

    Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
    Samsung Galaxy S6 66.5 66.0 70.3 Average
    Samsung Galaxy Note8 67.8 69.5 71.5 Good
    Samsung Galaxy S8 66.2 70.5 72.5 Good
    Samsung Galaxy S7 69.5 69.3 71.1 Good
    OnePlus 5T 68.4 73.2 69.9 Good
    Apple iPhone X 68.9 74.0 76.2 Very Good
    Huawei P10 67.7 70.0 83.6 Very Good
    Samsung Galaxy S9 68.5 74.3 81.1 Very Good
    Google Pixel 2 70.0 77.0 81.1 Excellent
    Apple iPhone 8 71.7 77.8 80.3 Excellent

     

    Impressive audio quality

    The Samsung Galaxy S9 did an amazing job in the first part of our audio test. When hooked to an active external amplifier it delivered very loud and perfectly accurate output.

    When we plugged in our standard headphones the volume remained just as high and the accuracy of the output was barely affected too. The hike in stereo crosstalk was so minor it is hardly worth mentioning, while the other readings remained unchanged. Certainly a performance worthy of a flagship, this one.

    Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
    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 +0.04, -0.00 -92.5 92.5 0.0016 0.0072 -92.8
    Samsung Galaxy S8 (headphones attached) +0.03, -0.03 -92.3 92.3 0.0056 0.060 -77.2
    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 frequency response
    Samsung Galaxy S9 frequency response

    4. Software

    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. There’s now a newer version of Samsung Experience on top of Google’s OS – it’s 9.0 vs. 8.5 on the Note8 and 8.1 on the S8s.

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    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 usual camera and dialer shortcuts (which you can reassign to any app), but in our experience, the lock screen gets ignored altogether – it’s AOD straight to home screen whether you opt for fingerprint unlock, or face, or iris, or the new Intelligent Scan mode (a combination of face and iris).

    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 single swipe on the sensor (we usually needed two swipes, to be honest). 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

    The Samsung 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 actually 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 literally 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, you can go into a shrunken-down one-handed mode (either triple press home, or swipe in from a bottom corner), and you can launch the camera with a double press on the power button. Meanwhile, the 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 lock screen – 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

    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 basic users or a manual 9-band equalizer for more advanced tweaking. UHQ sound resolution enhancer is available as well for upscaling 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 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 that you can use in any messenger app you choose – GIFs are universal like that. You can create AR videos in the camera app and switch your avatar with a number of animals and fictional creatures. It’s cool, to a point, but it’s not terribly 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 personal 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.

    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

    The 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 obviously 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 the menus 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. Perhaps in a year or two, those kinks will all be ironed out.

    6. Performance benchmarks

    Performance

    Samsung Galaxy S9, just like the previous S and Note models, will be available in two variants. Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 chip will power most of the S9 phones around the globe, while Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 will be ticking in the S9 handsets sold in North America and China.

    So, what’re the differences?

    Samsung Galaxy S9

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

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

    Finally, Samsung’s new silicon can do 4K capturing and playback at 120fps, but those won’t be premiering on the S9 because the Snapdragon 845 can’t do those.

    The Snapdragon 845 chip (10nm LPP) introduces a new octa-core processor with new Kryo 385 cores. The high-performance pair of Kryo 385 Gold cores is clocked at 2.8GHz and the architecture derives from Cortex-A75. The power-efficient pair of Kryo 385 Silver cores work 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. Rumors suggest the Adreno 630 performance will be slightly behind Samsung’s Mali choice, but this can’t make a difference in real-life scenarios for the lifespan of the devices.

    Qualcomm also has a new modem – the X20 with 5CA and LTE Cat1.18 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.

    And here are some benchmarks we ran on the Exynos-powered Galaxy S9.

    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 has the best CPU 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 the current Qualcomm’s best – the Snapdragon 845.

    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 sold around the world. We don’t have the Snapdragon 845 unit, but we had the Xperia XZ2 in our office with that chipset, so we can draw some conclusions from there.

    The offscreen tests show the raw power of the GPUs, and here the Galaxy S9 is on par with the iPhone X, 30% faster than the Galaxy S8, but behind the Xperia XZ2. This means the Adreno 630 inside the Xperia, also found in the Galaxy S9 units in North America and China, is 20% faster than all Exynos models sold worldwide.

    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 and that’s obvious from the onscreen test. The Huawei P10, Pixel 2, 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

    Another GPU stress test we like to run is the BaseMark ES 3.1/Metal and the Galaxy S9 aced that thing.

    Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

    Higher is better

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    Finally, and probably what many of you have been looking for – the AnTuTu test. Little surprises here, the Galaxy S9 is as good as the Xperia XZ2 – two excellent specimens for the best chips on the Android scene.

    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’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 Exynos or Snapdragon model, nobody would feel any difference in the years to come.

    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, image quality

    A 12MP camera with variable aperture

    The Samsung Galaxy S9 comes with a single-camera setup packing a 12MP sensor (an ISOCELL sensor for the Exynos model, 1.4 um) with a 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 is optical stabilization, as usual, and support for dual-pixel phase-detection autofocus. There is a single LED flash, nothing has changed in this matter since the Galaxy S2.

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    The camera supports image stacking and is capable of the new noise-reduction procedure with 4-frame stacking. Samsung promises 30% less noise on all images, which is an impressive achievement right there. Reducing the noise would mean less artificial noise reduction and should allow for keeping more fine detail in the low-light images. And the bright f/1.5 aperture should be of massive help, too.

    Just like the Note8, the S9 does the multi-frame image processing thing, which is what the HDR+ on the Pixels do. And now with the improved noise reduction, we expect even better shots than the Note8 phablet produced last fall.

    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
    Samsung camera app

    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 as we found 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 on 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

    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. But having a variable aperture opens some new possibilities, and we’ll try to explain the differences without going into the 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 suffer in quality – with blown highlights in particular. The Galaxy S9 can increase the shutter speed up to 1/24000s, which means it should avoid blowing those highlights, theoretically at least.

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    F/2.4 1/3390s
    Samsung Galaxy S9
    F/1.5 1/7299s

    But then there is also the shallow depth of field, which can lead to corner softness and overall softer images with less intricate detail.

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    F/2.4 1/3831s
    Samsung Galaxy S9
    F/1.5 1/7937s

    On the other hand, the low-light samples should turn to be the best in class – F/1.5 will allow for low ISO shooting, which will translate into less noise, more detail, and the image should remain quite bright.

    Then there is F/2.4, which will produce noisy images in low-light, but more balanced samples during broad daylight with better dynamic, contrast, more detail, and sharper thanks to the deeper depth of its focus field.

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    F/1.5 ISO 320 1/10s
    Samsung Galaxy S9
    F/2.4 ISO 640 1/10s

    As you can see having the best from both worlds opens the Galaxy S9 camera to an advanced photographic experience and gives more creative freedom. But even if you don’t care about any of these things, the Galaxy S9 Auto mode is perfectly capable of choosing all the settings for the scenes, including the proper aperture. Most of the day shots will be taken at F/2.4, while all the low-light images are snapped at F/1.5. And it will provide you with some of the best samples we’ve seen a smartphone take. So, let’s see those, shall we?

    Daylight image quality

    The samples we took with the S9 outside on a sunny day turned out great, if not class-leading. The detail is abundant, dynamic range is great, and there are practically no noise or noise suppression traces.

    One thing that has changed since the Note8 is the less excessive sharpening. We immediately noticed the lack of the oversharpening halos, which were present on most of the Note8’s pictures.

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    Galaxy S9
    Samsung Galaxy S9
    Galaxy Note8

    We also snapped a few side-by-side shots with the iPhone X and Note8, and you can use our embedded compare tool to see how this fare next to each other. Spoiler – the Galaxy S9 is the best when it comes to resolved detail, sharpness and dynamic range.

    Samsung Galaxy S9      

    Samsung Galaxy S9 12MP camera samples

    These are the iPhone X samples.

    Samsung Galaxy S9  

    Apple iPhone X 12MP camera samples

    And these were shot with the Note8.

    Samsung Galaxy S9   

    Samsung Galaxy Note8 12MP camera samples

    Low-light image quality

    When the light goes down, the S9 imaging skills become even more exceptional. The OIS, the bright F/1.5 lens, the large 1.4um pixels, and the Multi-Frame Image Processing all combine to produce unmatched low-light shots.

    Where most of the current flagships with F/1.7-F/1.8 and OIS shoot at ISO 400 and, say, 1/4s shutter speed, the Galaxy S9 chooses and ISO between 250 and 320, and a shutter speed of 1/10s. The result – great low-light images with lots of detail, little noise, and no blurry spots.

    Samsung Galaxy S9  
    Samsung Galaxy S9 12MP low-light samples

    We also snapped some long shutter samples using both the F/2.4 and the F/1.5 apertures.

    Samsung Galaxy S9
    F/2.4, ISO 50, 4s. shutter • F/1.5, ISO 50, 4s. shutter

    Selective focus

    Selective focus captures a pair of shots and lets you readjust the effect afterward (blur background, blur foreground, no blur). Here you can make simulated bokeh, for the lack of better wording, as the Galaxy S9 has just one sensor on its back. The subject has to be much closer than on the S9+ and its telephoto camera, and it also should be still for a few seconds.

    Samsung Galaxy S9
    Selective focus

    The bokeh shots are quite impressive, indeed, but they are harder to take and may become irritating fast because of that. We can’t see many people using this on a regular basis.

    Samsung Galaxy S9
    Samsung Galaxy S9 selective focus samples

    Selfies

    The selfie camera is borrowed from the S8 series with no changes. It features an 8MP sensor with f/1.7 aperture, variable focus, and Auto HDR. The front camera gets a mode selector of its own.

    Our samples turned out pretty great both outdoors and around the office. There is no shortage of detail and no apparent softness, even near the corners. Be advised, however, that the selfie does come with a modest level of skin tone correction enabled out of the box. That might need some adjustment to match your taste.

    There is also the case with the hit and miss autofocus, which focused on the wrong thing a.k.a. background occasionally. We recommend tapping on the subject to avoid ruined selfies.

    The selective focus wasn’t that good since there is no second camera to work with. The software is pretty much on its own in determining the depth of any given scene. The effect is enjoyable overall, but pixel-peeping quickly reveals lots of imperfections. Those pics would probably do for some quick share on social apps, but that’s just it.

    Panorama

    The S9 captures great-looking panoramas with plenty of detail. The dynamic range is good, and so are the colors. Stitching artifacts are practically non-existent.

    Samsung Galaxy S9
    Samsung Galaxy S9 panorama

    Picture Compare Tool

    You can check out how the Galaxy S9 12MP camera performs in our dedicated compare tool.

    Samsung Galaxy S9  

    Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8 vs. Apple iPhone X in our photo compare tool

    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, and you can even use digital video stabilization on the 30fps clips.

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    With the H.264 codec, the 4K @ 60fps are captured at 72Mbps bitrate, the 4K @ 30fps – 41Mbps, the 1080p @ 30fps – 13.3Mbps, and the 1080p @ 60fps – 27.5Mbps. 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.

    The 60fps were steady at all times, but oddly the clips we captured at supposedly 30fps had an average bitrate of about 26fps. It’s not a deal-breaker as they are still fairly smooth however, we’re surprised we observed this only on the S9 and not 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 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 are also identical in quality. 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, high contrast.

    Samsung Galaxy S9 allows for digital video stabilization in addition to the (always-on) optical one on all 30fps videos. It does an excellent job stabilization the otherwise wobbly 4K videos.

    The Samsung Galaxy S9 is ready to meet the competition in our Video Compare Tool.

    Samsung Galaxy S9  

    Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8 vs. Apple iPhone X in our 4K video compare tool

    And here is a 1440p video sample we shot with the selfie camera. It has lots of detail, good colors, and contrast. The camera prioritizes your face and this it handles the exposure pretty well every time the light conditions change.

    Slow-mo videos

    There is something else to steal the spotlight – 720p slow-mo capturing at 960fps, thanks to the new DRAM buffer. Normally, the sensor would write all the frames it captures to the image buffer, which would then get saved to the storage as the final output. But when you are capturing 960 frames per second, there is no time to output the files to the image buffer. This is where the DRAM comes in. The sensor temporarily writes all the frames to the super-fast DRAM embedded inside the sensor itself, which greatly reduces latency. After that, the frames are passed on to the buffer and to the storage to be saved as a file. But because the on-sensor DRAM can only hold so much at a time, the recording rate is limited to one second, and, at least on the S9, you can only record in 720p.

    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.

    Samsung Galaxy S9
    Slow-mo interface

    Finally, there is one more thing Samsung did better than Sony – an easy edit over the captured clip. After you are done 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.

    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.

    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.

    9. Competition, pros, and cons, the verdict

    The competition

    The never-ending flagship season means a thriving competition. But unfortunately for us, the consumers, things didn’t pan out for the best. Instead of racing for the lowest price, the makers decided to make a run for the opposite. Nowadays everything is premium, cutting-edge, and pricey.

    And now the Galaxy S9 joins the high-end cartel.

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    The Galaxy S9 most formidable rival is the iPhone X, no doubt about this. It has never been Android vs.. iOS with Samsung and Apple, it’s been an all-out war between companies.

    Apple might have joined the bezel-less class late, but it did that in the typical Cupertino-controversial way – changing everything and making it Apple’s with the infamous notch. And while those two battle in their own way, it still boils down to Android vs. iOS for you, unless a second telephoto cam and small footprint are of utmost importance.

    Google has its own Pixel 2 to show off the true power of Pure Android. It’s not as pretty, or powerful, but is cheaper, has some cool proprietary features, snaps better selfies, and does bokeh with one camera unlike anyone else.

    Then there is the good ol’ Galaxy S8 with a noticeable priced cut, which offers everything the Galaxy S9 has but the additional f/2.4 aperture and 960fps slow-mo of the main camera. Nobody would be able to tell the difference in the processing power for the years to come, so unless the new aperture is a must, you might consider buying or sticking to the Galaxy S8.

    The Xperia XZ2 Compact will be joining the S9 soon. It’s not glass, but we think the bumpy design has its charm. The Compact has the latest Snapdragon, an excellent camera capable of 960fps on both 720p and 1080p resolutions, and it’s a lot cheaper.

    Samsung Galaxy S9   

    Apple iPhone X • Google Pixel 2 • Samsung Galaxy S8 • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    Of course, if you want the best of Samsung and don’t care about size and price, then there is the Galaxy S9+ with a bigger screen and a secondary telephoto camera. Or, if you are all about the camera, you can always wait for Huawei to announce its P20 series with a triple camera and take it from there.

    The Verdict

    The Galaxy S is not the trendsetter it once was, but the S9 is the only continuation that could ever be. Samsung is proficient in refining enough in hardware and user experience each year, and when there is nothing groundbreaking to show off, the surprises may come from unexpected places.

    The Galaxy S9 may be failing to wow with the design but makes up for that with performance and new camera skills. And while it may not be a bokeh king, the S9 excels where it matters – in still and image quality.

    Pros

    • Premium water-tight design
    • Class-leading AMOLED screen
    • Among the fastest Android phones (in benchmarks)
    • Great audio skills and stereo speakers
    • Variable aperture camera
    • 960fps slow-mo, automatic motion detection
    • Class-leading still and video quality
    • Excellent retail bundle

    Cons

    • Recycled design
    • Only 720p resolution for 960fps and really limited duration
    • Not the fastest charging around (it’s been stuck like this since the Galaxy S5)
    • It’s quite pricey

    The truth is the Galaxy S9 can’t be a meaningful upgrade to any S8 user. But we live in some interesting times, where incremental upgrades do happen, and regular users are best upgrading every two years, at least theoretically.

    The ninth Galaxy S is cutting-edge no two words about it. Design, screen, and performance are top of the line, while the camera is unique enough to make even some Apple users jump ship.

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    It’s just that the S9 omits the aura of excitement any headliner should come with. It was an entirely predictable device – blazing fast, with enough hardware updates, but didn’t make enough progress for a meaningful generation jump. It’s more of a Galaxy S8S than S9 but we are glad it re-introduced the variable aperture snappers to the market, and we hope it makes them the next big thing. Because the S9 just isn’t that.

    Samsung Galaxy S9 official images

    Samsung Galaxy S9 official images

     

    samsung-galaxy-s9-ice-blue

    samsung-galaxy-s9-ice-blue

     

     

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