Every year, the MWC tech show brings us many reasons to smile about. While there’s definitely something to smile about at this year’s event, there isn’t much to get the regular user excited about the new Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. But for nit-picky fellows like me and you, we can find plenty of interesting stuff in the S8 and S8+ successors.
One quick look at the Galaxy S9 and S9+ and you’ll notice that there isn’t really anything great to necessitate an upgrade from the Galaxy S8 or S8+. In fact, you’ll be forgiven for feeling that there’s little difference between the two, but a closer look will reveal some minor, albeit impressive, tweaks and improvements under the hood.
Without further ado, let’s check them out, but first, here are the pair’s specs.
|Samsung Galaxy S9||Samsung Galaxy S9+|
|Display screen||5.8-inch Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 aspect ratio, QHD+ resolution||6.2-inch Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 aspect ratio, QHD+ resolution|
|Processor||Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810||Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810|
|Storage||64/256GB UFS 2.1||64/256GB UFS 2.1|
|MicroSD card||Up to 400GB||Up to 400GB|
|Software||Android 8.0 with Samsung Experience 9.0||Android 8.0 with Samsung Experience 9.0|
|Main camera||12MP with variable aperture of f/1.5 and f/2.4, OIS, PDAF||Dual 12MP (variable aperture of f/1.5 and f/2.4, OIS) + 12MP (f/2.4, OIS), PDAF|
|Front camera||8MP f/1.7 aperture and Autofocus||8MP f/1.7 aperture and Autofocus|
|Connectivity||USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0, LTE, 3.5mm audio jack||USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0, LTE, 3.5mm audio jack|
|Colors||Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Coral Blue and Lilac Purple||Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Coral Blue and Lilac Purple|
|Extras||IP68, iris scanner, face recognition, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, AKG-tuned stereo speakers and fast wired and wireless charging||IP68, iris scanner, face recognition, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, AKG-tuned stereo speakers and fast wired and wireless charging|
Android 9 Pie available in beta with One UI
On November 15, 2018, Samsung released the Android Pie beta for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ handsets around the world. The update also brought the new One UI from Samsung. See the One UI device list and release date status here.
Being a beta update at the moment, the Android Pie OTA is now available for the public. Rather, one has to join the One UI beta programme to book his interest and receive the OTA update if found eligible.
- The Galaxy S9 Plus is eligible for Android Pie
- Beta rollout begins in Korea and the US; coming soon to more countries
- Stable version of Android 9 is expected in January 2019
|Model||Launch OS||Current OS||Android 9 Pie release?|
|Global Unlocked||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Beta available, stable version expected in Jan 2018|
|AT&T||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Expected in Feb 2019|
|Sprint||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Beta available, stable version expected in Jan 2018|
|T-Mobile||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Expected in Feb 2019|
|Verizon||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Beta available, stable version expected in Jan 2018|
|U.S. Unlocked||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Beta available, stable version expected in Jan 2018|
It’s all about the camera
With the new-gen flagship phones, Samsung is putting a lot of emphasis on the camera. While the Galaxy S8 and S8+ cameras remain to be among the best, Samsung, as you’d expect, has taken the S9 pair’s photography to the next level, including things like super slow-motion video recording of up to 960fps at 720p. With the help of Bixby, the camera of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ can also be used to do other stuff like help you with shopping or even live translation of stuff.
Even more interesting is the ability to create emojis and GIFs out of your own photos with what Samsung calls AR Emoji, admittedly a better version of iPhone X Animoji. Since the Galaxy S9 misses out on the dual-lens setup on the back, there won’t be portrait mode and such-like stuff for you. It’s a pity Samsung didn’t go the Google way by offering a software solution for the S9, but it’s obvious this is how the company wanted it to be in order to draw a clearer line between the S9 and S9+.
Only the Plus variant offers dual cameras
The line between the standard and flagship Galaxy S handsets has been quite blurry, especially when looking at last year’s models. Apart from the screen size and battery capacity, the S8 and S8+ are the same phone. But with the S9 and S9+, the line is clearer than ever before.
In addition to the usual differences, the Galaxy S9+ also gets a dual-lens camera and a superior 6GB RAM. As for the rest of the specs, they remain the same. If anything, we’ve seen this before with Apple’s iPhone, where the Plus variant gets a dual-lens camera and superior RAM compared to the standard model.
Dual aperture could set new standards
The company says the Galaxy S9 and S9+ have a reimagined camera. So, what exactly does this mean? Well, basically, besides the AR Emoji, super slow-motion and Bixby Vision stuff, another reason for this name is the cameras’ ability to switch between two apertures.
Where the main 12MP shooter switches between f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures, the second 12MP sensor on the Galaxy S9+ has fixed f/2.4 aperture. The 12MP lens with variable aperture is universal while the second 12MP telephoto unit on the S9+ adds features like Live Focus and 2x zoom.
These combinations make up for the best photography in a Samsung phone ever. In fact, it’s easy to say that the Galaxy S9+ is gearing up to be the best in the business this 2018, but the year is still too early to start making such conclusions.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time such a feature is showing up on a phone. Back in 2009, the Nokia N86 could kind of do this with its 8MP eye, switching between f/2.4 and f/3.2 or even f/4.8 apertures when light conditions permit it, but it is the Motorola Motozine ZN5 that pioneered this kind of camera technology.
Given Samsung’s current influence in the smartphone market, we won’t be surprised if dual apertures become a norm.
AR Emoji and super slow-motion are the best features of Galaxy S9
As noted at the beginning, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ aren’t such significant upgrades to the average user. These are the people who mostly look for drastic design changes, none of which the S9 pair brings with respect to the S8 twins.
However, digging deeper, you’ll realize that there’s more to it than just the outside looks, especially when matters of photography come in. The Galaxy S9 cameras are not just the best at taking still photos, but you’ll love the extras they bring to the table as well.
Sony has been taking all the credit with 960fps slow-motion videos, but this is no more as we have a new kid on the block. With the S9 and S9+ super slow-motion video recording feature, you can turn a 0.2-second video into a 6-second slow-motion moment that will be hard not to watch over and over. Rather than navigate to the video’s location every time you want to watch it again, you can add it to your lockscreen, which is pretty cool.
And then there’s AR Emoji. Rather than simply use the typical emojis that hardly represent our true selves, Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ allows you to create emojis out of your own images. You can even add some vocals to it and share with others who aren’t using the Galaxy S9 via popular social media channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Samsung has also partnered with Disney to bring you characters like Mickey Mouse to AR Emoji, making it an even more interesting experience using the feature.
Low light photography goes a notch higher
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are among the best low-light performers when it comes to smartphone photography. However, with the widest aperture on any smartphone lens, f/1.5, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ promise the best photos even in the poorest of lighting conditions.
The variable aperture means that the lens will automatically switch to using the wider f/1.5 aperture when it detects that the environment is poorly lit. When conditions are favorable, the lens will switch to using f/2.4 aperture. The SuperSpeed Dual Pixel lens will also ensure that the camera locks in on the subject in the shortest time possible.
Of course, the dual-tone LED flash on the back should also help light up the place to improve low-light photography. With an aperture of f/1.7 and autofocus on board, you’ll struggle to find any match for the 8MP selfie unit on the S9 and S9+. The sensor promises great selfies even when in poorly lit conditions and with superfast autofocus, you’ll hardly miss a moment.
Google introduced Project Treble with Android Oreo back at the I/O 2017. This is the company’s best attempt yet at ending Android fragmentation by enabling smartphone makers to roll out software updates faster than before. This is achieved by separating the vendor interface from the Android OS framework so that OEMs only have to update the latter rather than updating the entire package, including the former, like the case with Nougat and before.
Prior to Android Oreo, everything was in one partition, but with Oreo, the vendor interface has a separate partition from the Android OS framework. This means that OEMs will be able to update the OS without touching the vendor interface, which is where delays came from.
Since Project Treble is part of Android Oreo, all devices that come preinstalled with the OS, like the Galaxy S9 and S9+, also come equipped with this feature. In other words, it’s likely that Android P will be available for the S9 and S9+ before the end of this year. Fingers crossed!
So, what are your thoughts on the Galaxy S9 and S9+? Let us know in your comments below.