The Galaxy S9 and S9+ aim stress on the camera department while improving all the good bits of the old S8.
Samsung’s flagship S series smartphones mark the beginning of a new year in the world of smartphones. The ninth generation of the S series — the Galaxy S9 and S9+ had broken cover last week at the MWC 2018 in Barcelona. However, Samsung is taking bold steps with S9 and is fairly confident that bringing it to the Indian market within such a short span will help it achieve an edge over high-profile rivals, especially with a competitive price tag of Rs 57,900 for the base 64GB variant of the S9 and Rs 64,900 for the base model of the S9+. Are you planning to upgrade to this Samsung flagship or switch from another flagship to the S9? Fret not, we had a chance to play around with both the Galaxy S9 and S9+ for a while and this is what we feel about this cutting-edge flagship.
The Galaxy S9 follows the fate of the Galaxy S7 Edge — it’s essentially an aesthetic refresh of the previous generation S8. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ carry forward the uber-luxurious look and feel of the Galaxy S8 — only slightly enhanced with certain premium touches such as a dark tinted front glass panel to hide the sensors on the forehead. Samsung also said that the bottom lip’s dimensions are slightly reduced, which is unnoticeable unless you compare the S8 and the S9 side-by-side. However, the phone feels lighter and sleeker than the S8, which makes it more comfortable to use on a daily basis. The Lilac Purple shade is a new colour introduced with the S9 and we have to say that it surely grabs eyeballs.
While the S9 carries a mostly recycled design, Samsung has made sure that it irons out one of the major complaints that S8 owners had — the oddly placed fingerprint sensor. Yes, the fingerprint sensor now resides in the correct place, i.e. below the rear camera. The S9+ houses its vertically stacked dual camera system in the centre, preventing an iPhone X mockup unlike some of the recently released smartphones. Both the S9 variants are as usual water and dust resistant.
The S9 sports a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED Curved display whereas the S9+ sports a bigger 6.2-inch version f the same. Both of them render Quad HD+ resolutions, with Samsung allowing users to scale down the picture resolution in order to save power. Samsung claims that the display is 15 per cent brighter than the S8.
Underneath, both of them are powered by an Exynos 9810 chipset, which is Samsung’s latest 10nm SoC manufactured alongside the Snapdragon 845. The S9 gets 4GB of RAM as standard whereas the bigger S9+ gets a generous 6GB of RAM for managing the load. The S9 runs on the latest version of Samsung Experience UI based on top of Android 8.0 Oreo.
Right out-of-the-box, both the S9 and S9+ feel eager to switch between multiple apps and zoom through the menus. Do note that the phone is running only Samsung’s custom apps, therefore, it remains to be seen whether the S9 can hold on to its eager performance once we start using it as our daily driver. The Samsung Experience UI is pretty reminiscent of the one from the S8, which is not necessarily a bad thing — the UI is colourful and intuitive.
The S9 and S9+ house a 3000mAh and 3500mAh batteries respectively. While we weren’t able to test out the battery life on both of these babies on such a short while, we expect the S9 and S9+ to hold on as long, if not longer, than the S8.
Both the S9 and S9+ models get a variable aperture rear camera sensor — first for a flagship smartphone in a commercial basis. The S9 has a 12MP Dual Pixel camera with a variable aperture between f/1.5 and f/2.4, aided by OIS. The S9+ gets a 12MP Dual Camera Dual Pixel setup (first dual camera setup to hit the S-series) with the similar variable aperture setup on the wide-angle lens of f/1.5 and f/2.4 and a fixed f/2.4 aperture telephoto lens — both aided by OIS. The cameras get a lot of Augmented Reality tricks like the Pixel 2 — Samsung’s AR Emojis can scan faces from a 2D image and map 100 facial features to create an animated 3D model, which can be sent to anyone in a GIF format. They also get a new 960fps slow-motion recording, the results of which can be used as a GIF or even as live wallpaper.
In our brief time with the S9 and S9+, the camera seemed to be working well with both low as well brightly lit scenarios. The colours seem to be lively but not oversaturated. Contrasts also appear to be natural and the dynamic range is awe-inspiring. We will carry out an in-depth review of the S9’s camera once we spend some considerable time with it.
At first glance, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ seem to one of the best smartphones money can buy for this year. With attractive aesthetics, an extremely capable camera sensor and a flagship class performance, you can’t go wrong with the S9. If you have made up your mind and need a third opinion, you could go ahead and get yourself one. However, if you are willing to wait for an in-depth review of the S9 and S9+, keep an eye on DC Tech for the full review of the same.