Samsung today released the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ to take on Apple’s iPhone X. Featuring the latest and greatest internals, the handsets ‘borrow’ quite a few features from Apple’s flagship handset.
In terms of design, Samsung’s flagship handsets — the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ — look the same as their predecessor. This means you get Gorilla Glass panels at the front and back sandwiching an aluminum chassis. Samsung has been using aluminum chassis on its flagship Galaxy S handsets since the Galaxy S6 in 2015 and it is disappointing to see the company not make the move to a steel chassis like Apple did with the iPhone X.
At the front of the Galaxy S9 and S9+, you get a 5.8-inch QHD+ and 6.2-inch QHD+ Infinity Display with HDR10 and wide-color gamut support. The bottom chin has seen a slight reduction in bezel size but the difference is going to be barely noticeable to the naked eye. Every other aspect of the Galaxy S9 in terms of design is the same as its predecessor. This means you are still getting an aluminum frame sandwiched between Gorilla Glass panels at the front and rear. The S9 also features AKG-tuned stereo speaks which Samsung says are up to 40 percent louder than the mono speaker found on the S8.
The Galaxy S9 packs a major internal upgrade. Samsung is using Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 845 chipset inside the handset for the U.S. variants. This chipset is paired with a 1.2Gbps LTE modem as well. The international variant will be powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 chipset which also comes with a 1.2Gbps LTE modem. Both chipsets are plenty powerful and are based on the second generation 10nm FinFET process from Samsung. Apart from upgraded CPU performance, the ISP, GPU, and MFC have also seen major performance improvements.
The smaller Galaxy S9 will come with 4GB RAM, while the bigger S9+ will feature 6GB RAM. Both handsets will come with 64GB of storage space, hybrid dual-SIM/microSD card slot, NFC, LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm headphone jack, and USB-C connectivity. They also feature an upgraded iris scanner at the front which Samsung says is now faster and reliable than before.
Despite coming with more powerful internals and the same battery capacity as their predecessor — 3,000mAh and 3,500mAh — the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will offer the same battery life as the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
The camera on the Galaxy S9 has seen a major upgrade this time around. While the resolution remains the same at 12MP, Samsung has managed to use a variable aperture ranging from f/1.5 to f/2.4. The wider f/1.5 aperture will allow the Galaxy S9 to absorb more light in low-light scenarios, while the f/2.4 aperture will come in handy when there’s plenty of light available.
To be clear though, you can only switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 aperture and nothing in between. There’s also the second-generation DualPixel AF system which is faster than before. Apart from the improved imaging hardware, Samsung is also using the powerful ISP for improved multi-frame noise reduction. The samples shown by the company showed a noticeable improvement in noise and detail when compared to the Galaxy S8. The powerful ISP also allows the Galaxy S9 to capture 960fps slow-motion videos at 720p resolution. This is paired with a redesigned camera app that is easier to use and makes it easy to switch between various modes
The Galaxy S9+ gets a dual-camera setup at its rear. While the primary camera remains the same as the S9, the secondary f/2.4 12MP telephoto sensor allows the handset to offer 2x optical zoom and capture photos with ‘bokeh’ effect thanks to Live Focus.
At the front, there’s an 8MP f/1.7 shooter as seen on the Galaxy Note 8 that is also capable of taking portrait selfies.
The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will launch with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. The Samsung Experience version on the handsets is similar to what we have already seen on the Galaxy Note 8 with some improvements thrown in. There’s also an improved version of Bixby on the device, though its unlikely to find many takers this time around as well.
There’s a new AR Emoji feature that makes use of the front camera to capture your face. It then creates a custom 3D character by using over 100 facial points. This 3D character can be used in 18 animated stickers that can be easily accessed using the keyboard for easy sharing in messaging apps. The 3D character can also be customized to one’s liking by changing its hairstyle, clothes, applying glasses, and more.
Availability and Price
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ go on pre-order from March 2 in parts of Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and a few other markets. It will launch on March 16, with the global rollout expected to complete by March 30. In the United States, the Galaxy S9 is priced at $719.99, while the Galaxy S9+ is priced at $839.99. It is in the price department that Samsung is heavily undercutting Apple. The iPhone X is priced at $999, while the Galaxy S9 can be had for $720 which will likely go even lower once you factor in the various launch promotions.
We’ve updated the post with the hands-on video of the new features and improvements.