Last year, Samsung completely reinvented its galaxy S-series smartphones namely Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, which featured fabulous Infinity Display design. Samsung also introduced an all-new user interface software to make it look better and best than before. Owing to the lot of changes made last year, Samsung decided to hold onto its strong base and hence looked for polishing this experience further through the introduction of Galaxy S9 and S9+ this year.
With the long-running Galaxy S series featuring high-end smartphones’ continuous success, the company has achieved high profits, and that was all due to its top leadership and the fulfillment of challenges in the developing markets. One may not easily forget the Note 7 fiasco, which seems a memory not to fade early, but which could be reignited through a single mistake. However, Samsung did something otherwise, as the Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus turned out to be the fabulous and superb smartphones that were on top of their game and did not simply explode.
So, there are plethora of reasons to like Samsung Galaxy S9 and its bigger sibling S9+, such as the beautiful Infinity Display, wonderful feature set and superb design. Samsung has also invested its energies in those issues that were experienced in S8, and hence we were dearly curious to note whether Samsung did fill those gaps or not. Let’s take a detailed look on both these smartphones then!
If we only see it externally, then Galaxy S9 and S9+ do not look different from their predecessors. As a matter of fact, you might also mistakenly understand an S9 to be an S8. According to Samsung, the S9 will feature even more reduced bezels on top and bottom, but that difference only seems to be quite negligible.
Where S9 and S9+ are entirely made of glass and have got IP68 certified, there is still a change made in the design of their metal frame. It has more to do with its finishing, which lies somewhere in the middle of the matte frame and highly glossy finishing of S8 and the previous phones such as S7. Therefore, this time is neither going to be entirely polished nor quite matte. Whether you like it or not, it is totally going to be your personal choice. We did notice a new thing in this frame however, i.e. its edges are now a bit sharper. S8 still does feel a bit more seamless and smoother, when it is compared with the S9 vis-à-vis in-hand feeling. On the other hand, S9 might still look nicer, it is still a bit harsher.
There are two changes in the design we are mainly going to discuss. The first change is the position of fingerprint sensor, which is now placed below the camera. It will hence be significantly easier to get there and touch. This is very important change with regard to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, in which the higher position of the fingerprint sensor might have made it difficult to approach. Second change we did notice is the color variants in which the phone is being introduced. In this regard, the bad news is that S9 and S9+ will not be coming in Arctic Silver (light gray) color. However, the good news is that that light gray color variant has now been replaced by the dark gray variant, which seems more like the space gray. The black color option will continue, where as the blue and lilac/orchid color variants will be in saturated shape. Moreover, in case of S8, the colors were a bit toned down and were easily visible to the eye. However, in case of Galaxy S9, the colors are a bit more vivid, saturated and clear.
Similarly, S9+ having a relatively larger screen dimensions will also be able to cover up a more open screen. Still, one must thank to the narrower body as well as overall smoothness of this phone, as it will not be coming out to you as a very massive device.
This time round, the displays of the flagship duo of Samsung are curved on the edges only for the aesthetic purposes. Fundamentally, the curved screen in Galaxy S9 and S9+, just like that of S8/S8+, could also look like flat. Still, one will not find any meaningful difference vis-à-vis overall viewing experience in both the duos. The relatively curved display panel shape has actually helped the company turn the device narrower and convenient to hold. This duo will hence come with an impressively thinner frame.
Galaxy S9 and S9+ will come with the same screen sizes as were the predecessors, i.e. 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch, respectively. Screen resolution is also going to remain the same, i.e. 2960 x 1440 pixels. Such a massive resolution is going to guarantee a superb screen legibility as well as clarity. One minor change that the company has mentioned is that it has hidden different camera sensors especially in the top bezel so that the cleaner look is ensured. Apart from that, the screens will be pleasant in their appearance. Similarly, graphics and text will also appear to be sharp, and the colors will be clear as well as vivid. Still, it will be a wise idea for you to use display color modes given within the phone in order to attain relatively more natural-looking images.
It is however still quite unfortunate that the built-in blue light filter won’t be supporting the natural-looking color profiles of screen display, which will automatically be switched to the over-the-top Adaptive Display mode. Anyhow, this Adaptive Display will have a bunch of color balance control, and hence you will be able to customize the color balance based on your choice.
Bundled earphones and Stereo speakers
Samsung has offered a pleasant surprise to its users by introducing the stereo speakers for the first time in the S series of smartphones, and that begins with the Galaxy S9 and S9+. One of the speakers will be placed in the bottom, while the other will be the earpiece itself. This is the arrangement just like found in the iPhone. In this regard, Samsung has done a very good job. The stereo speakers also appear as great as are found in the latest series of iPhones. This means that the stereo speakers in the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be ones currently leading the industry. Moreover, you will be able to enjoy the games and YouTube videos more with these new stereo speakers installed in this duo.
Similarly, the earphones, which come with the box of Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be the same as before. They belong to AKG brand and are able to offer a great output, and so you will get quite decent music sounds. As a matter of fact, in these earphones, there will also be the tendency to fit only loosely and hence they are very easily likely to slip out of your ears while you have tried to even fit them with force. However, here the poor design is not much questioned, rather the ear anatomy is something more in question. Still, one would definitely be curious to know the overall experience with these earbuds.
The interface introduced by Samsung has got many names in the past, e.g. Nature UX, Grace UX, TouchWiz and Samsung Experience etc. This UI by Samsung has been liked, loved as well as hated by many people for tens of years. Critics opine now that the new UI by Samsung being introduced in the S9 duo will be the best of all released before.
So, it is a fact well proven that where many company are investing efforts to reduce their software efforts, Samsung has continued to use its own user interface, which is even getting better and better with the passage of time.
The year of 2017 in particular was a very productive one for software team of Samsung Mobile Phones, as the company released Samsung Experience for Galaxy S8 and S8+ previous year. Samsung Experience was a comprehensively new UI, which was way better than the previous one. Samsung has been doing great effort in the UI just as it has done good job in its hardware. Due to this constructive approach, the new Galaxy S9 also looks exactly the same as that of S8. Apart from different new features in software, which are further discussed below, we explored different other changes, which are more of cosmetic nature.
Some influential features include the security aspects, and along with them is Bixby. The virtual assistant feature of Samsung has also been upgraded by the company, which will also feature new capabilities. In this regard, Samsung is also proud of its new feature called Live Translation, in which the user just has to place the camera in front of the text of foreign language, and a rough sort of translation will be returned by Bixby. It is still not perfect though, but still something is better than nothing at the moment.
Face and Fingerprint scanning
We have been hearing a lot about the biometric security in case of Galaxy S9 and S9+. Samsung has effectively accommodated the feedback given by the users by displacing the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner to a new position altogether, which is now located right under the rear camera. In this position, it will be very easy for the user to reach without even accidentally pushing the camera lens. The previous position was not ideal enough, however, it also did not look bad in previous Galaxy S8 though. Still, the new position will be found by every user as better and will be proven as more convenient especially in case of bigger sibling Galaxy S9+.
Moreover, the Face Recognition as well as Iris Scanner features are also there. Samsung has reported that it has improved these features, and they will now be more secure and fast. The most interesting feature here is the latest Intelligent Scan mode introduced in this duo. This will be discussed further after explaining the face recognition and iris scanning features.
With regard to the face recognition feature, we did not find any sort of fancier technology in it. The phone will basically use the front camera for recording your picture and it will then do the processing for enabling to identify the person when the phone is unlocked. This will also limit the access for other people. This face recognition feature is also quite quick especially in the normal lightening conditions. However, it has proven to be a bigger failure in case of dark environment. Moreover, it is also not much protected, and the good-quality photo of a user can also be easily fooled. Hence, Samsung will not be recommending nor using this face recognition feature for validating the important things such as mobile payments.
The second aspect is the iris scanning. This is a bit more complex and it will utilize a few additional sensors that are placed in the upper bezel of Galaxy S9 duo. Depending on the nature of usage, this iris scanner can either be too quick or it can become a total failure. Though it is very secure, still people are still recommended to avoid using it. More so, this iris scanning feature is also not considered as the easiest system of face unlocking, as it needs the user to emphasize on the appearance of the phone. This is when you place your eyes in a particular way and then keep the phone in a particular manner. Still, it is better and it will work effectively on S9 as compared to the S8 duo.
Now we come to the Intelligent Scan. When there are two technologies, which appear to cover the weaknesses of each other, then it is a sensible way to combine them both, and this is what Samsung has effectively done. Intelligent Scan will actually use the combination of both the above-mentioned features for delivering a secure and fast solution for unlocking the phone. This will clearly not as fast and reliable as the Face ID feature introduced by Apple in iPhone X, yet it will be providing the users an overall better experience that could be offered by iris scanning or face recognition alone. Hence you will be given an optimal solution to unlock the Galaxy S9.
Performance and Memory
As far as the US and Chinese markets are concerned, S9 and S9+ will be coming with Snapdragon 845 SoC. In case of rest of the world, the duo will come with Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 SoC. Both the chipsets are basically 64-bit and are made on 10nm process and also have a very powerful octa-core CPU.
As far as the performance is concerned, S9 duo will be the fastest phones ever made available to the market, and that is because the processes will be done too quickly without any sort of hiccups. Based on our tests and extensive usage of the phones, they run very smoothly and quite well and probably better lead the Android market. Yet they are not good in comparison of iPhones when it specifically comes to the 3D graphics performance.
Moreover, we have seen an upgrade with regard to the RAM memory in case of Galaxy S9+, which will now be featuring 6GB RAM, where as S9 will still feature 4GB RAM. This looks more like Samsung is going to make a differentiation between S9 and its bigger sibling S9+, due to which the extra memory is added in the bigger version. This is also aimed at keeping the higher price of S9+ justified. One can also expect the 6GB RAM to be useful for extension of the lifespan of the phone.
With particular reference to the storage, both the phones will come with a handy 64GB storage option, where as the expandable storage option is also available where you can increase storage up to 400GB. These cards should however preferably be reserved for the media storage.
The internet browser is the one that comes integrated with Samsung phones, which continues to be the best option, as it is very reliable and speedy. Google Chrome is also pre-installed on the phone due to the contract between Samsung and Google for licensing Android. Both of these browser apps will serve you well and will definitely fulfill your browsing needs.
The Internet Browser by Samsung will additionally be able to synchronize the important information such as history, bookmarks, and it will also open tabs with the Samsung Cloud. On the other hand, Google’ Chrome browser will also be helpful in syncing the data. Moreover, if you happen to install Firebox browser from Play Store, same things will also be available there.
One can easily tell that the main focus of Samsung has remained on the improvement of its camera performance. The camera specs were already quite fabulous in case of Galaxy S8. However, Galaxy S9 and S9+ are going to be the first-time phones, which will come with variable aperture, which can switch between two modes, i.e. F2.4 for bright environment and F1.5 for low-light conditions. Such a thing will allow both the phones to capture the image when there is need for more light. However, when tested, we did not experience the results to be much different from that of S8 duo. The differences cannot be noticed that easily though. The S9 duo will keep the color profile relatively warmer as compared to the previous duo, but they will not be proved as aggressive vis-à-vis sharpening. Resultantly, the S9 images will seem to be a bit softer and will be a bit less noisy. Rest will be the same as that S8.
The most significant upgrade is observed in case of S9+, which is now going to feature the dual-camera setup on the rear as was experienced in case of Note 8. The second camera on the back is once again going to be the telephoto lens, which will actually let the user zoom the camera twice without losing any sort of quality aspects, and through which he can take a few very good-looking portraits.
The users will also have a couple new modes regarding video recording, which will include the Super Slow Motion as well as 4K videos at 60fps. The 4K video at 60fps is actually much smoother and is a great mode, but it can only be used for 5-minute video. This would still be a good thing, as it is already known how much space is occupied by a 4K video.
Another new and interesting feature is the slow-motion mode, which is quite improved as compared to earlier. Both the phones will be capable to record the slow-motion videos at 960fps and that too on 720p resolution. Moreover, the phones will also be capable to detect the motion automatically. The manual setting is also available there, and it will still be a tricky thing to do things right, because there is a very small moment, which is actually captured in case of the slow-motion video. However, the resulting effect will be great.
Another great feature being introduced in the S9 duo is the AR emojis, which will be living inside the camera app. Through this feature, you will be able to take a photo of yourself, which will then make a 3D avatar of you, which you can further personalize to make it all look like you. You can play with this emoji in real time, which is the case in Apple’s Animoji feature. You will also be able to record the video using this emoji. However, the best part is that it will automatically generate the stickers from your own 3D avatar and that will be used in different apps and will be sent to others, and hence will be clearly visible to others in their conversations. This is a great feature, but it is still not fully designed and developed. This is also because all the 3D avatars made so far are similar in their appearance, and the real-time animations are still sort of limited and stiff.
Since the bodies of S9 and S9+ are sized identically, hence Samsung did not consider fitting the bigger batteries this year. The battery capacity is hence going to remain same in S9 and S9+ as compared to S8 and S8+, i.e. 3000mAh and 3500mAh, respectively.
When we tested the battery life, it nearly turned out to be the same for S9+ and a bit less for S9 when compared with the previous flagship duo. Galaxy S9 continuously ran for 7 hours and 23 minutes, where as S9+ worked for about 8 hours and 5 minutes. This much longevity is still enough for a day. So you do not need to worry about it.
Moreover, it is a good thing that the company has offered a great Adaptive Fast Charger in the box. This will ensure that the phones are charged in least possible time. Both of these phones will be charged from 0 to 100% in about 105 minutes, which means one hour and 45 minutes. This is 5 minutes more than the full charge time experience in case of S8 duo. Moreover, you will also be given the option of wireless charging, for which you will have to spend extra money though.
S9 and S9+ pricing details
Samsung is definitely going to launch these two phones on 16th March and the target regions in the first phase will be various. If you are living in Pakistan and do not get the phone at the time of launch, then you do not need to worry, as the phones will ultimately be available throughout the world within a month.
In USA, the price of Samsung Galaxy S9 will be $720 and the price of Galaxy S9+ will be $840. Similarly, Galaxy S9 price in Pakistan will be about PKR 79,000, while the Samsung Galaxy S9 plus price in Pakistan will be about PKR 93,000. These will be quite competitive prices as far as the previous year’s iPhone series is concerned. So, it is expected that both the S9 and S9+ will be warmly welcomed by the audience across the world. Moreover, these prices are kept at the time of launch, which will definitely further decline after a couple of months.
Without a doubt, Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are delicately upgraded form of S8 and S8+ launched in the previous year. The most important changes are observed in the AR Emoji 3D avatars, fingerprint scanning position, Intelligent Scanning feature, and the camera. S9+ is especially going to feature dual camera system on the back such as that of Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
All in all, if you are already using S8, then we will suggest you not to upgrade at the moment to S9. However, if you are currently using S6 or S7, then jumping to the S9 will be the best thing you will do with yourself.
Lastly, Samsung has once again crafted the beautiful and desirable smartphones with the name of S9 and S9+. These products are definitely most elegant, polished and advanced that are currently available in Android market. The competitor phones that can only get a bit close to it are Google Pixel 2 and LG V30. However, both of them also have drawbacks, which are still not known in the incoming impressive package being offered by Samsung.