Samsung Galaxy S9+ Review

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung

February, 2018
6.2" Super AMOLED display, Exynos 9810 chipset, Dual: 12 MP + 12MP primary camera, 8 MP front camera, 3500 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 6 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
EUR:€560 | USD:$633 | PKR:110,999 | INR:45,181

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Samsung Galaxy S9+ Review

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Review


Introduction

Although this may seem familiar to you, as it is almost identical to the last year's Samsung Galaxy S8+, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is the new flagship from Samsung and it is indeed the perfect Samsung phone to date. The 6.2 inches display makes it a big phone and its superb dual camera setup steals the show as compared to its predecessor. There's no doubt that it's one of the best smart phones of 2018, but is it worth the upgrade?

Design

There haven't been many changes to the design as Samsung decided to keep its traditional design of two glass panels molded together with a metal frame in between. The minor yet crucial design change comes at the back where the fingerprint sensor is now aligned at the center, just below the camera lens. This design change is the result of customer complaints about the fingerprint placement in the previous model, Samsung Galaxy S8, where the fingerprint sensor was placed adjacent to the camera lens which made it quite difficult to unlock the phone without smudging the camera lens. This improvement enhances the user experience even with the smaller size of the fingerprint scanner. The dimensions have changed a bit, with a few millimeters shrunk to reduce the top and bottom bezels, making the phone a little shorter than its predecessor the Samsung Galaxy S8+, but it is still a big phone.

There are four color choices to this year's flagship from Samsung, namely, Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray and the standout of them all, Lilac Purple. What color choice you get depends on your region. Just with any glass back phones, the Samsung Galaxy s9+ is a huge fingerprint magnet so you might want to invest in a nice case for the phone.

Samsung decided to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack unlike many of its competitors together with a microSD card slot. The phone is IP68 certified dust and water resistant up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. The Bixby dedicated button remains on the left side for the second year in a row which activates Samsung's own digital assistant, however, as infamous as it was last year with the Samsung Galaxy S8, you still cannot remap it to some other function on the phone.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ comes with Samsung's own Infinity display. The 6.2 inches Quad HD+ Super AMOLED curves screen with a pixel density of 529 ppi covers 90% of the front of the phone and it is still as fantastic as it was on the Samsung Galaxy S8+. It's tall display with an aspect ratio of 18.5:9 looks gorgeous to human eye with vibrant colors and deep blacks. As AMOLED displays consist of numerous little LEDs lighting up to create the display, the LEDs turn off to create perfect deep blacks which look much more natural as compared to blacks on LCD displays.

Defying rumors, there is no in-screen finger print scanner on the Samsung Galaxy S9+ which is interesting as Vivo launched their phone at CES 2018 with a fingerprint scanner embedded inside the screen. So maybe we can expect the Samsung Galaxy S10 to house an embedded fingerprint scanner in the display.

The display is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 which makes it scratch resistant to keys and razor blades, however, harder materials may scratch or damage the beautiful screen. There's no notch on the display which makes the display look like a large, beautiful glowing piece of tech but due to its large form factor, it's also prone to occasional accidental touches, especially while using Google Maps and writing text messages.

The phone still has the Always On display feature which makes it easier to read notification and time, and makes the phone look visually appealing even when you're not using it, and why would it not? The Quad HD AMOLED display looks stunning and because of the fact that it only lights up pixels needed to display a small area of graphics, the feature isn't a strain on the battery either.

Processor

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ is the fastest android phone tested yet thanks to its new processors, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 in the US and China or the Exynos 9810 which is available globally. The new chipsets are 30% faster than the one in the Samsung Galaxy S8+, coupled with 6 GBs of RAM which makes the phone a heavy hitter for the fastest smartphone crown. Even with multiple social media apps running together and switching them with heavy games, the processor performed great with minimal lag between app switches. Personally, I would recommend that you get the Snapdragon variant as it has performed faster than its Exynos counterpart this time around.

Hardware

The phone boasts the best hardware available in the market. Top of the line processor, 6 GB of RAM, top of the line GPU and a microSD slot supporting up to 400 GB of external storage. Now that's a staggering amount of storage and it's impressive. A new hardware inclusion comes in the form of a blood pressure sensor. That's a first on any smartphone to date and it comes very handy especially for users who need to keep a track of their blood pressure readings so definitely thumbs up for that.

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ available in 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB storage variants. Phone comes with a USB Type-C 3.1 connector which means that it supports fast charging which is handy charging it's huge 3500 mAh battery. The glass back of the phone allows wireless charging which I found quite useful, especially because you don't have to do the extra bit of plugging your phone into a cable. There are plenty of sensors, including the Iris scanner which gives us the option to secure the phone using your eye and now with the Samsung Galaxy S9+, you have a new security feature called 'Intelligent Scan' which uses both iris scanner and facial recognition to give your phone enhanced security. Personally, I think it's a good attempt by Samsung to provide a secure alternative to fingerprint scanners and it's also unlocks the phone instantly.

The biggest improvement in the hardware for me comes in the speaker department. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ now has a dual speaker setup where the earpiece also acts as a speaker creating a stereo effect and giving a much more vibrant sound experience. Something much needed to make the phone a perfect device in 2018.

Battery

The battery on the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is an impressive 3500 mAh, non-removable with a screen on time of over 6 hours and 45 minutes. Now, I tested my Samsung Galaxy S9+ using multiple apps, playing heavy games and rendering some videos so that makes this phone the new number one champ in the onscreen time battle, overthrowing the previous champion, the OnePlus 5T.

For most people, the battery life of Samsung Galaxy S9+ will extend to around a day and a half of moderate usage and two at minimal usage. Even with the very impressive battery life, there's fast charge support which comes inside the box and an additional option of wireless charging which makes this phone the best phone in the market for users concerned about battery life and performance. This was much needed, especially after a battery debacle which happened with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Fast Charging the Samsung Galaxy S9+ with the included charger for just 15 minutes brings it from 0% to 19%, and 30 minutes gets it to 38%. At 45 minutes, the phone gets up to a comfortable 58%. In the end, it takes 1 hour and 41 minutes to reach 100%.

Camera

Finally, it's time to talk about the feat of this glorious phone. Yes, the camera system on the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is the best thing about the phone, with a DXOMARK score of 99, more than the Apple iPhone X (97) and Google Pixel 2 (98). As the phone itself is branded as 'Camera, reimagined', it gives us a hint that there will be major improvements in the camera department and turns out, there are quite a lot.

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ has a rear dual 12 MP camera setup with a world's first mechanical aperture of f/1.5-2.4 in a phone. The special thing about this camera is that it has a much bigger pixel density than the previous Samsung Galaxy S8+ which means more information in the pictures together with dual aperture technology, where the camera lens changes its aperture according to the lighting conditions just like a human eye. This aperture system comes as a remedy for all the grainy low-light photo scenarios we had to face with previous Samsung Galaxy phones, as the new camera absorbs 28% more light due to its ability to switch between the two apertures. The camera shoots beautiful pictures and takes stunning videos up to 4K at 60 frames per second which is quite impressive. The videos I took from this phone were sharp, with lots of details and very stable, thanks to the Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).

The front camera is an 8 MP shooter with an f/1.7 aperture and it takes great selfies in almost all sorts of lighting conditions and what impressed me the most was its ability to autofocus even with the front camera, something we don't usually see in phones. It can still record in 2K which is pretty decent for a front camera video.

I took the phone out on a camera spree to test it in different conditions and it did not disappoint me at all. The selfies I took were sharp and had more details, thanks to the 8 MP front camera and after comparing it with selfies I took on the Samsung Galaxy Note8, I would say that the Samsung Galaxy S9+ just performs better.

The star of the show was the main rear dual camera setup which worked like a charm. The pictures I took were both in bright sunlight and indoors at a dimly lit restaurant and in both cases, the pictures came out to be great. The colors were accurate, the saturation was on point and the overall image quality was just super fine.

There are several shooting modes which comes in the Samsung Galaxy S9+ but the one which got my attention was the Super Slow-Motion mode which shoots videos at 960 fps at 720p. The slowed down videos look fun and dramatic, although, the video can be shot only for a few seconds and there's some image quality loss as in low light the video might come rather grainy. It's a cool feature, or a gimmick, depending on how much you'll use the Slow-Motion mode.

In normal video mode, you can shoot videos up to a resolution of 4K, which is nothing new but now the video can be shot at 60 fps. This doesn't come without its downside as the video can be of a maximum 5 minutes only and there's still no OIS support for the 4K video mode. One upside is that Samsung now gives you the option of recording normal speed video in the new HEVC format to save space.

The Camera resolution is the same as last year's Samsung Galaxy s8+ with 12 MP but now as there are two cameras, the overall detail in the image is impressive. The sharpness in the pictures is improved as compared to the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and there's almost zero noise even at low lights. The colors might get overexposed during bright sunlight though and I think the Apple iPhone X handles such conditions better but in all other situations, this phone's camera reigned over the Apple iPhone X's. Another area where the camera performs better than the Apple iPhone X was in the portrait mode with the bokeh effect. The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S9+ detects the edges off the object much better than the Apple iPhone X, hence, creating an overall improved portrait mode photo which can fool someone to believe that the picture was taken from a DSLR.

The Camera app on the phone is robust, yet simple to operate with multiple shooting modes and a great control over the camera with the pro mode where we can tweak every setting and set out preferred one for the best experience. Toggling the front and back cameras is an intuitive swipe up or down on the screen, while triggering the selfie camera timer is an effortless open-hand gesture. The phone has the fastest way to launch its camera app: just double-press the physical sleep/wake button and you're ready to snap your next shot.

Ultimately, this phone comes out to be the new low light camera king and The camera phone to beat. Its adjustable aperture helps to take absolutely stunning photos, something no other phone is yet to achieve and it becomes my favorite camera phone setting up benchmarks for others to follow.

Software

Samsung is known for some of the best smartphone hardware around but the same cannot be said about its software. Some love Samsung's TouchWiz interface and a plenty lot don't. However, with a fresh Android 8.0 Oreo straight out of the box and cleaner, less bloated skin on top, the Samsung Galaxy S9+'s software is runs smoother as compared to the last year's Samsung Galaxy S8+.

The software itself consumes less RAM than other custom launchers available for Android and has new features such as landscape mode, where you can view the home screen in landscape if you tilt the phone horizontally. This feature was quite useful to me as I often view videos in landscape mode and not having to rotate the phone back vertically while using the home screen hits my comfort spot. Another valuable improvement in this year's flagship by Samsung is in the icons department, where the icons don't update very frequently and there's consistency in design.

Multitasking is super easy, thanks to Android 8.0's multitasking feature augmented with Samsung's side bar edge display where you can easily assign shortcuts and even read notifications without having to slide down the notification page. Personally, I really liked this implementation as the phone has a large 6.2 inches display and it provides better usability with a placid interface experience.

Conclusion

Samsung Galaxy S9+ is now available at all major carriers in the US with prices starting from $839.99 and going up to $932.99. That's around $120 more than the smaller Samsung Galaxy S9 but the extra amount is worth it given the Samsung Galaxy S9+'s great camera performance, larger display and bigger battery with more RAM. For me, this is an iterative update from last year's Samsung Galaxy S8+ with no major changes to the design but the improvement in the camera definitely makes this year Samsung Galaxy phone the phone to beat and potentially the best phone of the year.

Even with a couple of disappointments such as no embedded fingerprint scanner in the screen and the same overall design, this is a great phone rectifying the mistakes of the past and giving a solid run for money to the already market kings the Apple iPhone X and the camera monarch of the past, Google Pixel XL. It is an incredible device with a reliable brand name and support, comes with a great fast charging brick and some solid earphones by AKG and a device which really makes you reimagine what a camera on a smartphone is capable of.

For me, this device a major go and if you're looking for a great phone with loads of features and a great camera, look no further and get this beauty.