Yes, both have increased with the Galaxy S9. This extra bulk is due to substantial durability improvements: the chassis is stiffer, the glass in the display is thicker and drops are protected 20% more. Samsung has retained its favorites such as the headphone Jack and microSD expandable storage (now compatible to 400GB cards) IP68 water and dust resistance.
The Galaxy S9 is slightly smaller than the Galaxy S8 due to its thinner top and bottom bezels. The polarizing notch on the iPhone X gives the Galaxy S9 a better screen-to-body ratio.
Samsung’s Galaxy S9 has a longer lifespan than the Galaxy S8.
Samsung has also fixed other glaring errors and omissions. The erroneously placed rear fingerprint scanner of the Galaxy S8 has been moved to the center of the phone (just like any other rear-mounted phone). An amplified earpiece allows it to have dual stereo speakers, just like its rivals.
A new launch color is also available – Lilac Purple. This joins Midnight Black and Coral Blue, as well as (in certain regions) Titanium Gray. In the next months, this selection will expand.
These aren’t life-altering alterations. But they are sensible. The Galaxy S9 corrects the mistakes made by the Galaxy S8 while keeping the features that distinguish it from Apple’s iPhone X or Google’s Pixel 2.
Display – The Best You Can Get
Each year Samsung sets new standards. This year is no exception. DisplayMate says the Galaxy S9’s display is “virtually impossible to distinguish from perfect”.
The Galaxy S9’s smartphone display is the best on the market
The display size (5.8 inches) and resolution (1440p) remain the same. However, there have been improvements to include a 20% increase of brightness, class-leading color accuracy, and the lowest mobile screen reflectance ever measured. Samsung also has the best OLED display ever seen, with minimal colour shift at 30°.
These achievements may not be the most important thing about the Galaxy S9 for the average customer. This is because Samsung screens are so reliable and have been this good for so many years that they have proven to be far beyond customer dissatisfaction. The victory is more marketing-related, as Samsung briefly lost its top display title to iPhone X. Yes, Samsung also made the display for Apple.
Cameras – A Story of Dual and Singular
This is the Galaxy S9’s biggest upgrade, and it has caused a lot of controversy.
Upgrade to a 12 megapixel rear camera with dual aperture. It can switch between F2.4 (for better detail in well-lit shots), and F1.5 (for low lighting). The standard mode can be switched between F2.4 and F1.5, but Pro mode allows for more control by aspiring photographers. can be read about their differences here.
The Galaxy S9 Plus has dual rear cameras (pictured), but the Galaxy S9 Plus does not have them.
Another big improvement is a 960fps Super Slo-Mo’ mode for shooting video at 720p. This mode can compress footage to 0.2 seconds in 6 seconds. While Apple’s new iPhones can do this, Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium and Apple’s new iPhones can’t, Samsung has a smart auto detect system that allows slow-mo to begin when an object passes through the point you select on the screen. Smart.
Samsung treats the Galaxy S9 differently than the larger ‘Plus” model. This is the source of the controversy. The Galaxy S9 Plus receives a second 12 megapixel telephoto rear camera. In this, the Galaxy S9 loses 2x optical Zoom and Portrait Mode. This latter feature is a popular one on the iPhone X, Pixel 2 and Pixel 3, and Google’s phone achieves it using just one rear camera.
Super Slo-Mo automatically selects the right time to slow down a video
The Galaxy S9’s front-facing cameras also appear to be unchanged. It’s still 8 megapixels and has the same F1.7 aperture like the Galaxy S8. This phone also lags behind selfies taken with the Pixel 2 (which can also manage Portrait Mode). I’ve asked Samsung for more details.
Whether you like or loathe Face ID, the iPhone X has forced Android handset manufacturers to compete. The Galaxy S9’s attempt at meeting Face ID head-on is called “Intelligent Scan”.
To improve speed and reliability, it switches between facial recognition (the former works in darkness) and iris scanning automatically. Intelligent Scan is not able to beat Face ID in a head–to-head. The Galaxy S9 does not have core components of Face ID such as the infrared projector. However, it should still be an improvement on the inconsistent Galaxy S8.
Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy S9 Plus offer facial unlocking with ‘Intelligent Scan’
Samsung has repositioned the fingerprint sensor, which is a positive. However, fingerprint unlock can be more convenient at times. This is a win for flexibility and choice, just like the Galaxy S9’s headphone jack and microSD.
Samsung’s latest Apple catchup/Galaxy S8 Upgrade is the introduction of AR Emoji’. This is the company’s answer for Animoji on the iPhone X. AR Emoji can be used with third-party apps (Animoji are only available in iMessage). You can also create avatars of yourself to use them.
AR Emoji are not as polished as Animoji, but they will be updated quickly. It remains to be seen if they will be introduced for the Galaxy S8 but it won’t be a huge loss for many.
You can expect a 20% increase in performance and a 30% increase in efficiency from the Galaxy S9 (which also has a knock-on effect for battery life – more on that later). One potential selling point is that the Exynos version looks superior. However, Samsung’s notorious bloatware (more below) will likely be a larger factor in overall performance.
The Galaxy S9 will get 6GB RAM, while the Galaxy S8 has 4GB RAM. Although it powers the Plus model’s dual-camera configuration, it also aids multitasking so it is disappointing that Samsung has