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Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Smartphone Review

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus “Dual Aperture” Smartphone Review

When pictures of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus first leaked, pundits criticised how similar it looked to its predecessor – the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. But the familiar facade hides a number of important upgrades. Find out why we think the new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is the perfected Galaxy S8 Plus!

 

The Samsung Galaxy S9 & Galaxy S9+

Like the Samsung Galaxy S8, there will be two sizes – the Galaxy S9 (SM-960) with a 5.8″ display, and the larger Galaxy S9 Plus (SM-965) with a 6.2″ display. Here is a table comparing their specifications :

SpecificationsSamsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9
ModelSM-965SM-960
Display6.2" Super AMOLED Infinity Display
- 1440 x 2960 pixels (529 ppi)
5.8" Super AMOLED Infinity Display
- 1440 x 2960 pixels (570 ppi)
Operating SystemAndroid 8.0Android 8.0
System PlatformQualcomm Snapdragon 845 (US)
Samsung Exynos 9810 (Worldwide)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (US)
Samsung Exynos 9810 (Worldwide)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
- 8 x Qualcomm Kyro 385 (2.8 GHz)

Samsung Exynos 9810
- 4 x Custom CPU core (2.9 GHz)
- 4 x ARM Cortex-A55 (1.9 GHz)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- 8 x Qualcomm Kyro 385 (2.8 GHz)

Samsung Exynos 9810
- 4 x Custom CPU core (2.9 GHz)
- 4 x ARM Cortex-A55 (1.9 GHz)
Graphics ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
- Qualcomm Adreno 630

Samsung Exynos 9810
- ARM Mali-G72 MP18
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- Qualcomm Adreno 630

Samsung Exynos 9810
- ARM Mali-G72 MP18
Memory6 GB LPDDR4x SDRAM4 GB LPDDR4x SDRAM
Storage64 / 128 / 256 GB internal flash storage
microSD card slot (up to 256 GB)
64 GB internal flash storage
microSD card slot (up to 256 GB)
Front Camera8 MP sensor8 MP sensor
Main CameraDual Camera System
- Main Dual Aperture Camera with 12 MP Dual Pixel sensor, OIS lens with f/1.5 and f/2.4 variable apertures
- Telephoto camera with 12 MP Dual Pixel sensor, OIS lens and f/2.4 aperture
- dual-tone LED flash
Dual Aperture Camera
- 12 MP Dual Pixel sensor with 1.4 μm pixels
- OIS lens with f/1.5 and f/2.4 variable apertures
- dual-tone LED flash
Super Slow-moYes, 720p (0.2 seconds)Yes, 720p (0.2 seconds)
Samsung Live FocusYesNo
ConnectivityQualcomm Snapdragon 845
- LTE Cat18 : 1.2Gbps DL / 150 Mbps UL
- WiFi : 802.11ac (2x2)
- USB Type C

Samsung Exynos 9810
- LTE Cat18 : 1.2Gbps DL / 200 Mbps UL
- WiFi : 802.11ac (2x2)
- USB Type C
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- LTE Cat18 : 1.2Gbps DL / 150 Mbps UL
- WiFi : 802.11ac (2x2)
- USB Type C

Samsung Exynos 9810
- LTE Cat18 : 1.2Gbps DL / 200 Mbps UL
- WiFi : 802.11ac (2x2)
- USB Type C
Iris ScannerYes, with IntelligentScan capabilityYes, with IntelligentScan capability
Fingerprint SensorYes, Rear-MountedYes, Rear-Mounted
Bixby ButtonYesYes
Dust & Water ResistanceIP68IP68
AudioAKG-tuned Stereo Speakers
3.5 mm audio jack
AKG-tuned Stereo Speakers
3.5 mm audio jack
FM RadioYesYes
Battery3,500 mAh lithium-ion battery
15 W Fast Wireless Charging Capability
3,000 mAh lithium-ion battery
15 W Fast Wireless Charging Capability
Dimensions73.8 mm wide
158.1 mm tall
8.5 mm thick
68.7 mm wide
147.7 mm tall
8.5 mm thick
Weight189 g163 g
Available ColoursMidnight Black / Coral Blue / Lilac Purple / Titanium SilverMidnight Black / Coral Blue / Lilac Purple / Titanium Silver

This time around, Samsung made more of an effort to differentiate the two models. The larger Galaxy S9 Plus not only comes with a larger battery, it also has more memory and storage options, as well as a dual camera system.

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 Colour Options

Samsung is making the Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) available in four colour options – Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Lilac Purple, and Titanium Silver. However, not all of them will be available worldwide.

In Malaysia, only these three colours are available (at least initially) – Midnight Black, Coral Blue, and Lilac Purple.

Next Page > Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Up Close + Camera Features

 

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Up Close

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8 in design. They both boast the same glass and metal design, with an Infinity Display and IP68 dust- and water-resistance.

In most countries, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) is powered by the Samsung Exynos 9810, while in the US, it runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. It comes with 6 GB of LPDDR4x memory, and 64 GB of storage (with a 128 GB option in some countries).

Despite rumours that Samsung would be ditching the dedicated Bixby button and 3.5 mm earphone port, they will both still here.

 

The Front Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) retains the Galaxy S8‘s front camera with the 8 MP Samsung S5K3H1 sensor and an f/1.7 lens. It is capable of recording 4K videos at 30 fps, and has great low-light capability.

Its low-light capability will come in handy, as the front camera does not have flash support, not even screen flash. Still, we hope that Samsung will at least throw in screen flash, which costs nothing to add.

 

Dual Aperture Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) boasts a new dual aperture camera, that was first used in the rare and expensive Samsung W2018 smartphone (available only in China). This dual aperture camera has a mechanical aperture that lets you switch between an incredibly bright f/1.5 aperture, and the f/2.4 aperture for a deeper depth of field.

The f/1.5 aperture is the widest aperture so far in a smartphone, offering just over ⅓ stop more light than the f/1.7 aperture of the Samsung Galaxy S8‘s camera. This translates into better low-light photography with less noise.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) has an additional telephoto camera that is not available in the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check). This camera has a 12 MP sensor, but lacks the Dual Pixel capability of the main camera, and is coupled to a f/2.4 lens.

This telephoto camera does not just give you a 2X zoom capability, it actually adds Live Focus and Dual Capture capabilities. You can also switch between the two cameras in the midst of recording a video, and because they both have OIS lenses, the video will be stabilised all the way.

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New Samsung ISOCELL Fast Sensor

Samsung used their latest ISOCELL Fast SAK2L3 sensor in the new cameras. This is a 12 MP sensor with large 1.4 µm pixels for excellent low-light performance.

The Fast designation means it comes with its Dual Pixel and Super PD capabilities. It also boasts a 3-stack FRS (Fast Readout Sensor) that allows high-speed captures of Full HD video.

The Dual Pixel technology is an autofocus technology that uses the dual photodiodes in every pixel on the image sensor for phase-detection autofocus. This allows for faster and more accurate focusing, because it uses many more autofocus pixels, instead of just a few dedicated pixels (usually less than 5% of the total).

 

Super Slow-Mo

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) supports a new Super Slow-mo feature, which allows you to record 720p video at 960 fps.

The Super Slow-mo videos can be instantly edited, with a random selection from preloaded choices. Or you can use your own music / songs. You can also create a GIF from the recorded video, with three style of looping – reverse, forward or swing.

The new ISOCELL Fast sensor, when paired with the Samsung Exynos 9810, is said to be fast enough to record slow-motion 1080p video at 960 fps / 4K video at 120 fps. However, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is not fast enough, so Samsung limited Super Slow-mo capability to ensure consistent experience worldwide.

There are other caveats too – Super Slow-mo is limited to 20 shots per video, with approximately 0.2 seconds of recording and 6 seconds of playback for each Super Slow-mo shot.

Next Page > Other New Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Features

 

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Bixby Live Translation

The original Samsung Bixby is capable of live translation, so a more accurate description of this new feature is AR (augmented reality) Translation.

In the original Bixby, the translation appears as a separate card. But in the new Samsung Galaxy S9 Bixby implementation, the translation appears as part of the image. Hence, our opinion that it should be called AR Translation.

In fact, it is smart enough to take note of the font and background of the text being translated, and render the translation as if it was the original text!

This is, without doubt, a truly useful combination of Bixby and augmented reality!

 

AR Emoji

This is arguably one of the coolest software features in the new Samsung Galaxy S9 camera system. You can use either the front or rear camera to take a picture of anyone, to create augmented reality emojis that look like your subject!

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) will automatically create an avatar that looks like you, which you can customise to your satisfaction. They will also automatically create 18 stickers showing a range of different emotions for you to use in your instant messages.

But that’s not all – the avatar will imitate your facial expressions. You can even record videos that can be shared with your friends!

 

Intelligent Scan

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) has a “new login method” called Intelligent Scan. This is not really a new feature, but a combination of the existing facial recognition and iris scanning capabilities.

In bright conditions, Intelligent Scan uses facial recognition to login. But when it gets too dark, the iris scanner kicks in. This allows for easier and faster logins in low light or super bright conditions.

Intelligent Scan addresses the key problem with the iris scanner – it doesn’t work in bright conditions. However, it is easier to fool than a point cloud facial recognition system like Apple Face ID, and future honor smartphones,

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New Fingerprint Sensor

Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor to a central location right beneath the main camera at the back. This is a much better location, especially if you are left-handed. But that’s not all.

Samsung also used a new swipe fingerprint sensor. It is much easier and faster to register your fingerprint with this new sensor. This addresses a major criticism of the Galaxy S8 and Note8 smartphones.

However, its close proximity to the rear camera, and its swipe functionality means you still have to regularly clean the camera lens to avoid blurry pictures.

 

Hybrid SIM

As it was with the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) will be offered with a nano SIM + microSD tray, or a hybrid SIM tray, depending on region. If you want dual SIM, dual standby capability, you will need to get the model with the hybrid SIM tray.

The hybrid SIM tray allows you to either use a second SIM card, or a microSD card, but not both at the same time. The microSD slot officially supports microSD cards of up to 256 GB in size, although it should have no problem supporting larger capacity microSD cards, like the 400GB SanDisk Ultra (Price Check).

Next Page > Durability, Ergonomics, Setup, Memory & Storage

 

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IP68 Dust & Water Resistance

Like the Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) is IP68-rated for dust- and water-resistance. Best of all, you don’t even have to prepare it in any way before you dunk it into water! For more information how how Samsung achieved this feat, take a look at our article, Samsung Galaxy S7 IP68 Engineering Explained.

Officially, the Galaxy S9 Plus can withstand complete immersion in water up to 1.5 m in depth, for up to 30 minutes. That means you can take it for jogs in the rain, reading in the shower or soaking in bath. Heck, you can even take it for a swim!

There are some caveats though. The IP68 rating applies to a specific set of test conditions : 15-35 °C, 86-106 kPa, 1.5 metre, 30 minutes. Even so, water may enter and damage the Galaxy S7 edge if it is exposed to “water moving with force“, like running water from a tap or waterfall, or ocean waves.

In other words, this is not a waterproof phone like the Oukitel K10000 Pro or the Kenxinda ruggerdised smartphones. It is IP68 water-resistant, so you need to be gentle with it. You can read more about this in our article – Samsung Galaxy S7 IP68 Engineering Explained.

 

Ergonomics

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) has a 5.8″ bezel-less Infinity Display, so it does not feel like a large smartphone. In fact, it feels smaller than the 5.5″ Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, and even 5.2″ smartphones like HTC 10. This means it will feel more comfortable in smaller hands, and fit better in smaller pockets.

The large Super AMOLED display is beautiful as always. However, the WQHD+ resolution of 1440 x 2960 results in a non-standard 18.5:9 display ratio. Watching movies will result in some pillarboxing – a black bar on each side of the movie.

The Gorilla Glass 5 back looks fabulous… at first. It is easily smudged by oily fingerprints, because it lacks the oleophobic coating of the front Gorilla Glass 5 cover protecting the display.

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Setting Up The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) comes with Android 8.0 Oreo installed. The setup process is the same as the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check), whose setup video can be seen below.

 

Available Memory & Storage

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) comes with 6 GB of LPDDR4x memory, of which 3 GB (50%) is available for use. That is a lot of bloat, equal to that of the Galaxy S8. But seriously, 3 GB of memory is more than enough memory to run many applications simultaneously. In fact, it is more memory than what many mid-range smartphones ship with!

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) comes with 64 GB of internal flash storage, with 50 GB of free space for you to use. That is enough space to store about 11,000 photos, or 6 hours of 1080p videos, or just over 2 hours of 4K videos. If that’s not enough, you can top it up with a microSD card (up to 256 GB).

Next Page > Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Camera Performance – Photos

 

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Camera Performance – Photos

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) uses the 12 MP Samsung ISOCELL Fast SAK2L3 sensor in the dual aperture camera. It is capable of switching between the f/1.5 aperture, and the f/2.4 aperture.

The maximum 12 MP resolution is attained with the 4:3 aspect ratio, with 4032 x 3024 pixels, and a file size of between 3 MB and 5 MB.

Here are 10 high-resolution samples for you to check out. Click on them to load the full-sized photos, which you can also download to examine.

Telephoto 2X Zoom Capability

Here are two pictures to show you the additional reach the secondary telephoto camera gives you.

Next Page > Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Camera Performance – Videos

 

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Camera Performance – Video Recording

Like its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) is capable of recording 4K videos from both front and back cameras. However, Samsung still limits the 4K recording time to just 10 minutes. This was likely done to ensure that the sensor does not overheat the battery.

Video Recording Test #1 : Piano (1080p)

In this video, you can see the amount of detail the sensor captures, even at just 1080p. There is a good control of the highlights – you can see into the Padini Concept Store in the background.

You can also see how well its OIS capability worked, even when we switched between the main camera and the telephoto camera.

 

Video Recording Test #2 : Piano (4K)

The resolution at 4K is incredible. You can even see some of the price tags deep inside the Padini Concept Store. There was some seeking issues with the telephoto camera at 0:17, but they were only present at this particular angle – where there are other subjects behind the pianist, Mr. Yang.

 

Video Recording Test #3 : Japanese Band (1080p)

This was taken with the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) mounted on a DJI Osmo Mobile gimbal. You can see a lot of wobbling. This sadly appears to be the camera’s OIS trying to compensate for the stabilisation already provided by the gimbal.

The highlights were slightly overblown, but it was still an admirable effort for such bright spotlights in a dim environment.

 

Video Recording Test #4 : Japanese Band (4K)

Again, there was significant wobbling from the OIS, when used with a gimbal. But we can’t help but admire the sharpness and detail captured in this video.

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Video Recording Test #5 : Street Market (1080p)

The combination of OIS and EIS allowed the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) to deliver really good image stabilisation.

 

Video Recording Test #6 : Street Market (4K)

Its image stabilisation capabilities were not diminished with the higher resolution. Overall – very good OIS and EIS performance.

Next Page > Work Performance, Battery Life + Recharging Speed

 

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Work Performance – PCMark

We tested the Samsung Galaxy S9’s performance using PCMark, which simulates work applications like web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

Work 2.0 Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Galaxy S9+ Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy A8 2018
Performance Score
(Average)
5618 5590 5303 5197
Web Browsing 5357 6037 5155 5035
Video Editing 5265 5332 4998 4433
Writing 4673 4713 5158 5607
Photo Editing 7560 6847 7082 7238
Data Manipulation 5616 5253 4458 4183
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The Samsung Exynos 9810 powering the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) is about 5.5% faster than the Exynos 8895 used in the Samsung Galaxy S8. This is not a high score by any means, being slightly slower than the Snapdragon 625 powering the ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro.

 

Battery Life – PCMark

We then tested the Galaxy S9 Plus’ battery performance using PCMark. It basically ran the PCMark work tests until its battery capacity dropped to 20%.

Work 2.0 Samsung Galaxy A8 2018 Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Galaxy S9+
Battery Life 12 hours 19 mins 10 hours 32 mins 9 hours 6 mins 9 hours 5 mins
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The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) lasted as long as the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check). Despite having a 16.7% larger battery, it was only sufficient in making up for its larger display and memory capacity.

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Battery Recharging Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus comes with an adaptive fast charger with a power output of 18 W. Take a look at how fast it recharged its 3,500 mAh battery.

It took the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) about 95.5 minutes (1 hour 35.5 minutes) to recharge its battery from 20% to 100%. This is just 8.5 minutes longer than it takes the Galaxy S8 to recharge its 3000 mAh battery.

This gives it a rather disappointing battery life : recharging ratio of 5.7 : 1. Its recharging performance is good, but Samsung needs to improve its battery life.

Next Page > Gaming Performance, Our Verdict & Award

 

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Gaming Performance – 3DMark

We tested the Galaxy S9 Plus’ gaming performance using 3DMark, using the Ice Storm Unlimited test.

Ice Storm Unlimited Samsung Galaxy S9+ Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy A8 2018
Gaming Score 42489 39588 29509 14684
Graphics 49852 45577 33279 15201
Physics 28009 27116 21130 13121
Graphics Test 1 308.6 fps 267.9 fps 173.1 fps 134.4 fps
Graphics Test 2 167.0 fps 157.2 fps 124.3 fps 43.8 fps
Physics Test 88.9 fps 86.1 fps 67.1 fps 41.7 fps
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What the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) lacked in work performance, it more than made up in gaming performance. Its ARM Mali-G72 MP18 graphics processor was 44% faster than the ARM Mali-G71 MP20 used in the Galaxy S8.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus’ CPU cores also delivered 32% faster physics processing than those of the Galaxy S8.

 

Our Verdict & Award

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) looks almost identical to its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S8. While some see it as a “lack of innovation“, others point out that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Whatever we may think of its familiar design, there is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is the best Galaxy smartphone ever made.

Samsung basically fixed every major criticism of the Galaxy S8 smartphone. They moved the fingerprint sensor to a better position, and used a much better swipe-type sensor. They buttressed the iris scanner with the facial recognition system, allowing easy login in bright and low-light conditions.

The biggest hardware change was the addition of a dual aperture camera, coupled with a telephoto camera. The dual aperture camera allows you to switch between an incredibly bright f/1.5 aperture and a f/2.4 aperture for greater depth of field. The telephoto camera not only offers 2X optical zoom, it also enables the Live Focus and Dual Capture capabilities.

Samsung also introduced a new Samsung ISOCELL Fast sensor in the main camera. It has large 1.4 µm pixels with Dual Pixel and Super PD capabilities. It also has a 3-stack FRS (Fast Readout Sensor) that enables the new Super Slow-mo mode – the ability to record 720p video at 960 fps.

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The other new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (Price Check) features like AR Emoji, Bixby Live Translation and Intelligent Scan are software in nature.

The downside? The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus comes with the same 3,500 mAh battery, but has a shorter battery life and longer recharging time.

With the exception of the shorter battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is better than the Samsung Galaxy S8+ in every possible way. This is why we think it deserves our Editor’s Choice Award. Congratulations, Samsung!

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 Review : Galaxy S8 Perfected!

When pictures of the Samsung Galaxy S9 first leaked, pundits criticised how similar it looked to its predecessor – the Samsung Galaxy S8. But the familiar facade hides a number of important upgrades. Find out why we think the new Samsung Galaxy S9 is the perfected Galaxy S8!

 

The Samsung Galaxy S9 & Galaxy S9+

Like the Samsung Galaxy S8, there will be two sizes – the Galaxy S9 (SM-960) with a 5.8″ display, and the larger Galaxy S9+ (SM-965) with a 6.2″ display. Here is a table comparing their specifications :

SpecificationsSamsung Galaxy S9+Samsung Galaxy S9
ModelSM-965SM-960
Display6.2" Super AMOLED Infinity Display
- 1440 x 2960 pixels (529 ppi)
5.8" Super AMOLED Infinity Display
- 1440 x 2960 pixels (570 ppi)
Operating SystemAndroid 8.0Android 8.0
System PlatformQualcomm Snapdragon 845 (US)
Samsung Exynos 9810 (Worldwide)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (US)
Samsung Exynos 9810 (Worldwide)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
- 8 x Qualcomm Kyro 385 (2.8 GHz)

Samsung Exynos 9810
- 4 x Custom CPU core (2.9 GHz)
- 4 x ARM Cortex-A55 (1.9 GHz)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- 8 x Qualcomm Kyro 385 (2.8 GHz)

Samsung Exynos 9810
- 4 x Custom CPU core (2.9 GHz)
- 4 x ARM Cortex-A55 (1.9 GHz)
Graphics ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
- Qualcomm Adreno 630

Samsung Exynos 9810
- ARM Mali-G72 MP18
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- Qualcomm Adreno 630

Samsung Exynos 9810
- ARM Mali-G72 MP18
Memory6 GB LPDDR4x SDRAM4 GB LPDDR4x SDRAM
Storage64 / 128 / 256 GB internal flash storage
microSD card slot (up to 256 GB)
64 GB internal flash storage
microSD card slot (up to 256 GB)
Front Camera8 MP sensor8 MP sensor
Main CameraDual Camera System
- Main Dual Aperture Camera with 12 MP Dual Pixel sensor, OIS lens with f/1.5 and f/2.4 variable apertures
- Telephoto camera with 12 MP Dual Pixel sensor, OIS lens and f/2.4 aperture
- dual-tone LED flash
Dual Aperture Camera
- 12 MP Dual Pixel sensor with 1.4 μm pixels
- OIS lens with f/1.5 and f/2.4 variable apertures
- dual-tone LED flash
Super Slow-moYes, 720p (0.2 seconds)Yes, 720p (0.2 seconds)
Samsung Live FocusYesNo
ConnectivityQualcomm Snapdragon 845
- LTE Cat18 : 1.2Gbps DL / 150 Mbps UL
- WiFi : 802.11ac (2x2)
- USB Type C

Samsung Exynos 9810
- LTE Cat18 : 1.2Gbps DL / 200 Mbps UL
- WiFi : 802.11ac (2x2)
- USB Type C
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- LTE Cat18 : 1.2Gbps DL / 150 Mbps UL
- WiFi : 802.11ac (2x2)
- USB Type C

Samsung Exynos 9810
- LTE Cat18 : 1.2Gbps DL / 200 Mbps UL
- WiFi : 802.11ac (2x2)
- USB Type C
Iris ScannerYes, with IntelligentScan capabilityYes, with IntelligentScan capability
Fingerprint SensorYes, Rear-MountedYes, Rear-Mounted
Bixby ButtonYesYes
Dust & Water ResistanceIP68IP68
AudioAKG-tuned Stereo Speakers
3.5 mm audio jack
AKG-tuned Stereo Speakers
3.5 mm audio jack
FM RadioYesYes
Battery3,500 mAh lithium-ion battery
15 W Fast Wireless Charging Capability
3,000 mAh lithium-ion battery
15 W Fast Wireless Charging Capability
Dimensions73.8 mm wide
158.1 mm tall
8.5 mm thick
68.7 mm wide
147.7 mm tall
8.5 mm thick
Weight189 g163 g
Available ColoursMidnight Black / Coral Blue / Lilac Purple / Titanium SilverMidnight Black / Coral Blue / Lilac Purple / Titanium Silver

This time around, Samsung made more of an effort to differentiate the two models. The larger Galaxy S9+ not only comes with a larger battery, it also has more memory and storage options, as well as a dual camera system.

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 Colour Options

Samsung is making the Galaxy S9 (Price Check) available in four colour options – Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Lilac Purple, and Titanium Silver. However, not all of them will be available worldwide.

In Malaysia, only these three colours are available (at least initially) – Midnight Black, Coral Blue, and Lilac Purple.

Next Page > Samsung Galaxy S9 Up Close + Camera Features

 

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 Up Close

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8 in design. They both boast the same glass and metal design, with an Infinity Display and IP68 dust- and water-resistance.

In most countries, the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) is powered by the Samsung Exynos 9810, while in the US, it runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. It comes with 4 GB of LPDDR4x memory, and 64 GB of storage (with a 128 GB option in some countries).

Despite rumours that Samsung would be ditching the dedicated Bixby button and 3.5 mm earphone port, they will both still here.

 

The Front Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) retains the Galaxy S8‘s front camera with the 8 MP Samsung S5K3H1 sensor and an f/1.7 lens. It is capable of recording 4K videos at 30 fps, and has great low-light capability.

Its low-light capability will come in handy, as the front camera does not have flash support, not even screen flash.

 

Dual Aperture Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) boasts a new dual aperture camera, that was first used in the rare and expensive Samsung W2018 smartphone (available only in China).

This dual aperture camera has a mechanical aperture that lets you switch between an incredibly bright f/1.5 aperture, and the f/2.4 aperture for a deeper depth of field.

The f/1.5 aperture is the widest aperture so far in a smartphone, offering just over ⅓ stop more light than the f/1.7 aperture of the Samsung Galaxy S8‘s camera. This translates into better low-light photography with less noise.

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New Samsung ISOCELL Fast Sensor

Samsung also used their latest ISOCELL Fast SAK2L3 sensor in the new cameras. This is a 12 MP sensor with large 1.4 µm pixels for excellent low-light performance.

The Fast designation means it comes with its Dual Pixel and Super PD capabilities. It also boasts a 3-stack FRS (Fast Readout Sensor) that allows high-speed captures of Full HD video.

The Dual Pixel technology is an autofocus technology that uses the dual photodiodes in every pixel on the image sensor for phase-detection autofocus. This allows for faster and more accurate focusing, because it uses many more autofocus pixels, instead of just a few dedicated pixels (usually less than 5% of the total).

 

Super Slow-Mo

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) supports a new Super Slow-mo feature, which allows you to record 720p video at 960 fps.

The Super Slow-mo videos can be instantly edited, with a random selection from preloaded choices. Or you can use your own music / songs. You can also create a GIF from the recorded video, with three style of looping – reverse, forward or swing.

The new ISOCELL Fast sensor, when paired with the Samsung Exynos 9810, is said to be fast enough to record slow-motion 1080p video at 960 fps / 4K video at 120 fps. However, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is not fast enough, so Samsung limited Super Slow-mo capability to ensure consistent experience worldwide.

There are other caveats too – Super Slow-mo is limited to 20 shots per video, with approximately 0.2 seconds of recording and 6 seconds of playback for each Super Slow-mo shot.

Next Page > Other New Samsung Galaxy S9 Features

 

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Bixby Live Translation

The original Samsung Bixby is capable of live translation, so a more accurate description of this new feature is AR (augmented reality) Translation.

In the original Bixby, the translation appears as a separate card. But in the new Samsung Galaxy S9 Bixby implementation, the translation appears as part of the image. Hence, our opinion that it should be called AR Translation.

In fact, it is smart enough to take note of the font and background of the text being translated, and render the translation as if it was the original text!

This is, without doubt, a truly useful combination of Bixby and augmented reality!

 

AR Emoji

This is arguably one of the coolest software features in the new Samsung Galaxy S9 camera system. You can use either the front or rear camera to take a picture of anyone, to create augmented reality emojis that look like your subject!

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) will automatically create an avatar that looks like you, which you can customise to your satisfaction. They will also automatically create 18 stickers showing a range of different emotions for you to use in your instant messages.

But that’s not all – the avatar will imitate your facial expressions. You can even record videos that can be shared with your friends!

 

Intelligent Scan

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) has a “new login method” called Intelligent Scan. This is not really a new feature, but a combination of the existing facial recognition and iris scanning capabilities.

In bright conditions, Intelligent Scan uses facial recognition to login. But when it gets too dark, the iris scanner kicks in. This allows for easier and faster logins in low light or super bright conditions.

Intelligent Scan addresses the key problem with the iris scanner – it doesn’t work in bright conditions. However, it is easier to fool than a point cloud facial recognition system like Apple Face ID, and future honor smartphones,

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New Fingerprint Sensor

Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor to a central location right beneath the main camera at the back. This is a much better location, especially if you are left-handed. But that’s not all.

Samsung also used a new swipe fingerprint sensor. It is much easier and faster to register your fingerprint with this new sensor. This addresses a major criticism of the Galaxy S8 and Note8 smartphones.

However, its close proximity to the rear camera, and its swipe functionality means you will have to regularly clean the camera lens to avoid blurry pictures.

 

Hybrid SIM

As it was with the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) will be offered with a nano SIM + microSD tray, or a hybrid SIM tray, depending on region. If you want dual SIM, dual standby capability, you will need to get the model with the hybrid SIM tray.

 

The hybrid SIM tray allows you to either use a second SIM card, or a microSD card, but not both at the same time. The microSD slot officially supports microSD cards of up to 256 GB in size.

Next Page > Durability, Ergonomics, Setup, Memory & Storage

 

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IP68 Dust & Water Resistance

Like the Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) is IP68-rated for dust- and water-resistance. Best of all, you don’t even have to prepare it in any way before you dunk it into water! For more information how how Samsung achieved this feat, take a look at our article, Samsung Galaxy S7 IP68 Engineering Explained.

Officially, the Galaxy S9 can withstand complete immersion in water up to 1.5 m in depth, for up to 30 minutes. That means you can take it for jogs in the rain, reading in the shower or soaking in bath. Heck, you can even take it for a swim!

There are some caveats though. The IP68 rating applies to a specific set of test conditions : 15-35 °C, 86-106 kPa, 1.5 metre, 30 minutes. Even so, water may enter and damage the Galaxy S7 edge if it is exposed to “water moving with force“, like running water from a tap or waterfall, or ocean waves.

In other words, this is not a waterproof phone like the Oukitel K10000 Pro or the Kenxinda ruggerdised smartphones. It is IP68 water-resistant, so you need to be gentle with it. You can read more about this in our article – Samsung Galaxy S7 IP68 Engineering Explained.

 

Ergonomics

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) has a 5.8″ bezel-less Infinity Display, so it does not feel like a large smartphone. In fact, it feels smaller than the 5.5″ Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, and even 5.2″ smartphones like HTC 10. This means it will feel more comfortable in smaller hands, and fit better in smaller pockets.

The large Super AMOLED display is beautiful as always. However, the WQHD+ resolution of 1440 x 2960 results in a non-standard 18.5:9 display ratio. Watching movies will result in some pillarboxing – a black bar on each side of the movie.

The Gorilla Glass 5 back looks fabulous… at first. It is easily smudged by oily fingerprints, because it lacks the oleophobic coating of the front Gorilla Glass 5 cover protecting the display.

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Setting Up The Samsung Galaxy S9

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) comes with Android 8.0 Oreo installed. Let’s boot it up, and see how easy it is to set-up!

 

Available Memory & Storage

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) comes with 4 GB of LPDDR4x memory, of which 1.5 GB (37.5%) is available for use. That is a lot of bloat, equal to that of the Galaxy S8. With that in mind, 1.5 GB of memory is plenty of memory to run several applications simultaneously. In fact, it is more memory than what some low-end smartphones ship with!

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) comes with 64 GB of internal flash storage, with 48.8 GB of free space for you to use. That is enough space to store about 11,000 photos, or 6 hours of 1080p videos, or just over 2 hours of 4K videos. If that’s not enough, you can top it up with a microSD card (up to 256 GB).

Next Page > Camera Performance – Photos + Videos

 

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Camera Performance – Photos

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) uses the 12 MP Samsung ISOCELL Fast SAK2L3 sensor in the dual aperture camera. It is capable of switching between the f/1.5 aperture, and the f/2.4 aperture.

The maximum 12 MP resolution is attained with the 4:3 aspect ratio, with 4032 x 3024 pixels, and a file size of between 3 MB and 5 MB.

Here are 6 high-resolution samples for you to check out. Click on them to load the full-sized photos, which you can also download to examine.

The new camera is just amazing. The detail and colour are top-notch, and the noise level is really low.

A word of caution – the f/1.5 aperture may offer great low-light performance, but it has a very narrow depth of field. If you don’t focus properly on your subject, it will end up blurred.

Too bad there’s no way to switch to the f/2.4 aperture for greater depth of field in the Auto mode. You can only switch apertures in the Pro mode.

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Camera Performance – Video Recording

Like its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) is capable of recording 4K videos from both front and back cameras. However, Samsung still limits the 4K recording time to just 10 minutes. This was likely done to ensure that the sensor does not overheat the battery.

Below are four video samples, all taken without the use of gimbals.

Video Recording Test #1 : Piano (4K)

The camera’s resolution is really good. You can pick out the tiny signs in the background very clearly. It also demonstrated good control of the highlights – you can see into the Padini Concept Store in the background.

The optical and electronic image stabilisation capabilities also appear to have improved. It was almost as good as mounting the Galaxy S9 on a gimbal!

The recorded audio was clear, but still lacked the wider dynamic range of the HTC 10 (when HiRes Audio is enabled).

Video Recording Test #2 : Piano (1080p)

Even at this lower resolution, the amount of details captured by the Samsung Galaxy S9 is amazing. We also love how well it was able to control the highlights in the bright background. You can see the details that are usually washed out in other smartphones.

Video Recording Test #3 : Street Market (4K)

Look at how stable the recorded video was, even as we walked down this street market and looked around. It may not be as good as mounting the Galaxy S9 on a gimbal, but it comes real close!

Video Recording Test #4 : Street Market (1080p)

The 1080p walk-through appears to be even smoother than the 4K walk-through. So if you want the best-possible image stabilisation for your video, try recording in 1080p.

Next Page > Work Performance, Battery Life + Recharging Speed

 

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Work Performance – PCMark

We tested the Samsung Galaxy S9’s performance using PCMark, which simulates work applications like web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

Work 2.0 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy A8 2018
Performance Score
(Average)
5656 5618 5303 5197
Web Browsing 5708 5357 5155 5035
Video Editing 5888 5265 4998 4433
Writing 4509 4673 5158 5607
Photo Editing 10698 7560 7082 7238
Data Manipulation 3570 5616 4458 4183
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When it comes to work applications, the Samsung Exynos 9810 powering the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) is about 6% faster than the Exynos 8895 used in the Samsung Galaxy S8. This puts it at par with the Snapdragon 625 powering the ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro.

 

Battery Life – PCMark

We then tested the Galaxy S9’s battery performance using PCMark. It basically ran the PCMark work tests until its battery capacity dropped to 20%.

Work 2.0 Samsung Galaxy A8 2018 Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy S9 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro
Battery Life 12 hours 19 mins 10 hours 32 mins 9 hours 6 mins 8 hours 41 mins
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The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) lasted just over 9 hours in our battery test. That is almost 1.5 hours shorter than the Samsung Galaxy S8, and over 3 hours shorter than the Samsung Galaxy A8 2018. It only managed to beat the ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro by 25 minutes

Note : All four smartphones compared here have a 3,000 mAh battery.

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Battery Recharging Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S9 comes with an adaptive fast charger with a power output of 18 W. Take a look at how fast it recharged its 3,000 mAh battery.

It took the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) about 108 minutes (1 hour 48 minutes) to recharge its battery from 20% to 100%. This is 21 minutes longer than it takes the Galaxy S8 to recharge the same battery capacity.

This gives it a battery life : recharging ratio of 5 : 1 – a rather disappointing performance.

Note : Our Samsung Galaxy S9 sample did not come with its charger. We used the Samsung Galaxy S8‘s charger instead. We will retest when we receive the official Galaxy S9 charger.

Next Page > Gaming Performance, Our Verdict & Award

 

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Gaming Performance – 3DMark

We tested the Galaxy S9’s gaming performance using 3DMark, using the Ice Storm Unlimited test.

Ice Storm Unlimited Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy A8 2018 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro
Gaming Score 39588 29509 14684 14015
Graphics 45577 33279 15201 13470
Physics 27116 21130 13121 16328
Graphics Test 1 267.9 fps 173.1 fps 134.4 fps 80.7 fps
Graphics Test 2 157.2 fps 124.3 fps 43.8 fps 46.0 fps
Physics Test 86.1 fps 67.1 fps 41.7 fps 51.8 fps
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What the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) lacks in work performance, it more than makes up in gaming performance. Its ARM Mali-G72 MP18 graphics processor was 37% faster than the ARM Mali-G71 MP20 used in the Galaxy S8.

The Samsung Galaxy S9’s CPU cores also delivered 28% faster physics processing than those of the Galaxy S8.

 

Our Verdict & Award

The Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) looks almost identical to its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S8. While some see it as a “lack of innovation“, others point out that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Whatever we may think of its familiar design, there is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S9 is the best Galaxy smartphone ever made.

Samsung basically fixed every major criticism of the Galaxy S8 smartphone. They moved the fingerprint sensor to a better position, and used a much better swipe-type sensor. They buttressed the iris scanner with the facial recognition system, allowing easy login in bright and low-light conditions.

The biggest hardware change was the addition of a dual aperture camera. It allows you to switch between an incredibly bright f/1.5 aperture and a f/2.4 aperture for greater depth of field. The dual aperture camera also appears to have improved image stabilisation.

Samsung also introduced a new Samsung ISOCELL Fast sensor in the Galaxy S9. It has large 1.4 µm pixels with Dual Pixel and Super PD capabilities. It has a 3-stack FRS (Fast Readout Sensor) that enables the new Super Slow-mo mode – the ability to record 720p video at 960 fps.

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The other new Samsung Galaxy S9 (Price Check) features like AR Emoji, Bixby Live Translation and Intelligent Scan are software in nature.

The downside? The Samsung Galaxy S9 comes with the same 3,000 mAh battery, but has a shorter battery life and longer recharging time.

With the exception of the shorter battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is better than the Samsung Galaxy S8 in every possible way. The Samsung Galaxy S9 is the Samsung Galaxy S8 perfected, and unreservedly deserves our Editor’s Choice Award. Congratulations, Samsung!

Go Back To > First Page | Reviews | Home

 

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 Camera Features Explained!

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9+ boast improved cameras with a bunch of new features. In this article, we will explain to you the new Galaxy S9 camera features, and share with you a live demonstration video and samples of the new Super Slow-mo feature!

 

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Camera Features Explained!

Samsung conducted a special tech briefing session on the Samsung Galaxy S9 camera features. They demonstrated the new Galaxy S9 camera features like Super Slow-mo, f/1.5 low light capability, and the new AR Emoji feature.

Dual Aperture Camera

Both models feature a new, unique dual aperture camera. The camera has a mechanical aperture that automatically switches between an incredibly bright f/1.5 aperture, and the f/2.4 aperture for a deeper depth of field.

The f/1.5 aperture is the widest aperture so far in a smartphone, offering just over ⅓ stop more light than the f/1.7 aperture of the Samsung Galaxy S8‘s camera. This translates into better low-light photography with less noise.

Super Slow-Mo

Both smartphones will come with a new Super Slow-mo feature. It allows you to record slow-motion 720p video at 960 fps. Best of all – the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones can automatically detect motion and start recording  when you need it to.

There are some caveats though. It is limited to 20 shots per video, with approximately 0.2 seconds of recording and 6 seconds of playback for each slow-mo shot.

The Super Slow-mo videos can be instantly edited, with a random selection from preloaded choices. Or you can use your own music / songs. You can also create a GIF from the recorded video, with three style of looping – reverse, forward or swing.

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AR Emoji

This is arguably one of the coolest software features in the new Samsung Galaxy S9 camera system. You can use either the front or rear camera to take a picture of anyone, to create augmented reality emojis that look like your subject!

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ will automatically create an avatar that looks like you, which you can customise to your satisfaction. They will also automatically create 18 stickers showing a range of different emotions for you to use in your instant messages.

But that’s not all – the avatar will imitate your facial expressions. You can even record videos that can be shared with your friends!

Go Back To > Articles | Home

 

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If you like our work, you can help support our work by visiting our sponsors, participating in the Tech ARP Forums, or even donating to our fund. Any help you can render is greatly appreciated!