Gadget Review: Samsung Galaxy S9+
You can't compare a Galaxy S device with one from the Note series. So, let's make this plain and simple right away: think of the Samsung Galaxy S9 as the S8 on steroids - lots of it.
We had the 6.2-inch Galaxy S9+ in all its slim and glorious 18.5:9 ratio. Samsung hasn't bothered to make any changes in the looks department, and I approve: I like gadgets that retain an easily-identifiable identity. The usual suspects are positioned exactly where you expect them to be, and the fact that Samsung hid the other sensors on top (leaving only the front camera) is a welcome sight.
The biggest change here is at the back: the fingerprint sensor, for ages located to the right of the camera lens, has finally been relocated below the now-vertically-installed dual lens; apparently, Samsung gave in to the clamour. In its place is the heart rate monitor, which, when activated, beams out a red light. One more big change: the S9 and S9+ now come in three storage options: 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. The interface remains the same: you still swipe up or down on the homescreen to see your apps, swipe to the right to access Bixby and swipe to the left to reveal the Apps Edge.
Samsung has improved the biometrics on the new device. Aside from the resident fingerprint, face and iris scanning, the new Intelligent Scan offers a facial-and-iris combo. If you opt for that, here's how it works: if it doesn't recognise your face, it'll shift to your eyes; should that fail, it'll still try to identify you by combining the two. Personally, I wonder why they should be kept separate in the first place, but anyway it's better to have more choices.
To be fair, Intelligent Scan recognised me real quick. And registering your fingerprints now just requires you to swipe your finger on the scanner, which means you don't have to tap your finger several times just to register it (I only had to swipe twice). Funnily, the one on the S8 seems to react quicker compared to the present iteration.
Now, for the main deal: the camera - or to use their much-hyped tagline, 'The Camera. Reimagined.'. The S9 and S9+ are the world's first smartphones with a f/1.5 aperture, besting the S8's f/1.7. That means it should allow in more light, resulting in brighter photos. The Galaxy S8 already lorded it over its peers, as far as brightness was concerned - and it did so with only one lens - but the S9 takes that a step higher.
The only problem now is: it may be a bit too bright, as photos may look overprocessed and skin tones may not reflect reality, especially at night. On the (ahem) bright side, it does really well in low light. The front camera remains at 8MP, and delivers the same results as the S8. You can spare yourself the hassle of taking a selfie by either tapping the heart rate monitor on the rear or by showing the camera your palm.
The other big feature is its slow-motion video-recording capabilities at a whopping 960fps (we all saw that first on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium last year). This is a really impressive feature; the resulting video is so full of detail, you'll want to enjoy every nanosecond of it.
And of course, how could we forget AR Emoji, Samsung's answer to the iPhone X's Animoji? Well, there's a twist here: you take a selfie, AR Emoji will process it and, voila, you'll be presented with an emoji-nised likeness of yourself. You can change the skin tone, hair and clothes as well. And since AR Emoji uses the GIF format, you can send AR Emoji across other platforms, including third-party apps.
Battery? Our standard one-hour-YouTube-video-at-full-brightness test sapped 10 per cent of juice from the S9+ - a very good number indeed. Lastly, Samsung Health has also been improved, with capabilities to measure blood pressure and stress levels too.
This is one of those reviews where enough could never be enough. With all these features and improvements, we hope we've done our best to cover the essentials of the Samsung Galaxy S9+.
Exynos 9810 octa-core, 4 x 2.7GHz + 4 x 1.8GHz (EMEA)
6.2" Super Amoled, 529ppi; Corning Gorilla Glass 5
64/128/256GB, microSD up to 400GB
Main - dual 12MP with f/1.5-2.4 + 12MP with f/2.4; front - 8MP
Fingerprint, face and iris Intelligent Scan; heart rate monitor
IP68, dust/waterproof (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)
Android 8.0 Oreo
Wi-Fi, Blue-tooth 5.0, NFC (Samsung Pay); USB Type-C, 3.5mm audio; hybrid dual-SIM
Great low-light camera; fast performance; more storage options
AR Emoji isn't that fluid; a bit expensive