Unveiled (or “unpacked” as they’d called it) at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona late last month, the latest devices in Samsung’s flagship smartphone range, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, will be in tech enthusiasts’ hands later this week. On the surface, the streamlined Galaxy smartphone and its plus-sized partner continue the electronics giant’s elegant curved design – but what’s under their hoods, and how do they compare to their predecessors, the S8 and S8+? Let’s flesh it out.
As far as the build and feel go, Samsung hasn’t introduced too many changes to the design of its preceding flagship devices. In fact, they’ve barely made any changes since the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, and why would they? The curved screen and increased display real estate, thanks in part to the removal of physical buttons in favour of in-display touch functions, are arguably the biggest draws to the Galaxy name.
At first glance, the S9 and S9+ look identical to the S8 and S8+, but a side-by-side comparison reveals that the latest flagship models boast an increased display area and refined edge-to-edge display, trimming just enough off the edges of the screen to make a noticeable difference. The Quad HD Curved Super AMOLED displays remain a beauty, seamlessly blending with a premium, streamlined body that almost makes you want to risk forgoing a protective case – although they’re still prone to unsightly fingerprints, and their smooth edges can only spell trouble for butterfingers.
While the S9 is equipped with a Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP autofocus sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and f/1.5 and f/2.4 dual aperture in the rear, the S9+ is armed with both dual camera load-out, with the same Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP sensor as the S9+, but coupled with a telephoto 12MP AF sensor with f/2.4 aperture to complement the wide-angle camera, elevating the smartphonography game with greater depth of field – not unlike the dual camera setup of the iPhone X. As for front cameras, both the S9 and the S9+ share a single 8MP camera with an aperture of f/1.7. Needless to say, both pack more than enough for on-the-fly snaps and selfies.
Under the hood, the S9 and S9+ are fitted with the Exynos 9810 chipset (outside of North America), bumped up from the S8 and S8+’s Exynos 8895 and boasting two-fold single-core performance and 40 per cent greater octa-core performance, as reported by Forbes. What does all this mumbo-jumbo actually mean? Put simply, it means greater performance for 4K video recording (up to 120fps, compared to the iPhone X’s 60fps), greater support for video formats and colour reproduction, and greater accuracy for face detection.
It seems that Samsung has not only been looking to one-up Apple on the camera and processor fronts, but also in the emoji space. While the iPhone X has Animoji, allowing users to take on the appearance of cats, dogs, robots, or literal pieces of shit (neato!), the Samsung S9 and S9+ have AR Emoji, allowing users to animate themselves. With customisable outfits, hair, facial features and everything else that comes with concocting a virtual avatar, users can share their likeness in 2D GIF sticker format across popular social media and messaging apps, and also create a responsive 3D model for lighthearted video messages and moments of absolute boredom. After trying it out on a few different individuals, there does seem to be a general template upon which users’ distinct features are transplanted. However, a little customisation solves that.
TL;DR the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ may look similar to their predecessors, but they bring a lot to the table to sweeten our love-hate relationship with our devices and ensuing digital dependency. The S9 will retail for SGD 1,198 (64GB), while the S9+ will retail for SGD 1,348 (64GB) and SGD 1,498 (256GB).
The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be available from March 16, 2018 at Samsung Experience Stores, telecommunication operators and authorised retailers.