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Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus: First Impressions and New Features

Discover the stars of this year's Mobile World Congress! Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus: First Impressions

Ulrich Reinbold
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Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus: First Impressions and New Features © 2018 Samsung Newsroom

On Sunday evening, Samsung presented its new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus flagships at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona. First impressions of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus? Well, let's just say that if anyone was expecting something big, they may have felt disappointed since there were no real surprises from a technical point of view. All Galaxy S9 rumors were confirmed, and they don't create a “must have” effect. Samsung, however, isn't the only giant to bear criticism: expectations are also low when it comes to speculations about the next iPhone. A question that one might ask: have manufacturers run out of innovations?

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Samsung Galaxy S9: How do you improve what's already great?

Let’s try not to be too critical. It is hard to keep up with the big improvements that were achieved in the first years of the smartphone industry. To improve current smartphone standards at the same pace it was done eight years ago is simply impossible. The smartphone avalanche started with the first iPhone created by Apple in 2007,  and new features constantly amazed everyone, as phones became much more than just phones, and apps were exciting and new. Nowadays, new apps are developed every day. We are used to phones having great cameras and powerful processors. Which great innovations are yet to come? What we are left with is an improvement of details.

What Samsung did with the Galaxy S9 is improving the already great Galaxy S8, but not in a big way. The Galaxy S9 has a slightly modified, lighter display with smaller upper and lower bezels compared to the Galaxy S8. There is no in-screen fingerprint scanner, like on the Vivo X20 Plus UD, but Samsung moved its fingerprint scanner below the camera for easier accessibility. The 5.8-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED display has a resolution of 1440 x 2960 pixels and a pixel density of 567 pixels per inch, same as the Galaxy S8.

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The Galaxy S9 stays with a single-lens camera. However, the 12-megapixel camera was improved and can now record slow-motion videos with up to 960fps. For this, Samsung added a camera-designated storage. Another camera upgrade is the dual-aperture technology. The camera automatically adjusts the aperture depending on the lighting conditions you are shooting in, meaning that the camera will adjust to an aperture of f/2.4 in daylight (around 100 lux). In lower light, it will automatically adjust to an aperture of f/1.5.
There haven’t been any changes regarding battery power, but Samsung promises an improvement in power efficiency, due to the new processor.

Samsung Galaxy S9-lowlight-camera-night.jpgSamsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S9 Plus

The Galaxy S9 Plus has, as expected, a bigger display than its smaller sibling, measuring 6.2 inches. An upgrade that comes with the Galaxy S9 is a dual camera with automatic aperture adjustment, a feature that is definitely special in a smartphone. This difference might be important for the photography fans out there. Moreover,  the bigger brother will be more pleasant for gamers, as it offers 6GB of RAM, whereas the Galaxy S9 features only 4GB in both its versions. In terms of price, there is not a big difference, as the unlocked Galaxy S9 is available for $720, and the unlocked Galaxy S9 Plus for $840.

Software instead of hardware

In terms of hardware, there aren't many improvements. Important hardware specs like RAM, processor and the internal storage were briefly mentioned during the presentation. The only interesting point here is that the new Samsung flagships will come in two versions: one powered by the Snapdragon 845 chipset, available for users from USA and China, and one powered by Samsung's own Exynos 9810 chipset, available in all other countries.

Another focus during Samsung’s Unpacked event, besides the camera upgrades, was the facial recognition system, which allows you to create AR emojis. It is basically the Samsung version of Apple’s Animoji, in which emojis mimic your facial expressions. Most new features are software upgrades. Smart home fans, though, will be pleased to find a smarter Bixby, the AI assistant introduced last year on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.

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Are the new flagships worth buying?

If you are considering whether or not to buy the Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus, it would be worth asking yourself why? Just to own the newer Samsung device might not be a valid reason, as changes are really small. The camera system of the Galaxy S9 Plus would be a valid reason for switching models. If you want to upgrade from a much older device, the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus will definitely make a difference. However, you can also choose to buy an older version, the Galaxy S8 and take advantage of its reduced price. Even though the Galaxy S8 is still excellent for this time, the newest model is a must-have for all tech gadget lovers.


Translated from German by Manuela Wendt.

German version available on schnaeppchenfuchs.com

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