The smartphone landscape has quickly become exciting once again. With more players entering the fray, and established brands looking to mix up the age-old formula, we are seeing some of the most exciting devices. This has never been truer than with the latest in the Galaxy range of devices, the Samsung S9.
The landscape of high-end smartphones is a tumultuous one. With so many players now fighting for your hard earned dollars, brands have to stand out from the crowd, offering things no other smartphone can. Devices like the Razer Phone, the iPhone X, and even the Google Pixel 2 all offer consumers bang for your buck. Pushing bigger screen real estate, smarter design lines, and of course faster, more powerful SoC’s that power all the phones’ features.
It is this landscape the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ step into, and while it is a largely iterative device, what Samsung has done improves on an already great device and hits the sweet spot with just enough new innovation partnered with tried and tested concepts.
The Samsung S9 has a very similar look to last years offering. The all-glass front and near edge to edge screen are stunning. Samsung hit it out of the park last year with the S8, and it is a pleasure to see they are keeping up this design concept for this year offering. Under the hood, Samsung has beefed up the specs overall, boosting the SoC to a Snapdragon 845, offering 4GB RAM on the base model, with 6GB if you opt for the Plus variant. The fingerprint scanner has moved so it is now centred just under the Camera, a welcome change if not a big one.
On the sound front, the S9 comes with Dolby Atmos support, making it a great gaming and media device. The sound, when tested at the event, was crisp and clear. It also gave the sense of directional audio, and out of a device that can fit into your pocket, that is impressive. At higher volumes, the sound maintained that crisp clarity, and while I want to put in more time testing the audio, it is at this time some of the best audio coming out of a smartphone I have ever heard.
In a world where smartphone makers are ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack on all new flagships, it is refreshing to see Samsung stick to their guns and include it on the S9. While Bluetooth audio has improved vastly over the years, there is still something satisfying being able to plug in your trusty headphones when you want to listen to some music.
Jumping back to the camera, this is one area Samsung has put in a great deal of attention with this year’s offering. The 12-megapixel shooter has a variable f/1.5 – f/2.4 OIS dual-LED flash camera. The front-facing camera is an 8-megapixel f1.7 that, in testing, makes for some great selfie shots.
The new f-stop options for the camera mean your night photos will look all the better and shots in the daylight will keep that same level of clarity. Now, as I do every year, I advise you not to ditch your bulky DSLR just yet, but in a pinch, the Samsung S9 can achieve some stunning shots. The new variable aperture is only one more way that the Smartphone camera is improving over time, and presents consumers with a fantastic camera that can achieve great results in most cases.
New this year is the Super Slowmo abilities of the Samsung S9. We have seen features like this in other phones, such as the Sony Xperia lineup of devices, but it is nice to see it included in this year’s Galaxy. In practice, it was a joy to use, and seconds after turning on the mode I was able to capture some exciting slow-mo moments thanks to the on-site juggler at the event. The 960fps shooting mode is sadly limited to 720P, so these videos may be more for fun than to be included in your latest nature documentary, but who knows what content creators will do given the right tools.
Following in the iPhone X’s footsteps the Samsung S9 has AR emoji, and despite the silliness of it, these I will admit are fun. Now they don’t serve many purposes, and besides taking some silly pictures and gifs to use in chat, I honestly have no idea what you would do with them, but the technology is neat none the less.
It is not quite as easy as the Apple Animoji, it will take around 20 seconds for you to map your face and build your little character, although once you do you are off to the races and can make silly faces via an avatar to your heart’s content.
When you get right down to it, the Samsung S9 is a great iteration on an already fantastic phone. While I am a fan of flashy changes and new toys on my devices, Samsung made all the right changes, while keeping the things that just worked. I will be able to give a better overview of the device after I have more hands-on time with it, but as it is now, Samsung has managed to build something exciting.
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