REVIEW: New Samsung Galaxy S9+ Is A New Benchmark Smartphone
When Apple took the top end smartphone over the $1K barrier they became a serious investment consideration now we are seeing a pitched battle between the Apple X and the Google Pixel 2 and the all new Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+.
Between these two choices there is only one option worth considering, the all new Samsung S9 for the simply reason it is a device which has been built from the ground with premium components and by a Company that is proving with each new model that that they are able to push through technology barriers when it comes to software and hardware innovation.
They are also the Company that actually made a lot of the components in the Apple iPhone X and this alone speaks volumes as to the quality of theses components.
It also shows that Samsung has learnt from the mistakes they made with the S8 with the rotation of the fingerprint sensor on the rear of the phone below the camera rather than to its side.
The terrible placement on the S8+ meant that my finger would land on the camera rather than the fingerprint sensor when trying to unlock the phone and the next time I attempted to take a picture a got a prompt to wipe the lens.
There are other ways to unlock the S9 and S9+, Samsung fused the front camera’s facial recognition capability with iris scanning — a combination that works in the dark and is as fast as Apple’s Face ID facial recognition on the iPhone X.
I like this and the fact and can also open the device with a pattern especially when I am driving and have the S9 in a mount on my car window.
Out of the box the S9 is a design masterpiece, it’s slick, smooth and incredibly comfortable in the hand and if I was not a hard core pen user with a Samsung Note I would make this my everyday device for the simple reason it delivers everything I want from my Google apps to my Microsoft Office 360 apps right through to the Samsung apps such as health and access to my Samsung watch via the Gear app.
With this new the sleek design of the Samsung 8 has been retained despite slightly shorter upper and lower bezels, result in vivid near edge-to-edge 5.8-inch or 6.2-inch curved displays equal to last year’s sizes and screen resolution.
The OLED screen which is made by Samsung is crystal sharp which is why Apple has no alternative but to buy Samsung display screens for their top end iPhone X.
What Samsung delivers with the S9 and S9+ are solid, if hardly game-changing, new handsets that keep the company’s flagships at the top of the Android heap. If you spent your money on last year’s Galaxy phones, you have every reason to stand pat this time around. If you own an older device, the investment in these pricey phones makes more sense.
Samsung features include fast wireless charging but you do need to buy an optional charging pad, the device is also water and dust resistance, and, they have included an excellent pair of AKG plug in headphones, which deliver an exceptional sound experience especially when watching a movie on an aircraft or train.
It also appears that Samsung has improved the speed of their wireless charging, ironically the $1,500 Google Pixel 2 has no wireless charging especially as wireless charging is now being built into bedside clock radio’s and there is an abundance of sub $100 chargers now on the market.
The inclusion of a standard sized headphone jack, means you won’t need a special adapter to plug in corded headphones. If only someone would tell Apple and Google.
One of the new features are new stereo speakers that support for Dolby Atmos which delivers frightenly real surround effects.
Because smartphones are increasingly becoming our go-to platforms for entertainment, a top-flight display alone won’t quite cut it anymore.
In order to enjoy a truly cinematic mobile viewing experience Samsung needed to deliver a premium sound system to complement the display – one that makes it easy for you to immerse ourselves in whatever content we’re consuming.
To enable users to experience true auditory immersion, Samsung redesigned the S9 by incorporating new AKG-tuned stereo speakers at the bottom and in the earpiece of the Galaxy S9.
Together, the speakers pump out audio that’s not only loud, but also rich and balanced, no matter the volume.
Located at the bottom and earpiece of the device, the Galaxy S9’s AKG-tuned stereo speakers offer high-quality audio, no matter the volume. The Galaxy S9 also features a Dolby Atmos effect, which transforms audio into immersive, 360-degree surround sound.
The new AKG earphones that come in the box, have a new, more stylish design that is befitting of earphones for a flagship device, with a braided cable instead of the regular plastic cable Samsung has been using until this point.
Now we come to what Samsung is calling their “reimagined” camera.
With S9+ which I used there are two rear cameras, one for telephoto and one wide angle; the S8+ and the new S9 had just one rear camera.
Arguably, the most important camera feature is one you won’t immediately notice, a dual aperture (F1.5, F2.4) that automatically widens or retracts according to the lighting conditions around you, much like the human iris does.
It’s subtle but it does deliver even when the lighting conditions are poor.
You can also change the aperture manually as part of the “pro” settings.
With the latest S9 you also get additional special effects which my granddaughters “absolutely lov”.
While Low light shooting is always tricky for a smartphone camera, the new S9 delivers images and shots that come to life due to new technology on the chipset.
Then there’s the Super Slo-Mo mode. Several brands have had a crack at delivering slow-motion shots at 240 fps, with the S9 you can shoot at 960 fps, due to the introduction of a new DRAM buffer that grabs the image data as it’s being shot. The front-facing camera is that a front facing camera that is similar to those found in several other smartphones.
Then there is the AR Emoji creator and if you have kids they are going to be all over this feature especially when they have friends around.
The phone uses software and the front imaging array to create a cartoon doppelgänger.
Samsung’s augmented-reality let’s one share an AR Emoji as an animated sticker or GIF through a third-party messaging app such as WhatsApp.
On iPhones, you can send Animojis only through the Messages app on the iPhone X.
With the S9 you can turn your AR Emoji into wallpaper on the Samsung phone or set as an “always on display” image or send it to a friend via email.
One annoying feature is Bixby inside the camera management console.
Bixby is Samsung’s artificial intelligence-infused virtual assistant who debuted a year ago on the S8 and S8+, while it’s an improvement it still has a long way to go.
I don’t support proprietary software that is developed by a Company coming from behind two competitors such as Google and Amazon with their Alexa technology.
One way, that Samsung is hoping to make its mark with Bixby is through the camera, and what I got was questionable results.
On the plus side, you can point the camera at a street sign and have Bixby quickly translate that sign into a foreign language — useful for those of you who travel, but the kind of thing we’ve seen before.
I was using it recently in Japan with mu Note 8.
You can also point Bixby at food you’re eating, and in some instances — it worked with a blueberry muffin and with tiramisu — Bixby can let you know how many calories the item has.
Where Bixby came up short was that it struggled to identify several tourist images around Sydney including Manly beach.
According to my granddaughter the surprising killer app is when you tap makeup, and via the “see” inside app you look in different shades and styles of makeup.
Move your lips or smile and the lipstick, for example, remains in place. This allows one to find that perfect look.
And if you get your makeup from Sephora and CoverGirl you have a better chance of finding what you like due to a commercial relationship between Samsung and these Companies. This makes me wonder how long it will be before Chanel Revlon or brands that these two Companies don’t stock look to cuddle up to Samsung.
Because at the end of the day when you find a look you’re satisfied with, you can place an order with these suppliers.
In previous years, the Plus model was the same as the Galaxy S, but bigger, with a larger battery, too. This year, the S9 Plus comes with extra feature and is well worth the extra money over the S9.
One seriously irritating feature is what happens when you create a new contact on the S9.
When you have entered the contact, it asks you where you want to save the contact to, phone Sim Card, Google account or a Samsung account.
I use Office 365, and this is where all my contacts are normally stored, I consolidate my contacts this way so that everyone from our CRM to accounting system are in one easily accessible spot.
This is a major omission and Samsung seriously needs to deliver an update or a lot of Windows 10 and Office 365 customers are going to be seriously pissed off.
The Galaxy S9 is the new benchmark for smartphones not just because of its looks and functionality, it’s because the engines that deliver the software that differentiates this device from it’s competitors are made by Samsung.
It’s also because Samsung has proved that evolution outperforms bells and whistles revolution which brands like Huawei, Oppo and the likes of Sony are into.
Samsung believes that that careful and well executed improvements to core functionality are key to delivering a truly top end smartphone that is going to set you back over $1,300.
The camera alone is a huge reason to ditch an iPhone or a Chinese top end device. Having the name Leica on a device does not mean it’s a better camera. It means that some Companies are prepared to prostitute their name for a price.
Samsung, have got the marriage of processing power, camera sensor coupled with their new software right and this is allowing them to deliver the best camera ever in a smartphone.
If you want to get out of an iPhone 7 or even an iPhone 6 you are going to notice a massive difference and I am confident that after a week of experimenting with an Android OS device you will never want to go back to a proprietary smartphone where everything costs you more, even a simple cable to charge or connect an iPhone. Even the battery lasts longer than an iPhone.
Plus, unlike the other popular phones, you still get a headphone jack and above all superior access to Google tools and apps. You can easily set up Microsoft to run smoothly on this device.
The bottom line is that you can use this device to impress your friends and family with capabilities such as the camera and sound system while also using it as a key business tool on the road because of its super battery life and access to key software from third parties.
For $1,300 you get a smartphone on steroids for business and a device that seriously impressive when it comes to core functionality and having fun.