Samsung has just had their first Unpacked event of this year, in which they covered the famous Galaxy line of smartphones. Both the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are the biggest flagships of this year so far. Samsung’s marketing campaign focuses on the S9’s camera, an area in which the S8 gained a lot of backlash for not much improvement over its predecessor, the S7, compared to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Pixel.
Both the Galaxy S9 and S9+ pack either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, to be sold mostly in the US, or the Exynos 9810 processor. Depending on your region, the Exynos model may be the only one available to you. Both will deliver similar performance as both are 10nm 64-bit octa-core processors, clocking in at a maximum of 2.8GHz for the “performance core”, plus 1.7GHz for the “efficiency core”.
Both phones sport 64GB of storage, Gorilla Glass 5, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an 8MP (megapixel) front facing and 12MP rear camera. The S9+ has an additional, second 12MP camera on the rear, which we’ll explain in more detail further on. The rest of the specs differ between the two models.
The precise differences can be seen in the table below, as reported by XDA Developers. (Information is accurate as of the time of publishing.)
|Galaxy S9||Galaxy S9+|
|Display Size||5.8” QHD+ (2960×1440) sAMOLED 18.5:9||6.2” QHD+ (2960×1440) sAMOLED 18.5:9|
|Glass Type||Gorilla Glass 5||Gorilla Glass 5|
|Display Color Palette||HDR10||HDR10|
|System-on-chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810|
|Storage Capacity||64GB/128GB/256GB + Micro SD Card slot (up to 400GB)||64GB/128GB/256GB + Micro SD Card slot (up to 400GB)|
|Speaker System||AKG Tuned stereo speakers||AKG Tuned stereo speakers|
|Headphone Jack||Yes, 3.5mm||Yes, 3.5mm|
|Front Camera||8MP front camera with auto focus||8MP front camera with auto focus|
|Rear Camera||12MP with f/1.5 and f/2.4 variable aperture||12MP with f/1.5 and f/2.4 variable aperture + 12MP zoom lens f/2.4|
|Battery Capacity||3,000 mAh battery||3,500 mAh battery|
|Fast Charging||Yes, Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging||Yes, Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging|
|Biometrics||Iris, Facial, and fingerprint recognition||Iris, Facial, and fingerprint recognition|
|Water and Dust Resistance||IP68||IP68|
|Software||Android 8.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience 9.0||Android 8.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience 9.0|
Although one of Samsung’s ads for the smartphones was leaked a day before the event, most of what was shown didn’t come to much surprise during the event. In fact, most of the features shown in this video were last year’s features.
Both phones keep a similar design to the S8 and S8+. However, the fingerprint sensor has been moved downwards and rotated to landscape, combating the awkward ergonomics of the S8’s sensor.
The main stars of the show are the rear cameras. The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are the first smartphones to have a variable aperture, allowing the camera to adjust the aperture’s size depending on the lighting conditions around you. So if it’s dark out, the phone will know that it needs to switch to a larger aperture to allow more light into the camera, and vice-versa for brighter environments. Both have f/1.5 and f/2.4 to support that feature. Below are some photos captured with the S9’s rear camera.
On top of this, Samsung has added machine-learning technology to intelligently capture those moments that the phone thinks you’ll want or like. For example, the phone can automatically start recording in slow-mo when it thinks that a slow-mo shot would be interesting, such as when there is a lot of motion in the shot. I’m very sceptical about how well this will work, but we’ll have to see how it performs in day-to-day scenarios.
The camera is also capable of shooting 720p at a whopping 960fps (frames per second), which we’ve only seen on Sony’s Experia phones so far. At higher resolutions, the maximum frame-rate of course decreases; the phone is capable of 1080p videos at 240fps, and 4K at 60fps, which now is on par with Apple’s iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and the iPhone X.
Samsung has entered the AR game alongside the giants such as Google and Apple. AR Emoji is a Bitmoji-like feature which uses AR technology to create a character of yourself that imitates your facial expressions. Although this is similar to Apple’s Animoji feature on the iPhone X, AR Emoji doesn’t seem as good to me, because the emoji don’t look very realistic compared to Apple’s version, and don’t seem to be as fun. However, if you are a lover of the Bitmoji feature on Snapchat, then you’ll love this.
The S9 starts at £739 for the 64GB model, while the S9+ starts at £869, currently with 128GB of internal storage.
Both have huge upgrades to the camera technology when compared to their predecessors, the S8 and S8+. However, not much else that’s noteworthy has changed. Sure, there’s now a competitor to Apple’s Animoji, but that’s about it. Do you think Samsung is running out of ideas? Perhaps they are focusing on Bixby 2.0, their voice assistant, for the time being, so that you can use Bixby to interact with Samsung’s range ofsmart gadgets and home appliances. Only time will tell.