The famous S lineup by the leading mainstream smartphone manufacturer got new flagship representatives this year as well, and the S9 came together with its big brother. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is now available, and it’s now in our hands so we can introduce it to you.
You’ve probably already had a chance to see what it looks like since it’s presence in media is quite substantial. The design is pretty much the same as it was on the last year’s S8+, with minimal changes regarding the placement of the horribly placed fingerprint reader, which was, on the S8+, placed next to the camera sensor and was often confused with the sensor itself. New position of the sensor is below the camera which is much better since your index finger naturally falls there when you’re holding the device. The bottom bezel is smaller, but only by a few millimeters. The size if pretty much the same – you can use the cases from the S8+ though the cut-out at the back won’t really fit.
This device can also boast with a brand-new camera with variable aperture, but more on that a bit later. It didn’t lose its waterproofing, which means that it has the same IP68 certificate as the S8+. Inside the factory box of one of the most expensive devices out there you can find user manuals, a SIM tray tool, fast charging adapter, USB Type-C cable, USB to Type-C connector, microUSB to Type-C connector, AKG in-ear headphones as well as 4 spare earbuds.
Ok, we admit it, Samsung always buys us with all the accessories, but let’s focus on the main thing – the smartphone. Let’s explore the ninth galaxy together!
Who doesn’t like Samsung’s Super AMOLED Infinity displays? Last year’s display has mostly stayed untouched. The 6.2” WQHD+ display is honestly impressive, but this panel is also the most expensive part of the device. Because of the items like this, newest devices reach abnormal prices. Speaking of the display, the resolution is manually adjustable, and it can be lowered down to FHD+ or even HD+, which will extend battery life to the maximum, and it is the perfect option for the users that think that the WQHD+ resolution is an overkill for the battery. Pixel density with this resolution is 529 pixels per inch.
Super AMOLED panel offers a whole bunch of settings, but we’ve seen them all last year. The display can be set on multiple color profiles: Adaptive display, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo or Basic. Once again, it supports HDR10 color profile. All contents look phenomenal, and we shouldn’t even speak about the brightness – it goes over 600 nits and everything is crystal clear even at direct sunlight. The display is protected by the fifth generation of Corning Gorilla Glass, which is the strongest protection used in smartphones.
Hardware and OS
This year brought us a new chipset, so the S9+ has the new Exynos 9810 chipset built in 10nm FinFET process. Exclusively for Chinese and American markets, this device has the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, but the Exynos chipset will power up the rest of the world. The CPU built into the Exynos 9810 has eight cores, and it consists of four third generation Mongoose cores clocked at 2.7 GHz, while the four weaker Cortex–A55 cores are clocked at 1.8 GHz. New GPU is also built into this chipset, and it is the 18 core Mali-G72 GPU. This device comes with 6GB of RAM and, in our case, 64GB of internal storage memory, and also available are 128 and 256GB versions.
It has been a very pleasant experience to see this chipset in action as it was rendering high demanding AnTuTu benchmark tasks, where it scored 246350 points. Geekbench scores showed 3769 single core and 8857 multi core scores.
All tasks get executed instantly without any stuttering and high demanding games have very high framerates. The device does heat up a bit during longer gaming, but this is perfectly normal. There is, of course, no thermal throttling at all, everything works perfectly fluently.
When it comes to software side of things, this device runs on Android 8.0 Oreo firmware out of the box, and it is the first device that does so. There is also the famous Samsung Experience UI, version 9.0, with slightly redesigned interface. Intelligent unlock is also here, and it combines all unlocking capabilities (iris scanner, face scanner) in order to unlock the device as quickly as possible. Basically, most things are the same as they were in the predecessor.
Something new in this device is definitely the Stereo speaker, and Samsung guarantees up to 40% stronger sound compared to the S8. The difference is obvious and very easily noticeable. Sound quality is very high, deep tones really are deep, and high tones are high, just as it should be. Stereo sound is implemented in a way that this device uses two speakers – one at the bottom of the device, and the other doubles as the speaker you use when you talk over the phone itself.
It is no news that Samsung and Apple compete in order to produce a better device, and we can often see similar functions. AR Emoji is Samsung’s response to Apple’s Animoji, but the difference is in AR Emoji, the emoji is – you. Once your face is scanned with the front facing camera, the device will animate your face and provide you with many facial expressions (GIFs) suitable for sharing on social media. AR Emoji is mostly a fun little thing, and it will need a lot of work since we didn’t really see any resemblance between us and our animated counterpart. Always on display is of course still here as it is in all better Samsung devices.
Samsung’s pride that no one likes – Bixby – is sadly still here. This virtual assistant has always received bad comments, which have been well-deserved, and nothing has changed in this device – even though it has a dedicated button on the left side of the device. Unfortunately, it’s just not on par with Google Assistant or Siri – talking to it is a terrible experience and it lacks many of the options. It is interesting to see Bixby Vision, an option that lets you scan various items or food, and it can provide information on them. We’ve tested it, and we honestly hope no one will use wood glue as a source of vitamins. Bixby Vision also needs to be improved.
Thing that has changed the most, and something that was given the most attention is the camera. The S9+ comes with a double camera setup on the back. One of the cameras has the resolution of 12 megapixels and has variable aperture, which means that the aperture changes from f/1.5 to f/2.4, just as on DSLR cameras in order to improve photos made in low light environments. The second 12-megapixel sensor is a telephoto sensor, exactly the same as the one used in the Note8, and it has fixed aperture of f/2.4. It is very nice to see this technology being built into flagship smartphones since it moves them closer to DSLR cameras, which is the very goal. Both sensors on the back are optically stabilized. On the back there is only one LED flash.
Camera specifications provide:
- Phase Detection Autofocus
- 2x optical zoom
- Simultaneous 4K video capturing and 9MP photo shooting
- Touch Focus
- Smile Detection
- Auto HDR
Photos made during daytime are outstanding, with a lot of details and minimal levels of noise – noise is barely visible, even in shadowy places. Colors are very nicely reproduced. Super AMOLED panel definitely adds up to this impression, but the camera really does capture a wide range of very vivid colors. Night time photos also look very good, and the aperture shift really shines here – there really is a huge difference. Digital noise is slightly visible in night time photos, but this is one of the best results out there. Optical image stabilization on both sensors improves the photos quite a lot, and we couldn’t see any smudges or artifacts in neither day or night time photos.
Available photo resolutions are:
- 4:3 – 12 and 6.2 megapixels
- 16:9 – 9.1 and 3.7 megapixels
- 18.5:9 – 7.9 megapixels
- 1:1 – 9.1 and 4.7 megapixels
The main camera records videos in maximum 4K resolution at 60fps, and they are recorded in H.264 or H.265 HEVC format. Also available is the 1080p FullHD resolution at 240fps, and Samsung brought something new in the S9 and the S9+ – Super Slow Motion videos in 720p resolution at 960fps. Super Slow Motion videos look excellent in well-lit environments, while in low light conditions the device can't really “see” the moving of the object. You can’t really start the Super Slow Motion capturing yourself, instead the device figures out motion and starts to capture it in Super Slow Motion itself. Slowed recordings can also be exported as GIFs.
The front facing camera has stayed the same as on the S8. The 8 MP sensor has become standard for new Samsung devices, but it definitely does the job well. Live–Focus, better known as the Bokeh effect that blurs out the background when taking portrait photos, is also here. Selfie camera has the aperture of f/1.7 and these photos have a lot of details, colors are very realistic and Live-Focus also does a great job. Recently we could see many devices with a double front facing camera in order to produce better photos with the bokeh effect, and we must be honest to say that they really do provide better results. Still, this device’s front facing camera also provides very good results. The front facing camera captures videos in 1440p resolution at 30fps and they are, in a word, average.
Samsung Galaxy S9+ should have all possible connection options, and it does – nothing is missing. Our version is SM-G976F/DS which means that this is a DualSIM device with a hybrid slot. It can, therefore, use two nanoSIM cards simultaneously, or one nanoSIM and one microSD card for storage expansion (although we do believe you won’t need it). Reversible Type–C port is standard in all modern flagships, and the version of it is v3.1. Inside the factory box there are microUSB and USB connectors, so if you ever find yourself in a situation that you don’t have your charger, you can always use the microUSB one – as long as you have the connector in your wallet.
Samsung unveiled their new DeX with the new smartphones, and it provides, as the name suggests, “Desktop Experience” when you connect your device with this station. With a monitor, phone, mouse, keyboard and the DeX station you can have the complete PC experience.
The new chip comes with the new Cat.18 LTE modem which supports 6CA, and because of that offers download speeds up to 1.2 Gbps, and upload supports 2CA with speeds up to 200 Mbps.
List of connections consists of:
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, double channel, WiFi Direct, HotSpot
- Bluetooth v5.0 with A2DP, LE and aptX
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
Supported network frequencies are:
- 2G: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
- 3G: 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
- 4G: 700 / 800 / 850 / 900 / 1500 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2100 / 2600 MHz
Battery is another thing that has remained untouched compared to the previous generation. 3.500 mAh capacity will be enough combined with the power saving 10nm chipset, and the battery life can be significantly improved by reducing the screen resolution and shutting down the Always on display. With the device we get a charging adapter with Samsung Adaptive charge fast charging technology. Full charge takes up around 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Samsung Galaxy S9+ supports Qi/PMA wireless charging aswell. When it comes to battery consumption, the S9+ didn't let us down. It is capable of lasting for almost 2 days on one charge with mediocre use and brightness of the display set to around 70%.
All in all, very good battery results. Samsung rounded everything up just as last year. Or maybe they were afraid to change things up because of the whole Note7 fiasco, who knows…
Samsung Galaxy S9+ has all a smartphone can offer – excellent cameras, great chipset, amazing display, and it all works great together, but you must take into account the price. If you already have an S8+ or a Note8 and you're thinking about upgrading to the S9+, we'd recommend you to wait for the Note9 because the S9 and the S9+ are simply not worth their price. Maybe the Note9 brings something truly revolutionary which will make the smartphone enthusiasts go crazy.
Do you think the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is worth buying, or is it better to wait for the S10 or whatever its name may be? We'd love to see your opinion in the comment section below. If you have any suggestions or you would like a specific device being reviewed, feel free to let us know either here or on our Facebook page. If you liked our review, please subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook, and sit comfortably as we’re working hard on new material for you!