BARCELONA: SAMSUNG finally took the lid off its highly anticipated Galaxy S9 and S9+ flagship smartphones at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Sunday, and INQ was in town to get our hands on the devices ahead of the launch.
On paper, the Galaxy S9 isn’t too dissimilar from the firm’s previous flagship, the Galaxy S8. But only with a real-world hands-on test can we tell you if that’s really the case, so brace yourselves, because you’re about to find out.
Here are our initial impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S9 fresh from the firm’s MWC 2018 event.
Design and build
At first glance, the Galaxy S9 doesn’t look too different from Samsung’s previous flagship, the Galaxy S8. The design is so similar in fact, that you can’t really tell much difference between the two at all, and you’d probably have to hold the side of the device by side to pick out any main differences.
On closer inspection of the specs, however, you’ll find that instead of making the new handset thinner and lighter, Samsung has actually made the fresh model half a millimeter thicker at 8.5mm. It also weighs almost 10g more, at 163g. On the other hand, this isn’t so noticeable though. One thing users will pick out is that the arrangement of the camera and fingerprint scanner has changed slightly on the back of the device, too, with the latter now residing under the snapper’s lens.
As you’d expect, the Galaxy S9 does feel super-premium in hand, and sturdy enough to withstand a good knock or two. This is thanks to its IP68 waterproofing, which Samsung has retained from previous models.
For comparison’s sake, the display on the Galaxy S9’s sibling, the Galaxy S9+, is bigger – as expected – touting a 6.2in quad HD+ curved super AMOLED screen with the same wide 18:5:9 ratio screen as the Galaxy S9, but with a lower 529PPI. It has a bigger 3,500mAh battery, too, to power that larger screen, but this means it does weigh a little heavier at 189g.
With yet more similarities to its predecessor, the Galaxy S9 boasts the same 5.8in QHD+ Super AMOLED screen and with the exact same 57ppi resolution.
In reality, the screen is quite frankly beautiful to look at. It’s crisp and bright, while – like the S8 – the curved edges make for more impressive viewing angles and an all-around more enjoyable viewing experience.
As with its predecessor, the S9’s screen supports mobile HDR, which offers brilliantly vibrant display performance, but the slightly wider aspect ratio makes for even more satisfying for video watching than on the S8.
Under the hood of the Galaxy S9, things are a little more improved than on the outside. While the handset is powered by the same 10nm 64bit octa-core CPU, it has a slightly faster 2.7GHz and 1.7GHz processing speeds compared to the S8’s 2.3GHz SoC, alongside the same 4GB of RAM.
So how does this translate into real-world performance, because that’s what really matters here, huh? Well, in our short time with the device, we found all operations were super smooth. This is probably due to the handset’s upgraded CPU speed. For example, the handset is now able to instantly translate foreign languages from streets signs or billboards, instantly.
As you would expect, there were no signs of slow-down during our hands-on time, but we’ll have to wait until we get one in for review to test this fully.
As for storage, the S9 comes bundled with a bog-standard 64GB of internal memory which can be upgraded with an extra 400GB with a microSD card. All of this is powered by a 3,000mAh battery. Again, same as the Galaxy S8.
Those that are wanting a bit more of a powerhouse from Samsung can always opt for the firm’s Galaxy S9+, which boasts a slightly better 10nm 64-bit octa-core processor running at 2.8GHz and 1.7 GHz, alongside a much beefier 6GB of RAM and double the internal storage of the S9, at 128GB.
One of the biggest improvements in the Galaxy S9 over its predecessor is in its camera and image sensor. While it packs the same 12MP Dual Pixel camera as its predecessor (the S9+ now packs a dual-lens 12MP camera), its dual f/1.5 and f/2.4 aperture makes it “the brightest lens of any smartphone camera in the market”, according to Samsung.
This is because the lens now lets in 80 percent more light than on previous models, which minimizes noise to capture higher quality images in dark environments than ever before. Samsung said the camera sensor does this by stitching together 12 images taken simultaneously when the shutter button is pressed, merging them together to bolster a better final image.
While we didn’t get a chance to try out the camera’s abilities in the dark while testing it out, we were impressed with the results, especially the new-and-improved slo-mo feature, which is pretty mind-blowing.
The Galaxy S9’s new ‘super slo-mo’ feature captures moving images at an incredibly high quality. Samsung has also integrated DRAM into this image processor to enable this, giving the S9, what Samsung says, “the slowest movie recording ever”.
This is coupled with a new feature called Automatic Motion Detect, which allows users to capture an important event in slo-mo automatically, without having to wait around and manually snap. It works very well indeed.
First impressions and availability
The Samsung Galaxy S9 is not so different from the S8, apart from its upgraded camera functions. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a failed device. Quite the opposite in fact. We loved the S8, so it’s nice to see that Samsung hasn’t changed the things that made it so great. After all, if it ain’t broke…
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be available from 16 March in the UK at £739 and £869, respectively, from Samsung.com and select retailers, the firm said. They will launch in Midnight Black, Coral Blue, and a new hue, Lilac Purple color options.
Pre-orders are open from now and Samsung said those who pre-order before 7 March at 23:59 GMT will receive their devices 7 days early on 9 March.
Samsung and selected retailers are also offering various trade-in deals for customers when buying the S9 or S9+, it said.