Samsung Galaxy S9 Review

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Samsung Galaxy S9 Review

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review

For years,Samsung has been the pinnacle of Android phones ,engaged in an extremely stiff competition with the epitome of smartphone greatness in the sense of the iPhone. For a long time,the iPhone has been the definition of what a smartphone should be,with iPhones starring in commercials,as the template for website performance tests,game tests,celebrities carry them,and this is just to name a few.And Samsung has tried to change this orientation for years.They created their 'S' smartphone variants to take on the Apple flagships and try to push their phones as iPhones with flashier designs and more functions than you could use. They basically made iPhones running Android. And each year,the next Galaxy would be a big update to the previous one. But it seems that once Samsung struck on the Galaxy S8,which we were priviledged to review last year,they felt that they had finally completed their 10 year battle with Apple. Then Apple released the iPhone X,which was a serious upgrade from the iPhone 7. What did Samsung do to oppose this? Well,they broke their driving force and sort of created a 'new' smartphone that actually isn't that much of an upgrade from it's younger brother. And while Samsung has used 'the camera,reimagined'as their selling phrase,they still stuck with the same sensor size,same lens,same post processing software,and only introduced the variable arpeture which feels like a glorified gimmick to many.So,if you have an S8,should you upgrade?Well,that's the question I aim to answer in this review. So,let's dive straight in.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Review:Design and Display

Samsung Galaxy S9 review

The design of the Galaxy S9 is extremely similar to that of the S8. In fact,if not for the realigned finger print sensor placement,which we thank God for,you would think that it's the same smartphone from last year. And we won't blame you,neither would we blame Samsung. The design of the S8 was already fantastic,and 'if it ain't broke,don't fix it',right?
The only notable differences are the realigned fingerprint sensor and the 0.7mm thinner front bezel,which you will not notice until you have both phones side by side. A notable difference is actually in the S9 Plus,which has a dual camera setup with a variable arpeture. More on that later in the review.
So technically,the S9 sports nearly identical dimensions with the S8. it's 8.5 mm thick and 147.7mm long. This actually makes for a phone that's not to hard to use with one hand,despite having a 5.8 inch screen.You may not be so bold to try one-handed usage with the mammoth 6.2 inch size of the Plus variant,but that's to be expected.
Samsung Galaxy S9 review

The phone is a glass on glass sandwich,much like the Asus Zenfone 5(Review). There's a nice,solid feeling metal frame in the middle of the two Gorilla Glass 5 front and back covers. The frame is made of aluminium,and feels like it could survive a drop. The glass on the other hand also feels solid,but not enough to feel ike it could take a fall. It's also slippery,so be sure to use a case if you're a doubter.
The display is a nice and crisp 2960*1440 Super AMOLED panel.As is usual for Samsung flagships,the display is crisp,well saturated and displays inky deep blacks.This is probably the best screen on any phone right now,and the fact that it has HDR support makes it even better and a lot more future proof even though there's not much content out there that is made with HDR in mind.
Smudge magnet alert

Good as the display is,it tends to get oversaturated at times,with emphasis being more on the reds.This at times works in the phone's favor,but often times,it just produces colors that are extremely deeper that they should be. Most people don't care about this,but this could be a major make or break for some folks. Apple has solved this problem of AMOLED oversaturation with their iPhone X.So that,s a sign that this oversaturation could be deliberate. Anyway,complaints aside,the screen is now brighter than that of the S8(about 20% brighter,if I'm correct),and offers a lovely viewing experience,even with a VR headset on.But in the long run,it's still largely similar to the S8's. And while you'll be blown away by it immediately if you've never seen the S8's screen,the same can't go for if you've seen it.
Wrapping up this segment,the design is good,and the display is great.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review:Camera

Again,the cameras on the Galaxy S9 remain largely similar to those on the S8. In fact,the only difference is the variable arpeture which can change from f/1.5 to f/2.4. And what's nice is that it does this automatically in the dark,which leads to stunning night shots rivaled only by the latest Huawei P20 Pro's 40mp camera.We really hope to review that phone here.
Samsung Galaxy S9 review
At f/1.5

Samsung Galaxy S9 review
And at f/2.4

Galaxy S9 Camera samples:

These photos have been compressed. Kindly click to enlarge.

Galaxy S9's front camera low light prowess

Now,the photos taken by the S9 and S9 Plus are strikingly similar,but what differentiates it from it's larger sibling is the second lens found below the major lens. This lens is used to provide that 'bokeh' effect possible on DSLRs,and it works,but the Google Pixel 2 still remains the king in this segment,and it does that with one camera.
As you can see from the photos,the 12MP camera takes extremely great photos in great lighting. It also takes good photos in dim lighting and brings out accurate colors,even in these bad lighting conditions.
But,was the camera really reimagined this time?Save for the variable arpeture,everything else about the camera remains the same,and that's not very good to hear,after seeing all the commercials. The fact is that they just added the variable arpeture and nothing else really. Reimagined?More like 'slightly improved'or 'repackaged'.
To round off,the camera is good,heck it's better than most other cameras,but it's not the radical change you and I hoped for.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review:Performance and Benchmarks

Where the S9 and S9 Plus both feature a great remarkable upgrade is in the performance side of things. The phones have received the updated 10nm chipsets,the Snapdragon 845 for USA and Latin America regions,and the Exynos 9810 Octa chip for other places. I would really have loved to test a smartphone running on the Snapdragon 845,but oh well.

The performance boost is imminent and immediately noticed,but only when both the S8 and S9 are placed side by side. Both phones also sport a generous 6GB of RAM for better memory.The result?Blazing fast phones that can handle any tasks you throw at them. Benchmark scores are also off the charts,and Snapdragon is finally etching closer to Apple in the chipset game,with the scores coming extremely close to those of the iPhone X. Performance is key as I explained in this post,and with performance like this,it's obvious that there will come a time when the iPhone will no longer reign.
The 6GB of RAM present here definitely helped with those bench mark scores,but they also help in this phone's memory.Amazingly,this phone can keep apps in it's memory from 9.00am in the morning to about 6.00pm in the evening,after which the app restarted. That is great performance,and it really helps to make this phone stand out.
Wrapping up this segment,the performance is definitely top notch,and I would recommend it to any power user or gaming addict.
Nontheless,the performance of the Galaxy S8 was already great enough,and with a price slash since then,it's more mouth watering than before. More on that at the end of the post.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review:Battery

The battery on the Galaxy S8 surprisingly remains unchanged. It's still at 3000mAh battery.The Plus variant has a larger 3500mAh battery though,but the better display,coupled with the meatier processor and AI capabilities put an enormous strain on this battery.If you're a heavy user,the Plus model is strictly for you.As a heavy user,I barely made it to the end of the day before the phone started crying for a charger.And while lighter use will make it last a full day,it won't take you through the next if you forget to charge it.
Samsung Galaxy S9 review

This is yet another feature that tells us that Samsung didn't really try to improve on the S9.I got about 4 hours of SOT which is pretty basic at best. I did play some games though.
Naturally,the Plus sized variant will take you longer into the day,though your mileage may vary depending on how much of a hard core gamer you are.
Thankfully,USB-C and wireless charging save this phone from being a total let down.
To summarise,battery's OK. Just OK.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review:Software

Samsung has it's own set of problems when it comes to software. And the first is,you guessed it,Bixby. Now,this lingering problem started with the Galaxy S8,and still lives on,though now with the option to disable it.Thank God for that!
There's also the fact that this isn't pure Android. Sure,sure,I hate stock Android. Why?Because it's too basic.  I like things that add a little complexity,without going overboard.But the S9's Samsung Experience UI goes way,way overboard.
Samsung still insists on putting it's own version of certain apps,but by not removing Google's own instances of the app,it just looks awkward. And while some of these clones are actually uesful,some are not,and that's a bummer.

Though,I can't say I don't like the software,I don't love it. I prefer something like Xiaomi's MiUi. It adds the functionality(and icon look)of Apple with the versatility of Android to produce a well baked software.I can feel that the software is the major cause of this phone's very rare slowing down,because the skin is way heavy.
Anyway,the software is visually appealing,and I like certain parts of it.For instance,the heart rate monitor.And since there's 4 new ways to unlock your phone that aren't in stock Android,this software has it's pros.To sum it up,if you hate stock Android as much as I do,then you'll love this software.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review:Speaker Quality

I noticed right  off the bat that the speakers on this phone are much better than those found on the S8. It combines the earpiece and bottom speaker together to produce rich,deep sounds.And,coupled with the amazing display,watching movies on this thing is pure bliss.It gets even better when you plug the AKG tuned earpieces into the headphone jack,which is still present.

 The speaker produces sound which is equally rich and deep. The speaker has  32-bit/384kHz audio which makes it sound great.But,this is really a  feature of most 2018 flagships and midrangers.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review:Miscallenous Features

This year,Samsung has added more ways of unlocking your smartphone instead of using that hellish fingerprint sensor.It has face unlock and Iris scanning,and combines the two of them into something called'intelligent unlock'. What this means is that it's even slower than Face ID.
Again,the Galaxy S9 is water and dust resistant,so no more fears of the toilet or bathtub(I actually tried to use this in shower,but the screen was too wet to be used,so I just kept it in the sink,which happened to be full of water.I hope you get my point)as you can leave it in 1.5m deep water for up to 30 minutes.
Yes,the phone is also a smudge and fingerprint magnet,but luckily,both types of stains come off the glass back easily.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review:Verdict

After over 3000 words,it's time for a verdict.I'll keep this short and simple.If you have a Galaxy S8,please save your money,unless you really,really want that variable arpeture.If you're a heavy user,steer clear of the S9 and only blow your bucks on the Plus.
Samsung Galaxy S9 review

But for an average user who doesn't own an S8,this iscthe best Samsung has offered till date. So should you buy this phone?Yes,yes and yes,but only if you don't have an S8.

Thank you so much for reading this review. It really took a lot to put together,so please leave a nice comment and a like on our FaceBook page if you liked it. Thanks for stopping by.


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