Hey, remember our Galaxy S9
/S9+ Q&A? We bet you do!
The time has come to answer all the questions you mustered.
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ Q&A
XDAdam: "When is Samsung going to enable a bunch of dead pixels at the top to simulate a notch in the screen to appease Apple fans?"
PA: Never, probably. Samsung had the chance to "copy" that design feature with the Galaxy S9 and S9+ but didn't; instead, it chose to follow its own design language instead of blindly adopting the notch design.
antmiu2: "So the battery life is worse than on the s8/s8 plus even in FHD mode?"
: Yes, at least on the Exynos version.
TechSceptic: "Hopefully you have been using these phones for quite a bit, as my question is based on that assumption. How has the performance been? I'm not really that interested in the gaming part of performance, but more the overall performance. How good is the audio quality coming out of the headphone jack of the S9 and S9+? Can it power more demanding headphones? Do you think Project Treble is going to speed up updates on the S9 and S9+?"
: Gaming aside, the Galaxy S9/S9+ perform rather similarly to their precursors. Surely, synthetic benchmarks will tell you a pretty telltale of a 30% better performance, but don't expect the phone to perform 30% better in mundane day-to-day tasks. Granted, the Galaxy S8
was already an able performer on its own, and the Galaxy S9 further builds onto that strong foundation. Unfortunately, even with the speedy Snapdragon 845 and Exynos 9810, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ can sometimes exhibit hiccups and jitter. The phone stutters slightly and drops frames in some places. This is something that you notice once you use the phone, not something that you can see in benchmarks. It's not a hardware but a software problem, yet the two go hand in had.
The audio quality coming out of the stereo speakers is good but the recent iPhones sound better to us. Granted, this is Samsung's first crack at stereo speakers and things are only going to get better in the future.
The audio quality from the 3.5mm jack is pretty clear and satisfying. However, the phone doesn't have much oomph to power high-impedance headphones. We tested it out with a pair of oldschool Fostex T40 over-ears (50 ohms). With Dolby Atmos on, the sound was full, crystal-clear, and detailed, with a max volume that is soft on the ears, but wouldn't muffle out the noises of a busy street. Moving down to a 32 ohm pair, we got a bit of extra oomph.
Don't regard Project Treble as something magical that will grant you software updates as soon as a new Android version gets released, but in theory, manufacturers should be able to push out updates faster as they will have to write significantly less new code. However, in practice, we will have to wait to see how the first wave of Treble-compliant devices will benefit from the feature - once Android P goes official, the countdown will be started and the major Android makers around will be carefully scrutinized.
Cat97: "Why is it so boring and why does it have worse battery life than the previous model ?"
: Truth is in the eye of the beholder. We wouldn't call the Galaxy S9 "boring" as it's merely a safe bet, a small step following the much grander Galaxy S8 one. We have no problem with that. As far as the battery life is concerned, the culprit can be narrowed down to the custom M3 cores that the chipset uses and their unnaturally high power consumption at high clock speeds. No such issues with the Snapdragon version of the device and suggests that you might as well consider skipping upgrading to the new Galaxy S9 if you live in an Exynos market and want great battery life performance.
JMartin22: "How much more noticeably bright are the whites/other high contrast images over the S8/S8+?"
PA: You are likely to notice a difference when you're on the outside, under direct daylight, as the Galaxy S9 can potentially achieve a higher peak brightness in certain conditions than the Galaxy S8. However, we wouldn't call the difference "obvious" or "easily noticeable", but have in mind your mileage may vary.
JPSahava: "I like compact phones but the 6.2 inches screen of S9+ is teasing me! How (un)comfortable is the S9+ when kept inside a jeans pocket? Comparing to regular S9, is it much bigger? What would you choose?"
: Get the Galaxy S9+
, the small difference in size tips the scales in favor of the large phone. Consider the bigger Galaxy twice as much if you're living in an Exynos market.
airstream25: "Are there any advantages to buying the S9 unlocked version directly from Samsung?"
PA: Some features and functionalities might not work. For example, you might have issues with Verizon's VVM (visual voice mail) if you use the unlocked version of the phone; the same applies to Wi-Fi and video calling.
surethom: "Can you adjust the always on screen brightness as it is always way to bright? Samsung just does not listen but hopefully they have finally?"
PA: You can.
zacsaturday: "How is the S9+ in the hand? Have an S9, not sure how an S9+ would be."
PA: Extremely similar, of course having in mind the larger footprint and the added weight. The difference shouldn't be that stark provided that you're used with the S9.
LouisMariano5: "just switched from an iPhone to a galaxy s9.... how come when you say ok google to google assistant, it doesn't give you any audio feedback or beeping sound to let you know that it is activated and listening to you?'
PA: It sure give you a sound feedback. Make sure your media volume is not muted.
QuadFace: "Does it beat HTC U11+ in audio, user interface and fluidness?"
: Audio quality is subjective, and while each of these has its own merits, we wouldn't go as far as to crown either of these a clear winner. The same applies to the user interface - both are products of years of UI evolution and have their respective strengths.
GreenMan: "The variable aperture: "How is the bokeh effect and low light picture quality compared to dual-camera smartphones? What about bloatware? With how many apps does it come pre-installed? Do you wish it had... A notch?"
PA: The regular Galaxy S9 doesn't come with a portrait camera features, as Live Focus is exclusive to the dual-camera Galaxy S9+. Google proved that you don't need two cameras to take great bokeh-infused portraits but it would seem Samsung hasn't caught on that yet.
Aside from a couple of carrier-specific apps and features, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ only feature Google, Microsoft, and Samsung's essential suites of Android apps. Naturally, many of these can be disabled if the user wishes so. Depending on your preferences, each or none of these can be viewed as "bloatware".
Oh, certainly notch (excuse the poor pun attempt, couldn't help it)!
Efrain: "Exynos or snapdragon variant?"
PA: Every other year we'd recommend the Exynos version, but this time, it's the other way around. Well, well, well, how the turntables....
Crogers2012: "How good is the camera with moving objects? Does the object in focus remain blurry or is the shutter speed quick enough to capture the item."
PA: The camera copes very well with moving objects. Of course, it's rather easy to deliberately fail at capturing a moving objects, yet the Galaxy S9 will often capture a rather decent shot of a moving object. As an added bonus, the Pro mode of the camera allows you to set a shutter speed, which could help you capture a decent shot of a moving object that you anticipate. Overall, a thumbs up from us!
drazwy: "Is the audio quality over bluetooth any better on the S9? The S8 sucks. Especially on a device using 4.0. Other phone don't have this issue."
: Depends on your receiving device, but in theory, the S9 should provide a much better audio quality thanks to the Bluetooth 5 support that Samsung has thrown in. Android Oreo, with its newly-baked Bluetooth codec selection menu that is available in Developer Options as well as Sony's high-quality LDAC supported, the Galaxy S9 should theoretically give you better audio quality.
Sammy_DEVIL737: "1. Is the UI any better than S8 or it still has those stutter & framedrop issues? 2: Has iris scanner improved/faster than S8/Note8 or still the same. 3. Howmuch camera has improved? Are the colours somewhat near to natural or still look over saturated? 4. How is the low light performance of the camera? 5. In what amount variable aperture has improved noise reduction in S9 camera against S8's camera? 6. How is the performance of the S9 compared to S8? 7. How are the colors of display compared to S8/Note8? Are they still saturated or look somewhat realistic? 9.How is the Front facing camera compared to S8? 10. Which is better in your opinion S9/+ or Note8? 11. How is the audio quality compared to other devices? Is it better when the vol. is high or gives distorted sound?"
There are still micro-stutters and sudden framedrops from time to time. 2.
When it works, the iris scanner is slightly faster than its Galaxy S8 counterpart. 3.
The new models keep the slightly warmer color profile of their predecessors, but aren’t as aggressive with the sharpening. As a result, S9 pictures look a bit softer and have slightly less noise, but other mostly comparable to the previous generation. 4. & 5.
the Galaxy S9+ is not that big of an improvement over the Note 8/S8, but it does produce more natural-looking results, since Samsung has obviously toned down some aspects of its post-processing algorithms. Overall, not as big a difference as we'd love. 6.
Better, but the interface is still prone to lagging here and there, which is unacceptable. 7.
Well, you can choose your own poison thanks to the several different color profiles. The default one is quite pleasing for day-to-day use as it's not super-saturated but still provides a more lively color appearance in contrast with the drab basic display mode. 8.
The front-facing camera is slightly better than the one of its precursor, especially when it comes to correctly exposing the scene. 9.
If you don't care for the S Pen, the S9+ is the way to go right now. 10.
The stereo speakers are very good, but the ones of the iPhone X
sound a bit more pleasing; however, the S9 wins in the loudness department. However, at higher volumes, the stereo speakers tend to sound quite harsh and tinny, but then again, you shouldn't listen to loud music in the first place. However, for the occasional YouTube clip, the loudspeakers perform excellently.