This is how the variable aperture of the Galaxy S9 works


Samsung's Galaxy S9 and S9+ have an aperture that can go from record wide for a phone f/1.5 down to f/2.4, depending on the scenario, which is important for extreme low-light shots, or recording high frame rate videos. Thanks to Zack Nelson from JerryRigEverything, and his phone torture chamber, we now know how the system works, too. Upon disassembling the Galaxy S9, he played around with the camera a bit, pushing against the shutter, and found a small lever on the side that actuates the opening and closing, as you can see above. The mechanics of it are pretty breathtaking, considering how confined is space inside any modern smartphone, so hopefully Samsung will keep perfecting and experimenting with variable aperture cameras in the Galaxy line.

When shooting at high FPS, the camera shutter needs to operate at an extremely high speed, which results in less light captured by the sensor. This makes shooting slow-mo videos in darker environments an exercise in frustration, especially when it comes to smartphone cameras, so Samsung equipped the S9 with Super Slow Motion regime, and the aperture to match. This wider f/1.5 aperture comes into play also when shooting in low-light. When the environment is not well-lit, a camera with a fixed aperture is forced to rely on ISO and shutter speed controls to ensure proper exposure of the scene. 

The problem with wide apertures, despite all the perks, is that they could result in blurrier-looking photos due to lens aberrations, so Samsung wisely made the one of the S9 and S9+ kick in only when there is less than 100lux illumination around, while in common scenarios the new flagships shoot with run-of-the-mill f/2.4 aperture, which is rather narrow compared to the fixed f/1.7 on, say, the Galaxy S8.

Related phones

Galaxy S9
  • Display 5.8" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(31h talk time)

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12 Comments

1. dubaiboy78

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Poor iPhone x!!!! PhoneArena is crying hard!!!! Lolz

2. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

"Samsung claims 95% battery capacity retention after two years, meanwhile Apple says plan for a 20% drop in capacity about every year, if they don't manually throttle you first" I like his jab at Apple on every video, lol..

3. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Also this part "Apple is usually about two years behind so you'll see this in an iPhone around 2020"

4. p3t3peter

Posts: 10; Member since: Mar 06, 2018

I am actually interested to see how the S8 battery holds up after 1 year and then again after 2

9. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

My S8+ has held up fairly well although the final Oreo beta update kinda messed with it a bit, hopefully when I get the official Oreo release it will be better

5. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

He always takes a jab at Apple...and that's fine with me because all he said were valid points.

6. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

Useless marketing gimmick. Every day Joe who has 0 knowledge in photography: "Oh its a very bright scene and I want everything to be in focus as I can see the edges with the f/1.5 are getting out of focus, so let me go to f/2.4 so everything is in focus since I have plenty of light to compensate" Seriously Samsung, stop with the gimmicks, you make amazing hardware, your camera is amazing and this is just a gimmick.

8. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

It's done automatically (except for pro-mode, of course).

11. Clars123

Posts: 1078; Member since: Mar 16, 2015

I dont see your point. f/1.5 introduces more softness and blur around the subject and f/2.4 is therefore 'sharper'. What he said wasnt exactly wrong.

12. drunkenjay

Posts: 1697; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

how is it a gimmick when modern day cameras have it?

13. dimas

Posts: 3382; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

That's why they made the aperture switching automatic in auto mode because average joes will just use the camera as it is. You want to shoot something in the dark? Bam! No problem, the camera will adjust itself to take lowlight pictures. Simple, easy, no need to mess with many things.

10. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

OIS, stacked DRAM & variable aperture, all in such a tight space, that's commendable. Makes me question why Sony hasn't done anything besides sticking a 1/2.3 sensor in all their phones for the past 4 years, even now that they are released their fattest phone in years. (I shouldn't say this about Sony but it is kinda ridiculous)

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