Hands-on with AR Emoji on the Galaxy S9: hey look, I'm Mickey Mouse!


At MWC 2018 in Barcelona, Samsung announced its latest flagship smartphones: the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. They come with a whole bunch of new features, including a number of camera upgrades, and without a doubt, the most... peculiar of them is AR Emoji. We didn't miss the chance to take these for a spin – using the powers of augmented reality to generate e virtual avatar of yourself doesn't sound like that bad of an idea. Alas, we walked out of the demo room with mixed feelings about the feature.

First, the good stuff: Samsung's AR Emoji are made to be open and compatible with any phone. They work not only in text messages, but also in third-party apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, so when you send them to your friends, they will see them, whether they have an iPhone or an Android phone of any brand. How did Samsung achieve this? With GIFs, of course! Once your AR Emoji is saved, a set of 18 animations expressing various emotions are created, so sending one over is no different than sending a picture from your gallery.

AR Emoji are customizable and easy to make. The front-facing camera is used to take a scan of the user's face, and the process takes less than a minute. Curiously, if you take a closer look, you will notice your own facial features on the avatar, but you can customize it: you can go for a more cartoonish look or change the hairstyle and clothing. And if you don't want to use your own face, there are several characters to pick from, including no other than Mickey Mouse!

But it seems like AR Emoji may need some extra work. We don't want to draw a conclusion at this time since the Galaxy S9 demo unit we tried them on wasn't quite a final product, but they did appear to lack the precision of Apple's Animoji when it comes to tracking face expressions. We hope we see better results from the Galaxy S9 review unit that is on its way to our office. 

What do you think of Samsung's AR Emoji? Do you think you'd actually use them on a regular basis? Let us know in the comments! 

Related phones

Galaxy S9
Galaxy S9+

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