The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are here: Awesome cameras, dazzling bezel-less design, and power to match

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are here: Awesome cameras, dazzling bezel-less design, and power to match

After months of speculation and incessant leaks, Samsung’s latest pair of flagships, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, are finally official. Seeing as how the S8 and S8+ were a running success for the company and set the bar quite high, the new entries in Samsung's S-lineup strive to embody everything that made last year's models great, all the while building upon the foundation to improve in meaningful ways.

At a first glance, not much has changed since last year in terms of size and design, with the S9 and S9+ boasting familiar bezel-less facades, accentuated by the same, ultra-tall, Super AMOLED Infinity Displays that made the S8 and S8+ stand out in 2017. In fact, he biggest design changes in the new flagships come in the form of a slightly slimmed down bezels, and a relocated fingerprint scanner on the back, both of which are welcome decisions on Samsung's part.

Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are more of a refinement of an already established and successful formula, rather than the major paradigm shift that were their predecessors. Not that this makes them any less impressive. Quite the contrary, in fact. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ feature more refined design, beefed-up hardware, deeper and smarter AI integration through Bixby, and, of course, vastly improved cameras with variable aperture and super slow-mo video recording at close to 1000 frames per second.

So, let's have a quick look at all the stand-out features of the Galaxy S9 and S9+.

Dazzling bezel-less design and horsepower to match


The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are here: Awesome cameras, dazzling bezel-less design, and power to match

Slim bezels and curved Infinity Displays are again the defining features of Samsung's 2018 S-series lineup. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ both feel good in the hand and exude the premium feel that you'd expect to come with the higher price tag Samsung is asking for this year. The bottom bezel has been slimmed down a hair, while the fingerprint scanner has been moved beneath the camera, so as to prevent accidental smudging of the lens. Albeit not a drastic change, the relocated fingerprint scanner results in better overall usability and we found the new positioning to be more convenient and equally easy to reach with both hands.

As far as looks go, when you hold either the S9 or S9+ in your hand, you get that nice illusion that the side bezels are not there, which is a result of Samsung's use of curved displays. The screens on the Galaxy S9 and S9+ gently curve at the edges end bleed into the metal side frame. This same curvature is mirrored on the handsets' glass backs, which creates a pleasant, cohesive look. Another minor change when compared to last year's models are the less rounded corners on both devices. It's not quite Note 8 levels of rectangular, but it's somewhere between the S8 and Note 8, in terms of how rounded the corners are.

Display & Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are here: Awesome cameras, dazzling bezel-less design, and power to match
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ are outfitted with 5.8" and a 6.2" displays, respectively – same sizes as last year. The tech hasn't changed either – both are vibrant, HDR-ready, Super AMOLED panels with a resolution of 1440 x 2960 pixels. However, Samsung says it's using a new type of coating on the glass on the front, so the new screens may look somewhat more dynamic and punchy to the naked eye, thanks to even deeper blacks, but the difference shouldn't be too big.

On the inside, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are powered by a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 CPU, paired with 4GB of RAM in the S9 and 6GB in the S9+. Both feature a 3.5mm jack and are IP68-rated to boot, making them dust- and water-resistant. One area where Samsung doesn't introduce anything new is the batteries. The new flagships have the same 3000 and 3500 mAh batteries that powered the Galaxy S8 and S8+ last year.

Aside from a 3.5mm jack, the S9 and S9+ now also sport stereo speakers, one being bottom-firing, and the earpiece doubling as the other. Samsung says the new speaker configuration produces sound that is on average 1.4x louder than what the S8s were capable of. And just like the earbuds that came boxed with last year's models, the speakers of the S9s are "tuned by AKG" and also support Dolby Atmos.

The camera, reimagined


The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are here: Awesome cameras, dazzling bezel-less design, and power to match

So, one of the biggest stand-out features of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are the improved cameras, now capable of super slow-mo video recording and equipped with variable apertures. Much like the S8, the Galaxy S9 features a single-lens camera setup, while the S9+ is equipped with a Note 8-style dual-camera system that combines a regular lens with a telephoto shooter for lossless optical zoom and better portraits. The big new feature here is the variable aperture, which can be found in the S9's camera and the main, wide-angle shooter on the S9+.

The two-step variable aperture goes from f/1.5, down to f/2.4, which comes in handy when shooting slow motion video or stills at night. When you're shooting in a dimly lit environment, for example, the aperture opens to let more light in, so you can shoot at a higher shutter speed and not worry about blurring your photo. This feature is also important for recording high frame rate videos, since 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 a wider aperture is always welcome in scenarios like this.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are here: Awesome cameras, dazzling bezel-less design, and power to match

But then why didn't Samsung just go with a fixed f/1.5 aperture, instead of a variable one? Well, there's a good reason for this. You see, stopping down the aperture a bit can lead to improved all-around sharpness throughout the frame, which is good for daytime shots. 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. However, with Samsung's variable aperture, the Galaxy S9 will be able to switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4, depending on the scene, which should deliver better shots in low-light, but also sharper photos in well-lit environments, in theory at least. Think of it as a feature that offers an extra bit of flexibility when using the Galaxy S9's camera.

Super slow-mo video recording

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are here: Awesome cameras, dazzling bezel-less design, and power to match

The so-called super slow-mo video recording is another stand-out feature of the Galaxy S9 and S9+. It allows users to record video in up to 960fps for a fraction of a second (0.2s to be exact), which is then stretched to 6 seconds to create a slow motion effect. Slow-mo is available at 720p resolution, much like on the Xperia Premium XZ, although the S9 and S9+ are capable of automatic motion detection, which picks appropriate part of the clip in slow-motion without you having to do almost anything.

This eliminates much of the frustration of catching a split-second of fast action on camera that Sony's implementation caused. And if you're not happy of the automatic slow-mo detection, you can always adjust it manually from the Gallery app. Other than that, the produced slow-motion clips can be shared normally, shared as GIF, or if you're particularly proud of your creation, you can set it as a lockscreen wallpaper, which play every time you wake the phone up.

AR Emoji

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are here: Awesome cameras, dazzling bezel-less design, and power to match

As is the trend these days, the front-facing cameras on the Galaxy S9 and S9+ can do what Samsung is referring to as "AR Emoji", which are basically 3D avatars made to look like the user. The process is simple – you just snap a pic of yourself and then the phone generates an avatar. If you're not happy with the digital approximation of yourself, you can always adjust it to make it look more like you. What's cooler is that once you set up your 3D avatar, the S9 automatically generates animated emoji stickers based on it and makes them accessible through the keyboard so you can send them as stickers in different messaging apps.

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 256 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(31h talk time)
Galaxy S9+
  • Display 6.2" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh(35h talk time)

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18 Comments

1. umaru-chan

Posts: 335; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

Price will determine the success of this phone. If the price is too high like the previous news this will be least selling flagship phone in the samsung mobile history because lets be honest this is the most minor update of it's line since forever.

5. Chris_Bakke

Posts: 246; Member since: Jan 23, 2013

I both agree and disagree. In the US anyway, people usually just pay monthly payments for 2-3 years. But I know most people around the world have to buy their phones outright.

2. maherk

Posts: 6686; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

If I was to get the S9, I would get the smaller version regardless of the 2nd lens found on the Plus model. I would sideload the Pixel 2 camera app and get better portrait shots than the ones I would get from the stocmk camera app.

3. Madmax

Posts: 110; Member since: Aug 19, 2016

ha ha.. laughed at sony's slow mo time.. Sammy gave you the same.. got nothing better so talked about convenience.. oh the laugh

6. hboy857

Posts: 367; Member since: Jun 03, 2013

Yup, I remember sammy boys doing that. Too bad their fav company is doing the same thing only 1 year later. Buttttttttt, it's a good thing that they are keeping the headphone jack.

10. adecvat

Posts: 600; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

It is not the same. You can't record slow-mo on S9 manually.

16. ShadowSnypa786

Posts: 458; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

Got the same?? People saying Samsungs implementation is alot better including the automatic shooting whereas Sony is only manual and you will miss the perfect shot. This is from GSMArena alone "Yes, Sony had that since last year, so Samsung can't claim first. The Koreans probably knew that, so they decided to make it a lot better than Sony's implementation. Just like the Xperias, the new Galaxies can do 0.2s of slow-mo capturing at 960 fps. But Samsung has lowered the time between those captures down to 2 seconds. Between those timeouts the camera continues to shoot at 30fps. That's the first improvement. The second upgrade is what matters the most, and it's game changing. The Xperia phones had a steep learning curve for hitting the button at the right time. We missed a lot of balloon pops and it took us numerous attempts across a few days until we got the know-how. Samsung does it automatically. Yes, the phone begins the slow-mo sequence automatically thanks to a new clever AI algorithm and you don't have to learn how and when to turn it on. And that's not just PR talk - we tried it and we didn't miss a single balloon pop out of 20 or so takes. How about that?! There is a manual switch, don't you worry, so the advanced users aren't ignored either. Finally, there is one more thing Samsung did better than Sony - an easy edit over the captured clip. After you are done shooting, you get a very intuitive preview with all the slow-mo moments clearly visible and easily editable. You can get rid of some or add sound to the ones you choose to keep. And here is the kicker - in addition to those edits, you can also export the slow-mo parts as gifs, right there from the preview. Upon exportin you can choose one from three effects - loop, reverse, or swing."

4. YeahYeah

Posts: 247; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

Hahaha.. these are beautiful. Damn

7. byazatt

Posts: 316; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

I'm impressed

8. darkkjedii

Posts: 30789; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen...we have a winner.

9. pixelated

Posts: 108; Member since: May 03, 2015

Funny.... Nokia couldn't implement Snap 845 in Nokia 8 & then they dream about competing Samsung. Hope it doesn't go too bad for them.

11. chris2k5

Posts: 223; Member since: Nov 17, 2012

Nothing innovative. Google, Huawei, and Apple stole the show at the end of 2017. Left nothing for Samsung to wow with.

12. Foxgabanna

Posts: 576; Member since: Sep 11, 2016

I’m not impressed at all I guess I might buy the iPhone X or an S8+ and save some money.

14. Awalker

Posts: 1958; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

How are you saving money by buying an iPhone X?

13. cmdacos

Posts: 3819; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Impressive upgrades and well thought out software enhancements. Looking forward to my Note9

15. ShadowSnypa786

Posts: 458; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

PhoneArena you forgot to mention the Exynos powered S9 and S9+ are capable of recording 4k at 120fps but once again Samsung had to disable it because the Snapdragon version can't compete. Plus according to rumours the Exynos powered devices have a more powerful GPU than the Snapdragon versions for once but the difference in performance is very little.

17. brasstax

Posts: 539; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Its mind boggling how shameless these high ranking executives are lying on the world stage with a straight face. I loved how the guy spoke about Samsung revolutionizing and innovating with the infinity display. I guess he just assumed that the Xiaomi Mi Mix and LG G6 did not exist. True that the S8 and S8+ sold many times more, but that does not mean that Samsung introduced the all screen or almost all screen trend.

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