The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9+ are now OFFICIAL… but how do they differ and which is best? Let’s take a look

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9+ are now OFFICIAL… but how do they differ and which is best? Let's take a look

The wait is OVER. Samsung's new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ handsets are official. Launched on the cusp of MWC 2018, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are two of the biggest launches of the year, save for Apple's 2018 iPhone releases.

"The way we use our smartphones has changed as communication and self-expression has evolved," said DJ Koh, president and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division, Samsung Electronics. "With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, we have reimagined the smartphone camera. Not only do the Galaxy S9 and S9+ enable consumers to shoot great photos and videos anywhere, it's a smartphone that's designed to help them connect to others and express themselves in a way that's unique and personal to them."

But do they impress? Were they worth the wait? Does Samsung have an iPhone X killer on its hands? Let's take a look at the two phones and find out.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Release Date – What You Need To Know

  • Pre-orders for Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ start February 25 
  • Pricing – Galaxy S9 (£739); Galaxy S9+ (£869)
  • Pre-Ordered handsets will ship on March 7
  • Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ go on sale March 16

First up: let's take a look at the design of the phones and see how they differ.

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Samsung Galaxy S9+ – Design

The overall look and feel of the handsets is very similar to last year's Galaxy S8 models. They're incremental in this respect. And that's OK, providing you dug the Galaxy S8's design language (like I do).

Neither are revolutions in this regard; they're more of an evolution, with an emphasis on performance and user-features. This is the Apple way of doing things and, from a financial perspective, it makes sense as it lowers the R&D budgets which means better margins.

Changing the design, dramatically, every year costs money. You have to pay for design, testing, prototyping – lots of stuff, basically. Switching to a two-year hardware cycle negates this somewhat, so it's easy to understand why phone makers do it.

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Samsung Galaxy S9+ – Specs & Features

As expected, there aren't too many surprises when it comes to specs for both handsets. They'll run on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 platform, feature a 3500mAh battery in the S9+ and a 3000mAh in the S9, water and dust proofing, as well as heavily updated cameras (more on that in a bit), and wireless charging.

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ will feature more RAM (6GB vs 4GB), and both handsets will keep the same display sizes and resolutions as last year's models – so, QHD panels just with support for HDR10 and Dolby Atmos through the front-facing speakers. And there is support for microSD too.

RAM, and the camera, is basically the only real different between the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9+.

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Samsung Galaxy S9+ – Camera Tech

There is a basic parity between the cameras used on the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, which is the good news. The bad news is that the Galaxy S9+ has secondary telephoto camera that'll achieve two-times zoom with zero image-quality loss.

It also adds in more finesse when it comes to portrait shots, as the bokeh effect (background blurring) is more prominent with this secondary lens in play. Beyond this, the nuts and bolts of the camera setups on both phones are very similar. You have a 12MP sensor with a mechanical aperture that'll move between f/2.4 and f/1.5 depending on your setting and lighting conditions.

This "switching aperture" will, in theory, improve the quality of shots taken in a variety of environments. It isn't the first time something like this has appeared in a phone, but it is the first instance that I am aware of where it switches automatically. How it works in practice remains to be seen. But I am very intrigued by the possibilities.

On the front of both, you have 8MP cameras, which will provide decent image quality for selfies and video-calling. Samsung has also added in AR emoji, if that's something you're interested in. I can't say that I am… but there ya go!

Samsung highlighted these four key points when discussing the Galaxy S9's updated camera at launch:

  • Super Slow-mo: Make every day moments epic with dynamic, slow-motion video that captures 960 frames per second. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also offer automatic Motion Detection, an intelligent feature that detects movement in the frame and automatically begins to record – all users have to do is set up the shot. After capturing the Super Slow-mo video, users can select background music from 35 different options or add a tune from their favorite playlist. Users can also easily create, edit and share GIF files with a simple tap in three playful styles of looping to watch the action over and over again.
  • Low Light Camera: Good lighting is the secret to any great photo. But often, photos are taken in less-than-ideal lighting conditions and most smartphone cameras have a fixed aperture that can't adjust to low or bright lighting environments resulting in grainy or washed out pictures. Similar to the way the iris of a human eye expands and contracts, Samsung's Dual Aperture2(F1.5 / F2.4) automatically lets in more light when it's dark and less light when it's too bright, taking photos that are crisp and clear.
  • AR Emoji: Samsung lets users create an emoji that looks, sounds and acts like them. AR Emoji uses a data-based machine learning algorithm, which analyzes a 2D image of the user and maps out more than 100 facial features to create a 3D model that reflects and imitates expressions, like winks and nods, for true personalization. AR Emoji shares users' real-life emotions not only in video but also with a range of stickers and uses a standard AGIF file format so users can share their emojis across most third-party messaging platforms.
  • Bixby: Samsung's intelligence platform, integrated into the camera, uses augmented reality and deep learning technologies to provide helpful information about a user's surroundings.3 With real-time object detection and recognition, Bixby instantly generates information directly on top of the image that the camera is pointing at. Users can translate foreign languages and currency in real time with Live Translation, learn about their surroundings, purchase products seen in the real world and track calories throughout the day.

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Samsung Galaxy S9+ – Which is Best?

Tough to say. Samsung has kept the handsets very similar – and this is a good thing. The main differences (camera, battery size and RAM) aren't too big a deal breaker for potential users. I mean, if you got the S9 over the S9+, I don't think you'd be missing out on too much.

Obviously, though, if you want the best possible camera performance and abilities you'd go with the Galaxy S9+. If you're just after a solid phone with great performance, as well as good imaging, either phone would do, to be honest.

Which Would I Buy?

Simple: the Galaxy S9+. Why? I like the best of the best, especially with respect to battery life and imaging. The Galaxy S9+ has a slight edge in this regard and that, combined with the everything else, would make me go with that phone.

Still, I would 100% recommend the S9 as well, especially if you're rocking a Galaxy S7 or any phone that is a couple of years old. If I were using a Galaxy S8… well, I'd probably wait until the Note 9 launch later this year, as the S8 is still a fairly solid phone, even with these new ones around.

You Can Pre-Order The Galaxy S9 via Fone House From £55 a Month With NO UPFRONT PAYMENT


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