It's been a month since Samsung launched the new Galaxy S family, including the Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10+. After reviewing all three newcomers and comparing them with the previous generation, there is a question worth answering. How does last year's flagship behave today? Is Galaxy S9+ still a valid device?
A design that doesn't go out of style
Despite this year's slight redesign, the Galaxy S9+ does not differ so much from the Galaxy S10+. With the exception of the remarkably small edges and the two front cameras installed inside two holes, last year's device still recalls a rather modern style. In short, no drastic change compared to what happened with the arrival of Galaxy S8 and S8+ in which Samsung introduced for the first time its Infinity Display. Galaxy S9+ retains this familiar aspect to fans of the series and is certainly not something to complain about.
The famous glass and metal sandwich resists innovation and still offers IP68 waterproofing and a microSD card slot.
- Samsung Galaxy S10+ review: a flagship with (few) compromises
- Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S8: (slightly) different twins
A display that never disappoints
Although the display of Samsung's current flagship device has been rated as the best ever mounted on a smartphone, this doesn't mean that the one on board the Galaxy S9+ is bad by any means. In fact, despite the smaller overall size of the panel, due mainly to more pronounced frames, both models share the same maximum resolution (QHD+) and a level of quality that is a pleasure for the eyes.
While not sharing support for the latest HDR10+ technology, the S9+ display offers full support for its predecessor, HDR10, to get the most out of content from sources such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
It remains one of the fastest smartphones available today
It may have been a year but the Galaxy S9+ is still a very fast smartphone that can do all the daily tasks and even more. After all, we're only talking about last year's flagship device, not one from ten years ago, so this shouldn't be a surprise.
What moves it all is the Snapdragon 845 or the Exynos 9810 (depending on the market), both with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory. The only difference from last year compared to today is the disparity between the standard version and the Plus version. Last year, the S9 was equipped with 4GB of RAM and those who wanted more had to buy the Plus variant. This year, however, there is no longer any difference between one model and another.
Still looks young thanks to One UI
Although over the years you can not change the hardware of a smartphone, you can not say the same about the software, the only change that you can find on the Galaxy S9 and S9+ series compared to last year. In fact, you can now update the "old" flagship Samsung to Android 9 Pie, offered with the new interface customized by the manufacturer, the One UI.
Among the main features, there is the possibility to activate the Dark Mode that, in addition to giving the AMOLED display the look it deserves, allows the two Galaxies to save some battery, one of the most criticized aspects of these devices.
A good camera that's missing something
The largest area of innovation of the Galaxy S9+ was its dual camera, where the main sensor offered a unique feature, namely a variable aperture capable of opening the shutter from f/2.4 to f/1.5 in order to provide an ideal lens for both day and night shooting.
Apart from the variable aperture, the main camera is equipped with a 12-megapixel sensor and optical stabilization. The second sensor is a 2x telephoto lens. Like most top-of-the-range smartphones, the Galaxy S9+ will hardly disappoint you in the daytime shots where this device manages to collect good details and colors. At night, of course, there is no more comparison than current smartphones, but I must say that he is still doing well, especially thanks to the variable opening. Switching to f/1.5, the sensor captures more light in low light conditions.
However, on this device, we will not find any support from the AI, as you can find on new models instead. The Galaxy S9+ does not have a dedicated NPU, making it impossible to take advantage of artificial intelligence algorithms. Apart from that, I must say that the feature that I missed most on this device is undoubtedly a wide angle sensor, but I could solve somehow using the new Rhinoshield lenses.
Battery: the Achilles heel
Compared to Samsung's S10+ this year, the Galaxy S9+'s battery life has never been satisfactory, despite its 3500mAh module. However, after the upgrade to Android 9 Pie and the move to the new One UI that allowed me to set a dark theme at the system level, some improvement has materialized, but do not expect miracles, of course.
Of course, the battery life always varies depending on the use you make of your smartphone, but you will hardly be able to go to sleep at night with a residual charge. In fact, to tell the truth, during the days of most intense use I usually need a power bank or a charger before dinner.
Is it still worth buying a Galaxy S9+ in 2019?
The Galaxy S9+ excels in most of the aspects that the average user needs when buying a new smartphone: a good camera, a still current design, an excellent display and the latest version of Android renewed by One UI.
Despite its flaws, we are still talking about the best-selling Samsung smartphone series in the brand's history, and that's for good reason. In addition, taking advantage of the various promotions below cost, sometimes you can even buy it for less than $600, a great price for those who want a high-level Samsung device without scraping the $1,000 dollar barrier for a new flagship.