Without a doubt, the Samsung Galaxy S9 will be one of the most talked-about phones of the year. The current magnum opus from the South Korean brand comes prepared to dazzle with its fancy features but at the same time, there are some caveats under the surface that our close inspection has revealed. Is it still worth a buy? Let's find out.
Reasons to buy the Galaxy S9
1. Fluid performance
The S9's fluidity is simply captivating. The speed of its software is unparalleled. It runs butter-smooth and is always satisfying to use for our daily tasks. This is mainly thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 845 chipset. Right now, don't expect the difference in RAM between the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus models to have any major impact, though the 6 GB of the larger model does work to future-proof it.
Our in-depth performance test was revealing in some important aspects. While the overall performance is great, these fantastically fluid phones aren't immune to the occasional hiccup. That's due to poor software optimization on Samsung's part, but in all honesty, it's barely perceptible unless you're watching very closely for it.
2. Impressive camera (although not revolutionary)
Every year, users demand more and more from their smartphone cameras, and Samsung's Galaxy S flagships are at the forefront of competing for our attention with cutting-edge tech. The Galaxy S8 had a superb camera, but this new generation takes it s step further with some fancy new gimmicks.
The variable aperture of the lens is the best ever for a smartphone: f/2.4 for bright spaces and f/1.5 for dark interiors or exteriors. In addition to that, the noise reduction in photos at night is really very good.
We tasked our camera experts with putting the photographic qualities of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus to the test. Overall, it's undeniable that the Galaxy S9 has one of the best cameras on the market right now.
Though the typical user should have nothing to worry about in terms of quality of shots, serious photographers will want to examine the competition to find out specific details. There's going to be some competition this year, for example, from the RED Hydrogen One.
3. Super Slow Motion
The camera's sensor has the same technology that we saw previously on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. This allows the S9 to capture super-slow motion video at 960 frames per second, in high definition. This fun feature is enhanced by the addition of the self-timer.
4. The gorgeous display
Let's face it, we spend a lot of time with our eyes glued to the smartphone display. Too much time, especially if you're a tech geek or use your phone a lot for work or gaming. Samsung are experts at display design, and the S9 is the pinnacle of their work on mobile technology.
HD movies, graphically gorgeous games and other high quality media content are easy for the S9, which renders realistic colors in fantastic detail. But it's also the little things that count. In day-to-day use, a beautiful smartphone display can still be delightful just for web browsing and using basic apps, and the S9 certainly won't disappoint you in this regard.
Reasons not to buy the S9
1. Middling battery life
Surprisingly enough, the Galaxy S9 has the same battery as its predecessor, the Galaxy S8. The battery is 3,000 mAh, but the rest of the hardware in the device has been beefed up considerably from the previous generation.
You can guess the results of this—last year's batteries in this year's flagship fail to keep up with the demands of the more powerful components and applications.
Samsung is still burned by the exploding Note 7 debacle and has played it safe when it comes to battery power. It's great that your S9 won't blow up, but that does mean that the improved performance takes quite a toll on battery life. At least you don't risk your real life.
Using the S9 to the fullest means you'll need regular boosts from the charger. Fortunately, its fast charge will give you 50% battery life in just 39 minutes.
2. Bixby STILL isn't quite up to standard for a modern voice assistant
Since its inception, we've seen Bixby slowly grow from a bad joke to a serious contender in the voice assistant market, but it's still not in the top tier. The voice command "Hi Bixby" isn't always recognized, leaving us awkwardly shouting at a brick out on the street. Not a good look for showing off your premium hi-tech smartphone. If I want to be ignored, I can talk to my cat.
3. It's still early in the year
In many ways, the new Galaxy S flagship is going to set the standard to beat for the year. We're not quite through the first quarter and you bet that other manufacturers are going to try to beat it, either by outperforming Samsung in all aspects or pitching a more specialized offering at different price points.
Consider, for example, that we're about to see Huawei enter the ring with its new P20 flagships, with a triple camera on the Pro version. HTC will also be looking to follow up the HTC U11, one of our favorites from last year, with the HTC U12.
Google's next generation of Pixel phones will no doubt be contenders for the best camera, and have better software optimization than the S9. Then there's the upcoming OnePlus 6, designed to topple exactly the kind of flagship the S9 represents.
- Could the Huawei P20 challenge the Galaxy S9?
- 3 reasons why the Sony Xperia XZ2 will be worth waiting for
The Galaxy S9 remains an impressive device, but think twice before succumbing to the marketing blitz and surrendering your $720+. I'd recommend taking a dive through our in-depth testing of the device, and also taking a glance at the competition.
- Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Sony Xperia XZ2: the stars of MWC compared
- Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Honor View 10: is Samsung worth the price jump?
- Samsung Galaxy S9 vs iPhone X: the best form of flattery
Want to see the S9 before you order? Take a look in our hands-on video:
Did you buy the Galaxy S9? Are you happy with your choice? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Based on an article by Juan Felipe Guerrero C. for androidpit.es, our Spanish language site