Samsung Galaxy S9 full review
With news from MWC coming thick and faster over the past week, we've been getting our hands on all the new models and seeing how they stack up to their biggest rivals.
Price and Availability
The Samsung Galaxy S9 is available to order now and was released on 16 March.
The standard S9 will set you back £739/$719 while the S9+ costing £869/$839. The S9 while is substantially more expensive than the base model, it will feature a bigger screen, dual cameras, a larger battery and increased storage.
The Pixel 2 is on sale for £629/$599 for the 64GB model and £729/$779 for the 128GB version.
Design and Build
The S9 has been described as an 'incremental' upgrade from the S8, so on the design and build front there isn't much to say. You could confuse the two phones at a glance.
The bezels on the face are slightly smaller, but apart from that it's pretty identical to the S8 – you'll have to turn the phone around and look at the back for the obvious differences.
The dual cameras are the big giveaway, and the placement of the fingerprint scanner which has shifted below the camera.
The Pixel 2 does struggle when compared to the S9 in the looks department, the front of the phone contains some very large bezels. These do house stereo front facing speakers which give great sound quality, but do make the phone look a little cheap in comparison to Samsung's flagship.
The build on both phones is excellent, as you would expect when parting with the best part of £1,000 for a device. They both feel like solid, premium products – but the S9 certainly wins out in the looks department.
The screen on the S9 measures at 5.8in, while on the S9+ boasts a 6.2in display.
Quad HD+ resolution makes everything on the screen look gorgeous and crisp, with the colours popping out brightly thanks to the SuperAMOLED technology.
The Pixel 2 screen is 5in high, with the XL version being 5.8in.
The screen is an OLED with 1920 x 1080 resolution and 441ppi. The screen looks great, with the 2 XL offering a higher resolution display as well. They really do stand out among smartphones and are beaten only by, you guessed it, the panels found on Samsung's phones.
However, it's always important to keep the price in mind here as the S9 is about 30% more expensive. There is value in that extra 30%, but it's obviously subjective in it's importance to you personally.
Processor, memory and storage
Both the S9 and the S9+ are powered by the new Exynos 8910. The octa-core chip is also receiving a bump in speed with the faster four cores ramping up to 2.7 GHz. However, the US and Chinese markets will get an S9+ with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845.
The S9 will feature 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, while the S9+ gets a beefy 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
Both phones will be able to expand their storage capacity up to 400GB via the microSD slot as well.
The Pixel 2 features the Snapdragon 835, the favourite from last year, including 4GB of RAM and a 64GB of internal storage which you can also expand with a microSD.
Both of these phones are going to have blistering performance either way, so unless you're trying to remotely control a spaceship, you're not going to come into any issues with speed and performance.
As development in other areas of smartphone technology starts to slow down, we're seeing a whole lot of attention put on improving the cameras, and the S9 certainly doesn't disappoint here.
The S9 still features the Super Speed Dual Pixel camera which is still 12Mp. However, it has a mechanical aperture like a dedicated DSLR. This will automatically adjust between f/2.4 down to f/1.5 depending on how much light is available to the sensor.
The S9+ comes with a second lens which isn't present on the regular model. This additional lens is a 13Mp telephoto with an f/2.4. Both of these cameras have optical image stabilisation which allows for a lot of versatility in your photo and video taking.
The S9+ can also record in super slow motion, at 960fps at 720p.
The camera on the Pixel 2 is fantastic, and a big improvement on the already brilliant Pixel. Both the Pixel 2 and the 2 XL feature the same camera, so you won't have to buy a bigger phone to get the best out of the camera, which is a nice change.
The Pixel 2 sports a single 12.2Mp sensor with f/1.8 and optical image stabilisation, and can record 4k video at 30 FPS.
The S9 features Android 8 Oreo, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. Samsung has it's own twist on it as ever, but still it's only tweaks from the interface and functionality found on the S8.
The software is where the Pixel 2 really shines. It also contains Android 8 Oreo out of the box, and the functionality of the entire phone is lighting fast and very intuitive. The general design of the phone is proof of Google's access to vast amount of data that they've put to good work. They know exactly how to design something to be super efficient, user friendly and make it seem effortless at the same time.
Samsung Galaxy S9: Specs
- Android 8.0 Oreo
- 5.8in Quad HD+ (2960x1440) 18.5:9 SuperAMOLED Infinity Display
- Exynos 9810 octa-core processor
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB internal storage
- microSD card slot (up to 400GB)
- 12Mp rear-facing camera with OIS and f/1.5
- 8Mp front camera
- Pressure sensitive home button
- Fingerprint scanner (rear mounted)
- Heart rate monitor
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX
- 4G LTE Cat 16
- Headphone jack
- 3000mAh non-removable battery
- Wireless charging
- IP68 dust & waterproof rating