Samsung Galaxy S9 full review
Through rumours and leaks ahead of the event, we weren't anticipating the Galaxy S9 to be a huge upgrade over the Galaxy S8, but there were some surprises during the launch. That's good, since it goes some way to explain the price hike over last year's flagship.
Price and availability
Whereas the Galaxy S8 had an RRP of £689/$724.99 it is today available SIM-free for just a few quid over £500 at Amazon UK or $627 from Amazon US. The Galaxy S8+, meanwhile, is available at around £577 SIM-free or $700 in the US.
The new Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus look significantly more expensive in comparison, available to pre-order today from £739/$719.99 and £869/$839.99 respectively. The phones are on sale now, and we should see the price quickly drop within the next few months if history is anything to go by.
What's the difference between Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9?
The primary camera inside the Galaxy S9 has been 'reimagined', according to Samsung. It says it is its most advanced camera ever thanks to its Dual Aperture low-light capabilities (even on the standard model), Super Slow-mo video (up to 960fps), automatic motion detection and personalised AR Emoji. Bixby support provides information on screen that can describe the user’s surroundings, translate foreign languages and more.
The new Super Speed Dual Pixel sensor with dedicated processing power and memory can combine up to 12 frames into one shot, whereas the Galaxy S8 could combine only three. There is up to 30 percent less noise as a result.
The setup is slightly different for Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, since the Plus model is the first in Samsung's S-series line-up to include a dual-camera. In common with the dual-camera on the Note 8, both lens support OIS.
Although the standard Galaxy S9 still has only one 12Mp camera, the adjustable aperture that can go down to f/1.5 - the best of any phone on the market. Samsung was already the leader at f/1.7, but now the phone lets in 28 percent more light.
The bezels have been slimmed down slightly above and below the screen, but the 'Infinity Display' screens are still set at 5.8- and 6.2in respectively. As before these are Quad-HD+ 18.5:9 Super AMOLED panels.
This means the Galaxy S9 is a fraction shorter than the Galaxy S8, though it is a little bit thicker and heavier. We can't win them all.
Also see: Best Galaxy S9 cases
Performance has had an upgrade in the Galaxy S9, with the new phones now featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 (depending on territory). These chips promise more raw power and improved efficiency over anything before them, but we'll wait until we get them into our lab to comment further.
In common with the Galaxy S8 the S9 has 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, but the Galaxy S9+ has 6GB of RAM.
The microSD support on each model in the S9 family can now accommodate cards up to 400GB.
We're pleased to see the Samsung Galaxy S9 retains the 3.5mm headphone jack, but even more so that Samsung has upgraded the speakers. Whereas we previously saw a downward-firing speaker on the Galaxy S8 there are now stereo speakers top and bottom.
What else is new?
There’s a new Lilac Purple colour option available in addition to the Midnight Black and Coral Blue colours we know from the S8 range.
What is the same?
Pretty much everything else, including the 3000- and 3500mAh batteries that support fast wireless charging, IP68 waterproofing, fingerprint scanners (though in a new position below the rear camera), iris scanners, heart-rate scanners and more.
Galaxy S8 vs Galaxy S9 specifications
|Specifications||Samsung Galaxy S8||Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus||Samsung Galaxy S9||Samsung Galaxy S9+|
|Operating system||Android 7.0 Nougat with TouchWiz||Android 7.0 Nougat with TouchWiz||Android Oreo 8.0 with TouchWiz||Android Oreo 8.0 with TouchWiz|
|Processor||10nm 64-bit octa-core processor (2.3GHz + 1.7GHz Quad)||10nm 64-bit octa-core processor (2.3GHz + 1.7GHz Quad)||2nd-gen 10nm, 64-bit Octa-core processor (2.7GHz Quad + 1.7GHz Quad)||2nd-gen 10nm, 64-bit Octa-core processor (2.7GHz Quad + 1.7GHz Quad)|
|RAM||4GB RAM||4GB RAM||4GB RAM||6GB RAM|
|Storage||64GB with microSD support up to 256GB||64GB with microSD support up to 256GB||64GB with microSD support up to 400GB||64GB with microSD support up to 400GB|
|Display||5.8in Quad-HD+ Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 (529ppi)||6.2in Quad-HD+ Curved Super AMOLED 18.5:9 (570ppi)||5.8in Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 (570ppi)||6.2in Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 (529ppi)|
|Body||148.9x68.1x8.0mm||159.5x73.4x8.1mm||147.7mm x 68.7mm x 8.5mm||158.1mm x 73.8mm x 8.5mm|
|Sensors||Iris, pressure, accelerometer, barometer, fingerprint, gyro, geomagnetic, hall, HR, proximity, RGB light||Iris, pressure, accelerometer, barometer, fingerprint, gyro, geomagnetic, hall, HR, proximity, RGB light||Iris, pressure, accelerometer, barometer, fingerprint, gyro, geomagnetic, hall, HR, proximity, RGB light|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS|
|Audio||AKG tuned speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack||AKG tuned speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack||AKG tuned stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos tech, 3.5mm headphone jack||AKG tuned stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos tech, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Camera||12Mp camera, f/1.7||12Mp camera, f/1.7||12Mp camera, f/1.5||12Mp dual-camera, f/1.5, dual-OIS|
|Battery||3000mAh, 15W Adaptive Fast Charging, fast wireless charging||3500mAh, 15W Adaptive Fast Charging, fast wireless charging||3000mAh, 15W Adaptive Fast Charging, fast wireless charging||3500mAh, 15W Adaptive Fast Charging, fast wireless charging|
|Extra features||Bixby, iris scanner, face recognition||Bixby, iris scanner, face recognition||AR Emoji, Bixby AI, iris scanner, face recognition||AR Emoji, Bixby AI, iris scanner, face recognition|
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