Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus improves on its already exceptional sibling, the Galaxy S9, with a larger version of its beautiful Super AMOLED screen and some extra RAM. Whilst it has a lot of similarities to its predecessor, the Galaxy S8 Plus, it's been given a major upgrade in the form of a seriously impressive camera.
- Improved camera
- Better-placed fingerprint scanner
- Stereo speakers
- Specs are similar to the Galaxy S8 Plus
- More expensive than the Galaxy S9
The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: In more detail
Samsung is pushing the Galaxy S9 Plus's camera as its standout feature. In fact, the phone's tagline is 'The camera. Reimagined'. Design-wise, it looks almost identical to the S8 Plus, with the same Infinity Display and screen size. And whilst it's only an iterative update from its predecessor, remember that the S8 Plus was widely considered the best phone in the world throughout 2017, so even small improvements put the S9 Plus at the very top of its game. T3 says it represents 'a new benchmark for super-sized Android phones', whilst TechRadar says 'you won't find a bigger and better Android phone'. However, with a larger price tag and not a huge amount to differentiate it from the S9 apart from its larger display, this is one for people who really value extra screen space.
Little has changed in terms of design since the Galaxy S8 Plus - you'd be forgiven for mistaking one for the other at a glance. The S9 Plus features the same premium glass and metal design and will be available in three colours: midnight black, coral blue and the new lilac purple.
The bezels above and below the display are slightly smaller than the S8 Plus's, meaning the S9 Plus isn't quite as tall, but it's still a stretch to reach the corners of the screen. If you've got small hands, you may struggle.
Samsung fans who were disappointed by the placement of the fingerprint scanner on the S8 and S8 Plus will be pleased to learn that the S9 Plus's fingerprint scanner is in a more sensible place. It's now below the camera sensor rather than beside it, making it feel much more natural to use.
It has retained its headphone jack and now features stereo speakers, meaning sound quality is much better than that of its predecessor.
The S9 Plus's display is exactly the same as the S8 Plus's. It's a big, beautiful 6.2 inches with a taller-than-usual 18:5:9 aspect ratio, which is becoming increasingly normal for flagship devices.
It features Samsung's Super AMOLED panel, giving eye-poppingly vibrant colours and rich contrast, and the same edge-to-edge design. Although it hasn't changed, it's still stunning, and probably the best display on any smartphone.
Samsung has updated its landscape mode, meaning the whole user interface now rotates to fit the widescreen format, so you don't have to switch between portrait and landscape so often.
Performance and battery
The S9 Plus has the same 3,500 mAh battery as the S8 Plus so its battery life is likely to be similar, a full charge allowing around a day of moderate use. Again, it can be charged wirelessly or via USB-C.
However, the S9 Plus has had an upgrade under the hood, with Samsung's new Exynos 9810 chipset giving it a boost in power. It's paired with 6GB of RAM (2GB more than its smaller sibling, the Galaxy S9) which is plenty to keep everything running smoothly and seamlessly.
The S9 Plus's camera is its biggest talking point. The 12MP rear sensor features dual-aperture technology, meaning the aperture automatically expands and contracts in response to light levels. In bright conditions, it will shoot at f/2.4, but in lower light it will widen to f/1.5 to let in more light - 28% more than the S8 Plus, to be precise - resulting in brighter, clearer photos.
The rear camera has seen an improvement in its super slow motion video capture. It's now capable of shooting at 960fps, which will stretch a 0.2-second event into six seconds of film. It also comes with Motion Detection technology, which automatically starts the camera recording when it sees motion in the capture field.
The camera on the S9 Plus is slightly more advanced than the S9's, with a secondary telephoto lens that gives you 2x optical zoom without losing any detail.
Bixby Vision and AR Emoji
Samsung's smart assistant Bixby Vision lets you access some neat features just by pointing the camera at things. For example, it can translate foreign text, tell you how many calories are in your food or provide information on locations and landmarks.
AR Emoji is Samsung's answer to the iPhone X's Animoji. Take a selfie with the 8MP front camera and AR Emoji will turn it into a 3D animated version of you. You can then hold the selfie camera up to your face and your emoji counterpart will mirror your facial expressions.
Whilst it's a fun feature, it has had a lukewarm reception from reviewers, with The Verge calling it 'creepy' and 'not quite as lovable' as Apple's version, and Trusted Reviews saying it 'feels like a gimmicky software addition from Samsung's bloated past'.
The Galaxy S9 Plus will be available in the UK on 16 March 2018.