Samsung Galaxy S9
The Samsung Galaxy S8 was widely acknowledged as the best phone of 2017, and the Galaxy S9 looks set to be similarly excellent. Whilst a lot of its hardware is almost identical to the S8's, its headline feature is a much-improved and seriously impressive camera.
- Improved camera
- Better-placed fingerprint scanner
- Stereo speakers
- Specs are similar to the Galaxy S8
The Samsung Galaxy S9: In more detail
Samsung is pushing the Galaxy S9's camera as its standout feature. In fact, the phone's tagline is 'The camera. Reimagined'. TechRadar suspects this may be because on paper, there isn't much to differentiate the S9 from its predecessor, the S8. It looks similar, with the same Infinity Display, screen size, resolution and aspect ratio. It also has the same battery size and the same amount of RAM and internal storage. It has seen improvements, however, in the form of updated software, a more powerful processor and that superb camera. Considering the fact that any updates are only refining an already exceptional device, the S9 has the makings of a winning phone, with Trusted Reviews saying it has the on-paper chops to be 2018's phone of the year'.
Little has changed in terms of design since the Galaxy S8 - you'd be forgiven for mistaking one for the other at a glance. The S9 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's, meaning the S9 isn't quite as tall, and it's marginally wider. It's a little heavier at 168g (compared to 155g) but still feels easily manageable.
Samsung fans who were disappointed by the placement of the fingerprint scanner on the S8 will be pleased to learn that the S9'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's display is exactly the same as the S8's. It's 5.8 inches with a taller-than-usual 18:5:9 aspect ratio, which is becoming increasingly normal for flagship devices.
It features Samsungs Super AMOLED panel, giving eye-poppingly vibrant colours and rich contrast, and the same edge-to-edge design. Although it hasn't changed, its 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 has the same 3,000mAh battery as the S8 so its battery life is likely to be similar, a full charge allowing around a day's moderate use. Again, it can be charged wirelessly or via USB-C.
However, the S9 has had an upgrade under the hood, with Samsung's new Exynos 9810 chipset giving it a boost in power. It's paired with 4GB of RAM (2GB less than its larger sibling, the Galaxy S9 Plus) which is plenty to keep everything running smoothly and seamlessly.
The S9'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, 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.
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 will be available in the UK on 16 March 2018.