After months of rumours, leaks and wild speculation, Samsung has at last unveiled the long-anticipated Galaxy S9. The reaction to the smartphone has been varied, with some hailing it as an iPhone X-killer and others considering it overrated and not enough of a step forward for the Korean tech giant.
So, what does the handset actually have in store for users? Is it worth shelling out for, or should you wait for the next big flagship phone to come around? Read on to find out.
One of the main questions with any phone nowadays is to do with what it has under the hood. In terms of specifications, the S9 – and the larger S9+ released at the same time – is impressive, but not a huge step up from the Galaxy S8. One thing to bear in mind is that it is powered by Samsung’s own Exnyos 9810 Processor chipset.
While it’s not the most sexy feature, the processor is one of the most important elements of any phone, and Samsung has designed a hefty chipset. Its eight cores clock in at an impressive 2.9GHz, which is a big boost compared to the S8’s 2.3GHz chipset. It also features a 1.2Gbits/sec modem, meaning information can be downloaded from the internet extremely fast.
The S9 also performs well in the memory department. It comes with 4GB of RAM, which is more than enough for everyday multitasking; the iPhone X comes with 3GB, in comparison. The S9+ upgrades this to 6GB, which is realistically more than any phone should need, meaning it should be smooth, fast and responsive.
The handsets fall down a little bit when it comes to storage though, with the S9 only shipping with 64GB of memory. The S9+ upgrades this to a much better 128GB, however, and both devices can utilise a 400GB MicroSD card to boost their storage space.
Of all the features included with the S9, Samsung chose to heavily promote the camera, even using the slogan “the camera: reimagined”. So, is it as groundbreaking as the marketing suggests? Not really. However, it’s still an excellent bit of hardware.
Both the S9 and the S9+ have an 8MP front camera, as well as a 12MP rear camera with a dual F1.5/2.4 aperture. The only difference is the S9+ utilises two lenses, one wide-angle and one telephoto. However, the main feature is its performance, especially in low light.
The cameras take 12 photos at a time with different exposures, then the phone compares each of them and combines them to produce the best possible option. The wide aperture helps with this as well, letting in even more light in dark environments. In addition to this, the S9 also has the ability to capture video in 960 frames-per-second slow motion.
All of this will be seen on a 5.8-inch (or 6.2-inch for the S9+) AMOLED screen. The Infinity display is one Samsung users will be familiar with, but it is still excellent and one of the best screens in the business.
So far, so familiar. The S9 is a top-notch phone, certainly, but it hasn’t really got any flagship features that mark it out as the next big thing. There are a few different elements included with the phone that are worth highlighting though, such as the AR emoji.
This feature models a user’s face and creates an AR avatar for them, which they can then film and send to friends as gifs. This is similar to Apple’s Animojis, but potentially a better option. For one, the ability to save them as gifs makes them much more shareable, while Apple’s options are pretty much only accessible by other iPhone users.
However, this is probably the main thing that prevents the S9 from being seen as nothing more than an upgraded S8. This is fairly standard for Samsung, as it seems to really innovate with its even-numbered models like the S6 and S8, while the odd numbers are more like improved versions of what came before than anything particularly new.
That’s not to say the S9 isn’t an excellent phone; it’s easily one of the most impressive models available right now. However, without any wow factor, it might suffer when it comes to sales performance.