Samsung Galaxy S9+ review: More of the same, yet better overall
The Galaxy S9+ is pretty much a carry forward from last year’s Galaxy S8+ design. And, while the curved glass and tall footprint were revolutionary last year, they aren’t so any more. That doesn’t, however, make the S9+ any less impressive to look at, though the glass back can be slippery to hold if you’re not careful.
The bright 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display gets HDR10 support, useful for video-streaming apps, and retains 2,960x1,440 resolution.
The S9+ has dual 12-megapixel cameras, a wide-angle primary camera and a telephoto camera. The new feature that perhaps makes the biggest difference is the Dual Aperture, which mimics the way the human eye works and opens the wider f/1.5 aperture if the ambient lighting is below a certain threshold to allow more light in—photographs, therefore, look better detailed. You will notice at times that parts of the photograph feel overexposed when using the f/1.5 aperture, compared with the f/2.4 aperture (you can switch manually between the two too). It is still a close call between this and the Google Pixel 2 XL’s camera, but in really dodgy lighting, the S9+ is slightly ahead. The automatic focus doesn’t always lock in accurately, unless you step in and tap on the screen to focus manually. The Galaxy S9+ can record a 960 frames per second slow-motion video, but that is limited to a meagre 720p resolution. And, it turns out, the video recording needs great ambient light to be watchable.
Powering the S9+ is Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 processor (global variants get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor), with 6 GB RAM. Android 8.0 (Oreo) is wrapped within the Experience 9.0 custom interface, which is more streamlined than it was but retains the distinct look of its predecessor and, indeed, the Galaxy Note 8 too. You will also notice that certain apps are duplicated, such as the web browser (Samsung Internet), email (Samsung Email) and notes (Samsung Notes). As it turns out, these alternative apps that Samsung offers are actually very good—for instance, the Samsung Internet browser app offers similar web page-loading performance as Google’s popular Chrome web browser, and also feels less cluttered to use.
The Galaxy S9+ is pretty much like the S8+ to hold and look at, yet, in its own unique way, better. The definitive Android flagship phone has become incrementally better—the S9+ camera is definitely something its rivals will spend time trying to match.