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Release Date: Mar 2018
Competitors Apple may have skipped the “9” generation with the iPhone, but Samsung have stuck to the script with the release of the new Galaxy S9. If you’re curious to see what Samsung have been able to produce with the newest edition to the range, read on for a full Galaxy S9 review…
The Galaxy models have always featured outstanding screens, which is a trend that continues with the S9. The screen size is 5.8”, which is more than sufficient for everyday use, and is high resolution with OLED panels. Samsung use the term “Infinity Display” to describe their edge-to-edge screen, which seems fitting considering it features full-frontal glass and is near bezel-less. In addition, the 18.5:9 display ratio provides a “big screen” feel even at this relatively small size. Does it live up to Samsung’s previous reputation as the best screen manufacturers in the industry? Absolutely.
The internal components of the S9 are just as impressive as the screen. Samsung’s own Exynos processor performs well along 4GB of RAM, and the choice to use the LTE modem is an excellent choice in terms of performance. All of this is housed in an easy-to-hold curved glass design that feels impressively high-end, and is complemented by the fact the fingerprint scanner has been moved to a much more accessible area on the back of the phone. As appreciated as this new placement is, it is worth noting that the S9 introduces a combination face-scanning and iris-scanning security feature, which feels pleasantly high-tech and can be used to unlock the phone if you’d prefer to forgo the fingerprint scanner altogether.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 utilises Dolby Atmos surround-sound stereo speakers, which have been tuned by AKG in an effort to provide clearer audio to users. This works well, and ensures great audio capabilities that will appeal to music lovers and those who use their phone for TV or film viewing. It is also worth noting that the audio can be accessed through a physical headphone jack; to date, Samsung have resisted the urge to follow Apple's lead by removing this. This is good news for customers, as it means you can use your existing headphones with the S9 rather than having to buy an expensive extra.
Battery is always an area of concern for smartphone users, and unfortunately, Samsung have made little progress in this area. While this is disappointing, it is perhaps to be expected; with power banks and wireless charging points becoming the norm, smartphone manufacturers are likely noting that people have adapted to manage low battery life, so there is little need for significant developments. The S9 provides an industry-standard 3,000mAh battery along with 64GB of storage and microSD card support, which provides a middle-of-the-range battery life when compared to rival devices.
The Samsung S9 features a 12MP Dual Aperture Lens and Super Speed Dual Pixel Sensor, making it a powerful choice if photography is a foremost consideration of yours. This is a significant development, and one that works particularly well thanks to two apertures: a very bright F1.5 and a smaller F/2.4. If you have previously struggled to take photos in dark conditions, then the F1.5 aperture is especially useful, and should help to produce outstanding quality images in areas without a reliable light source. These aperture functions bring smartphone camera technology one step closer to truly emulating standalone camera devices; all photographs are brighter and clearer with the S9, and the overall photography experience is much-improved. Even the front-facing 8-megapixel camera - unchanged from previous versions - performs its role well, and should meet the needs of all users.
There are also a few attractive, but non-essential features, included with the S9, with Radical 960fps Slow-mo video capabilities, a surprisingly usable Live Translation feature, as well as Augmented Reality and Bixby functionality. These all add an extra dimension to the S9’s usability. In addition, there is one particular additional feature that has drawn much attention: the AR Emoji. This allows you to scan your face and produce a 3D character that closely resembles your features, which you can integrate into GIFs that are accessed directly from the keyboard - a fun touch that users will no doubt enjoy experimenting with. You could live without all of these features, but they’re definitely nice to have and help to elevate the overall experience of the S9.
While the S9 is not a radical departure from previous Galaxy handsets, it is nevertheless a worthy addition to the range that makes significant advancements in a number of key areas. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-range smartphone that functions well and has plenty of fun features to experiment with, the Galaxy S9 is a great choice.