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Samsung Galaxy S9 Preview: Is it worthy to be the best flagship of 2018?

26 March 2018 5

The South Korean giant Samsung is ruling the Android flagship segment for almost a decade. With each new iteration, Samsung brings something exciting on board to lure customers looking for a new premium flagship. This year Samsung wraps off the cover from their latest flagships Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus at MWC 2018. One thing in everyone's mind after the latest flagships announcement is indeed whether Samsung will be able to retain their premium status in the flagship market or not and also the latest flagships are capable enough to compete against the already tried and tested Pixel 2 and Apple iPhone X.

Like always soon after the Galaxy S9 announcement we put the Galaxy S9 in a number of head-to-head competition with rivals to know how well its competitors. As expected in most of the cases, the Galaxy S9 takes lead over the competitor. This year Samsung's main focus wasn't the design instead they brought significant changes under the hood. The Galaxy S9 already released for customers in most of the regions, So its perfect time to preview the Galaxy S9 to know in detail what kind of features it is bringing on board and also these features are enough to be on top in the market during 2018 or not.

On paper, no doubt the Galaxy S9 is bringing enough to be best flagship smartphone of the year but on the other hand, there are few aspects where it isn't bringing any change over the predecessor. We are hopeful this preview will certainly help out our readers who are planning to grab the latest Galaxy S9 in coming days. Without any further ado, let's start with the design.

68.7 x 147.7 x 8.5 mm
5.8 inches - 2960x1440 px
Go to comparison page
Design

Last year Samsung brought a refreshing change in terms of design as far Galaxy S8 design is a concern but that's not the case this year with the Galaxy S9. The Galaxy S8 was the company's first bezel-less smartphone with an edge-to-edge display. The design was well appreciated last year that's why Samsung didn't bring any significant change in design this year, they retained somewhat similar design like last year. Despite being a year older design it is still one of the best design in the market.

Samsung further reduces the bezels from the top and bottom edges and also the fingerprint scanner is now placed in a more convenient position than last year. The scanner is now placed below the camera module rather next to the camera sensor. The chassis is once again made up of aluminum with glass covering the rear side. The front facing and rear glass are protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The device is IP68 certified which means it can resist 1.5 meters deep water for 30 minutes without any damage. Despite being a metal-clad design its strength is improved further.

The dedicated Bixby button is once again below the volume controllers on the left edge whereas the power button is on the right edge. Thanks to minimum bezels despite having a large display of 5.8-inches, it easily fits in user's palm. This definitely will be preferred by those looking for a flagship in a compact body. The Galaxy S9 dimensions are 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm and it weighs 163g.

Display

Being a Samsung's premium device you can expect a dual curved display with vivid colors and awesome contrast ratio, the good thing is the Galaxy S9 is no exception. The 5.8-inches Super AMOLED display panel is dual curved from edges. The display screen resolution of Quad HD+ with 1440 x 2960 pixels. The only upgrade to the display panel is increased in brightness level. Undoubtedly the Galaxy S9's display is the best display on any flagship in the market.

The best thing about the display is its adaptive ability, you can switch between different modes according to your personal preference. For instance, the default mode is 'Adaptive' with saturated colors, you can switch to 'AMOLED Cinema' for cooler colors option. Not just that you can even further customize colors as well. Last year Samsung introduced support for HDR10, now it is more beneficial as there is more HDR content available now. You can stream HDR content from Amazon Prime, Netflix, and other video streaming services. The HDR support surely enhances the overall experience of watching videos, even though its not the first smartphone in the market with HDR support but certainly it provides the best experience amongst all. There is a blue light filter mode to reduce the blue-light effect during the night.

Hardware

Being the latest best offering from Samsung, as expected it is bringing the best in class hardware. The Samsung's Exynos 9810 chipset is powering the device for almost all regions except the US variant. The US variant is running on the Snapdragon 845 SoC. Both the chipset's performance is pretty great, way speedier than the predecessor. According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 845 SoC is 25% faster than the last year's Snapdragon 835 chipset. Like most of the latest SoCs, both the chipsets can handle AI tasks more fluently as well provides better facial recognition support.

No matter which variant you receive both the versions have 4GB RAM. For the first time, Samsung introduced larger sibling of Galaxy S series with more RAM, this year Galaxy S9 Plus have 6GB RAM. In terms of performance, the Galaxy S9 is quite slick, you can perform most of the tasks in a blink of an eye. On daily driving tasks, you will find it the beast which can handle everything. Despite being one of the fastest Android-running smartphones it still lags behind the iPhone X. The Galaxy S9 native storage is 64GB which is further expandable via MicroSD card, at the moment there isn't a 128GB model.

On single-core benchmark test, the Galaxy S9 scores 3,690 points whereas on multi-core test the device achieves 8757 points. Just for the sake of comparison, the iPhone X single-core scores are 4257 and on multi-core, it achieves 10364 points. The AnTuTu 7 benchmark suggests the Galaxy S9 is ahead with 251, 205 points whereas the iPhone X sits at 235607 points. Although the benchmark results are not the exact picture of how well the device will perform in real-world but certainly it provides a good view of the device performance in different scenarios. One of the key complaints from Samsung flagship buyers was the poor audio quality but the good thing has Samsung improved this aspect this year with Galaxy S9, let's discuss it in next segment.

Specs Galaxy S9
Display 5.8-inches
Screen resolution 1440 x 2960 pixels
Chipset Snapdragon 845/ Exynos 9810
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB Expandable via MicroSD
Rear camera 12MP with variable aperture
Front camera 8MP
Battery 3,000mAH
USB Type-C
IP68 Yes
OS Android Oreo with Grace UI

Gaming Experience

Although the speaker isn't repositioned that doesn't mean the audio quality isn't improved. The first thing is Galaxy S9 audio is tuned AKG with Atmos surrounding audio experience. The Atmos tech provides one of the best audio experience while watching movies in a room with connected speakers.

Samsung provides a 360-degree audio experience with a software feature rather bringing an Atmos hardware support. When you activate this feature it automatically enhances the audio level. The artificial sound enhancement works better while watching videos but that might not sound as good as video while listening music. The carrier connectivity is pretty strong and also the good thing it is amongst the first to support 1Gbps LTE download speeds. For connectivity, it comes with USB-C and Bluetooth 5.0.


Software

In software department, Samsung didn't bring something new instead the overall experience is pretty much similar to the predecessor. Samsung's custom Grace UI is running on the stock Android Oreo 8.0. The Samsung's custom version of the stock version brings bloatware apps. The apps switching is quite fluid and you won't find any lag in it. Still, it is way different than the Google's stock Android experience.

Samsung brought dual apps features with their mid-rangers, now it is available on the flagships as well. There are two browsers, email apps, galleries and even app stores as well. This could be beneficial for some users but not everyone would prefer it. There are only few bloatware apps which can't be removed. The Bixby AI assistant can be switched off but you can't reuse its dedicated physical button for some other purpose.

As the Bixby is still in its 1.0 version that's why it isn't as mature as the Google Assistant or Alexa. Samsung teases arrival of Bixby 2.0 later this year which means we can expect improvements later this year. Like the earlier software versions from Samsung, the new version is also bringing a number of customization options. Apart from the customization features, there is a number of features related to security as well.

Samsung's heart-rate sensor is once again here to determine HRM. Though it's not as accurate as other dedicated bands still it isn't far away from accuracy. With the iPhone X, Apple relied on the facial recognition as the only security option. Samsung brought facial, Iris and fingerprint scanning options. So you have plenty of options related to security as far as Galaxy S9 is a concern.


Camera

The biggest upgrade in the Galaxy S9 is indeed the camera setup. Samsung brought one of its kind unique camera module which performs pretty awesome. The new camera setup certainly provides a better solution regarding the camera capability in low-light conditions. So far all smartphones in the market have fixed aperture but the Galaxy S9 features a camera with variable aperture. During low-light conditions, the aperture turns to f/1.5 whereas in stable light conditions the aperture is shifted to f/2.4. The variable aperture provides an optimal solution to capture in both kinds of scenarios.

The Auto mode automatically adjusts the aperture considering the lightening conditions. On auto mode, you may not see the change in aperture but you can notice it if you are in Pro mode which allows the user to better control the camera settings. The aperture change looks quite awesome. Huawei tried to bring variable aperture with the software support which doesn't look as real as the Samsung because its a hardware upgrade.

The camera sensors remain 12MP with OIS. Thanks to the wide f/1.5 aperture, the Galaxy S9 camera performs great even in low-light conditions where most of the smartphones capturing capability suffer. The day-light shots are quite detailed with awesome colors contrast ratio. The overall Galaxy S9's captured images are amongst the best that's why no one will find it disappointing.

Last year Sony introduced super slow-motion recording feature last year which allows users to capture a 6 seconds slow-motion Full HD video at 960 fps. This year Samsung introduced the feature with the Galaxy S9 which will attract those users who want to capture slow-motion water falling stuff and other things which looks cool in slow motion. The rear camera supports 4K video recording. Up front, the selfie camera remains 8MP with f/1.7 aperture.

AR Emoji

Apple introduced Animoji last year with the iPhone X, how Samsung can lag behind in this race. Samsung introduced AR Emoji with the Galaxy S9, on first look you may find it more like a Bitmoji. Samsung also uses the front-facing camera to 3D Map your face to convert it into 3D emoji.

The Galaxy S9 Plus is featuring dual rear cameras but that's not the case with the standard Galaxy S9 that's certainly a disappointment. The Galaxy S9 Plus comes with a secondary telephoto lens but that's not the case here. Samsung followed the Apple footsteps of bringing the dual rear cameras for the Plus variant only. As a remedy, Samsung brought 'selective focus' feature which provides somewhat bokeh effect but the results are not up to mark.

Battery

The battery cell on the Galaxy S9 is exactly same like its predecessor that's why battery life isn't much different. Despite having more power efficient SoC, the Galaxy S9 battery doesn't perform better. The Galaxy S9 lights are kept on by a 3,000mAH battery. On normal to heavy usage, the device doesn't end the day on a single charge instead it drains around 8 PM.

The battery drops up to 20% on One hour of watching video content. You can enhance the battery life by opting different power saving modes which not only limits the performance but also display resolution as well. It supports Qi as well as PMA Wireless charging. It supports fast charging which recharges the device in less than 100 minutes.

Conclusion:

The Galaxy S9 is bringing almost everything what you can expect from your next flagship smartphone. The device takes lead in luring design, best in class display, top of the line hardware, latest OS and last but not the least one of its kind camera module. However, the battery is certainly one aspect where Galaxy S9 didn't excel at all. In fact, if you are the heavy user you may need a power bank alongside you to end the day on single charge.

From the look of the things, it seems like Samsung could bring few more refinements but they opted a safe passage. Last year iPhone X was the most radical change in terms of design from Apple and they already confirmed the iPhone X is the building block of future iPhones.

Still, we strongly believe the Galaxy S9 has all perks to be the best selling Android flagship of the year. Samsung is still bringing a lot of features which aren't available on most of the smartphones of this niche. Though the Galaxy S9 will be amongst the best certainly it doesn't have that kind of wow factor like the last year's Galaxy S8. In the end, we would like to hear our readers thoughts regarding the Galaxy S9 Preview in the comments section below. Stay tuned for more comparisons and previews in coming days.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is available at Amazon Marketplace for $ 568. The price/quality is avarage but this is the best device in this price range. To see others 10 offers click here.
(last update 17 December 2018 @ 15:23)

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