The best of the best? Is Samsung’s latest flagship the best Android phone on the market at present? With such a crowded ecosystem and competitors really pulling out all the stops, can the majority of sales still go Samsung’s way with Huawei, OnePlus and others biting at the heels? Lots of questions and hopefully this review can answer them.
The Galaxy S9+ is similar to a number of flagship smartphones out there in the fact that it’s a glass sandwich design. It feels good in the hand but can also be slippery so a case or skin is recommended. Lots of fingerprints but a quick wipe restores the showroom shine and we forgive all as wireless charging is a definite benefit.
A positive move on Samsung’s part is the literal move of the fingerprint sensor to below the vertical camera alignment. This gets a thumbs up from us as it was a major problem point for a lot of users in the past. It is also IP68 water and dust resistant.
The S9+ has a 6.2-inch Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED screen which is pretty awesome. Dare I say, the best screen out there at present. Samsung know how to do screens, so much so, when Apple have started using Samsung screens, that says a lot.
The infinity display is so immersive that even the slimmest of bezels on other devices really stands out after using the S9+.
The S9+ has a 3500mAh battery which isn’t the biggest but you should get a full day’s usage from it. On the plus side there’s fast charging and the previously mentioned wireless charging. We think that Samsung are not going to mess with larger battery capacity after the Note7 issues.
The S9+ has stereo speakers tuned by the Samsung owned AKG Acoustics and supports Dolby Atmos giving a 360 degree effect. This is surprisingly the first Samsung flagship to have stereo speakers and you can really hear the quality and volume with a 40% improvement on volume over the previous S8 model. Don’t forget that Samsung is still holding out with its headphone jack. Will the next version still hold true? Only time will tell.
There are lots of things happening in this space across all the manufacturers. See our Huawei P20 Pro review here which now seems to be one of the best cameras out there currently with its unique triple lens setup.
Samsung is not just sitting back and introduced the world’s first f/1.5 aperture on a smartphone with its dual aperture technology that works like an organic eye works in nature.
The phone can switch apertures between f/1.5 and f/2.4 depending on the situation and allows more or less light into the lens. This works wonders in low light environments but the quality can sometimes look a little over processed.
Another easy way of spotting the difference between the S9 and S9+ is the larger phone has a dual camera setup. The second camera is a 2X telephoto lens along with assisting those bokeh effect shots.
The front facing camera hadn’t changed much from the S8 Plus with its 8mp auto focus. It’s not bad as far as selfie cameras go. The camera app is simple to use and a double click of the power button gets you into the camera mode super fast. Below are some sample shots from the camera:
The video options are numerous with the top being 4K 60fps for 5 mins. Unfortunately there is no image stabilisation or autofocus tracking at the moment at this setting. 4K 30fps and lower does have OIS.
The star of the show on this phone is the Super Slo Mo video capabilities. You can get 960fps with a lower quality (720p). The 240fps is coming in at 1080p Full HD. Lighting can be an issue at the higher fps but this mode is one of the most popular on the phone. The motion detection is a great idea so you don’t have to be Spielberg to capture the right moment.
It’s a great phone, there’s no denying it. It boils down to your personal preference. Are you already a member of the Samsung fan club. Have you the apps and accessories?
I personally like the fact that you aren’t forced to download the Samsung apps. It’s like stock Android and Samsung’s skin on top is getting less and less intrusive. We understand Samsung are looking to collect their own users data and not play nice with Google but they need to do it better which they do not in a lot of cases.
We haven’t mentioned Bixby or the AR Emoji. Bixby is a nice little feature, can do things the Google Assistant can’t but the gap is getting wider and I can’t see Bixby ever competing or now getting even close. You can now also disable the Bixby button thankfully.
AR Emoji is Samsung vs Apple in this instance and again the incumbent wins again, easily. Both of these features are hopefully not the reason you’d purchase this phone.
And that is the question, should you buy it? Is there enough of a difference between the last generation S8+? The answer is no. If you are looking for a large screen flagship, should you buy it? With the new Note 9 out this year, maybe waiting to see what it offers would be my advice. It’s the best Samsung has to offer in this size but its a big phone that doesn’t suit everyone.
The Samsung Galaxy S9+ is available from €129 on contract and €899 sim-free via all the major carriers and stores.