The "1-Minute" Review
- Glass front and back means you’ll want a case
- Not a significant upgrade over the S8 unless you want a better camera
While much of the competition is rethinking their designs or touting new features, Samsung’s latest release in their flagship series -- the Galaxy S9 -- is more of a refinement on their proven Galaxy S series formula than a whole new experience.
In fact, apart from Samsung placing the fingerprint scanner in a better spot just below the camera, most reviewers had trouble telling the S8 and S9 apart.
The phone features an aluminum frame wrapped in gorilla glass 5. It also has an IP68 rating while still keeping a 3.5mm headphone jack.
In all, it’s a slick looking device with tiny bezels, smooth curves and plenty of grip. However, you’ll want to use the case included with the phone -- or pick one up -- as all that glass means there’s shattering risks should you drop the phone.
Around front, the phone features a 5.8-inch 2560-by-1440 pixel Super AMOLED display flanked by stereo speakers. As is typical with Samsung’s displays, there were no complaints. Plenty of contrast and inky blacks from the AMOLED and tons of detail thanks to the resolution. There was also no problem with sunlight visibility.
With Dolby Atmos support and custom tuning, the audio also impressed. If you’re looking to stream movies or play games, the Galaxy S9 has you covered.
Depending on your region, the phone uses an Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845 processor. Paired with 4GB of RAM, the phone offers the power to multitask or play the latest games with no issues.
You’ll find 64GB of storage. However, if you need more, microSD support for cards up to 400GB makes adding more room for your apps and media fast and affordable.
The phone ships with Android 8.0. While this is behind the current Android 8.1, the software includes the latest security updates at the time of writing. Reviewers also predict that it will see an update to Android P.
Software was one of the few complaints about the phone. While changes to the interface itself are minimal, Samsung includes copies of their own apps for a range of redundant functions. Worse still, most are difficult to disable and eat up resources in the background even if you don’t use them.
As one of the first obvious improvements you’ll see from the previous generation, the 12MP rear camera features a market-first -- a variable f/1.5 aperture to improve low-light performance. It also has optical image stabilization and Super Speed Dual Pixel technology. The later adds dedicated memory to the camera to speed up capture times and improve performance.
So how does all this fancy marketing speak add up? Reviewers universally raved about the camera -- especially in low light. It captures images near instantly. Details come out crisp with accurate colors and excellent depth of field. In low-light, you get noise-free shots with excellent contrast. Many reviewers call it the smartphone camera to beat so far for the year.
The 8MP front-facing lens was well-received too. Though, the 3D emoji feature on the phone didn’t fare. Still, this is a niche use. The camera is plenty capable for a quick video chat or selfie session.
A 3,000mAh battery provides enough juice to last a day with no problems -- even with heavy use. You’ll also find top offs convenient with the USB Type-C fast charging adapter included in the box. For added flexibility, the phone also supports Qi wireless charging.
Overall, the S9 appears to be yet another example why Samsung is one of the biggest names in smartphones. Ausdroid says, “I have little hesitation in saying this is the best phone you can buy in 2018 and might be for some time.” Recombu says, “If you already own last year’s S8, we’d say take a pass… However, if you’re tempted by a Galaxy and you have money to burn, we’d say go right ahead. The Galaxy S9 is a sexy, lovable bundle of seriously premium tech, and it should certainly stand the test of time.”