Some people complain that all smartphones feel the same, even after new releases and upgrades. But what should matter most is if the phone has a new processor and the latest software.
Samsung delivers on both features in their new Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones, while offering a few surprises along the way when they announced their new phones Feb. 25.
At first glance, the S9 phones seem similar to their predecessor, the Galaxy S8. The new phones have similar designs and screens to their predecessors and both are water and dust resistant. If you enjoyed how bright and vivid the screen was on the S8, it should still look great on the S9.
The first place where the S9 differs from the S8 is that it has a new processor. The U.S. versions of the phones will have Samsung’s Exynos 9810 processor, which makes the S9 one of the fastest phones on the market. The phones also have Android 8.0, nicknamed “Oreo,” which is the latest version of Google’s smartphone software. This software has only been seen in phones such as the Google Pixel 2 and Sony’s ZX2, neither of which are major mainstream phones.
The most noticeable change on the S9 phones is the improved rear camera. Even though the resolution is 12MP, you can now choose to take pictures at f/1.5 or f/2.4 apertures. Basically, you can choose to have your phone take a picture that collects a lot of light or even more light. This is also the only phone so far with a lens that opens up, allowing more light into photos and setting the S9 apart from others. This should come in handy if you are taking pictures in a dark setting. If you want to get closer on the action, the S9+ also has a telephoto lens to zoom in on your subject.
If you enjoy taking slow-motion videos, the Galaxy S9 phones can take videos at up to 960 fps, which is four times slower than the ones on the iPhone X.
Tech fans can rejoice that the S9 and S9+ dodged the fated bullet of removing its headphone jack, like Apple and Lenovo did.
While these changes are appreciated and applauded, Samsung did make one mistake while rolling out its new phones: the ever-creepy customizable emojis. The S9 phones allow you to scan your face to make emojis based on your actual features, which come up with some pretty eerie results. Samsung said the phones are able to map out over 100 facial features to make the emojis emote the way your face does. Unfortunately, they look more like the scary versions of Nintendo Mii characters. You can skip using them if they creep you out.
Samsung has brought their Bixby voice assistant to the S9 phones, which is their version of Apple’s Siri and Windows Cortana. Since I don’t always use voice assistants, I wish Samsung would use the Bixby button to launch a frequently used app such as Instagram or the camera.
Samsung also created a smaller version of their DeX accessory with the DeX Pad. When you plug your phone into this accessory and connect it to a monitor, mouse and keyboard, you can turn your S9 into an Android computer. The optional product has USB ports so you can plug in flash drives and other accessory. Although that much horsepower isn’t particularly impressive, it’s still useful for when you need to type a report or need a bigger screen.
The S9 phones follow in the company’s footsteps of allowing more storage by letting you put in higher capacity memory cards. The phone comes with either 64 GB, 128 GB or 256 GB of storage, and even allows you to plug in a microSD card that has up to 400 GB of storage.
And now for the information everyone really cares about: the phone will be available in four colors including Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Coral Blue and Lilac Purple.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are not giant steps forward from today’s smartphones, but we shouldn’t expect smartphone makers to reinvent the wheel every year. What’s most impressive about these phones is what lies beneath the glass surface.