When the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ were launched, it essentially redefined what a smartphone would look like. The bezels were almost non existent and the display of the phone looked like it would go on forever (hence being called an “Infinity Display”). Fast forward a year later, and Samsung launched the successor to the flagship Galaxy S series which are the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus.
We initially saw the devices being launched at MWC 2018. A few days ago, we also had the opportunity to take part in the official launch of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus launch here in Sri Lanka. We got a hands on look with both devices as well.
But we wanted more.
We wanted to see exactly what made the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus tick. So that’s exactly what we did. I contacted my cousin Raoul who had just preordered the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and then proceeded to steal borrow it to get a better look at the device.
As with all Samsung flagship devices, the Galaxy S9 comes with all the bells and whistles that you would expect of a flagship device. This includes premium quality packaging, and a number of accessories.
These include a a fast charger and accompanying cable. The cable is used for charging and data transfer. Further, you also get a pair of earphones from AKG, just like the Galaxy S8+. Another co accessory that Samsung gave is a USB Type-C to USB OTG (on the go) cable. This allows you to plug in USB devices to your Galaxy S9 Plus. As such, you can connect flash drives, external hard drives and even a keyboard or a mouse.
Apart from the accessories, you also get the standard reading material. These include a user manual, a warranty guide and also a safety manual for disposing of your device.
Looking at the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
Measuring 6.22 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches, the Galaxy S9 Plus weighs around 189g. Looking at the device, at first glance, it would appear that the device looks strikingly similar to its predecessor. And you would be correct to think so. In fact, the devices look almost identical to each other.
This is probably because the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus uses the same identical display as the Galaxy S8+. Called the Infinity Display, the 6.2” Super AMOLED touchscreen on the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus packs a resolution of 2960*1440 which is an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. So you essentially get exactly what the Galaxy S8+ looks like. That being said, the screen is nothing to laugh about. Colors are quite vibrant with balanced levels of saturation and contrast.
As per the specifications of its predecessor, the display on the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5, has a 3D touch function (for the Home button only) and is HDR10 compliant.
It looks the same, but its different, but it’s the same
Taking a look at the device itself, we place a lot of emphasis that the Galaxy S9 Plus looks a lot like the Galaxy S8+. The left side of the Galaxy S9 Plus holds the volume rocker and Bixby button. The right side of the device hold the power/lock button. At the bottom of the Galaxy S9 Plus you will find the USB Type-C reversible port along with (thankfully) a 3.5mm audio connector that you can plug in your included AKG earphones.
One has a variable aperture of f./1.5-2.4 and the other has an aperture of f/2.4. This is where the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus shines, literally. Also located at the back of the phone under the camera lenses is the fingerprint sensor used to unlock your Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. The body of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is constructed using a mix of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 glass in an aluminum frame. The device is IP68 certified and is dust/water proof for up to a depth of 1.5m for 30 minutes
The Camera, reimagined
Obviously, the camera is the highlight of both the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and its younger sibling, the Galaxy S9. According to Samsung, they’ve taken steps to completely revamp the cameras and their accompanying features. We decided to take Samsung at their word and play around with the camera.
The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is actually quite easy to use if you’re a beginner. It offers the basic point and shoot functionality that would get anyone onboard to use it. For more daring photographers, the camera on the Samsung Galaxy S9+ offers a plethora of modes such as panorama, HDR, a Super Slow mo video mode and even a AR Emoji mode.
The Super Slowmo mode essentially captures 1080p video at 240fps and a whopping 960fps at 720p. Because of the details needed for this to work, the 960fps slow mo mode only records around a second or two of footage, and expands it to around 6-7 seconds.
Images taken from the camera of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus are indeed of stellar quality. This, again is no surprise given that the device was ranked No. 1 on the DXOMARK Mobile camera rankings until it was dethroned by Huawei’s P20 Pro and P20 flagship devices. Just for the record, the previous champion of the DXOMARK rankings was the Google Pixel 2. If you’ve owned one or you have seen pictures taken from a Pixel 2, you’ll know exactly how good the camera is.
Playing around with the camera of the Galaxy S9 Plus
One thing that we found really cool was the actual mechanical movement of the lens mechanism when switching from f/1.5 to f/2.4. We couldn’t really capture it ourselves so we thought of including a small video of it from MKBHD’s review of the device.
As you can see, the movement is pretty cool indeed. It’s also extremely functional as well. We took the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus for a spin both outdoors and indoors, during the day and at night or low light conditions as well. We decided to play around with the aperture settings and see if it actually did make a difference on a mobile phone.
In addition to these features, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus also has optical image stabilization, phase detection, a 2x optical zoom and also a LED flash that also doubles up as a flashlight when you need to find your keys or spare change. In terms of video, you have a choice of 2160p@60fps, 1080p@240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR, and dual-video. You can also record 4K video footage and capture 9MP images simultaneously as well.
The manual mode of the camera gives you controls over everything from ISO levels, to focus, to the variable aperture and everything in between. You just have to be willing to go through all the settings and tweak them so that you have a profile that works.
Obviously, if you’re going to be use the manual controls, that means you’re going to spend some time adjusting all settings to make sure that you get the perfect shot. If you’re just going to point and click, then you can tweak those settings as well.
What else is new about the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus?
Well, from the looks of it, it’s just an updated version of the Samsung Galaxy S8+.You get Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box along with the latest versions of Samsung’s Bixby assistant along with an updated Samsung Experience interface as well. The overall interface and options are pretty standard in comparison to the Galaxy S8+ with a few tweaks under the hood.
You get the same screen and almost the same dimensions as the Galaxy S8+. However, with the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, you get the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor or a Exynos 9810 processor depending on the market. You also get 6GB of RAM and upto 256GB of onboard storage with expandable storage of upto 400GB via a MicroSD card. The 8MP front camera is identical to the one found on the Galaxy S8+ as well.
Interestingly, you also get an FM radio on the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus which was not a feature available on the Galaxy S8+. Added to that, you also have fast charging via Quick Charge 2.0. This means that the 3500mAh battery will go from fully drained to around 60% in a little under 20 minutes.
Benching the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
In order to see exactly how the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus scores against the competition, we threw Antutu 7.0.7 at the device to see how it would fare.
Not surprisingly, it managed to outperform almost all devices currently available, slotting into the No. 1 position in terms of CPU, GPU and Memory performance. Basically, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is the fastest phone currently available.
The final verdict
As a flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus delivers on all aspects that are expected of it. It packs a premium quality build, killer performance in terms of CPU and RAM. It also has an exceptional camera that as well. All these go on to prove that Samsung has indeed delivered another killer flagship device.
On the other hand, however, in comparison to its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus feels like its a rebadged device from yesteryear with a updated processor and a better camera. If you already own a Samsung Galaxy S8+ or similar smartphone and you’re happy with its performance, especially with regard to its camera, you might want to hold on to it for a while.
However, if you’re looking for a upgrade to your current device which cant even hold a candle to what the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus can do, and you also have the cash to splash, then you can go ahead and get one for yourself. Priced at LKR 169,000/- the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is available in colors of Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple.
Do you own a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus? What are your views on it? Leave a comment below