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Samsung Galaxy S9 Review

Samsung has just announced the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ here in Barcelona, Spain — just a day before the start of the Mobile World Congress. Sporting the same look and design, the Samsung Galaxy S9 banks on a proven formula time and again.

On the physical aspect, not much has changed between the S8 and the S9. The biggest improvements that Samsung did with the Galaxy S9 would be the chipset and the camera system so we’re putting more focus on them in our review.

Below reading our review of the Galaxy S9, check out our quick unboxing video below.


Design and Construction

The Galaxy S9 follows the same design signature as its predecessor. On the surface, there is not a lot of noticeable changes from the Galaxy S8 to the Galaxy S9. The dimensions have slightly changed but not that obvious unless you put them side by side.

The Galaxy S9 is a bit shorter than the S8 due to the narrower top and bottom bezels. The placement of the physical buttons is the same but not exactly identical which makes the case of the older S8 not compatible with that of the S9.


The Galaxy S8 on the left and galaxy S9 on the right.

The power button is on the right, volume controls on the left along with the dedicated Bixby button. SIM card slot up top along with the noise-canceling mic while the Type-C charging port is at the bottom, flanked by the 3.5mm audio port, primary mic and the speaker grille.

There are no physical buttons at the front while the sensors, speakerphone and front camera are all squeezed at the top corner. At the back is the lone 12-megapixel rear camera with a dual-tone, dual LED flash right beside it.

The only significant physical modification Samsung has made is placing the fingerprint scanner below the rear camera instead of beside it. That simple change in placement certainly made a lot of sense as it made it easier to reach with the finger when unlocking the phone.

The device also has IP68 dust and water resistance of up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.

Also, note that the S9 is a bit thicker at 8.5mm compared to the 8mm of the S8. We’re not sure of this move but it might be some precaution to give more breathing room for the battery.

Display and Multimedia

The Galaxy S9 retains the 5.8-inch display from the S8 although this time, Samsung managed to shave off a few millimeters on the dimensions (147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm vs. 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm) of the body, giving the S9 a higher screen-to-body ratio of 84.2% (as opposed to 83.6% on the S8).

Samsung employs the same Super AMOLED display so expect the same vibrant and rich colors, crisp details and high contrast. Outdoor visibility is pretty good too. It’s got the same HDR 10 compliance for better viewing with HDR-enabled services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

The Galaxy S9 features a high screen resolution of 2,960 x 1,440 pixels (WQHD+) giving it a pixel density of 568ppi. The resolution can be natively adjusted though, with options for Full HD+ (2,220 x 1080 pixels) and HD+ (1,480 x 720 pixels), depending on user preference. Lowering the resolution also prolongs battery life.

Protecting the display is Gorilla Glass 5 with the back panel also using the same for better resistance against scratches and accidental drops. Same as before, the glass curves toward the edges to give it that seamless look, the reason why the Galaxy S9 and S8 got the Infinity Display name.

The S9 now sports stereo speakers — the first one is placed at the bottom where it is usually found and the second one come from the top corner on the speakerphone. This gives the phone a much better sound coverage when listening to music or watching a movie. The volume is also much louder but does not distort even at the highest level. The box also comes with AKG earphones that sounds good and comfortable to wear.

Camera

The rear camera of the Galaxy S9 looks impressive on paper and something we have not seen implemented before. Samsung uses Sony sensors both up front and at the back for its cameras.

The 12-megapixel sensor has a variable aperture that goes wide open at f/1.5 but can be adjusted to f/2.4. At f/1.5, the camera can see better at low-light, even better than the naked eye.

It also allows it to shoot objects with a creamy bokeh in the background. At f/2.4, it allows just enough light not to overexpose especially in very bright situations like during high noon.

The camera adjusts the aperture in Auto mode but you can also set the aperture manually in Pro Mode. With the built-in optical image stabilization, the camera can shoot better with fewer shakes or blurry images. The wide aperture allows it to shoot at higher shutter speeds, making shots more accurate.


Camera interface in Pro mode.

On top of the usual 4K video recording, the Galaxy S9 can now shoot slow-mo of up to 960 frames per second. The resolution is decent at 720p and the capture time is about 0.2 seconds.

On playback, that should translate to about 6.4 seconds of slow-mo at 30fps. Check out the sample videos below.

The front-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with a f/1.7 aperture with 1080p video recording (this is practically the same as the S8).

Selfies are great with enough blur or bokeh to separate the subject from the background. Facial details and skin tones are accurately captured.

The front camera also has an entertaining feature called AR avatar (Emojis) which analyzes the users face then creates a virtual avatar similar to what we’ve seen with the iPhone X’s Animoji feature.

OS, UI and Apps

The Galaxy S9 runs on Android 8.0 Oreo right out of the box and this is heavily customized by Samsung Experience 9.0 UI. The interface is simple and clean, relies a lot on swipes to navigate. If you don’t like the default theme, there a lot of alternative ones available in the Theme Store for free.

Signature UI features such as App Edge, People Edge, and Clipboard Edge are all present on the Galaxy S9.

Bixby smart assistant is still here along with its dedicated Boxby button and Bixby Vision 2.0 features. It comes in 3 parts — Bixby Home (a collection of information curated to the users’ needs and lifestyle in a dedicated home screen), Bixby Voice (for a personalized voice command), and Bixby Vision (for object recognition and augmented reality).

For security, there are three (3) options for biometric identification — the fingerprint scanner at the back which you can set for up to 4 unique fingerprints, the Iris scanner, and the facial recognition.

Performance and Benchmarks

The Galaxy S9 is powered by a new Exynos 9810 chipset which is fabricated using the 10nm process. The device is blazing fast, performs in tip-top shape and smoothly handles everything we threw at it. This is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage.

The upgrade to the new 10nm chipset is expected. The Exynos 9810 Octa was already announced last January so we have a good amount of knowledge about it. The high-powered Custom CPU clocks in at 2.7GHz per core while the power-efficient processor is composed of a quad-core ARM Cortex A55 running at 1.8GHz.

Running the GPU department is a Mali G72-MP18 graphics. This is similar to the one running on the Huawei Mate 10 but with more cores (6 to be specific). The Galaxy S9 scored an impressive 239,717 in Antutu Benchmark. This puts the Exynos 8910 on top of the charts, beating the iPhone X.

Here are the benchmark scores of the Galaxy S9 compared to the Galaxy S8 and other flagship smartphones.

The Exynos 9810 on the S9 is a huge improvement over the Exynos 8895 on the S8. The single core speed now goes up to 2.7GHz from 2.3GHz. Also, the Mali G72-MP18 GPU is way better than the Mali-G71 MP20, as reflected in the benchmark scores.

Note: In other regions, Samsung uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 as the primary chip.

Connectivity, Call Quality and Battery Life

In terms of connectivity, the same set of options are available — fast WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS and 4G LTE connectivity. The LTE modem is now Cat. 18 with support for up to 6 carrier aggregation and a combined speed of 1.2Gbps.

There is dual-SIM support (indicated by a Duos label at the back) but it’s hybrid so the second nano-SIM tray is swappable with a microSD card of up to 400GB. Both SIM trays support 4G LTE connection.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is packed with a 3,000mAh internal battery. Samsung has not changed this for the last 3 iterations and we’re not expecting much difference from previous models.

Using our standard PC Mark Battery Test, the Galaxy S9 clocked in at 9 hours and 21 minutes at 50% brightness, zero volume and in airplane mode. That’s exactly the same results we got from the Galaxy S8 last year.

In our video loop test, the Galaxy S9 lasted about 14 hours and 25 minutes while playing a 1080p movie at 50% brightness, zero volume and in airplane mode. This is shorter than the 16 hours, 20 minutes we got on the Galaxy S8.

As expected, the device supports fast wired charging via USB Type-C as well as fast wireless charging. Charging time is about 70 to 80 minutes from zero to fully charged. The included wall charger support up to 2A at 5V.

Conclusion

Samsung has done some pretty impressive upgrades on the Galaxy S9. It’s got a slightly more compact in an almost identical design, a more practical placement of the fingerprint scanner and an inclusion of stereo speakers are all nice. The Galaxy S8 already had a great design so there’s not much to change on the Galaxy S9.

The core focus of this update is the improved camera system and the Exynos 9810 chipset. This pushes the Galaxy S9 on top of the charts again in terms of performance and camera quality.

If there’s one thing that really surprised us this time around, that would be the retail price. The Galaxy S9 got a price hike of almost $120 (Php6,000) compared to the SRP of the Galaxy S8.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 retails for Php45,990, available in black or purple and will be released in the Philippines on March 16, 2018.

Samsung Galaxy S9 specs:
5.8-inch WQHD+ 18.5:9 Super AMOLED display, 568ppi 84.2% STB
Gorilla Glass 5 (front and back)
Samsung Exynos 9810 octa-core
4 x 2.7GHz Custom CPU + 4 x 1.8GHz ARM Cortex A55
Mali G72-MP18 GPU
4GB LPDDR4 RAM
64GB UFS 2.1 internal storage
Dual hybrid nano-SIM card and microSD card up to 400GB
4G LTE Cat. 18 6CA 1.2Gbps
WiFi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX
NFC
Iris scanner
Fingerprint scanner
GPS with aGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou
12MP f/1.5-f/2.4 dual pixel, OIS, 2x optical zoom
Dual-tone, dual-LED flash
[email protected] video recording, Slow-mo 960fps @ 720p (0.2 secs)
8MP f/1.7 front-facing camera
IP68 dust and water-resistance
Dual AKG speakers, Dolby ATMOS
Android 8.0 with Samsung Experience 9
Bixby Vision 2.0
3,000 Li-Po battery
USB Type-C Fast Charge, Wireless Charging
147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm (dimensions)
168 grams (weight)
Midnight Black, Lilac Purple

Device ModelStorageRAMColorRetail Price
Galaxy S964GB4GBMidnight Black, Lilac PurplePhp45,990
Galaxy S9+64GB6GBMidnight Black, Lilac PurplePhp52,990
Galaxy S9+128GB6GBMidnight Black, Lilac Purple, Coral BluePhp55,990
Galaxy S9+256GB6GBMidnight Black, Coral BluePhp60,990

What we liked about it:

  • Impressive performance
  • Very nice display
  • Great camera performance
  • Loud, stereo speakers
  • Fast wireless charging
  • Water resistance

What we did not like:

  • Battery life did not improved
  • Super expensive

Check out more stories from our Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ coverage:
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ now official
Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+ price and pre-order in the Philippines
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ in-depth Hands-On
Samsung Galaxy S9 Review
7 Best Features of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+
WATCH: Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Samsung Galaxy S8 Comparison
WATCH: Samsung Galaxy S9 vs iPhone X Comparison
INFOGRAPHIC: Evolution of the Samsung Galaxy S series
Specs Comparisons:
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs OnePlus 5T
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Google Pixel 2
Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs Samsung Galaxy Note8
Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs mate 10 pro
Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs Samsung Galaxy S8+
Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs Razer Phone
Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs Google Pixel 2 XL


Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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4 Responses

  1. troll says:

    Stupid benchmark! Samsung used Antutu v7 while iPhone X used Antutu v6. Take note that Antutu v7 has new algorithms which increases score compared to Antutu v6.

    • Vaughn Chua says:

      Accdg. to Antutu’s website, iPhone X scored 202k in Antutu. The one that is included in the table is already an Antutu v7 score.

  2. troll says:

    Just please, don’t be also stupid. Check http://www.antutu.com/en/index.htm. You will be stupidly amazed that the current version of Antutu for iOS is 6.3.3. Then head over to http://www.antutu.com/en/ranking/rank1.htm. You will be stupidly amazed again that under Performance Ranking for V6, iPhone 8 Plus scored 217835. So iPhone X and Antutu V7 that you claim is a downgrade in score?

  3. SadLife says:

    So Samsung S9 in philippines is Exynos chip not Snapdragon 845? into the trash it goes.

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