What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Flagship”? On Android side of things, the answer has to be Samsung. With every single smartphone that launches, all the fuss goes around it. But at the end of the day, what matters the most is how does it stack up against the biggest contenders in the smartphone market. Samsung has always managed to grip its position tight and the S9 Plus is something you shouldn’t stoop to. Here’s what you need to know about the all-new Samsung’s flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus.
Build and Design
Let’s start with the build and design of this phone. At first glance, the design might look notice much more like its predecessor S8-ish. Which is by no means a flaw. All glass build that curve around the edges making the device an eye candy.
Most of the front is dominated by the big 6.2 inch super AMOLED display with the resolution of 2960 x 1440 which is HDR 10 compliant with 84.2% screen to body ratio. The good old 3D touch pressure sensitive home button is still embedded under the screen. The device is IP68 water and dust resistant.
The couple of changes that can be seen though is the addition of a secondary camera the placement of the fingerprint scanner right below it. And guess what, S9 Plus still retains the 3.5mm headphone jack, kudos to that. The thing that has made its way back has to be the Bixby button. However this time it can be disabled, cheers to that. I simply don’t find any use of it but no offenses though maybe it’s the thing that fancies you or you may grow to like it.
The Galaxy S9 Plus has its custom skin called the Experience UI running on top of Android 8.0 Oreo. The UI has been fast, responsive and fluid within our period of usage. But we all have a complaint about Samsung phones lagging after a certain time. But Experience UI has been optimized and with the Note 8 being my daily driver for the past 7 months I assure you that it’s not going to lag. At least not anytime soon.
Without further ado let’s talk cameras. The much-hyped feature of this smartphone is its camera or rather the Cameras. Jumping into the dual camera band wagon, with the Note 8, the S9 Plus boasts a dual camera setup either. And trust me the cameras on this bad boy is amazing and hands down the best feature of this phone and as for the DXO mark is concerned, it scores a whopping 99 that gives it a slight edge over the iPhone X and the Pixel 2 XL.
The highlighted feature with the tagline “Camera Reimagined” is a bold statement to make but it holds true. The first ever Smartphone to have a lens with variable apertures on it’s primary 12 MP camera, that changes between f/2.4 for the crisp and sharp photos in well-lit environments and f/1.5 for those low light shots and macro shots. The secondary sensor is also a 12MP telephoto lens that gives you the ability to capture Portrait shots. Both the cameras have OIS.
Let’s talk the features that the cameras bring to the table. Once you jump into the camera app, you will notice a ton of shooting modes inbuilt such as Food, Panorama, Live focus (or the Portrait mode as we call it), AR emoji (Which is Samsung’s take on emoticons), Hyperlapse, Slow-mo video (1080p @ 240fps), Super slow mo(720p @ 960fps) and what not. Plus, if you want to get a bit creative, you can always opt for the full-fledged manual mode. The front camera also hosts a Selfie Focus mode (front camera portrait mode) and wide selfie mode for the times when you need all your loved ones in a single frame.
Under well-lit scenarios, the Camera manages to capture some great images. The dynamic range is very wide and handles even the harsh lighting scenarios like a champ. The portrait shots are great too, and overall the edge detection is good and the camera does a decent job of blurring out the background, the blur can be adjusted before and after you take a shot. One thing that is great is that it captures two images at a single instance while clicking in live focus mode, so if the portrait shot doesn’t turn out great, don’t worry you’ll still have the normal photo taken from the primary sensor. Overall, the S9 Plus is a brilliant bright-light performer. The low light shots are the great too, all thanks to the huge f/1.5 aperture.
The images are well exposed and the camera manages to keep the balance between noise and details across all light levels. One department where the camera loses its ground is the low light portrait shots. Sure, the flash can be used to get better details, but it introduces the red-eye effect. That’s it.
Moving to the videos, it’s needless to say what a Samsung flagship captures videos like. It can shoot 4k videos at 60 fps that are sharp, crisp and well stabilized but only when the setting is kept at 4k 30fps. 4k at 60 fps is shaky and lacks proper stabilization even though it has OIS but that’s can be fixed with future updates.
The other additions in video segment are 1080p Slow-mo at 240 fps, and super slow-mo which captures 0.2 seconds of a shot at 720p but at 960 fps. The super slow-mo requires a lot of light and with the 0.2 seconds time limit, you’re bound to miss a shot more often than not. There is a motion detect mode but the shots may not turn out as expected. And manually triggering the super slow-mo is something you need to master in order to get that perfect scene.
Moving on to the AR Emoji, yeah it’s fun but to be honest, it’s not as good as something like the iPhone X’s Animoji and is certainly overrated as of now and there’s still room for improvement. The only added advantage is that you get to create your own animated avatar but as it lacks the 3D face mapping, your expressions are just not captured.
Listening to the customers and finally adding stereo speakers is something that justifies why it is still the market leader. The huge 6.2″ Super AMOLED display, combined with the goodness of Dolby Atmos Surround sound with the earpiece doubling as the second speaker makes this device perfect for media consumption and Gaming. Surely a pleasure to both your eyes and ears. With the headphone jack still present, you can still use your old pair of headphones lying around or you can use the in-ear style earphones tuned by AKG. You can call it a dongle-free experience.
Hopping on to the Security, Samsung has still kept the biometric security i.e. the Iris Scanner. How can we forget the weird placement of fingerprint scanner on previous devices like the S8/ S8+ and the Note 8, finally it has been shifted below the camera and is as always fast and accurate. The fingerprint setup too is so quick that it just needs you to swipe your finger down the sensor and it’s done within a second. Being a 2018 flagship, it also supports face unlock and the old school, pin, pattern, etc. Smart unlock is present which combines the face unlocking with the Iris Scanner.
With the latest and greatest Samsung’s own in-house chip the Exynos 9810. Gaming on this device is a breeze and handles every single game that we threw at it like a star. Playing casual games, the phone doesn’t even break a sweat however while playing PUBG at highest settings, the phone tends to get a little bit warm after 20 minutes of gameplay. And if heat is something that bothers you, don’t worry, you can put it in the water if you want a quick cooling (IP68 remember). Jokes apart, no issues what so ever in performance and even the slight bump in temperature doesn’t affect gameplay at all.
One thing that remains unchanged over its predecessor the galaxy S8+ is the battery which remains unchanged at 3500 mAh. To put things in perspective, the battery life is okay, and it will easily last you through a day of moderate to heavy usage. Being a heavy user, slightly tweak a couple of settings and you’re good to go. No worries though you can always juice up your device quick and easy. It supports fast charging and fast wireless charging and always comes to the rescue at the times when you’re in a need for quick juice up.
What else than saying this phone a flagship? If the price is not an issue or you have been looking for a flagship phone with top of the line specs and all the bells and whistles like great cameras, QHD+ display, and what not which not only brings good looks but also performs great. You know the answer, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus.