The Samsung Galaxy lineup- one of, if not the most iconic Android flagships to have ever graced our palms. From the iconic design of the Galaxy S3 to the first mainstream phones with curved edges, the Galaxy Lineup has re-invented smartphone tech time and again. So what does the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus bring to the table?
Well among other things, a variable apperture camera for the first time again in a main stream flagship device. What’s so special about that you ask? Well we answer that and a whole lot more in today’s article! Buckle up and take a deep breath, we are diving deep to find out what makes the Galaxy S9 one of the best and most innovative phones to be released in all of 2018!
Samsung Galaxy S9: What Exactly Has Been ‘Re-Imagined’?
This picture sums up this upgrade in a nutshell. The overall design language has remained much the same between the Samsung Galaxy S8 to the S9. In fact, if you’re someone who already owns one of the previous gen Samsung flagships, I’d say that there is very few compelling reasons to own the new one.
That however is not to say that Samsung didn’t make any improvements. In fact, most of the tiny little design changes and iterative updates that we can witness on the S9 and it’s elder brother the S9+, underlines the fact that Samsung is indeed listening to their customers.
So before we come to the really big changes, let’s take a minute and look at some of the evolutionary upgrades that Samsung has managed to stuff into their new flagship Galaxy lineup of devices!
- Changed Position of the Fingerprint Sensor: As we had earlier reported in our leaks and rumors article, the new S9 and S9+ do have a changed fingerprint sensor. Samsung faced a lot of criticism for their previous scanner which had been located in an awkward position, right next to the camera. They have fixed it now and we like the new under the camera design a whole lot better!
- Dual Speakers: Samsung fans have been clamoring about this one for ages! Finally the Korean giant had decided to bite the bullet and give the S9 and S9 Plus dual speakers. Now, make no mistakes, they aren’t as loud as the dual front firing speakers on the Pixel lineup, but they’re stereo speakers and we are happy about them anyway! Also they come certified by Dolby so now we can experience HDR content with Dolby Audio all thanks to these dual firing AKG speakers!
- Upgraded Internals: It can’t be a Galaxy Flagship without top of the line internals and that’s why we see that Samsung has once again gone for the top of the line processors from Qualcomm- the Snapdragon 845! For other markets though, there is another variant of the homegrown Exynos 9810 which is supposed to be powering the S9 and S9 Plus in markets other than the US and China.
The S9 Plus also sports 4 Gigs of RAM while the S9 Plus gets 6 GB and as for internal storage- there are 64,128 as well as 256 GB options available!
- Iris Scanner: While all the attention has been centered around Face ID and facial unlock, Samsung has been quietly working on their Iris scanners for the past two generations. This is the first time that we would see this new biometric security measure make it’s way into the Galaxy S Lineup of devices and coupled with facial unlock, it’d be interesting to see how much Galaxy owners do end up using these two features.
- Upgraded Dex Dock: Granted this wasn’t an upgrade anyone wanted or was looking forward to, but the new Dex Dock that is available with the S9 and S9 Plus comes with it’s own fan and also continues to support a plethora of ports including HDMI and USB. We just hope that the next generation of S devices can do away with the Dex dock entirely and handle everything over a USB Type C 3.1 connection.
Enough of the little tidbits though, let’s get onto the one thing that actually has changed-the camera. It is the first widely available phone to sport a dual apperture camera and it is all set to take the world of mobile photography by storm. How? Well we explain all of that in the next part of our piece!
Samsung Galaxy S9 Camera: What’s So Special About It?
Photography, especially low light photography depends on two things-the ISO and the apperture size. With smartphones, due to their very small sensors combined with not that large apertures, the level of noise when it comes to those night time or dimly lit pictures is quite high. Samsung though has a solution for all of that- the new Galaxy S9 comes with a mechanized camera module that can change it’s apperture in the blink of an eye.
We will take a deeper and more indepth look at the incredible cameras that we have on the new S9 and S9 Plus a little later, but first let’s get done with the basic specs. This is the first time that the smaller and larger sibling of the flagship S lineup has vastly different internals; and no where is it more apparent than the camera sensor. The S9 gets a variable apperture, 1.4 micron sized pixels 12mp rear shooter that can go from f2.4 to f1.5 depending on the lighting conditions. And of course, it comes with OIS as well. The S9 Plus, well it adds another 12mp camera into the mix, also OIS capable- this one is a telephoto lens that can help with those portrait shots that have been all the rage!
Coming to the front camera., we have an 8mp shooter in here complete with an f1.6 apperture and auto HDR capabilities baked in! But these are just the specs for these snappers, let’s now have a look at what these cameras can actually do! In the next little bit we will be going through the 5 features that makes the S9 and S9 Plus the best camera smartphone that we have seen!
1. Composite Photos For Better Low Light Imagery
Samsung has gone all in this time around focussing on taking pcitures in really dimly lit conditions. While the f1.5 lens should help out a lot in that regard, a lot more light entering the camera should lead to much more details being captured, there is also 1.4 micron sized pixels combined with OIS to help reduce the amount of shake and noise that might creep into the pictures otherwise.
And while all of these neat hardware tricks should make the S9 and S9 Plus fairly capable, Samsung didn’t just want to stop there. The Note 8 used 3 images of the same scene and combined them together to make brighter and more detailed images and with the new S series, Samsung has upped that to 12. We have a dedicated DRAM processor for the rear shooter that will store and merge a dozen consecutive shot into one beautiful low light image.
2. Extreme Slow Mo Captures
The Samsung Galaxy S9 rear camera can manage upto 960 frames per second. Yes, the resolution is bumped down to 720p, but even then it is absolutely incredible as it stretches out 1 second of normal video into 16 seconds. And not just that, Samsung also includes a smart view finder that can recognize when some motion is happening within the square and immediately launch the super slow motion mode. It’s pretty cool in of itself but what most people would really like is how Samsung has made it super easy to share and view these cool moments with the help of some neatly designed software.
Now since this mode can only shoot 0.2 seconds of action, Samsung has chosen to doable audio recording and instead chosen to let you edit these videos on the fly by adding your favorite bit of track on it! These are also shareable as gifs and can even be made into your lock screen wallpaper!
3. Bixby Vision And Smart Assistant
Samsung seems to have not yet lost hope for the Bixby assistant and they continue to pack it in with more features than ever before. From integrating special commands like Bixby take my selfie to having the AI assistant recognize what is being shown on screen and have it ready to buy from a 3rd party website, Bixby is smarter than ever before. The revamped camera UI also makes use of AI features inbuilt into the latest generation chipsets to make sure that the camera settings are perfect for the required scene.
Now I know at a glance this looks like Samsung just ripped off Animojis from Apple. And yes, the similarities are there no doubt, but to their credit, Samsung did add a little bit more of their functionality as well as flair to ARmojis.
First up, like with Apple devices, you can send and receive ARmoji messages but the good thing is since this on Android, you can send them as gifs to anyone else and it is not just restricted to any particular messaging app. Adding to that, if you’ve ever seen Bitmojis from Snapchat, you’d recognize how ARMojis has melded the two together to form customisable AR versions of yourself that can exactly mimic how you speak! It might be an inspired by Apple feature, but I can’t help but appreciate the finesse with which Samsung seems to be able to pull this one off!
There are even more features that the camera app has up it’s sleeve like one that uses augmented reality to apply makeup on your face and then lets you buy the makeup if you’re happy with the results. But these are what I’d personally feel is gimmicks that wouldn’t really make a difference in everyday life and thus we decided to skip out on them for this time! After all, we have gone on for a long time about the Galaxy S9 and S9 plus, it’s time to wrap all of it up!
A lot has changed about the Galaxy S9, but then again a lot has remained exactly the same. Before we do get to the eventual conclusion where we tell you whether you should get one or not, let’s take a very quick look at what has remained the same from the previous S8 and S8+
- 5.8 and 6.2 inch Quad HD Super AMOLED displays.
- Nearly bezel-less design with curved edges.
- Headphone jack is still present and so is Wireless Charging.
- 3,000 mAh battery on the S9 while the S9 Plus gets a slight bump in battery capacity at 3,500 mAh.
- IP68 Water & Dust resistance.
- 3D Touch capable home button.
Now when you combine all of these together, you get a very well put together smartphone. The camera features certainly makes it one of a kind and as far as the spec sheet goes, there’s nothing out there from any other OEM that can quite come close! So does that justify the nearly 1,000$ price tag?
In countries like the US, the S9 and S9 Plus is scheduled to go on sale at a pricey 720$ and 840$ respectively. Yes the numbers do seem weird but they’re what they are and keeping the weirdness out of it, that is a lot of money for a smartphone. Samsung though had set the trend a year before with the Galaxy Note 8 nearly touching the 1,000$ mark, yet these prices seem a little too steep.
If you absolutely have to have the greatest and the newest phone out there, well then there is no other phone that can quite give you what the Samsung S9 and S9 Plus can! In India though the cost of being on the cutting edge of smartphone tech will bleed a hole in your wallet to the tune of over 50k INR with the S9 rumored to be launching in at 54k while the S9 Plus gets priced somewhere around the 67k mark.
At that price we’d say that it’s better to wait for a couple of months before you decide to pull the trigger on it! But if you can’t help yourself, then these two Samsung Flagships go on sale from the 16th of March with pre-orders going live in just a couple of days!