Samsung has officially unveiled the much awaited Samsung flagship phones of the year ahead of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018, in Barcelona. As expected, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ didn't see any radical changes in design since last year’s flagships, the Galaxy S8 and S8+. But when it comes to new features, the new duo pack a bunch of them under their hood.
Samsung says the most important function of a phone today is “visual communication”, and the Galaxy S9 had been designed for the visual and social generation. It features improved cameras, an artificial intelligence-powered voice tool, and social media functions that are easier to deploy than previous offerings.
Samsung has openly focused on camera improvisations on the flagships this time around. The new Samsung Galaxy S9 series smartphones feature cameras with variable aperture sensor. You can switch between F/1.5 and F/2.4 settings, making it easier to take good shots in the dark. Samsung says this enables the Galaxy S9 and S9+ to capture 28 percent more light compared to the Galaxy S8. Also the new multi-frame noise reduction feature results in up to 30 percent less noise compared to the previous flagship.
The Galaxy S9+ sports dual rear camera setup (with a second 12MP f/2.14 camera). The rear cameras of both the phones can shoot slow motion video at 720p resolution, at up to 960 frames per second. This means a 0.2 seconds footage is stretched out to 6 seconds when you are playing it back. You can export this footage as a GIF or use it as an animated wallpaper on the phone.
Both the phones sport an 8MP front-facing camera, with a new feature called AR Emoji. As Samsung teased about it in a video ad earlier, the feature scans your face to create a personalized emoji that look like a cartoon version of you. It’s sort of like Apple’s animoji, but with a few key changes. Instead of choosing from an existing group of animals or other characters, you get a picture that actually resembles you. You get 18 different expressions/ emojis that can then be used via the keyboard app on the Galaxy S9 and S9+ in any app. You can share the emojis with other users irrespective of the phone they are using.
The final camera-related improvement on the Galaxy S9 and S9+ is the introduction of Bixby Vision in the camera app. The feature offers live translation between more than 50 languages, and the ability to recognise the buildings and other places in a frame. You can even turn the camera on over your food, and it will provide you information like the amount of calories in the food item in your frame. The feature, however, will be available only in select regions.
Apart from camera improvements, the new Galaxy S9 and S9+ also feature dual speakers, one downwards firing speaker, and the earpiece doubling up as the other channel. Tuned by AKG Acoustics, the setup results in sound that's 1.4 times louder than the Galaxy S8. All this is backed by Dolby Atmos for surround sound, can be used for any kind of audio content, just with a toggle in quick settings.
Samsung’s latest phones are powered by a 10nm 64-bit octa-core SoC, which varies as per region. In some regions, like the US, the devices are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chips, with four cores clocked at 2.8GHz and four cores clocked at 1.7GHz. In regions like India, they'll be powered by Samsung Exynos 9810 processors, with four cores clocked at 2.7GHz and four cores clocked at 1.7GHz.
The devices will be available in 64/ 128/ 256GB storage options, and will come with microSD card readers with support for cards up to 400GB. The Android 8 Oreo running devices have IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. Connectivity options include Gigabit LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, USB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and, yes, the 3.5mm headphone jack.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 features a 5.8-inch QHD+ Curved Super AMOLED 18.5:9 display, 4GB of RAM, and a 3000mAh battery. It has dimensions of 147.7x68.7x8.5mm and weighs 163 grams. The larger, Galaxy S9+ features a 6.2-inch QHD+ Curved Super AMOLED 18.5:9 display, 6GB of RAM, and a 3500mAh battery. It measures 158.1x73.8x8.5mm in dimemsion and weighs 189 grams. Both the devices support fast wireless charging.
Though the Galaxy S9 and S9+ look more or less similar to their predecessors, they do pack some important changes. The new devices has the fingerprint sensor shifted below the camera module from the side of rear camera sensor. This could arguably be the most important decision, which fixes what was probably the biggest complaint with the previous generation Samsung flagships. Samsung has reduced the size of the bezels at the top as well as bottom. The new Galaxy S9 and S9+ also support the new Dex Pad, along with the one released earlier with the Samsung Galaxy S8.
The unlocked model of Samsung Galaxy S9 will cost $719.99 in the US, or $30 per month on a 24-month financing option. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ will be available at $839.99 for the unlocked model, or $35 per month on the 24-month financing option. The phones will be available in stores starting March 16th.