Galaxy S9 And S9+ Hands-On: Samsung Flagships Offer Impressive New Features And Performance

Galaxy S9 Plus Cobalt Blue On Rocks front back
After months of leaks and weeks of teasers, Samsung has finally officially pulled the wraps off its next generation flagship smartphones: the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. If you're familiar with the current generation Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, the designs of the refreshed models should be immediately familiar. However, there is plenty going on under the surface that make these new flagship Android phones worthy of attention.

First of all, let's talk about the new, state-of-the-art camera that is featured on both the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. The primary rear shooter features a Super Speed, Dual Pixel 12MP sensor with optical image stabilization (OIS). The camera features a dedicated image processing engine that can combine up to 12 images into one, high-quality photograph with dramatically improved noise reduction technology.

Galaxy S9 Plus Lilac Purple 2

However, what stands out the most perhaps is Samsung's Dual Aperture f/1.5 - f/2.4 lens on both devices. Rather than a fixed aperture, which is found on just about every other smartphone on the market currently, the Dual Aperture system can automatically adjust to let more light in for low-light shooting, or less light in when the conditions are bright or over-exposed. The goal is to ensure that users take "photos that are crisp and clear anytime, anywhere." The Galaxy S9+ adds a second 12MP telephoto sensor (f/2.4) for wide angle shots, and both smartphones feature an 8MP front-facing selfie camera (f/1.7).

Galaxy S9 Plus Lilac Purple

In addition, Samsung has introduced a new Super Slow-mo capture mode, which can record footage at 960 fps. And with automatic Motion Detection, all the user has to do is setup the shot, and the Galaxy S9 will begin recording automatically. The captured Super Slow-mo footage can then be customized with 35 different background music scores to fit the mood.

Samsung demonstrated this feature for us, in our hands-on video here. Take a look...

Samsung didn't stop there, however. The company is introducing AR Emojis, which can analyze up to 100 different facial features and create a 3D model based on the user's face. The emojis then mimic the user's facial movements (i.e. smiling, winking, frowning, laughing, etc.). In practice, this is a bit like Animojis on the Apple iPhone X. AR Emojis are captured in a standard AGIF file format and can be shared via most messaging platforms.

This wouldn't be a new Galaxy release without updates to the hardware that runs the show. In this case, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ for the U.S. and Chinese markets are powered by Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 845 processor (you can read our performance preview of the SoC right here). All other markets receive Samsung's own Exynos 9810 processor.

Galaxy S9 Plus Cobalt Blue In Hand front

On the Galaxy S9, the Snapdragon 845 is paired with 4GB of RAM, while the Galaxy S9+ ups the ante with 6GB. Both smartphones have 64GB of internal storage, which can be expanded (up to 400GB) with a microSD slot. The Super AMOLED Infinity Displays from last year are carried over to the Galaxy S9 (5.8 inches) and Galaxy S9+ (6.2 inches), with both featuring a screen resolution of 2960x1440 based on Samsung Super AMOLED display technology.

Galaxy S9 Plus Cobalt Blue In Hand

Other items of note include stereo speakers that have been tuned by AKG and support for Dolby Atmos 360-degree surround sound. The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ feature 3000 mAh and 3500 mAh batteries respectively, and support either wired charging (via the bottom-mounted USB-C port) or wireless charging.

Galaxy S9 Lilac Purple in hand

If you choose to purchase an unlocked Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9+, it will be available in Lilac Purple, Midnight Black or Coral Blue. Available colors will vary for carrier locked models. Preorders begin on March 2nd, while AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless will have the phones in store on March 16th.

Galaxy S9 3colors
Samsung Galaxy S9 And Galaxy S9+ Colors

Although Samsung hasn't yet offered up pricing details on the new Galaxy devices, the company will offer up to $350 for a qualifying phone trade-in.