Samsung Galaxy S9+ Review: Fantastic And Fast With A Killer Camera

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Samsung Galaxy S9+ Battery Life And The Final Assessment

Galaxy S9 Plus Cobalt Blue On Rocks front back

To determine how the Samsung S9+ handles with respect to battery life, we've commissioned two very different test utilities. AnTuTu's Battery test is a worst case, high workload benchmark utility that stresses the CPU, GPU, system memory and even maximizes display brightness in order to push phones to their always-on limits. Generally speaking, in real world scenarios the average mainstream user would not likely utilize use a phone this way, certainly not all day long until its battery gave up the ghost. However, it's a relative gauge for comparable high load performance. Then we have PCMark for Android's Work 2.0 battery test, which demands both a lighter duty work load, and is setup to run on calibrated, moderately lit display brightness settings. The playing field is more level in the PCMark test since variation is display brightness is minimized with pre-test calibration. 

Battery Life
How Long Did Samsung's New Galaxies Last?

The AnTuTu battery test sets the display brightness to maximum and cranks up workloads continuously. It then runs through a number of real-world scripted workloads, including web browsing, gaming, and video playback, in an effort to drain the battery of a device as quickly as possible. The results are measured in a point score and ranked system.

AnTuTu Battery Tester Galaxy S9 Plus Results

Though the Samsung Galaxy S9+ finishes in the top half of the pack, it delivers middling performance here. In fact, under this very high load test, it can't quite keep pace with a previous gen Galaxy S8, nevermind an S8+ or Note 8. Perhaps this is where the combination of Qualcomm's higher clocked Snapdragon 845, combined with 6GB of RAM comes into play, pushing power draw up on the GS9+. Let's look at a more reasonable workload with PCMark's calibrated battery test and see what that looks like. 

Futuremark's PCMark for Android Work 2.0 Battery test takes workloads from the benchmark itself (image and video editing, email and web browsing) and scripts them in a loop that runs until battery levels drop below 20 percent. This test is much more real-world in terms of its setup, because we calibrate display brightness on all devices to 200 Lux and the test then locks that display brightness in for the duration. As a result, with only WiFi and cell radios on (Bluetooth and NFC were off, with DND mode turned on), we're able to see how long a device will last, timed to the minute as it runs down from 100 percent to 20 percent remaining battery life. 

PCMark Android 20 Battery Test Galaxy S9 Plus

In this battery test, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ fairs much better and surpasses the Galaxy S8, though it can't quite catch the previous generation Galaxy S8+. Here, the Galaxy S9+ lasted over 9.5 hours of continuous mixed workload use. Again, this is an always-on test that does push a lighter-duty workload versus the AnTuTu battery test, but it's still an always-on test condition. In actual real world on/off mixed use testing, we found the Galaxy S9+ delivered excellent, all day and then some battery life, with Andorid 8.0 Oreo doze functionality putting the phone in deep sleep when not in use or pocketed. *Note: We were down to the wire on the embargo lift for this review, and we're running this test again on the Galaxy S9+, to check for variance and ensure accuracy. We will update this section should the next run's time change significantly either way.  

Galaxy S9 Plus Back on box
Samsung Galaxy S9+ At $839 -- Galaxy S9 At $719  - Find Them On Amazon

At this point, we've painted a pretty good picture of the performance profile of Samsung's new Galaxy S9+, from general compute workloads to camera imaging, to graphics and gaming, and battery life. From a raw horsepower standpoint, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is the fastest Android smartphone we've ever tested, and in many real world use cases it will certainly give an iPhone X a run for its money as well, especially when it comes to gaming and graphics performance. In terms of its camera performance, in addition to some new, rather innovative features like Super Slow-Mo mode and Live Focus, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ also delivers the best camera imaging results we've ever laid eyes on. Finally, when it comes to smartphone displays, Samsung once again slays it with the Galaxy S9+ (and Galaxy S9) and we're not the only Tech publication that feels this way. DisplayMate actually deemed it "visually indistinguishable from perfect." That's what you call high praise and we would concur. It also feels like the curvature of the Galaxy S9+ display is slightly less pronounced, offering a better balance of palmable functionality, though the phone still feels so smooth and rather slippery that it takes some getting used to for first time Galaxy wielders. By the way, if you pick one up, get a case for heaven's sake and protect your device.

Galaxy S9 Plus Back in hand with box

concludeOne final attribute for the Galaxy S9+ that we need to weigh in is cost. Fortunately, we're already seeing both the S9+ and the S9 listed on Amazon with a March 16th availability date. The Galaxy S9+ retails for $839 unlocked while an S9 weighs in at $719.  Carrier pricing may vary with differing subsidies or payment plans if purchased under contract, though Samsung did also confirm these unlocked prices. This places the Galaxy S9+ and S9 roughly on par with the Galaxy S8+ and S8 when they launched last year, and right in the meat of premium flagship Android phone pricing currently. In other words, these new Galaxies are still pricey, but also competitive with similar class, current generation phones like Google's Pixel 2 XL or the LG V30, which can be had for a few bucks less. Is this pricing justified? Again, relatively speaking with respect to the current landscape of premium Android phones, and certainly compared to a much pricier iPhone X, we think it is; not that we're fan's of the current trend of premium smartphone pricing, mind you.

Ultimately, when you boil it all down, though it's still a pricey option, the new Samsung Galaxy S9+ is simply one of the best Android phones money can buy right now. It's arguably one of the best designed large format Android phones too, with gorgeous, sleek styling. And though battery life so far (we're still re-testing) hasn't dropped in quite where we expected, it's still pretty solid there too. The Galaxy S9+ is also currently the fastest Android handset on the market, with the best camera we've ever tested, as well as easily the best display of any smartphone we've seen to date. This new Galaxy S device also brings some innovative new features to the mix as well, like Super Slow-Mo, which is just plain fun. Regardless, that's a lot of "bests" Samsung has going on here and that, in our opinion adds up to an Editor's Choice device. Samsung nailed it with the new Samsung Galaxy S9+. Fantastic phone.
hothardware editors choice

  • Gorgeous, Refined, Slightly Smaller Design
  • Samsung Super AMOLED Is The Best
  • Fastest Android Phone On Market Now
  • Amazing Camera Performance
  • Innovative Features
  • Solid Battery Life
  • Pricey
  • Camera Modes Twitchy With Accidental Actuation
  • Black Units Are Smudge Magnets

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