Samsung’s new flagships are here and while the Galaxy S9 is a decent new flagship, the S9 Plus is the new Samsung flagship to look at, because of its dual camera setup, more RAM and more battery. Well, we have had the S9 Plus (starts at ₹64,900) with us for more than 10 days now and yes, it looks a lot like the S8 Plus but that’s a positive because that means the new S9 Plus is gorgeous and stunning to look at but is it just an S8 refinement or is it more? And if it’s an S8 refinement, does it fix all the flaws of its predecessor? Yes, there are a lot of questions around the S9 and well, we bring you all the answers in our Galaxy S9 Plus review.
Galaxy S9 Plus Specifications
Before we start with the review, let’s get the specs out of the way:
|Display||6.2-inch Super AMOLED 2960 x 1440p|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845/ Samsung Exynos 9810|
|Storage||64GB (expansion via microSD)|
|Primary Camera||12MP (f/1.5-f/2.4) Primary Lens + 2MP (f/2.4)
Telephoto Lens, Dual OIS, Dual LED Flash, 4K@60FPS and 720p@960FPS
|Secondary Camera||8MP (f/1.7)|
|Android||Experience UI 9.0 with Android 8.0 Oreo|
|Colors||Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple, Coral Blue|
|Price||starts at ₹64,900|
Design and Build Quality
The Galaxy S9 is beautiful, especially the Blue variant we have here. I mean, I have had people come up to me and compliment me on the color of the phone. So yes, it’s definitely an attention grabber and while the design is mostly S8-ish, there are some really good improvements to the S8 design, like the back isn’t as much of a fingerprint magnet and the fingerprint scanner is now located at just the right place. I am not a fan of the scanner’s rectangularish design, but the fingerprint setup and even its detection is really really fast.
There are also new dual stereo speakers here, which are a perfect amount of loudness and clarity. I really like it. These are some really nice improvements, plus the S9 features all the goodness from the S8, like the pressure sensitive home button, the IP68 rating, and the much loved headphone jack. Plus, if you have noticed the dents on our S9 Plus, let me just tell you that we have dropped the phone thrice. So, it’s pretty sturdy too, at least our unit here, is.
Apart from that, it’s the usual Samsung with the USB-C port and the same buttons, including the Bixby button. So, is the design still great in 2018? Well, it is. I mean, the S8 design is more than a year old now but it’s so great that I don’t think anyone has a problem with Samsung using the same design language with the S9. Seriously, the S9 looks great and even feels great in the hands.
Then, there’s the beautiful curved display. Now we all know that Samsung flagships have had great displays and the S9 too packs in a gorgeous display. I don’t think there’s any other smartphone that can match this display here. I mean, DisplayMate recently awarded the Galaxy S9’s display with the award of the best smartphone display.
So yes, the S9 Plus boasts of one of the best displays in a smartphone. At least, this is the best smartphone display I have seen. Honestly, there are times when I just watch the curves of the S9 display and drool over it. The blacks, the colors, it’s all stunning.
This is one of the best smartphone displays I have ever seen.
The best new feature in the S9 has to be the camera. Samsung has put in a lot of innovation on the camera front and it seems to have paid off. Let’s talk specs first. The S9 Plus here comes with a 12 MP primary camera that has dual apertures of f/1.5 and f/2.4. There’s a secondary 12 MP f/2.4 telephoto lens as well. Enough talking, here are some photos from the S9 Plus:
As you can see, the Galaxy S9 Plus takes some really good photos. The photos have decent details, although colors do look a bit saturated but that’s something subjective, because a lot of people prefer it. It also handles harsh lighting really well. It’s really impressive but the S9 Plus is most impressive when taking low light shots. Take a look at some low light shots from the S9 Plus:
As you can see in the photos, thanks to the wider f/1.5 aperture, the S9 captures a great amount of light resulting in bright photos with some really good colors. I mean, just look at the photos above. They are great. Plus, if you were wondering how well the new dual aperture system works. Here are some shots taken with both f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures:
Well, it’s clear that the dual apertures on the S9 Plus indeed work really well. The wider f/1.5 aperture makes sure that low light photos are bright and nice, while the tighter f/2.4 aperture makes up for some sharp day time photos.
The S9 Plus also has the portrait mode, and well portrait shots are good with nice edge detection and background blur but the S9 just smoothens out the details in the face. Here are some portrait mode shots we took:
Also, let’s just compare it to some portrait mode shots from the Pixel 2:
On the front, the S9 Plus features an 8 MP f/1.7 camera, which sounds pretty capable. It too has a portrait mode and well, the photos are decent to okay-ish. I mean, some photos are good but in some photos, the edge detection is not accurate and like the rear portrait mode, the photos lack the sharpness.
Let’s move on to video recording now. The S9 Plus shoots 4K videos at 60 FPS but when shooting in 60 FPS, the S9 Plus disables OIS stabalization, so we shot 4K videos at 30 FPS and while the colors in the video, the focusing, is great, the videos are not stable enough. It has dual OIS, so I am not sure what went wrong. Take a look at videos we shot with the S9 Plus in the video below:
Lastly on the camera front is the new super slow mo video capability. The S9 Plus shoots 720p videos at 960FPS. Now that sounds super cool, right? Well, it’s super cool only when it works, other times it’s just super frustrating. See the thing is, the S9 Plus can capture only 0.2 seconds of super slow mo video, which I have realized isn’t good enough. There are two modes you can shoot super slow-mo videos in: auto and manual. In auto mode, the S9 Plus automatically detects motion and triggers the slow-mo. The problem here is, the auto mode sometimes work and sometimes doesn’t. Well, scratch it, it does not work most of the times. While the manual mode is better, it’s very hard to time the slow-mo trigger, since it captures only 0.2 seconds. Honestly, the super slow mo videos look cool but I, honestly, believe it is a gimmick and not something people will use a lot.
Overall, I really like the camera on the S9 Plus. The device captures some great photos, especially in low light. Seriously, low light photos from the S9 Plus are amazing. But is the DxOMark score of 99, which is better than the Pixel 2’s score of 98 justified? Well, I am not sure. I mean, if you have seen our S9 Plus vs Pixel 2 camera comparison video, I am sure you already know it’s not the best camera phone out there, at least for me, but it’s definitely up there with the best.
Overall, I really like the camera on the S9 Plus. The device captures some great photos, especially in low light. Seriously, low light photos from the S9 Plus are amazing.
Next up, let’s talk about the performance of the S9 Plus. The S9 Plus is the first smartphone to come with the Snapdragon 845 but that’s only in the States. In India, we have the S9 Plus with the equally powerful, if not more, Exynos 9810 Octa. When it comes to the benchmarks, the S9 Plus is right at the top when it comes to Android phones but we all know about Samsung phones and their mediocre performance over time. Well, that seems to be changing, at least for the flagships.
I mean, the S8 was one of the laggyist, if that’s even a word, laggyist flagship I have ever used but the Note 8, even after a number of months has remained solid and I’d like to believe that same is the case with the S9 Plus. In my 10 days of using the device, the S9 Plus feels super smooth. Sure, some of the Experience UI transitions seem a bit too much but other than that, the phone is fast, which makes me believe that even though it looks the same, Samsung has definitely done under the hood improvements for the S9 Plus.
The S9 Plus comes with Samsung Experience UI 9.0 based on Android 8.0 Oreo. While Experience UI on the S9 and S9 Plus looks the same from last year, there are some new tricks Samsung has introduced with the S9.
Firstly, there’s the new Intelligent Scan, which switches between face recognition and iris recognition depending on the situation. For instance, when there’s not enough light for facial recognition to work, the iris scanner kicks in and well, it works really well. I really like this implementation, because the face recognition from the S8 and Note 8 was honestly, mediocre. But hey, on the S9 Plus, I have found it to work every time but there’s one problem though and that is, it’s still not as fast as I’d like, like the fast face unlocking from the OnePlus 5T.
Apart from Intelligent Scan, there’s another face recognition feature. Yes, I am talking about AR Emojis. Well, AREmojis on the S9 Plus is… I am not gonna mince words, it’s just terrible. I mean, it’s easy to use and uses people’s faces to create a more personal emoji but that’s the only novelty here. AREmojis just fail to detect the correct expressions. I mean, I am not a big fan of Animojis on the iPhone X but the AREmojis on the S9 Plus are just mediocre when compared to Animojis. Well, again, let me just say it, AREmojis are terrible.
Lastly, on the software front are various Bixby improvements. Bixby can now recognize food, translate languages live and yes, Bixby can do your makeup. While the first two features can come handy, the Makeup feature, which I think works well, is definitely not for me.
Overall, the Experience UI is still the feature rich Samsung UI we have come to expect and some of the new features and improvements are definitely handy.
Like the S8 Plus last year, the S9 Plus comes with a 3500 mAh battery. While that does seem low for a device with a huge display, the new chipset in the S9 Plus is said to be more power efficient and well, I’d say the battery life on the S9 Plus is average. In my usage, I almost always lasted a day of usage but that’s pretty much it. Do not expect amazing battery life from the S9 Plus.
There is Quick Charging support though. The S9 Plus went from 10 to 100% in 1 hour and 32 minutes, which I think is pretty decent.
The S9 Plus comes with all the connectivity options you associate with a modern flagship. The S9 Plus features a dual SIM slot of the hybrid nature, so you can use one of the slots for a SIM card or a microSD card. There’s also Samsung Pay here, thanks to the NFC support in the device. Other than that, it’s the usual things, like Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C 3.1 etc.
Is the Samsung Galaxy S9+ Worth It?
So, that was pretty much all about the S9+, which brings us to the all important question, is the Galaxy S9 Plus worth it? Well, let me be honest here, the S9+ isn’t a massive upgrade over the S8. It’s definitely not but the improvements it brings, like the speedy performance, better cameras and a more refined design, make it an excellent flagship.
Look, if you have the S8 or the S8+ or any of the good flagships from last year, you shouldn’t consider the S9 at all but if you are someone who is using an older device, the S9+ is an excellent option for you and that is if you are okay with the Samsung Experience UI and Samsung’s poor reputation when it comes to updates and you do not want to wait for the Pixels and the iPhones of 2018.
The S9+ isn’t a massive upgrade over the S8. It’s definitely not but the improvements it brings, like the speedy performance, better cameras and a more refined design, make it an excellent flagship.
Buy Galaxy S9+: (starts at ₹64,900)
Galaxy S9 Plus Review: An Excellent Samsung Flagship!
Well, that was our Galaxy S9 Plus review. The S9 Plus is definitely the best Samsung flagship ever. It’s got a lot of things going for it. But those were my thoughts, what do you think? Will you be buying the S9 Plus or the S9? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, if you have any questions regarding the new Samsung flagship that we did not answer, make sure to ask us in the comments.