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Evolution defined: Samsung Galaxy S9+

viridis
Level 56: Guvnor
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Review:

[ri-vyoo] 

  1. Review,criticism imply careful examination of something, formulation of a judgment, and statement of the judgment, usually in written form. A review is a survey over a whole subject or division of it.

 

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Firstly lets get it out the way, its not a Sony.. very sorry to disappoint you and your expectations of another damn fine Xperia review (which btw it would be, the XZ2 is a sexy beast, you know it, i know it ..anyway) every now and then, I do like to dabble in other Android devices, it keeps me pure, keeps me impartial, stops me from just pumping out the same monotonous speeches everytime. the simple fact is; I bought a Galaxy S9+ and I use it alongside my other devices daily. So yeah.. aaaanyway..

How can a device, that looks 100% identical to its predecessor offer value to prospective customers? we've seen this before with Samsung, the Infamous failure of the Galaxy S5 prompted such fear into Samsung that an immediate overhaul of the Galaxy range was ordered, ushering in the game changing S6 / Edge. has Samsung really put enough in the S9 to not only command a high price, but a price that is far above the model it replaces? on first impressions yes, yes they have. 

The S9 series as a whole includes the latest Exynos SOC which unfortunately again has been restricted for parity with the snapdragon 845 that the US model uses, good for them, crap for us, as we miss out on an estimated 10-15% raw power that could make a bit of a difference when measuring the 0.0075 seconds difference it takes to open X app. 

But anyway, it goes without saying that the S9 series is fitted to the rafters with every bit of tech advancement that currently is in circulation, including the worlds first multi aperture camera in a phone, does it work? yeah it really does, and works so well that its literally day and night difference in low light shots. We also have a dual lens system on the plus model, allowing not only far increased bokeh levels in portraits, but an optical zoom thanks to the second lenses narrower focal length. all in all, it might look the same, but this is a different beast altogether.

 

Specs

 

Cpu: 10 nm, 64-bit, octa-core Samsung Exynos 9810 (2.8 GHz quad + 1.7 GHz quad)

Memory: 6GB LPDDR4X

Storage: 128GB UFS 2.1 + up to 400GB Micro SD

LTE: GBPS+

Display: 6.2-inch Curved Super AMOLED 2,960 x 1,440 resolution with 10bit HDR support

Sound: Stereo 2.0 Sytem Tuned by AKG with Dolby Atmos support

 

Box contents

Quick start guide

Adaptive Quck charger

AKG Earbuds

 

Design

The Galaxy S9+ takes all the winning formula from the S8 series and refines it to a perfect balance of size vs portability, the 6.2" display feels much like the 5.1" of old, the added comfort of the rounded display and body means that holding and using the Plus in one hand is relatively easy, a feat not heard of with other 6.2"displays. The body is fully made out of a single block of 7000 series Aluminium this makes it far tougher than other Aluminium bodied devices but with it carries a little extra weight, thus the S9+ is approximately 15g heavier than the S8+, to be absolutely clear.. there is zero structural plastics on this phone, even the mid section for mounting the battery and PCB, is the same piece of metal. This anodised and hardened metal body is sandwiched between two curved pieces of the latest Gorilla Glass 5 much like most samsung devices since 2015, this "Edge" glass also houses the Super Amoled HDR display, which is a very, very, VERY nice display. Displaymate testing labs have announced it as the most accurate display in the world and I can see why, the rendering of colours is fantastic and i cant seem to find any setting that makes it look too over saturated or too vibrant like my previous experiences with amoled displays, its just not there anymore, what is there is a fine tuned customisable display with fantastic brightness, perfect white balance and super accurate colour, its the amoled for this generation. Its worth mentioning that out the box , this display is set to FHD+ and not the QHD+ that this display can run, I recommend changing it to get the best visual experience possible. on the subject of displays, the S9+ auto hides the navigation bar to avoid burn in of the home, back, multi buttons, what they didnt do however is auto hide the task bar, for my own reasons regarding long term use and burn in, i can tell you there is a very simple ADB command that will auto hide both, swipe up for nav, and down for task. this not only will save the corner from burn in, but will also give you the proper infinity display experience. Above this Display you will find the front facing camera, the secondary speaker and the retina scanner and IR illuminating flash for retina scanning.

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On the back of the S9+is the coloured glass covering the wireless charging coil and above this area is the (now moved to a better location) fingerprint scanner, the scanner works almost flawlessly when needed and setting it up is so so simple that all you do is swipe over it . Above the scanner is the main selling point of the S9+ ''The camera reinvented" is probably pushing it a bit far, but its certainly brilliant and is held nice and flat against the body, perfectly flush except a protective lip around the camera assembly.

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The bottom of the device houses the main speaker, a USB-C 3.1 port and the (now a rarity) 3.5mm headphone jack.

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Performance

The S9+ performs as fast as any device currently available, its core processors easily deal with the most demanding of tasks and its Mali-G72 MP18 Gpu, whilst not as fast as the Adreno inside the Snapdragon 845, has 18 individual Gpu cores behind it, in multi core based games and tasks, it flies. The memory is samsungs own ultra fast LPDDR4X and is blazingly fast as also is the UFS 2.1 storage, also samsungs own chips. The S9+ uk version comes with 6GB of ram, and 64/128GB of storage, some stores will have the 256GB imported model, however this is a very rare model in the UK. 

 

Camera

The Camera on the S9+ is one of the most advanced cameras on a smartphone you can currently get, its dual sensor based camera allows multi focusing for better portrait shots and thanks to a much narrower focal length allows optical zoom at 2X and digital zoom up to 10X thanks to multi sampling. this in itself is brilliant as we all know, zoomed shots usually look crap, not any more. 

the other interesting thing is that the main camera has a new feature, usually found on more higher end dedicated cameras, a physical switch between f1.5 and f2.4 apertures

this switch to f1.5 will definitely improve low light shots when compared to normal cameras, not only this but the S9+ uses multi image sampling to nearly eradicate noise, something that will always appear on low light 

photos, and something that is hard to remove, without destroying quality.

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in daylight the camera switches automatically to f2.4 which in itself is a much sharper lens (faster f1.5 lenses are always less focused than 2.4, its part of the design) and the picture quality is excellent, detail as well as colour is fantastically reproduced and in sharp contrasting scenes, thanks to the dual pixel tech, the auto HDR really works well at showing both shadows and highlights equally in detail. there is also the video side of things, where the S9+ includes 4k recording at 60fps, 1080p recording at up to 240fps and 720p recording at up to 960fps bursts (thanks for the idea Sony) as with photos, the video is stabilised by means of a dual optical stabilisation that works really really well, in fact there is much less of the usual warping you get with optical stabilisation which makes me believe the sensor is cropped to accommodate a much more balanced video recording.

Picture samples

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Sound

Not only has samsung finally maded the jump to stereo speakers, but its done so with absolute perfection, its the speakers that won me over with this phone, they are loud, clear and offer a listening experience second to none, whilst Razer might be loud too, these things have undeniable quality. the two speakers are tuned by samsungs latest aquisitiion AKG part of the Harman audio group and boy did they do a good job. Not only does the standard setup offer unchallenged audio clarity, but turn on Atmos mode and these things totally immerse you in a fantastic virtual sound experience, and its not just the mids and highs, the speakers within the phone also offer great bass reproduction leaving very little need for external speakers.

The bundles headphones are the ones also present with the S8 series but having not used them before, i was pleasantly surprised by just how good they are, again tuned by AKG these are a definite step up from the bundled headphones usually found with phones and could easily match the quality of a £50+ set of bought in-ear buds.

 

Software

the S9+ comes with Oreo out the box and its nice to see Samsung reigning in Touchwiz even more than i've ever seen before, not only is the device relatively bloat free, but almost all pre-installed apps can be removed, not just disabled.. but removed. there are a few exceptions including Facebook and Microsoft office apps but most of the google apps, all Samsung non essential apps and all 3rd party apps are removable.

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One thing that did irritate me is the way that the hardware monitor will only give the phone a 100% optimised state if you activated the resource hungry Device security, sorry Samsung, but this is BS and you know it, stop trying to mislead customers that these apps are the only way to make your system fully optimised,naughty

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also included is Bixby, the assistant no-one wants so much, Samsung included a button just to activate it. luckily on S9+ the button can be disabled to open Bixby, but can be still long pressed to open voice commands, if that's your kind of thing.

 

Accessories

Luckily for me and others, all the Gear accessories and wireless chargers work perfectly with S9+, so that old Gear S2, yup, works fine.. in fact all you need to do is turn it on near the S9+ and the S9+ will ask if you want to connect, click yes and the service self installs and on an authorisation on the Gear pop-up, will activate on the new phone, same story with the Gear VR systems out there, and also the wireless charge plates obviously still work as expected on S9+. What does this mean to you?... it means perfect functioning accessories at fractions of original price. with Gear S2 going for as little as £50 pre-owned, you can grab some decent deals to accompany your S9+ device.

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Conclusion

Samsung has created a beast within the S9+ body, taking the externals of S8 and hiding inside an absolutely mental amount of updates, not only on a hardware level but at a software level too. is it enough to convert loyal fans of other brands, well yes i think it is. Samsung seems to be a company that listens, Touchwiz is proof of this, every thing people hated has been fixed, including that damn Bixby button.

Samsung is an evolving Brand, that is as loyal to customers as they are to them, is it enough to keep the paying public handing over wads of cash for incrimental updates such as S9+? in my opinion, as long as they keep making incremental updates so feature packed, who wouldn't.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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