Testing the Samsung Galaxy S9+: One of the Great Champions of 2018

Samsung Galaxy S9+ – Design and finish

From an aesthetic perspective, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is not much different from its predecessor. Moreover, from the front it is almost impossible to distinguish it from the Galaxy S8+. The smartphone always has two curved Gorilla Glass 5 glass panels on the edges, with a metal structure and a solid finish.

At 158.1 mm in height, it is slightly smaller (0.6 mm) than last year’s model, while at 73.8 mm it is imperceptibly wider, and its thickness has increased by 0.4 mm to 8.5 mm. The weight has increased by 16 grams, giving a device of 189 grams. Note that you will not notice these changes when you hold the device in your hands, but you will notice the difference in shape of the metal structure.

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The button for Bixby is always present under the volume keys. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Overall, the smartphone has a less rounded metal chassis and the transition from glass to aluminum is more evident when you pick up the phone. Personally, I preferred the finish of the S8+ because the Galaxy S9+ is slightly squarer and more reminiscent of Note 8. This S9+ seems to be the result of a strange mix between the two top-of-the-range models that preceded it in 2017. IP68 certification always ensures water and dust resistance.

The fingerprint reader has been moved and is now under the dual camera (at the back). The positioning is better than on the previous flagship but still remains a bit strange: it is too low to be accessible in a natural way, and its flattened shape n’t make it easy to use. Last year we were getting the camera dirty, this year it will be the same despite the change of position. The speed of the reader is also not able to compete with those used by Huawei, and the fingerprint is not always well recognized.

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With protection, it is easier to distinguish the fingerprint reader from the camera. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Samsung cannot be second

The Galaxy S9+’s screen is the best you can find on a smartphone. Period.

That’s what Display Mate says. They have carefully tested this display and of course we decided to check this personally. As you may know, Samsung also manufactures OLED screens for the iPhone X and couldn’t let its rival shine thanks to the quality of its own hardware.

Thus, the S9+ (and its little brother) have dethroned the iPhone X from first place in the rankings thanks to its 6.2-inch Super AMOLED screen, 1440 x 2960 definition and HDR10 compatibility.

  • Testing the Galaxy S9 and S9+ displays: are they really the best on the market?

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Nothing new on this new top-of-the-range product. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

The size and definition, as well as the 18.5:9 ratio remain the same as last year, but Samsung has improved the brightness and colour representation which is now more faithful. The Home button is always present on the screen and remains pressure-sensitive.

If you are interested in a more in-depth analysis, I refer you to our dedicated article with precise measurements and data.

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You can keep an eye on notifications at all times thanks to the permanent display. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Wow on Paper, Mouse in Practice

The international version of the Galaxy S9+ features an Exynos 9810 SoC produced by the Korean company and equipped with an 8-core processor (4x Moongoose M3 Cortex-A55 2.7 GHz and 4 x 1.8 GHz) and a Mali-MP18 G72 GPU chip. The US version offers instead a Snapdragon 845 (4 x 2.7 GHz Kryo 383 Gold, 4x 1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver and an Adreno 630 GPU chip).

Both variants have 6 GB of DDR4X RAM, and 64 GB or 256 GB of internal memory. It is also possible to expand the memory with a microSD card (up to 400GB) by sacrificing the slot for the second SIM card in the dedicated hybrid cart.

  • Here you will find the best microSD cards

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SIM and microSD or dual SIM. The choice is yours. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

The version we tested is the European version (with the Samsung SoC). We have written an article in which you can see our complete performance tests as well as detailed tables and explanations.

  • Are the Galaxy S9 and S9+ really that powerful?

In everyday life, I can assure you that the difference with the Galaxy S8+ is not really noticeable, with a few exceptions. In most of the simplest daily tasks (scrolling the news feed on social networks switching from one application to another, etc.), the S9+ seemed less responsive than the google pixel 2 XL, which has hardware from the previous generation. This doesn’t mean that the S9+ is less powerful or has problems, just that Google’s smartphone is doing better, probably thanks to better optimized software.

No innovation on the autonomy side

The new Galaxy S9 and S9+ reflect their predecessors, the S8 and S8+. They even share the same battery capacity: 3000 mAh for the S9 and 3500 mAh for the Plus version. Our question is: what is the impact of the increase in device power on autonomy?

  • Yes, the batteries in the Galaxy S9 and S9+ disappoint…

Samsung stays true to itself and improves at a snail’s pace

The Galaxy S9+ comes with Android 8.0 Oreo and the February 2018 security patch. It’s unfortunate to see that the brand simply can’t keep up with the new Android versions As far as updates are concerned, we will go directly to Android P.

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If you own the S8+, you will not see many differences in the software interface. © AndroidPIT

As usual, the interface is customized by the manufacturer: this is the Samsung Experience 9.0 that we already knew from the Galaxy S8 and S8+ after the upgrade to Oreo. The differences are not many, the interface has become lighter over the years and only a few applications remain as alternatives to Google services.

There are some improvements, however, and sometimes that’s what makes the difference between a boring and an interesting camera.

Iris and face scanner join forces

Iris scanning and facial recognition were already available for some time on Samsung’s flagship models, but with the Galaxy S9 and S9+ you can use them at the same time thanks to the Intelligent Scan feature. 

  • What are the differences between facial recognition systems?

This feature registers the user’s iris and uses classic facial recognition (not 3D as we see on the iPhone X) to ensure faster unlocking of the device, as well as better security. In other words, the smartphone will rely mainly on facial recognition if it can’t scan the iris. On the other hand, in the dark, face recognition cannot be used and will therefore have to make way mainly for the iris scan.

The unlocking speed decreases with brightness, and in the dark we must be careful to place the smartphone correctly so that the scanner can see our eyes.

Plus receives a second camera

One of the main differences from the Galaxy S9 is the presence of two photo sensors on the back. Both are 12 megapixels and are optically stabilized. The main camera is equipped with hybrid PDAF/laser autofocus, dual-pixel technology and variable aperture between f/2.4 and f/1.5. 

The second camera has telescopic lenses with a 2x zoom, it is the same camera as on the Galaxy Note 8, which allows the use of the Live Focus mode which allows to simulate a Bokeh effect using the software.

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The S9+ has a second camera that the S9 does not have. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

As with the little Galaxy S9, the idle function is really impressive. From a technical point of view Sony provided the basis, as only the Japanese company currently has the buffer memory built into the sensor. Unfortunately, the Galaxy S9+ can only record in HD with up to 960 frames per second thanks to this type of memory.

The software differs slightly from that of the Japanese smartphone because it is able to detect movement in the scene and perform Super Slow Motion without the user having to intervene. This way you are less likely to miss the right time to start recording. I find the mode particularly interesting when it works but it needs too much light to give really good results.

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The front camera and iris scanner are located on the top of the front panel. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

The front camera is an 8 megapixel camera with an f/1.7 aperture and autofocus. You can use this camera to create AR emojis but we’ll talk about it later in a dedicated article.

Photographs obtained from your smartphone are of high level, so much so that DxOMark (specialized site) had made the S9+ the best photophone, chasing the Google Pixel 2 to the second place. In reality, the pictures obtained are not so much better than those from Google, in some cases they are even worse. The HDR+ algorithm and Google’s software processing are much more successful than the S9+. 

  • Click here to view pictures taken with the Galaxy S9+.

For more information on the features and quality of this camera, we invite you to read the article written by Stefan, our photography expert.

  • Read the photo test of Galaxy S9 Plus

Turn up the volume and start dancing

As my colleague Luis explained in his test of the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Korean company’s acquisition of Harman Kardon has paid off. Not only now we find stereo speakers with a powerful volume and excellent quality, but in the box we find the same AKG headphones that were supplied with the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

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Headphone jack stays where it is, Samsung doesn’t give up. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

In addition, the Galaxy S9+ has the certification and features of Dolby Atmos like its younger brother. Bluetooth 5.0 also allows better connection to accessories (including headsets) and also allows simultaneous connection of two speakers or two separately controllable Bluetooth headsets.

You just need to turn up the volume and start dancing!

A price that has fallen well

Samsung flagships have never been the most affordable smartphones on the market, quite the contrary. Unfortunately, smartphone manufacturers (Samsung and Apple in particular) have, over the past year or two, taken the unfortunate trend of raising the price of their terminals. This year again, Samsung has decided to do it again by increasing its rates. Luckily, with time the prices go down!

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For its launch, the Galaxy S9+ is available in 3 colours. © AndroidPIT

The official rate offered by Samsung at the launch was 959 euros but today you can find it quite easily at more affordable prices, usually between 600 and 700 euros. 

The smartphone is available in three colours, just like the S9: carbon black, ultra violet, coral blue.

Samsung Galaxy S9+ – Specifications

Dimensions :

158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm

Weight:

189 g

Battery Capacity :

3500 mAh

Screen size :

6.2 inches

Display technology :

AMOLED

Screen:

2960 x 1440 pixels (531 dpi)

Front camera

8 Megapixels

Rear view camera :

12 Megapixels

Flash:

LED

Android version :

8.0 – Oreo

RAM:

6 GB

Internal memory :

64 GB

256 GB

128 GB

Removable Memory :

microSD

Chipset:

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

Samsung Exynos 9810

Number of hearts :

8

Maximum clock frequency :

2.7 GHz

Connectivity :

HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0

Final Verdict

The Galaxy S9+ is one of the big boys in the neighborhood: it’s big, strong, fast and it impresses. However, competition is important in 2018, and Pixel 3 (to name but one) has nothing to envy it.

Samsung has played the card of ease by not changing the design of its device but simply correcting the defects of its predecessor to be sure to meet the needs of all, individuals and professionals alike.

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The official fabric cover for S9 + is elegant and pleasant to the touch. © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

The Galaxy S9+ is an elegant and seductive device, but it doesn’t really create the surprise and wow effect of the S8. However, it is a solid and efficient terminal in every area. Multimedia consumption is a pleasure thanks to its beautiful screen and the now stereo sound. Games run smoothly thanks to its premium technical specifications. If the smartphone doesn’t particularly stand out in terms of range, it will allow you to get to the end of the day. Consolation pack, charging is extremely fast and wireless recharging is always present.

In the end, the Galaxy S9+ inherits all the flaws of its predecessor but improves on the points where it already excelled. 

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