Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

The Galaxy S9 Plus is Samsung’s flagship: it’s a big, powerful smartphone , but very similar to the Galaxy S8 Plus, launched in 2017. The South Korean brand – which is currently the largest mobile phone maker in the world – has tried to innovate and wanted to show that “winning team does not move,” but could have done more than add AR Emojis (Samsung animojis) to the new model.

Like the S9, the S9 Plus has an infinite display and facial recognition. The difference from the S9 model is the size, the cameras and the battery life. It is larger, has dual rear camera (instead of just one) and more battery capacity (3,500 milliamperes, instead of 3,000).

It is a fact: the S9 Plus is one of the best smartphones in the market, but being too similar to the S8 Plus does not compensate for the jump. It continues to have a battery that needs to be charged at the end of the day and the high price deflects attention to competing products. However, it is a Smartphone with several options that will please even the most demanding users.

What is the Bixby button for?

The big bet on the design of the S9 Plus remains the screen from corner to corner or, as the brand calls it, the “infinite” screen. There is no notch, as has the top edge of the iPhone X, or physical menu button. Instead, it has curved corners and its all touch (including the back and menu buttons). Despite the futuristic look, with which Samsung had already accustomed us to the “Edge” models, it maintains traditional features such as headphone jacks. The possibility of expanding the memory of the device by mini-SD card is another of the strengths of the S9, but to use it is necessary to occupy one of the slots of the SIM cards, which – for those who want to use the functionality of two mobile phone cards – is a big inconvenience.

The fingerprint sensor is the only major change over previous models. In this equipment, the sensor is underneath the camera (in the S8 was on the right side of the camera) and this is a change that was received with satisfaction by the fans of the mark. We have verified in this analysis that this option is more convenient to unlock the S9 with fingerprint. In addition, it remains the most reliable: it worked whenever we wanted to unlock the phone.

In addition to the side buttons to turn off / unlock and to control the volume, this equipment also has a dedicated “Bixby” button (Bixby is the Samsung digital assistant). For now, it only speaks English and South Korean, which makes this button little relevant. Most of the times we uploaded it was by accident and there are unofficial ways to change this feature. The Bixby button reminded us of the old Windows Phone, which had a search button that required us to use Bing (the Microsoft search engine).

The S9 Plus is, as the name “Plus” indicates, a large smartphone . With a screen of 6.2 inches and 158.1 millimeters in length, it is a mobile phone that easily falls into the category of phablet (mobile equipment with size between tablet and smartphone ). Is it therefore uncomfortable for those who use it? More or less. The slim design and landscape mode (which lets you rotate the screen back to the home menu) makes it the best handset to use with both hands. With only one hand, a problem arises: it will slide (the curved corners and the screen coating help a lot).

In terms of strength, the S9 Plus meets all the requirements of a Smartphone of this value. Do not break or damage the first fall (and probably not the second and third) and is resistant to water and dust. That is, within those that are the terms of the industry, this Smartphone has the certificate “IP68” (is quite good).

In performance, the S9 Plus can be faster than the equivalent model, the Note 8. With the possibility of connecting to a dock of its own, which when connected to a screen makes the phone a desktop computer, the S9 Plus is more than efficient in day-to-day tasks and even more demanding tasks. We even used it to edit images.

Another of the points to mention is the sound quality. We’ve already talked about the entrance to the headphones, but here the important thing is the columns. Samsung claims that the S9 Plus has Dolby Atmos technology, “like in theaters.” After testing it, we have verified that the phone has superior sound quality from the speakers compared to other devices (the only one that beats the S9 Plus at this point is the iPhone X).

The biggest advantages of the S9 Plus are the quality of the cameras. With multiple image capture modes, it even fills the needs of the most photo enthusiasts. To get one of the best picture qualities on Smartphone’s, the S9 Plus has dual rear camera. It may seem like the usual lengalenga, the Smartphone’s that promise more cameras and always have better quality, but in this case it is confirmed. We were surprised when we took photos in dark surroundings, a difficult task for any machine. Without using the flash, we get clear pictures, as if the environment had more light.

It is also thanks to the technology of the rear cameras that Samsung presents the “super slow-mo”. It’s an improvement over the same functionality that was already on the S8, but it’s still not very intuitive. Supposedly, the artificial intelligence of the system can distinguish which moments capture in slow motion and assist for “epic” videos. Truth be told, it’s functionality turns, but only works truly in well-lit environments and after several tests.

As for the front camera, the S9 Plus has the best self-cameras on the market. The quality of the images only loses in relation to the pictures taken with the rear camera in darker environments. Even so, with auto focus and with the help of the sensors that are on the top of the device, it was rare the picture was wrong.

It is also with the front camera that the S9 Plus has one of the most interesting features. No, it’s not AR Emojis (we’re already there), it’s the facial unlock. This feature is not new, but it is noted that it is better. To unlock the phone is practical and more importantly it works most of the time – unlike the iPhone X, which sins in this functionality. With the fingerprint sensor on the backside we ended up not having to use it so much (picking up the phone easily puts your finger on the sensor).

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review

And the battery … Wait, I have to go load the S9 Plus

The battery is the main reason for this phone to have four stars. Yes, it is the best equipment on the market but the battery is a great snag. With competitor equipment – such as iPhone X or Huawei Mate 10 Pro – to easily withstand more than one day of use, one cannot understand how Samsung has not improved at this point. The equipment we tested is the S9 Plus, meaning it is the one with the highest battery capacity. Even so, we have reached the end of a normal working day with 20%, 15% battery. Fast charging helps fill the capacity gap of this device, but we do not understand how Samsung has not improved at this point.

It may (still) be normal in mid-range equipments to have to charge every day, but this phone costs almost 1,000 euros. The battery of iPhone X lasted, on average, a day and a half, and intensive use. This means that you just have to get home and not carry the mobile phone to have to walk with the charger the next day. We can argue that even then, the cell phone battery can withstand a full day with normal usage, but with the direct competitors getting more becomes an invalid justification.

Extra: AR Emoji, its like Animojis says

We left to the end one of the characteristics that Samsung most emphasized: the AR Emojis (emoji in augmented reality). Are they a cheeky copy of Apple’s animojis? Yes, they are, but they are different. And it’s because they’re different that they can be interesting. If, on the one hand, the facial recognition of S9 Plus can be better than the iPhone X, Animojis is losing. Dolls that mimic the user’s facial expressions work more or less. We noticed a delay in the expressions of the dolls several times and this one did not recognize some movements well. It’s a feature turns, but by not working as well as the Animojis turns out not to be so good. However, it still has innovations in the formula.

It is through the innovations that this “extra” captivated us. Yes, it does not replicate the user’s features like the competition, but Apple only has ten Animojis to choose from, and with the S9, it’s possible to have a Mickey and Minnie mimic what is said with the user’s features. Another of the graces of this functionality of the S9 are the avatars that, through a photograph, are created in the image of the person. Sometimes the results were a bit ghoulish and remind us of a more frightening version of the Xbox 360 avatars, but the fact that we can send the results across all messaging applications (and not just iMessage) makes AR Emojis a good answer from Samsung to Apple.

Final verdict: there was innovation but very little

The S9 is a slight upgrade from the S8. In practice, they are more powerful and now, in addition to AR Emojis, the fingerprint sensor is in a more practical place. But, in the slightest, they differ from the S8 and in the aspect that Samsung needed to improve to compete with the main competitors – in the battery – fails. It has practical features, such as also being a desktop computer through a DeX dock, which end up justifying the huge price close to a thousand euros. Even so, despite being clearly the best on the market, Samsung has come to innovate (very) little.