MWC 2018 has kicked off and leading tech giant, Samsung like last year took the stage at the global tech & mobile exhibition to introduce its latest flagship duo for the year. After numerous leaks and speculations, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9+ finally received the official tag.
If you take a look at the spec sheet of the Galaxy S9, the upgrade isn’t that drastic as compared to its predecessor. Samsung has only tweaked and refined those parts that were spared on the previous iteration. Here’s a comparison of the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S8 based on the preliminary spec sheet and feature set. Let’s see what all has changed.
Samsung took a big leap with the design language on the Galaxy S8 last year trimming the bezels and bringing a metal and glass sandwich. The flagship model received accolades for the premium design and perhaps Samsung wants to keep that intact for a while. The Galaxy S9 is nearly identical to its predecessor with curved edges, smooth round corners and the lower space housing the 3.5mm port, USB Type-C and mono speaker grill.
The only difference is the fingerprint sensor placement that has now shifted below the camera module instead of sitting on the right side of camera on the S8. The other ‘great thing’ about the Galaxy S9 is its height which is reduced by 1.2 mm and a light texture finish on the metal which will be barely noticeable at least for an average user. In short, Samsung has gone in with the ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it’ philosophy, at least for the design.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 retains the same resolution and screen size like the Galaxy S8. The phone features a 5.8-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED display with 2960 x 1440 pixel resolution. The new flagship has the same pixel density of 570ppi. Samsung claims to have reduced the top and bottom bezels to an extent and the display is slightly brighter. But overall the new Galaxy S9 would likely endure enhanced immersive experience when it comes to streaming content.
Again, nothing new here but then there’s nothing significant to improve upon either.
The most significant upgrade on the Galaxy S9 is its imaging sensor. The camera on the new Galaxy device comprises of a 12MP unit with “Super Speed” dual pixel sensor and variable aperture. The new Image Signal Processor (ISP) further helps to reduce noise after the image processing. Samsung has bumped up the slow-mo capture from 240fps to 960fps at 720p HD resolution.
While the Galaxy S8 struggled to retain good low-light images, we believe this will change on the Galaxy S9, thanks to the ‘mechanical iris’ that will physically swap between two different apertures, f/1.5 and f/2.4 respectively. The former will be used to brighten the scene in low light, while the latter will be able to balance highlights. Notably, the Galaxy S8 had a fixed f/1.7 aperture. However, the Galaxy S9 still houses the 8-megapixel front-facing camera that we’ve seen on the previous flagship model.
Processing hardware, Storage and Audio
The foreseeable upgrade on the Samsung Galaxy S9 is probably the system-on-the-chip (SoC). The handset now carries Qualcomm’s flagship chipset Snapdragon 845 in certain regions and the in-house Exynos 9810 processor in other geographies. Both the processors promise almost similar performance with faster download speeds, better GPU rendition and overall efficiency.
The Galaxy S9 packs the same 3000mAh battery as on the S8. However, with the Snapdragon 845 SoC or Samsung’s proprietary Exynos 9810, the new flagship smartphone is believed to provide enhanced battery life over the previous version. In terms of memory and storage, Samsung this time launched three storage variants of the Galaxy S9 that include: 4GB RAM/64GB storage, 4GB RAM/128GB native storage and 4GB RAM/256GB inbuilt memory. The expandable storage support however, has been reduced from 2TB (Galaxy S8) to 400GB on the Galaxy S9.
Both Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 are Gigabit LTE-ready, but the latest Qualcomm processor has LTE Cat 18 support which means the new flagship will now offer faster download speeds (up to 1.2 Gbps to be precise).
Samsung has added a second speaker on the front panel above on the Galaxy S9 and the resulting stereo output is claimed to be 40 percent louder. The speakers are stringed by AKG, and Samsung in partnership with Dolby has put Atmos codec as well to offer ‘spatial’ audio experience.
OS, Sensors and other changes
Talking about the OS, the Galaxy S9 runs Android Oreo right out of the box with the company’s Experience 9.0 UI layered on top. Samsung recently resumed the Android Oreo update (after unexpected reboots) on the Galaxy S8 family two days prior to the Galaxy S9 series official announcement.
If you recall, Samsung brought the Galaxy S8 series with not just one but three biometric security features to protect the devices from potential risks. The Galaxy S8 came with the iris scanner, face unlock and fingerprint sensor. While the iris scanner and face unlock performed well in good light condition, the latter was a bit inconsistent in poorly-lit environments. Samsung has tuned this feature on the Galaxy S9 with ‘Intelligent Scan’ that uses iris scanning to open the important apps such as banking apps that demand ‘higher level of security’. For usual unlocking, the device uses facial unlock that is said to be super-fast.
Last but not the least, Samsung has integrated new AR Emoji feature that allows you to capture an image and create a 3D character. The feature is not that similar to iPhone X’s Animoji feature. Instead of adding animal emoji’s, the feature somewhat creates a ‘3D Bitmoji character’. It even gives the option to customise the looks of your character with different skin tone, accessories, hairstyle etc. Once the emoji is saved, it automatically creates 18 different GIFs on the device gallery and keyboard as well for quick access.
To sum up the quick comparison between the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S8, Samsung has made subtle changes on the imaging segment and added a few tidbits, but overall, the Galaxy S9 doesn’t pack massive upgrades. In case you already own a Galaxy S8 and were planning for an upgrade we would rather recommend waiting a bit longer. Besides, the Galaxy S9 is $100 more expensive compared to the Galaxy S8. Departing from the S8 won’t be a good deal. However, if you are planning to bag-in a new smartphone this year that offers premium specs, better camera and few fun elements, you can consider the Galaxy S9. Or simply wait for our detailed review to be absolutely sure.