REVIEWS

Bissell CrossWave PetPro Multi-Surface Cleaner

Casper Dog Bed

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

MacBook Pro 13 (2018)

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Plus PHEV Driver

Dyson Pure Cool HEPA Air Purifier and Fan

BlackBerry Key 2

Sonos Beam

Huawei P20 Pro

Apple HomePod

Google Home Max 

Motorola Moto G6

Fitbit Versa

Sennheiser Ambeo Smart headset

Amazon Echo Spot

Apple iPad (2018)

Spectre x360 13 2-in-1

Samsung Galaxy S9

Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset and Controller

ScoopFree Original Self Cleaning Litter Box

Kindle Oasis (2017) - The Perfect eBook reader

Azio's Retro Classic Mechanical Keyboard

Google Pixel Buds

Jaybird Run wireless bluetooth headphones

BlackBerry Motion

Apple iPhone X

Microsoft Xbox One X

Miele Blizzard CX1 Hardfloor PowerLine

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Sonos One Smart Speaker

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Anki Overdrive - Fast and Furious Edition

Apple TV 4K

Google Home Mini

Fitbit Flyer

Fitbit Ionic

Huawei P10

Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular

2018 Toyota C-HR

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Nomad leather case for iPhone 8 Plus

Alcatel A50

Tile Pro Sport smart tracker

27-inch Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display

Anki Cozmo programmable robot

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

Google Home

Sennheiser HD-1 in ear wireless headphones

Motorola Moto E4

Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch

BlackBerry KEYone

Philips Hue Smart Lighting System

insta360 nano 360 camera for iPhone

2017 Cadillac CT6 Luxury

UAG Rugged Case for Surface Book

« Women in Gaming Panel kicks off on Mixer today | Main | Samsung Galaxy S9 preorders now available from Microsoft »
Thursday
Mar082018

Review: Samsung Galaxy S9

Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is a continuation of the path the South Korean company started last year with the Galaxy S8. Both devices are very similar and nearly identical in look and feel.

What's different this year, aside from the requisite change in colours, are various fine-tuned elements and refinements that add up to a more cohesive handset that's also more refined.

While it seems Samsung just refreshed last year's model, I think they should be applauded for refining their idea and sticking to a concept.

Despite the similarity in appearance to its predecessor, the Galaxy S9 features  reinforcements all around. It has 20 per cent thicker front glass that  strengthens  this phone's weakest point. The rim around the edge of the Galaxy S9  reportedly has a stronger grade of aluminium which is less prone to  deformation when dropped.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is a delightful smartphone in almost every conceivable way. The design is fluid and tight. There's no hint of compromise or half-measures here. The Infinity Display reigns supreme as one of the best implementations of a bezel-reduced design. 

The glass and aluminum on the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are so organically fused that these devices appear seamless and are a joy to touch even though some sort of protective case is needed.

Sound and Vision


Back to the Infinity Display, this  5.8" Quad HD+ Super AMOLED (2960x1440) display with 570 ppi is hands down the best display on any smartphone today.

Watching videos and looking at photos simply showcases the sterling colour accuracy, wide colour gamut and stunning brightness of this display, which I also found great for reading text such as eBooks, e-mails and news. Once you've spent time with this display, it becomes an ordeal to go back to other displays that all of a sudden feel washed out and dull.

Samsung's enhanced the audio as well with stereo speakers which are surprisingly loud. Tuned by AKG, I was delighted to play back various Dolby Atmos demo videos and hear the immersive sounds of frogs croaking, wind sweeping through leaves and crickets in surround sound, 

Camera


Samsung's always been great at their cameras but they've really aimed high this year with the Galaxy S9. The 12 megapixel camera features a dual aperture feature that, much like the human eye, can adjust depending on the lighting conditions.

This is done with a F1.5 mode for letting in more light in dark conditions (and creating some sweet bokeh) and a more standard F2.4 mode for general conditions. Samsung has increased the RAM dedicated to the camera and because of this it can take better photos.

This is also the reason why you can now take jaw dropping super slo-motion video at 960 frames per second at 720p HD resolution. This is a leap forward for sure and does capture moments slo-mo  unlike any other device I've tried. The caveat is you need lots of light to get a good video.

The Galaxy S9 doesn't have the dual-camera of its larger sibling, so getting 2X optical zoom and 10x digital zoom is reserved for those who opt for the larger Galaxy. 

I found the Galaxy S9's camera to be outstanding for most casual photography. It is fast enough to deploy, responsive in most lighting conditions and the Pro Mode opens up a vast array of options if you're willing to put in the time. 

You can get great portraits with the Selective Focus feature, which gives you the option to add blur pre and post shot. 

Samsung's also added the option to create your own Emoji stickers. So, instead of animating cute animals, aliens or crap, you can use your own face as an avatar. This works well and does manage to create a suitable facsimile of the user.

You can read our editor Nicole Batac's firsthand experience with this feature.

Bixby bites back


Samsung's Bixby smart assistant, which was delayed last year, is now fully realized on the Samsung Galaxy S9 not just as a voice assistant with deep app integration, but as a whole new layer of interaction. 

Swiping to the right brings up a dedicated Bixby page with a variety of apps and features pertinent to your user account. Bixby Vision is also available and integrated into the camera. Moreover, It is capable of doing  live translation (shoot a photo of a sign or foreign text and Bixby will translate it). Bixby Vision can recognize 54 languages for translations and will provide results in 104 languages.

This feature works as advertised and allowed me to read various texts in Swedish, Spanish and other languages.

Performance and features

The Galaxy S9 is the first device to feature Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 processor and it has 4GB of RAM. Samsung says to expect 25 per cent better performance. 

I  found performance, multi-tasking, running through various apps to be quick and lag free. Loading apps and  accessing videos streaming from a NAS (Network Attached Storage) was instantaneous. This is on a device that's not stock Android and which has various layers of Samsung apps and security services running in the background.

Used as my daily driver, the Samsung Galaxy S9 acquitted itself well with above average battery life for a full-featured Android device with a pixel dense OLED display. It was refreshing to experience fast wireless charging using Samsung's Fast Charge dock.

Conclusion


This is a smartphone that connects with users on an emotional level and brings a plethora of experiences and options in the user interface.  

More than a step-up from last year's flagships, the Samsung Galaxy S9 propels itself at the forefront of Android flagship domination.

One year of refinement did wonders for Samsung, who was able to improve design and experiences while reinforcing build and quality on a remarkable and inspired device that also features the best display we've seen.Galaxy S8 or Note 8 fans will likely give this a pass, but anyone coming from a 2 year old or older Android device finally has an impressive flagship to consider.

Improved camera chops and a wider range of Bixby functionality further separate the Galaxy S9 from the herd.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

 

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