8.0
Score

Pros

  • Amazing Variable Aperture Camera
  • Beautiful Display
  • Super Fast Performance

Cons

  • Disappointing Battery Life
  • Halfbaked AR Emoji
  • Same Design as it's Predecessor

Samsung Galaxy S9 is the company’s new flagship smartphone, which was launched a while back. The first thing people noticed is the fact that it’s identical to the company’s previous flagship, the S8 and the S8+. Is it really identical to the S8 series or is there something interesting happening under the hood? Find out in this Full Review.

Design and Build Quality

1/7

The moment you hold the S9 in your hands, you’ll realize that it feels exactly the same as the company’s previous iteration. When you look closely, there is a minor change happening here and there. On the front, the chin and also the forehead of the smartphone has become thinner. Other than that, the sides of the smartphone is a lot more polished – making the curves look a lot more seamless. One more noticeable change is the fingerprint sensor at the back. Just like the Samsung Galaxy A8, they’ve changed the location to the middle part of the phone, making it a lot easier to reach. But if you are coming from the S8 or the Note8 for that matter, you’ll need some time to adapt to the new fingerprint location.

Build Quality, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is solid and has an even weight distribution, which is great. Comparing with the S8, the S9 has a better aluminum build quality. What I mean is that, Samsung has opted in for a better aluminum grade compared to the S8. Also, the glass on the S9 is 20% thicker. But that doesn’t mean the glass won’t shatter from a drop. It’s better to get a bumper case that could protect your device from hard drops.

Specification & Bench Mark

Samsung Galaxy S9 in Malaysia is powered by Samsung Exynos 9810 – a 10nm Processor with 4GB RAM under the hood. As for the storage, it comes with a 64GB Internal Storage that can be expanded with an MicroSD Card. Below here, you can take a look at the bench mark scores on the device. Do take note that the Benchmark score does not add up to our day-to-day usage.

1/3

Display

On the front of the Samsung Galaxy S9, you’ll find a 5.8” Quad HD Display with a resolution of 2960 X 1440. Yes, it still has the 18:9 aspect ratio that we’ve seen with their previous device. The display is gorgeous, punchy with those color tones and looks really good in every single angle. Thanks to the AMOLED Display, it produces true black and saves you a lot of battery. The display on the S9 is curved, so you tend to have all these fancy features from Samsung Experience.

For instance, edge glowing when someone is calling you and not to forget their edge panel – a quick access to all the shortcuts. Watching any video content on the S9 triggers the settings to enable this Dynamic Mode which enhances every single video content. Under bright sunlight, the display looks bright and it’s viewable. You don’t have to find for a shade to use your phone.

Performance

Like we mentioned earlier, the S9 runs Samsung’s in-house processor – Samsung Exynos 9810. It’s clocked in at 2.9GHz and 1.9GHz respectively. Also, it has 4GB RAM under the hood. Honestly, there’s nothing much to talk about the performance because it is ridiculously fast and every single task is quick and snappy. Comparing with their previous generation, the new processor is said to be 20% faster than the previous generation.

Playing heavy titles like Tekken and also, using application that requires powerful processor like Photoshop for instance works flawlessly and it’s amazing. On top of that, Android Oreo sure does bring a lot of improvement to the whole experience.

Battery Life and Charging

One disappointing thing about the Samsung Galaxy S9 is the battery. Samsung has added the same 3000 mAh battery as the S8 onto the S9. During our time using the S9, we used the device on FHD+ Resolution and did not turn on any Power Saving option. Under a fair amount of usage, the Samsung Galaxy S9 gave me about 3 hours + of screen on time and I had to look for a power outlet or connect it to my battery pack – just to make sure that it doesn’t die on me.

Good thing about the Samsung Galaxy S9 is – that it supports Quick Charge. Samsung likes to call it the Adaptive Fast Charging. The phone charges from 0 to 95 in about 1 hour 30 minutes, which is pretty good for today’s standard. But then again, Samsung could have increased their battery capacity – now that every single battery goes through a 8 point battery checkup.

Camera

Front Facing Camera

On the front, the Samsung Galaxy S9 has the same 8MP Auto Focus camera with an aperture of f/1.7. The shots taken using the front camera is good and there’s nothing much to complain about. The new addition to their Front Facing camera is the AR Emoji. What it does is that it captures the face of the person with the camera and then creates a virtual cartoon version of the emoji.

This particular feature is a novelty. I am an Indian with brown skin tone, the device does a horrendous job in getting the right skin tone. If you were to have a lighter skin tone, well yeah It may get your tone right but it fails to give you the right style, eyes and more. When I did my first AR Emoji, I sent it to my friend and the first thing they told was, “It doesn’t look anything like you.”. You can even capture a video as the AR Emoji. You can take a look at the result below.

Front facing camera is great but the AR Emoji, not really.

Rear Facing Camera

This is where the phone excels. On the back, the device has a 12MP Sensor with Variable Aperture. The camera happens to have 2 apertures – f/2.4 and f/1.5 that can be changed with the mechanical trigger on the back. This is probably the only reason you’ll ever need to purchase this phone. The camera on this works wonderful.

f/1.5 works best under low light shots whereas f/2.4 works well when there’s bright light. Below you can see some of the shots that were taken with the Samsung Galaxy S9’s camera. As you can see in the comparison below, the f/2.4 shot shows that it captures less light and the as for the details, it’s not washed out but it’s just dark. The f/1.5 shot is a lot brighter, the details are clearer. Taking a closer look at this night shot – you’ll realize how good f/1.5 is. It captures more detail, there’s no softening or grainy effect.

Certain shots tend to have this washed off look but overall, it’s beautiful and amazing to look at.

1/10

The rear facing camera has the capability to capture a 960 fps Slow Motion video that’s super satisfying to the eyes.

Speakers

Samsung finally ditched their mono – downwards firing speaker setup and has opted in for a Stereo Speaker setup. These speakers are tuned by AKG. It also supports Dolby Atmos – giving you that dynamic sound quality and surround sound experience. It’s definitely loud and amazing to listen to. When watching video content, enabling Dolby Atmos gives a really good listening experience.

At maximum volume, it is loud but isn’t as clear as you think. But it’s definitely a huge step up from their predecessor, which is a good thing.

UI & OS

Moving on to the UI. Samsung has updated their Samsung UX to the new Samsung Experience 9 where you get to customize your device a lot more. The new Samsung Experience runs on top of Android Oreo, which is great. The new UI has some interesting features – they’ve added a bunch of new clocks for the lock screen and also the Always On Display. You can now customize the notification on your lock screen to make it look just the way you want.

Other noticeable improvement is their new way of unlocking – which Samsung calls the Intelligent Scan. What it does is that it scans your Iris and also your face and then saves it. So the next time when you open up and want to unlock your smartphone – it’s quick and snappy.

S9 users are in for a big treat because the Samsung Galaxy S9 supports Project Treble. The whole idea behind Project Treble is to provide update for the smartphones faster without messing with the Vendors Implementation. This means quicker Security patches and updates over time.

Conclusion

Now, our final verdict. The Samsung Galaxy S9 sure does have interesting up it sleeves especially with the camera and also the speaker. Other than that, it feels pretty much the same as the Samsung Galaxy S8 which we saw last year. The S9+ on the other hand has an upper hand. It comes with two cameras on the back – the primary sensor comes with a Variable aperture and you get a secondary telephoto camera. Not just that, you have 3 storage option – 64GB, 128GB, 256GB.

If you are using the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+ or the Note8, upgrading to the S9 isn’t a good idea. Considering the fact that, those three devices were already expensive and it’s one of the best devices in the market. I’d say wait for their Note9 or the next S Series device. If you are coming from an older Samsung device, go for it. It’s definitely the best smartphone you could get for your moola. But if you still want to upgrade from the S8 Series or the Note8 to the S9 Series, no one is stopping you. 🙂

The Samsung Galaxy S9 comes in one variant – 64GB and will be sold for RM 3299. If you want to opt in for the bigger S9+, you have three different variant – 64GB for RM 3,799, 128GB for RM 3,999 and 256GB for RM 4,399.

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