On March 16, Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus smartphones will become publicly available. However, pre-orders began on March 2, so technology publications have already had a few days to try out the new gadget.
Samsung has touted its latest mobile iteration to be “revolutionary” and “innovative,” much like every other annual phone announcement. Well, the votes are in: While most reviews didn’t exactly use those two words to describe the new Galaxy models, they by no means hated them.
The most raved-about thing had to be the phone’s camera, and that’s all because of the S9’s new adjustable aperture feature. This allows users to have much more precise control over how much light comes into the lens, so taking pictures in a dark bar is no longer an issue. Being able to adjust the aperture also means more control over depth of field, so you can take some really high quality close up and distance photos. If you’re a big fan of Instagram, this might be a pretty big selling point.
As you might have expected, the display got stellar reviews. Samsung is potentially the best in the game when it comes to screen tech. They’re pioneers in the race towards a bezel-less phone and the S9 is proof. Gizmodo said the only other display that compares is the iPhone X, which is coincidentally also made by Samsung.
You might have thought it was all over for the headphone jack. Well, Samsung rescued it from the pit that Apple had thrown it in. The S9 is dongle-free. Praise be.
The most cited issue with the S9 and S9 Plus was just how similar they look to the previous Galaxy S8. Now, this might be a good thing for people who didn’t end up getting Samsung’s last phone and can now grab a new and improved edition. But the resounding message was: If you have the S8, stick with it. You’ll barely be able to tell the difference.
The phone’s virtual assistant, Bixby, didn’t garner any glowing reviews. TechCrunch said it was “by far, the most frustrating part of the S9” and other reviews put it in last place compared with its competitors like Siri and Alexa.
Samsung also hopped on the AR Emoji bandwagon, and reviewers weren’t thrilled. Instead of molding your face to a unicorn or alien like the iPhone X, the new Galaxy scans your face and generates a Bitmoji-esque character in your image. Samsung doesn’t use any special face-capturing technology for this, so the results have been reported to be underwhelming. Keep in mind this is a feature you can just completely ignore without detracting from the product as a whole.
S9 vs. S9 Plus
If you’ve decided to pick the newest Galaxy over all of the other smartphones out there, you still have another choice to make. The S9 or the S9 Plus?
For starters, the standard S9 is $125 cheaper than the S9 Plus, which retails at $915. Much like the iPhone “plus” models, the S9 Plus will be notably bigger than the normal version. So if you’re looking for a phone that will slide perfectly into your pocket, the S9 might be the way to go.
But if you’re planning on making full use of your camera, the S9 Plus offers a better camera, more batter life, and more RAM for all those pictures.
While Samsung’s latest product might not have been as “revolutionary” as they first announced, based on the reviews, it still looks like the S9 will hold its own in the market.