Samsung’s new flagship phones – Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy S9 – are more about refining the comprehensive experience. Samsung doesn’t meddle with what isn’t broken and adds several enhancements that ensure that you do get that excitement befitting a flagship phone.
Even though it might not be as apparent, there is a lot going in Galaxy S9 Plus favor that we only realized after we started using it as our daily driver. But when it comes to flagship phones ‘a lot’ might simply not suffice. Is the Galaxy S9+ the flagship phone you should buy this year? Let’s help make that choice simpler for you in our Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review.
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Review: Design
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Review: Display
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Camera Review
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Review: Performance and Software
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Review: Battery and Audio
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Review Verdict, Pros & Cons
What’s in the Galaxy S9 Plus Box?
- Good quality Soft TPU Case
- Adaptive fast charger (9V-1.67A/5V-2A)
- USB Type-C cable
- OTG connector
- AKG Tuned headphones with extra earbuds
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Design
- 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm; Weight: 189 grams
- 84.2% screen-to-body ratio
- IP68 dust and water resistant
You can’t expect a brand to go for a radical design change every year. Samsung stuck to almost same design with Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7, and things are going to stay pretty much same between Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 duo. From the front, at least.
There is still glass on the front and rear and those subtly curved display edges still feel awesome (curved edges are still rare). We are glad that South-korean manufacturer stays true to its design pedigree rather than aping the iPhone x.
Samsung did fix what needed to be fixed, though.
The fingerprint sensor is where it needed to be, i.e. below the camera module. Front mounted fingerprint sensors were what we used to prefer, but living through a year of “full-view” display devices have somewhat reconditioned us. The rear-mounted sensor is workable too. In spite of theoretically-more-convenient face unlock and iris scanner, that’s what we have been using to unlock the S9+ simply because the fingerprint readers still have unmatched reliability.
Another improvement is a better oleophobic coating on the display. Our Samsung Galaxy S9+ can resist finger smudges a lot better than Note8. That makes a big difference if you don’t intend to use a display protector.
- Samsung Galaxy S9+ is about the same size as the S8+. The design remains similar too.
- Though 18:9 or full-view or Infinity display is now mainstream and even commonplace, those sumptuous curved display edges are still exclusive to Samsung.
- There is glass on front and rear (Gorilla Glass 5), and metal running along the sides. It looks familiar but it still feels stunning and premium. And it’s water resistant.
- The Galaxy S9 Plus is also quite comfortable to hold and operate.
- The display can resist smudges a lot better. Samsung has bundled a good quality soft TPU case in the box.
- The Galaxy S9+ now includes dual speakers – one at the bottom, and one clubbed with the earpiece.
- The glaring difference is an extra camera sensor and the new, more accessible position for the fingerprint reader.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Display
- 6.2-inch 18.5:9, Super AMOLED, QHD (1440 x 2960)
- HDR 10 compliant, 3D touch home button
- Always on display
There are no two ways about it. Samsung makes the best AMOLED screens there are, and the one used on the Galaxy S9 shows further improvement. The whites now appear even more close to the neutral, the colors and contrast are excellent, and the screen can get incredibly bright.
DisplayMate calls S9+ display near perfect, and we are inclined to agree.
You can also choose between 4 accurately calibrated profiles: Adaptive Display( widest color gamut), Cinema Mode(DCI-P3), Photo Mode (Adobe RGB), and Basic Mode(sRGB).
- The Samsung Galaxy S9+ has the best display you can get on a phone as of today.
- The display is bright and vibrant. You can choose between 4 accurately calibrated profiles.
- You get the option to scale down the resolution to conserve battery.
- As always, Samsung adds a Bluelight filter, Video enhancer, and other modes that come in handy.
- The Always On display gets a few more widgets.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Camera
- Rear: 12 MP (f/1.5-2.4, 26mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4 µm, Dual Pixel PDAF) + 12MP (f/2.4, 52mm, 1/3.6″, 1 µm, AF)
- Front: 8 MP (f/1.7, 25mm, 1/3.6″, 1.22 µm), AF
The new and improved ‘re-imagined camera’ is the primary Galaxy S9+ highlight. It is the first phone with F/1.5 aperture lens, has a variable aperture optics system, can shoot slow-motion videos at 960fps, benefits from Multi-frame Noise reduction in the chipset, has a dynamic RAM for faster processing, and also has a dedicated section in the app for AR emojis.
Over the last year, we saw some amazing cameras (Read: Google’s Pixel 2 XL and Apple’s iPhone X) and the big question is, how does the Galaxy S9 compare against them? So, let us proceed.
The dual aperture on the Galaxy S9+ now elevates its daylight performance. When there is ample daylight, the handset can shrink the aperture to f/2.4 and this allows it to shoot crispier frames and avoid soft edges even without aggressively bumping up the shutter speed. In low light, the camera lens is wide open (f/1.5 aperture). You can also change aperture in the pro mode.
The images clicked on the Galaxy S9+ are a massive improvement over Galaxy S8. The camera software still generously sharpens and increases exposure in low-light shot post-processing, but the end result is well balanced and there is no trace of noise to visible eyes. The camera performance is really enchanting and you can get that perfect shot in the first click more often than not!
Overall, this is the only phone camera that can challenge Pixel 2/ Pixel 2Xl in terms of low light performance.
Note: The image above have been resized. You can check more full resolution Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus camera samples on this Flickr Album.
- The flagship cameras are now so good that its tough to pick one alround winner. Depending on the situation, you could get a better photo with Pixel 2 and iPhone X, but we do feel that Galaxy S9+ is the most consistent performer of the three when it comes to still photography.
- Video recording is awesome too.
- As for portrait mode, Pixel 2 is still the king. Samsung Galaxy S9+ can detect edges clearly but it struggles with background metering some times. Portrait shots are still really good.
- The slow-motion videos count as situational advantage. In sunlight, you can capture some rally breathtaking slo-mos, having said that in low or indoor lighting high noise level kills the fun part.
- The AR emojis still are work in progress and can’t compare to Apple’s Animojis. Our biggest gripe is that the emojis they yield aren’t a close match (more often than not).
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Performance And Software
- Exynos 9810 Octa-core (2.7GHz 4x M3 + 1.8GHz 4x Cortex-A55); DynamIQ architecture
- Mali G72 GPU
- 6GB RAM; 64GB/256GB storage
The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is the snappiest Samsung phone that we have handled till date. Even after months of usage, our Note 8 has managed to retain flagship grade performance and that gives us more assurance that the S9 Plus should retain this snappiness in the long run.
We still can’t say how it’d fare against the Snapdragon 845 variant(since it is not available in India). There were concerns about Samsung using a conservative approach for its Exynos 9810 SoC, but we’d prefer conservative approach if it would help with battery backup. As a user, the performance we are getting feels good enough even for the most demanding applications.
The Experience UI 9.0 adds a few new features, but the major take away is Android Oreo (with Project Treble support) as the base operating system out of the box. There are some enhancements like more options and widgets in Always On mode, Auto-rotate for the home screen, provision to change navigation bar color, etc. but the UI isn’t a major design overhaul.
Bixby voice assistant remains mostly same, save for some additions like real-time translations. We actually use Bixby (using the dedicated hardware key) and find it quite convenient when it comes to toggling or accessing settings on the phone. You could simply ask it to take you to ‘Always on display settings’, use it to open WhatsApp or Facebook or program a quick command that can, say, Open Samsung Pay and Pay using Paytm.
It’ll still take up some time before it catches up with Google Assistant in terms of understanding context and fetching stuff from the web intuitively. And Bixby Vision is still pointless.
- The Galaxy S9+ is the snappiest Samsung flagship that we have used so far.
- You can choose between 64GB and 256GB storage options, each with a hybrid SIM slot.
- We didn’t come across any heating issue.
- The Experience UI 9.0 is based on Android 8.0 Oreo. The interface is mostly same with some features here and there.
- We’d argue that Bixby is quite useful, though not in the same way as Google Assistant.
- Fingerprint sensor is fast and snappy.
- Face Unlock and Iris Scanner don’t feel any different than on previous Samsung flagships.
- We didn’t face any connectivity issues.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Battery and Audio
- 3500mAh; fast charging; Wireless fast charging.
- Stereo speakers; 3.5mm audio jack
The 3500mAh battery on the S9 Plus can last for a day of moderate usage. On heavy usage days, you might have to resort to mid-day charging. Adaptive fast charging is supported via both wired and wireless charger (have to buy separately, though). The battery backup is slightly better than Pixel 2 XL but falls a little short of OnePlus 5T. Frankly, we were expecting a little better mileage considering the battery size.
Samsung has really improved the audio experience on the Galaxy S9 Plus. The stereo speakers are extremely loud and clear, and the Audio quality via headphones has significantly improved too. More importantly, this is the only high-end flagship phone that still retails the headphone jack.
- Battery backup is comparable to other flagship phones. You can comfortably get one day of moderate usage.
- Fast charging is supported on both wired and wireless chargers
- Audio output via loudspeakers is excellent. Audio output via headphone jack is awesome too.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Review: Should You Buy It
For this review, we shifted to Galaxy S9 Plus from Samsung’s own Note8, and thus we didn’t expect much of a difference while going in. However, the S9 Plus has a surprisingly good camera and improves on a number of essentials. The display, battery backup, performance, and software all see a healthy upgrade to keep things exciting.
Compared to S9, the S9 Plus has more RAM, bigger battery, and an extra camera sensor – all of which make it a more tempting option, unless you are inclined on buying a particularly compact phone.
All said and done, the Galaxy S9 Plus is certainly an Android flagship that we can wholeheartedly recommend.
- Elegant design
- Excellent display
- Awesome camera
- Android Oreo
- Excellent Audio experience
- Average Battery backup