REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S9+ features sharp camera, speed, impressive design Featured

Posted On Wednesday, 02 May 2018 13:12 Written by
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Another year, another Samsung Galaxy smartphone is unveiled. It’s an annual ritual.

Depending on the year and how much is changing, the level of reaction can vary. But the key questions are always the same for those who prefer the Android side of the smartphone aisle: What’s new, and who should upgrade?


I recently spent some time with the Galaxy S9+, the extra large version of the new Galaxy S9, and I’m back with some key things to consider when debating whether to take the plunge.


Photo quality, features
For most of us, our phones have replaced our point-and-shoot cameras, and they keep getting better and better (though not quite to the level of DSLRs yet).

Samsung has made some improvements in the camera department with the S9 and S9+. One upgrade is an automatic dual-aperture camera (f/1.5 and f/2.4), which lets in the proper amount of light when taking photos. I also found there’s a somewhat noticeable improvement on photos taken in low-light conditions with the S9+.

The big news is that on the S9+ (but not the regular S9), you now have 12 MP dual cameras on the rear of the phone. The front-facing camera features an 8 MP camera.

Another of my favorite camera features was the Live Focus setting on the S9+, which allows the background to be blurred and the focus to remain on the subject of your shot, and works well both with portraits and nature shots.

Video is another camera-related high point, with 4K video being offered. One other video trick up the S9+’s sleeve is Super-slow motion video, which is pretty gimmicky but also very cool.

Speaking of gimmicky but cool, the AR Emoji option allows you to take a selfie and turn yourself into an emoji. Kids will love it and it’s a fun feature, though it’s not particularly useful in any way.

Among other photo setting options: Food, Panorama (great way to capture an impressive wide shot), Pro (for those who want to mess with settings in-depth), Live Focus (blurry background), Auto (does the work for you), Super Slow-Mo, and more.

Going to the edge
Like the S8, The S9+ and S9 both feature an Infinity Display with curved glass edges atop an aluminum chassis, a sharp design that helps improve the ease of using the phone.

Having tested every Samsung Galaxy model since the line was introduced nearly a decade ago, I’ve long felt the Android alternatives (particularly Samsung’s phones) were more user-friendly and well-designed than their competitors at the fruit company, and the S9+ is no exception in my view, though I know a nation of millions may disagree with me on that.

We’re talking about a big phone here -- 6.2-inch screen on the S9+ and 5.8 inches on the regular S9, but that’s the new norm in smartphones. Gone are the tiny phones of yesteryear.

The S9+ was a little bit slippery to hold, but get a sturdy case and that problem is solved.

Overall specs on the S9+ are: 6.22 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches (yes, they pack all that tech into something one-third of an inch thick), and the weight is a reasonable 6.67 ounces.

Visually, you get a bright and engaging WQHD+ display (2960 x 1440 pixels), which will clearly show anything you want to watch on the S9+, from videos to movies to games you may be playing. The screen is also brighter than previous models, and a new color option is added (Lilac Purple).

The phone is water and dust resistant, and features a headphone jack.

Security, sound

For those wanting shortcuts and safety, you can unlock the Samsung Galaxy S9+ with your fingerprints (fingerprint sensor is on rear of phone), or even your iris (which I think is cool in terms of security, but kind of sci-fi creepy at the same time)

Stereo speakers are included and the sound is greatly improved, even at higher volumes, vs. previous Galaxy phones.


If it’s not fast, a smartphone today is worthless. Luckily for Samsung, the S9+ runs on the Octa-core (4 @2.8Ghz and 4 @1.7GHz) Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, which did not disappoint during my time with the phone. No matter what I had going on, it handled it quickly and with ease. Web browsing was seamless, videos loaded quickly, the Internet never slowed down, and it could also multitask without delays.

The latest Android OS (Oreo) is featured and continues to be very user-friendly.

The S9 come with 64GB of storage internally, but you can expand beyond that with up to a 400GB microSD card (a pretty impressive number, though most would never need that much). RAM on the S9+ is 6GB, 4GB on the S9.

Also announced recently are new versions of the S9 lineup that are available for pre-order, offering 128GB and 256GB of storage, so you don’t need to resort to using an SD card to get higher numbers.

Call quality/messaging
For those who actually like to talk on their phone and don’t just send everyone to voicemail, every year the quality here seems to get better and better on smartphones. Newer phones like the S9+ sound light years better and clearer than the older versions when used for actual talking. Messaging was also a breeze and user-friendly.

Battery life

This was a highlight of the S9+ during my time with the phone. It lasted me a couple of days before I had to charge, and anyone with a phone a year or more old is probably charging every day, if not more often.

The 3,500mAh (non-removable) battery allows for up to 35 hours talk time, and dozens of hours of audio playback. Standby time is up to 4 days, or 14 days, depending if you use the Always On Display or not. Wireless charging capability is included.

Bottom line

So the S9 and the S9+ are here. In short, there are not huge changes from the S8, which was pretty impressive already, but it’s definitely worth picking up if you have an S7 or prior Galaxy phone, as it’s a huge improvement from all those options.
And if you’re an iPhone user or use another Android model, it’s worth trying an S9 to see if you’re interested in the switch.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 ($789.99) and S9+ ($914.99) are both available from AT&T  and other wireless carriers.


Matt Myftiu can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu, and follow AutoTechReviews on Twitter @AutoTechReview.


Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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