Samsung on Sunday announced its latest Android flagships following much anticipation, having unveiled them in the form of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus at the latest iteration of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. While the smartphones are arguably offering incremental upgrades over their predecessors in most aspects, they are promising to deliver significant improvements in the camera department.
Unlike last year when the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus debuted with essentially identical cameras, their successors boast significantly different imaging setups. The smaller Galaxy S9 is equipped with a single 12-megapixel sensor mounted behind a lens with a variable aperture ranging from f/2.4 to f/1.5. The latter f-stop is significant by virtue of the fact it delivers the widest camera aperture in the mobile industry, with the Galaxy S9 sharing that achievement with the W2018, an Android-powered flagship flip phone Samsung launched in China late last year. The camera found on that niche device appears to be similar to the one featured on the rear plate of the Galaxy S9; it uses a 1.4μm sensor mounted behind a lens with much more moving parts than what you can find inside any fixed-aperture glass, i.e. the kind of lenses that are usually used in smartphones.
The lens of the Galaxy S9 will intelligently adjust how open it is depending on the conditions and your shooting mode of choice; the default mode shoots at f/1.5 when it detects less than 100 lux of light. In manual mode, you’ll be able to switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 with a single tap. A dual-LED flash unit is still part of the package here, as are optical image stabilization and phase detection autofocus, whereas the front camera of the device is an 8-megapixel unit with an f/1.7 lens, as was the case with the Galaxy S8. The primary sensor is capable of shooting “super” slow-motion 720p videos at 960 frames per second and still delivers 4K videos whenever needed. Selective Focus is still part of the package here, allowing you to take a quick burst of shots and easily compile them into a single image with adjustable focus.
The Galaxy S9 Plus is a different beast altogether when it comes to photography, at least as far as its back-facing setup is concerned. While the main part of its dual-camera configuration uses the same system found on the Galaxy S9, it ennobles it with the addition of another 12-megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens. In practice, this imaging solution doesn’t just allow for 2x optical zoom but also enables the existence of the Live Focus mode similar to the one supported by the Galaxy Note 8. The two sensors are oriented vertically and promise even better low-light performance and more realistic bokeh effects than anything Samsung delivered before, including the Galaxy S9.