Refined, smarter, more capable, and without a price increase.
The launch event for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus was easily the highlight of this year's MWC event, as is the case almost every year now. However, this year did feel a little different as Samsung seemed less keen on pushing forward with any ground-breaking technologies or features. Instead, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus seem to be more about refining the process than anything else. While at the superficial level that may sound a bit like a missed opportunity for the company, it is only if you consider the predecessors to be lacking. Which was not the case as not only were the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus two of the best phones of 2017, but with the subtle differences included in the next-generation models, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus are already shaping up to be the two of the best phones of this year, and an easy pick for 'Best of MWC 2018' awards.
One of the reasons they might seem like minor upgrades is due to their design as neither model looks that different to those from last year. But again, that is only if you draw on last year's models as dated which is far from the case. The Samsung Galaxy S line has always been at the forefront of display technology and has always offered some of the most attractive and visually pleasing displays on the market. Which is exactly the case with this year's models. So, in spite of the displays not differing massively, they have already been proclaimed to be the best smartphone displays ever by DisplayMate. What is even more important is the true evolution that has come at the software level as both the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus come with a heightened emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR). The best example of which was AR Emoji which lets the user turn itself into an animated form. While this is similar to Apple's Animoji, it is not the same, with Samsung seemingly looking to add more of a human touch to its platform. At the AI level, both phones are gaining in terms of Bixby which is now much smarter in general, while also gaining better translation and conversion support. This is all of course, without taking the cameras into consideration. Which after all, was the main tagline associated with the two new phones – the camera reimagined. Here, there are not only refinements in the hardware but also again in the software, with a much-improved camera app experience, more accessible sharing, and new features including super slow-motion capture. While it might not be a completely reimagined experience, it is a significantly improved one, and certainly a premium one.
Here we are only touching on what the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus now offers, as the previous generations were already very feature-rich devices. So consider the ones here just the most noteworthy of the new and improved functionalities. As the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 still pack in a monstrous amount of options and tweaks including better desktop support, security measures, mobile payment solutions, and more. Software aside, however, choice is also a big factor here now as the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus are more different to each other than any of the previously released Galaxy S peers have been. This is not just as simple as opting for the Plus model if you want a larger screen as the Galaxy S9 Plus comes with more in nearly every department, including at the RAM level, the battery capacity and most notably, in the camera department – as the Galaxy S9 Plus features a dual rear camera setup like the Galaxy Note 8, while the standard Galaxy S9 simply features a single rear camera. While choice in itself is great, Samsung also made the smart move to not increase the price of the two phones in any meaningful capacity, contrary to what early rumors and speculation suggested. In fact, in many ways, they are actually cheaper as the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus initially launched with an average price of $749.99 and $849.99, respectively. In contrast, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus have arrived with $719.99 and $839.99 prices. So not only are they priced at roughly the same level as their predecessors but they do offer more, resulting in what are probably the best-value Galaxy flagships to date.
Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus