There’s a lot about the Samsung Galaxy S9 that feels very familiar from last year’s S8.
The phones have the same battery capacity, same screen size and resolution and are almost indistinguishable in terms of design. If you want to know all the things that make the S9 a superlative phone, you can read any S8 review from a year ago.They’re almost the same phone.
Samsung’s whole shtick around this latest release is that it has reimagined the camera. It’ll be hoping that these changes are so significant that we’ll overlook the fact that the guts of the phone haven’t moved on much in the last year. In today’s phone battle, the camera is the only ground left.
The S9 has a 12-megapixel dual pixel sensor, much like the S8, but this time Samsung has added a dual aperture feature that is supposed to boost the camera’s performance in low light conditions. When light is low, the camera automatically selects a wider aperture to let in loads of light, but automatically switches back to the narrower setting in normal light conditions.
It also takes 12 shots for every photograph, combining those images to reduce the noise that is often present in darker photos. I am not convinced that these low light boosts actually improve photographs. Photos taken in auto mode look good but zoom in a little closer and the edges look softer and less detailed.
Although Samsung says that its dual aperture system helps the S9 camera let in 28 per cent more light than the S8, I think it looks like the S9 is working overtime to post-process low-light shots to remove noise and smooth out colors.
Switching to a more conventional 4:3 aspect ratio is easy enough and also lets you squeeze maximum resolution out of every photograph. The S9 is also the first Samsung phone to have super slow-mo that records at 960 frames per second, stretching out 0.2 seconds in real time to six seconds on video.
In most light conditions super slow-motion results are extremely grainy, and to my opinion almost unusable.
On the biometric front, the S9 and S9+ introduce “intelligent scan” for the first time. In around one out of every five unlock attempts, intelligent scan gave up trying to recognize me after a few seconds forcing unlocking the phone by entering a pattern.
All the things that made the S8 a great phone are still – it’s got a huge screen, top-notch camera and a sick design.