Cameras on mobile phones is the new battleground these days. The only real push for innovation in mobile devices seem to be coming from camera technology. No wonder, almost every handset maker makes it a point to tout their flagship device’s photography prowess. However, with its newest and smartest smartphones—Galaxy S9 and S9+, South Korean consumer electronics behemoth Samsung has left competition far behind. Not only are these beautiful phones the fastest Samsung devices ever, some of the photos that you click with these are good enough to be blown up to billboard size. There are so many other ways that photos are consumed, beyond selfies and family albums and the camera has been truly reimagined in these Galaxy devices. There are many reasons to buy Samsung’s newest, smartest smartphones provided you have the moolah to spend on them (`64,900 for the 64GB version). The S9/S9+ boast of the world’s best camera featuring a Dual Aperture lens, Super Slow-mo capability, AR Emojis that look like you, and stereo speakers tuned by AKG with Dolby Atmos, among other interesting features. With Carrier Aggregation, Galaxy S9/S9+ can even stream data at approximately 250 Mbps, which is 2.5 times faster than the average smartphone connected to the same network. We got the Galaxy S9+ (Midnight Black variant) for a product evaluation, a device that is big in size and big on features as well. Here’s a look at some of its new innovations.
At first look, the all-new Galaxy S9+ looks simply stunning; it keeps Samsung’s iconic curved design and appears almost identical to the previous generation Galaxy S8+. In fact, the only big difference comes in the form of the new dual-lens camera and repositioning of the fingerprint scanner. Switched on, it becomes obvious very soon that the geeks at Samsung have created a device that offers an immersive visual and audio experience. With dual stereo speakers tuned by AKG, consumers can enjoy crisp and clear sound—whether they are watching a movie or streaming a music video from YouTube. This audio experience is complemented by Samsung hugely popular Infinity Display. First introduced on Galaxy S8, the bold, bright 6.2-inch Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED Infinity Display blends right into the phone with virtually no distracting notches. This screen covers almost every inch of the S9+ and continues to offer one of the best experiences in the market.
Tucked under the hood of the Galaxy S9+ is a new 1.7 GHz octa-core Samsung Exynos 9810 processor and it comes with 6 GB of RAM. The phone packs 64 GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 400GB via a microSD card. It ships with Android Oreo. What all this means is the device is super-fast and pretty smooth. Switching between apps, playing games and even using it as a portable PC, via Samsung DeX, is slick and with no lag whatsoever. Phone calls were crisp and clear, and I did not have any issues with the phone. One of the biggest changes in the S9+ comes in the form of its new dual-lens camera. And there’s no question that this double snapper is vastly superior and fantastic when in action. Similar to the way the iris of a human eye expands and contracts, the dual lens aperture of Galaxy S9+ automatically adjusts and lets in more light when it’s dark with an industry-first F1.5 aperture and switches to F2.4 aperture in bright conditions allowing less light, ensuring crisp and clear photos.
There is an interesting mode called Live Focus; this allows the bokeh blur effect to be edited and changed long after the original photo was taken. Another new feature is Super Low Light mode which allows the camera to drop to an aperture of F1.5 – the lowest in a smartphone. Basically, this lets users capture detail in almost total darkness with some innovative software that is able to reduce the noise that often occurs when shooting in low light. Trust me, I tried this extensively and it works pretty well and certainly makes shots taken in poor light look a lot cleaner and brighter.
Another bonus of the Dual Pixel 12 MP camera is its Super Slow-mo mode which can film footage at 960 frames per second. There’s automatic Motion Detection, an interesting feature that detects movement in the frame and automatically begins to record in Slow-mo—all users have to do is point and shoot. After capturing the Super Slow-mo video, users can select background music from 35 different options or add one of their tunes from their playlist. Users can also easily create, edit and share GIF files with a simple tap in three playful styles of looping—Reverse Loop, Forward Loop and Swing—to watch the action over and over again.
Other features that you’ll find on Samsung’s new camera include the Pro Mode which helps users deep dive into the settings for more control over their photos. And there’s also the usual Panorama, 4K video capture and Hyperlapse. I was pretty impressed by the advancements in camera space. Then, the Galaxy S9+ will let users create emojis that look, sound and act like them. There is AR Emoji that uses machine learning algorithm, which analyses a 2D image of the user and maps out more than 100 facial features to create a 3D model that reflects and imitates expressions, like winks and nods, for true personalisation.
AR Emoji shares user’s real-life emotions not only in video but also with a range of stickers and uses a standard GIF file format so users can share their emojis across most third-party messaging platforms. My takeaways: The Galaxy S9+ is a beautiful, classy device and a top-notch Android phone, and definitely a contender for the smartphone of the year title.