It is hard to get excited about Smartphones in 2018. Things are pretty much the same, and there’s really nothing out here to incredibly wow us, or to necessitate an upgrade from the current smartphone you have. And one will be forgiven if they feel there’s very little difference between the previous generation Galaxy S8 and the new Galaxy S9.
With the new generation flagship, Samsung is focusing on the camera department. Yes, the bezels have been further reduced a little, yes the processors is now newer, yes there’s a more significant variation between the S9 and the S9+, but all in all, it is the same looking phone but with different cameras.
And the camera change is quite huge, because for the second time in history, a smartphone features a dual aperture camera lens. I said second because the Nokia N86 from 2009 could kind of do this.
With normal, bigger lens cameras it is easy to have varying aperture. The same cannot be said about tiny lenses on smartphone cameras. But somehow Samsung has managed to achieve two states of aperture variation for the Galaxy S9 and S9+, by switching from f2.4 in normal light to f1.5 in low light. The switching is automatically done when you move to low light, but can be manually made possible in the camera’s pro mode.
This in essence promises really good low light photography, which I cannot wait to see in real life when I get my hands on the phone. Both the S9 and the S9+ have the dual aperture 12MP lens as the primary camera. But the S9+ gets an extra 12MP shooter (carried from the Note 8) but with fixed aperture.
Having one phone with dual cameras and one with a single shooter will obviously influence sales of the different models, and it is obvious that many will opt for the Galaxy S9+, which apart from having a dual camera system, also enjoy a bigger screen, more RAM and a bigger battery.
With Artificial Intelligence, the cameras will be able to automatically read and translate things for you live. So there’s no need to take a picture of characters and wait for translation. One will also be able to Augment Reality by mapping digital representations on the real world. This has a lot of promise with different app developers building cool stuff.
The front camera has also received significant upgrades. The 8MP shooter now has portrait mode, which Samsung has a new name for, and can take sharp images focusing on the subject and blurring the background.
Samsung have also gone full copy-paste mode by bringing something they are calling AR Emoji, a ripoff from iPhone X’s Animoji. With AR Emoji, you can create an Augmented Reality version of yourself saying stuff etc and share as GIFs or as Video.
One of the best things about Samsung devices for me has been the Iris scanner and Face Unlock features. With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, Samsung has combined both technologies, calling it intelligent scan.
Intelligent scan combines face recognition capabilities of the front camera, and the eye unlock features of the iris scanner (meaning finally you don’t have to choose between one), to make your unlock safer, faster, and better even in low light.
I’m particularly happy about this because with the S8, and even the Note 8, you couldn’t use Face Unlock in low light, neither could you use the Iris scanner under direct sunlight, now both techs work hand in hand.
As usual, the phone is water/dust resistant, wireless charging is supported, its still a slippery device, the fingerprint location has been shifted a little, the heart rate monitor is still present, and all-in-all, it is obviously currently top contender for best smartphone.
What are you most excited for? Can’t wait to get hands on with the S9 and S9+ when they launch in Kenya in the coming days.
The S9 comes with 4GB of RAM while the S9+ has 6GB of memory. Both versions come with a base 64GB storage (expandable up to 400GB via microSD). Both have the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (for US markets) and the new Exynos processor (worldwide). Both launch with Android Oreo out of the box. The S9 has 3000mAh battery while the S9+ has 3500mAh battery. Both have stereo speakers. And the colour options include: black, coral blue, lilac purple, and silver.
Kenyan launch date is yet to be announced.