Gadget Enthusiast

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: No Notch, A Headphone Jack, And Effortless Photos

  • Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus was released in March this year, and takes its spot in the as the brand’s newest flagship, replacing the S8 Plus from last year.
  • It boasts an octa-core processor, 6GB of RAM, expandable storage via microSD, and dual rear-facing cameras with super slow-mo capabilities.
  • Prices for the S9 Plus begin at RM 3,799.

Since its release in March this year, much has been said about Samsung’s current best smartphone, the S9 Plus. From having one of the best cameras in its class, its sleek and high-quality build, to its beefy internals, the flagship phone from the Korean tech giant definitely seems to be vying for recognition as one of the best Androids to release in 2018.

Getting the chance to hold on to the S9 Plus for a week and a half, I used it as my daily driver to see just how it holds up to the hype.

Build Quality

Although it doesn’t look vastly different to its predecessor the S8 and the S8 Plus, the S9 Plus was built to feel like the most premium phone on the market. And on this intent, it delivers.

On the front, Samsung’s signature curved edges complement a dazzling Quad HD+ 6.2 inch AMOLED touchscreen that almost stretches the entire front facade save for the two small bezels at the top and the bottom.

While most phone manufacturers these days are adamant on being rid of bezels altogether, I feel that Samsung’s design feels like a very sensible approach in regards to maximising screen real estate: just make the screen as big as you want to, and add tastefully thin bezels to accommodate the front-facing camera and earpiece. I really don’t mind.

Left: The S9 Plus boasts a 6.2 inch touch AMOLED display with two thin bezels at the top and bottom. Right: The dual cameras and fingerprint scanner are located centrally, and the glossy glass back is a fingerprint magnet.

On the back, you’ll find a glossy glass enclosure that’s mostly uninterrupted save for the Samsung logo, the dual rear-facing cameras, and the fingerprint scanner that’s now been thoughtfully placed in the centre to allow for easier access.

And yes, the glass back is a fingerprint magnet, so if you’d like to have your phone looking clean and smudge-free, you’ll want to put a case onto it.

Left: Samsing’s signature curved edges make an appearance. Right: So does the headphone jack.

On the sides, you’ll find the usual power button, volume rocker, and a Bixby button that you can use to activate Samsung’s virtual assistant. And on the top, you’ll find the dual SIM-card tray that uses one of its card slots to house expandable microSD storage cards up to 400GB.

Also, the phone is one of the few top-of-the-line flagships without a notch, and is also one of the rare breeds that still opts to stick with a 3.5mm headphone jack. So for those absolutely turned off by iPhone X copycats and who insist on using wired earpieces, this is a phone you can look at.

Specs

At this point, everyone knows just how capable the S9 Plus is. Sporting a octa-core processor, 6GB of RAM, and Android Oreo, the S9 Plus is a certain heavyweight in terms of specs. For those who care, here’s a list of the things that really matter:

Operating System Android 8 (Oreo)
Display 6.2 inch Quad HD+ AMOLED with 529 ppi
Dimensions & Weight 158.1mm x 73.8mm x 8.5mm, 189 grams
Camera Dual Rear Camera: 1x 12MP wide angle with super speed and 1x telephoto 12MP.
Front: 8MP
Processor 64-bit octa-core processor
Memory 6GB RAM
Storage Available in 64GB/128GB/256GB, with microSD expansion available up to 400GB.
Battery 3,500mAh

But putting the specs sheet aside, we look at how Samsung’s pride and joy functions in the wild.

Performance

Throughout my use, the one thing I noticed about the S9 Plus was how snappy it was. From the facial detection when unlocking the device, to the switching of multiple apps, the S9 Plus performed all its functions with the speed expected of a true flagship.

Throughout my 10 days of use, I found absolutely no slowdowns when using everyday apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Waze. And unsurprisingly, the games I tried out on the device (mostly Arena of Valor) ran buttery smooth.

One thing that really stood out for me was its battery life. With its 3,500mAh battery, I was able to go through an entire day of moderate use without needing to seek out a power bank or wall socket to get a charge in. Even after 24 hours, I found that there was still a bit of juice left to spare—about 5 percent.

And I was also equally as impressed by the speed and accuracy of its face detection and iris scanner when it came to unlocking the device. Nine times out of ten, the S9 Plus would unlock itself almost instantly whenever I hit the power button, and it was able to do this even in poorly lighted environments.

But as much as I’d like to report no flaws, I did encounter some things that I did not like, one of them being the occasional finicky nature of the touch display.

There were some instances during my usage where my swipe gestures failed to register in the way that I intended, and during one or two of my Instagram browsing sessions, I found myself swiping over to the camera instead of swiping through an album post.

The other flaw I encountered was to do with colour reproduction when watching videos—mostly on YouTube. There were times where I noticed that the blacks on low-light videos failed to match the depth of the colours, imbuing the image with a sort of artificial quality.

But as a daily performer, I found the S9 Plus ticking all the boxes in terms of speed, ease of use, and ergonomics.

Camera

The camera on the S9 Plus was touted to be one of the better options on the market, with its dual 12 megapixel rear-facing lenses supposedly offering superior exposure levels and accurate imaging at high speeds.

Overall, I found the camera to be as good as I expected. Shots taken in the daytime came out crisp and colour-accurate for the most part, and despite being a fan of more saturated colour profiles (like that on the Huawei Mate 10), I found the more natural tones of the S9 Plus’ quite pleasing to look at.

 

In low light modes, the camera came into its own. Night shots had just the right amount of exposure, and the graininess that usually accompanies low light shots was minimal.

Night mode on the wide angle lens.

Throughout my experience with the camera, I found it to perform very satisfactorily as a point-and-shoot device.

The other cool features that were associated with the camera, namely the AR Emoji and super slow-mo functions, worked well enough.

The AR Emoji works very much like Apple’s Animoji over on iOS by letting you transform yourself into a virtual cartoon that you can use to create stickers and cute videos to send to your friends for fun.

The exact moment I got bored playing around with the AR Emoji feature.

Making use of the super-speed wide angle lens on the back of the device, the super slow-motion feature shoots up to 960 frames per second, and can capture even the most quick-moving objects with good accuracy.

But overall, I found these extra features to be novelty items more than anything else. I only tried them out for 10 minutes each and got bored rather quickly, but still the options still exist for those who’d like to have a bit of fun every now and then.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus takes the title of being its manufacturer’s best phone very seriously. From the hardware all the way to its software, every single detail feels like it was put there to add to improve the user experience and imbue the phone with a premium feel.

Yes, some of its features might feel like things that will hardly see long-term practical use (for me, the AR Emojis and super slow motion), but Samsung can’t be faulted for trying to add in the odd novelty item when they’ve already done so well with the basic stuff. It’s quick, it’s intuitive, and it’s built to feel like a true premium flagship phone.

The only stumbling block that would personally prevent me from actually going out and buying a unit is the steep price point. When the going price for a phone starts at close to RM4,000, you have to stop and reconsider just how badly you need the premium build quality, and the beefy specs for everyday use.

But for those with the cash to spare, the S9 Plus merits consideration as a phone that feels every bit as expensive as its price tag and one that does the everyday stuff with excellence.

  • You can find out more about the S9 Plus here.

 

 

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