I am loathe to call any product the best in its kind since it’s likely to change so quickly. But the new Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ have an impressive suite of features, many of which I’m finding quite useful. We’ve been testing the S9+ because for our demographic size does matter. Let’s start with some size specs: the S9 has a 5.8″ diagonal screen, while the S9+ has a 6.2″ screen, which turns out to be the same size as the Galaxy Note 8. Go figure.
Samsung has had fingerprint sensors for a while. Now they have added iris recognition that couples with facial recognition for improved security. I found both the iris/facial recognition pretty easy to set up; same for the fingerprint scanner.
Too Many Voices?
The Samsung Galaxy S9 comes with Samsung’s proprietary voice assistant called Bixby, which has its own dedicated button on the left side. There are dedicated apps just for Bixby, but there is a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of them. If you also have Google installed (and who doesn’t?) then you can also access Google’s Voice Assist which I find very easy to use, and far more accurate than Apple’s Siri.
A Better Camera
Samsung is making a big deal of the camera on the Galaxy S9 line and it does have some standout features. It starts with a dual aperture lens that adjusts for lighting conditions much as the human eye does, allowing for better shots in low light. The camera also shoots super slow-mo which can be fun to play with. For those of you who are sticklers for stats, the rear-facing camera has a 12-megapixel autofocus sensor. One difference between the 9 and the 9+ is that the Plus comes with dual OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), but not so the 9. The front “selfie” camera is 8 MP.
One of the most exciting capabilities couples the S9’s new camera with Bixby for a real-time Augmented Reality experience. For anyone who travels internationally, this could be a blessing. Imagine walking down a street looking for a sign for a particular restaurant. You activate the camera, point it at a sign, then hit the Bixby button and you see an immediate translation through the camera. I cannot tell you how many times this could have spared me wasted time and steps in foreign countries. It will also do currency conversions. Bixby begins with 33 languages and you can manually add 21 more.
To Infinity And Beyond
Samsung calls it the “Refined Infinity Display” and it improves the daylight watching experience. Since many people are using their cameras in the horizontal position, Samsung now makes it easy to shoot in landscape mode with an easy adjustment in settings.
While I’m still not a big fan of watching movies on the small screen, Samsung is making it better. We tried streaming from Netflix and YouTube with no discernible lags; downloads went quickly and displayed crisply.
Listen To This
Audio quality has long taken a backseat to video on most flagship phones. Samsung turns that around with stereo speakers tuned by AKG, and the S9s also come with Dolby Atmos, a feature that replicates surround sound. I really enjoyed the audio quality; still miss not having Hi-Res audio, but file size is a concern there. Overall the listening experience is clearly an improvement over any other flagship phone I’ve tried.
One Of My Favorite Things
One of the features Samsung has developed for its big curved screens is the App Edge. You can swipe from the right and see a collection of your ten favorite apps. Mine include some of the apps I use quite regularly such as mail, news, Waze, phone and Sirius XM. But you can set it however you want and it certainly saves time getting to your favorite apps.
This is Samsung’s newest flagship phone and you will pay dearly for it. Plan on parting with anywhere from roughly $840 to about $914 for the Samsung Galaxy S9+. The Samsung Galaxy S9 will be about $700 and up, and paying for either on the installment plan will run between $25 and $40 monthly depending on the carrier, the length of the contract, any downpayment or trade-in; you know, the usual nonsense like you’re buying a used car, not a phone.
If you want the latest and currently greatest phone with some pretty innovative features then yes, the Samsung Galaxy S9 or 9+ is worth it. We’re still learning and having fun.
Protecting Your Investment
While the Galaxy S9+ is sleek and sharp, we strongly recommend protecting the device with a good screen protector and break-resistant case. While there are scores, perhaps hundred of screen protectors on the market, we’ve had particularly good luck with the Invisible Curve from Zagg, which deals pretty well with the Samsung’s curved screen. Price is $50. There are even more choices when it comes to phone cases. Right now I’m using the UAG Monarch that’s mil-spec made from top-grade metal alloy, rubber, and leather. Price is $59.95.
You can watch their promo video which focuses on the phones’ improved camera: