In our first 48 hours with the phone, we noted that while some of the improvements weren’t immediately obvious, this is clearly a better phone than some might expect. It’s not in the league of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, which took our top honors in our MWC Awards, but it’s pretty good still.
And then a further two days’ testing proved that the Galaxy S9 was a strong performer on the biometric side of things, with the handset a cinch to get into (compared to the impenetrable Galaxy S8), as well as showing there’s some smarts in the camera at low light too.
But that’s not all we’ve learned – firstly, it looks like Samsung will be getting some cleaner, faster updates on Android thanks to supporting Project Treble, as well as it being confirmed as having the best screen on the market by DisplayMate.
Beyond that, we’ve got everything you need to know about the phone below, helping you get to grips with a phone that could be the very best on the market this year.
What’s the latest Samsung Galaxy S9 news?
What is the Samsung Galaxy S9 price?
What’s the Samsung Galaxy S9 release date?
Samsung Galaxy S9 release date
- Samsung Galaxy S9 was announced on stage at MWC 2018
- Galaxy S9 pre-orders open now
- Galaxy S9 release date set for March 16
The Samsung Galaxy S9 was officially unveiled on stage at MWC 2018, but it won’t be on shop shelves just yet.
If you want to buy the Galaxy S9, you’re able to pre-order it now – which was right after the launch event. Those in the US had to wait until March 1 for pre-orders to open, and the rest of the world is slowly following suit.
As for when you’ll actually get the phone, the Galaxy S9 release date is set for March 16 globally. You may want to pre-order to ensure you get your device on that date, but everyone will be able to buy it from March 16 2018. But how much is it going to set you back?
Samsung Galaxy S9 screen
- Smaller upper and lower bezels than the Galaxy S8
- A 5.8-inch QHD+ screen with 567 pixels per inch
- Same Infinity Display design we’ve seen on Galaxy S8 and Note 8
The Samsung Galaxy S9 doesn’t offer any major improvements over the display on the Galaxy S8 – there’s sadly no in-screen fingerprint scanner here, like on the Vivo X20 Plus UD – but it still offers some high-end specs.
It’s a 5.8-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1440 x 2960. That equals 567 pixels per inch, which should allow for a super-crisp and clear picture for the high-end flagship device.
Again it has a screen ratio of 18.5:9, with slightly slimmer bezels at the top and bottom of the screen to allow for the same size screen in a smaller body than the Galaxy S8.
DisplayMate has shared its research with TechRadar, which states that the screen inside of the S9 isn’t just the best display in a phone, it’s probably better than any screen you own in your living quarters.
Samsung Galaxy S9 design
- Largely similar design to the Galaxy S8
- A repositioned fingerprint scanner below the rear camera
- The headphone jack remains
If you know the Infinity Display design of the Galaxy S8, you’ll recognize a lot of what the Galaxy S9 is trying to do. There aren’t any major differences, but instead Samsung has opted to try and improve things with a few slight tweaks.
There’s still a glass back, a rounded display on the front and slim bezels, with the aim of merging the screen almost seamlessly with the body of the handset.
Samsung’s design improvements for the phone include the iris scanner hole being hidden, as well as less bezel at the top and bottom of the display.
The screen is now also a touch darker when off, with Samsung presumably thinking this will obscure the lines that bit more between the body and the display, to make the S9 look even more futuristic than past devices.
One of our biggest criticisms of the Galaxy S8 was the strange placement of the fingerprint scanner on the rear of the phone right next to the camera, and Samsung has moved the sensor on this phone.
Now it sits below the camera, and there’s quite a distance between the two, so you won’t mistakenly put your fingers all over the shooter.
Unlike on some rival products, there’s still a 3.5mm headphone jack on the Samsung Galaxy S9, on the bottom edge of the phone on the left-hand side. Next to that sits the USB-C slot for charging and data transfer, and one of the phone’s two speakers.
The other speaker is on the top of the phone, and Samsung says these new speakers will allow the S9 to be 1.5 times louder than the Galaxy S8. If audio is a big deal for you, you’ll be pleased to hear the phone also features Dolby ATMOS surround sound technology.
If you get this phone wet, don’t panic, as Samsung has opted for IP68 waterproofing, so the Galaxy S9 can handle the odd drop in a puddle without immediately flooding the internals.
As for color options, you’ll be able to buy the phone in Midnight Black, Coral Blue and Lilac Purple in most territories. Those in the US or UK won’t get the Titanium Gray version, but some other countries will.
Samsung Galaxy S9 camera
- Samsung claims this phone will ‘reimagine’ the camera
- A single-lens camera with variable aperture, unlike Galaxy S9 Plus
- Super-slow-motion video as well as added animated emoji features
The Galaxy S9 only features a single lens on the rear of the phone, but Samsung has packed in lots of improvements in its effort to ‘reimagine’ the phone camera.
There’s a 12MP rear sensor with optical image stabilization, and a lot of the other features we’ve come to expect from high-end Samsung devices.
One of the biggest upgrades is new dual-aperture technology, with the camera automatically adjusting the aperture depending on the scene you’re shooting, much like the human eye adapts to changing light.
So if you’re shooting something brighter than 100 lux (which is usually daylight) it’ll automatically adjust to f/2.4 aperture, and if it’s darker than that the camera will opt for the f/1.5 aperture.
F/1.5 is the widest ever aperture in a smartphone, and Samsung claims it should enable you to capture images with more color and detail, and much less noise in low light conditions.
In a brighter room, we were hoping for a more dynamic picture of the fire
This scene was actually brighter than we could see with our eyes.
The slow-mo features of the rear shooter have also been improved so you can now shoot at 960 frames per second, which is four times slower than the Galaxy S8 and meets the industry standard set by Sony phones.
This mode also uses something called automatic motion detect, which will automatically begin to record when the camera detects movement, so it should make it easier to only record the relevant moments in slow motion.
On the front of the phone there’s an 8MP shooter with an f/1.7 aperture. This camera also plays into the facial recognition technology you can read about in the other features section at the bottom of this page.
Samsung Galaxy S9 battery
- A 3,000mAh battery
- Improved power efficiency
Samsung Galaxy S9 other features
- AR on the front camera for Animoji-like features
- Bixby Vision improvements to the personal assistant
Samsung says it believes people are communicating more with images than ever before, so it has made its own feature called AR emoji. AR stands for augmented reality and this feature uses the front camera to take a selfie and make an emoji based on your looks.
It works in a similar way to The Sims, where you make an image that represents you and can be customized. It uses facial recognition and can recognize over 18 different expressions.
It’s a similar idea to the Animoji feature available on the iPhone X, but this allows you to make your own character and give it different hair colors, dress senses, 12 different clothing options and choose from 7 pairs of glasses.
You can move your face to make silly videos, but you can also choose one of 18 different emotions pre-built into the app so you don’t always need to pull a stupid face into your phone to be able to send one.
Samsung is also bringing big improvements to its Bixby Vision project too. When you’re in the camera app you can tap the Bixby option to access a variety of different new features, including tracking the place you’re in (it provides the name and details of where you are) or pointing it at food, at which point it will try to work out what it is and even estimate the calories.
There’s another feature called Live Translation that allows you to put the camera over a menu or text and auto translate it. You’ll need an internet connection and to wait a few moments for this to work, but it’s an interesting addition that may come in useful when you’re traveling.
Plus, Bixby Vision offers an enhanced beauty mode, so you can change the look of your selfies too.
MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.