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Samsung Galaxy S9 review: A fantastic phone for the masses, but not an exciting one

Look, I'm not going to sit here and try to tell you that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are all-new phones worthy of praise for doing a whole bunch of things that their predecessors did at the start of 2017. Not a whole lot has changed in the last year, and that's just the reality of what we're working with here.

Not only is Samsung using almost all of the same materials, design, components and features found on its last-gen flagships, but the similarities go down to using the exact same box, wall charger, USB cable and the AKG earbuds. The Android Oreo and Samsung Experience 9.0 software is near-identical to the update that started hitting the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in January. In many ways, Samsung isn't even trying to act like these are altogether new phones. Iterating the branding to "S9" is purely an exercise in keeping naming consistent for consumers than a true indication of a generational jump.

If any other company did this, its phones would quickly be cast into the shadows for lacking innovation or an eye-catching feature to draw in potential buyers. But Samsung isn't like other companies — Samsung is sitting at the very top of the Android world, sucking in nearly all of the available profits in the $700+ price segment. To quote myself, "it's Samsung's world and we're all just living in it." And that affords it some flexibility to release an iterative update set to fix the Galaxy S8's few flaws and re-release phones that almost anyone looking to buy in 2018 will enjoy.

Pros:

  • Best screen available today
  • Every hardware feature you want
  • Standout camera that's easy to use
  • Good speakers and headphone jack
  • Top-notch internal specs
  • Available worldwide unlocked and from carriers

Cons:

  • Software can be overwhelming
  • Just average battery life
  • Small GS9 lacks secondary camera
  • GS9+ is very expensive

About this review

I'm writing this review after 9 days using the U.S. unlocked Galaxy S9+. The phone was used exclusively on the AT&T network, first roaming in Barcelona, Spain and then locally in Seattle, WA. The software build was 1UEU1ARB7, with the February 1 security patch, and was not updated during the course of the review.

Considering their similarities, the entirety of this review is applicable to both the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, except in portions where Galaxy S9+-specific commentary is noted.

In video

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Video review

There's a place for words, and then there's a place for a concise video review — thankfully, we have both available for you right here. To get things kicked off, be sure to watch our full Galaxy S9 video review, and to get more details, read on for the complete written review right here.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

More of the Samesung

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Hardware, design and display

The Galaxy S9 is near-indistinguishable from the Galaxy S8, but the hardware is still absolutely a strong point. This is a beautiful, modern design that looks great and is functional in terms of getting a ton of screen in a relatively small package. The standard Galaxy S9, in particular, is downright compact by modern smartphone standards.

Who cares if it's near-identical to the Galaxy S8 when the hardware is this nice?

The metal frame and tightly curved glass are gorgeous, but Samsung is still showing it didn't have to sacrifice functionality for form. The Galaxy S9 is IP68 water resistant, of course, and the glass back enables wireless charging, which isn't a must-have feature for me but I'll always use it if it's there. There's also a fan-favorite SD card slot for up to 400GB of extra storage — or up to 2TB when the cards come out at that capacity. And look at that on the bottom of the phone: a headphone jack! The increasingly rare port matches up well with a really good pair AKG earbuds you'll find in the box, but is wonderful to see regardless. Samsung is saving us from dongles for at least another year, and I applaud it.

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Samsung Galaxy S9+

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Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung was smart to stick with everything that made the Galaxy S8 so appealing — but it did manage to fix the few hardware quirks we latched onto last year.

Yes, you can actually find and use the fingerprint sensor without any hand contortion. It's slightly easier to reach on the smaller Galaxy S9, and the sensor isn't quite as easy to blindly find as on the Google Pixel 2 or OnePlus 5T, but this is a massive improvement and no longer a weak point of Samsung's flagships. And for times when you can't reach, the new "intelligent scan" system lets you quickly unlock the phone with your face while retaining iris scanning for protecting more sensitive data in the phone. I kept it turned on and it never interfered with my fingerprint sensor use, but was there when I needed it — again, a vast improvement over last year.

Without changing the exterior design, Samsung made a few choice upgrades on the inside. A new top earpiece complements the down-firing speaker to form a stereo pair — providing critical audio separation when you're watching landscape video, and making it impossible to just block all sound coming out of the phone with a single finger. Samsung claims the pair is 1.4-times louder, and I won't go that far — but I definitely notice a boost to both volume and bass when listening to music without headphones. That's all we really needed.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs

On the other hand, going far beyond "adequate" is this AMOLED display, which is absolutely leading the industry. Samsung outdid itself by increasing brightness 15% over last year, complementing what's already a fundamentally fantastic display in terms of colors, clarity, off-axis viewing and visibility in direct sunlight. DisplayMate's tests show all of the specifics, but you don't need to know any of that — trust me, you'll either love having this display, or you'll wish your phone had it. The only puzzling decision Samsung makes is still putting the phone in FHD+ resolution by default — turn that thing up to QHD+ and enjoy the brilliance.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

Standard Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Software, specs and performance

With years of iteration, Samsung's software has made leaps and bounds in terms of design, overall fluidity and features — but its out-of-box experience is still burdensome and clunky if you're used to any other company's phones.

Preserving legacy features may be comforting to some longtime Samsung users, but others will be frustrated by it all.

Samsung Experience 9.0, built with Android Oreo, still feels like it's hanging on to vestiges of previous software versions in many places. Countless settings pages go several layers deep concealing features new and old, leaving search as the only realistic way of finding something quickly. Many design cues, like the notification shade design, are mismatched with new Oreo-targeted apps. Samsung's launcher just now offers long-press actions that came to Android in Nougat, but they're half-baked and aren't useful like they are on other phones — at least the notification badges are now actually tied to the notification shade. Somehow, its keyboard is still not even in the same ballpark as Google's Gboard with prediction and swipe input — and don't even get me started on the poor voice dictation.

The preservation of legacy features and a design lineage that stretches back several years may be comforting to some longtime Samsung users, but for people who just want to get the basics done the Galaxy S9 has a mountain of cruft to contend with. I personally can deal with it all just fine through an afternoon of tweaking settings, but then again, should I have to?

Jumping through hoops to get the phone to work the way I want shouldn't be necessary.

Yes I'm being somewhat nitpicky on a few things here, and there are far more people out there who are accustomed to Samsung's software than any other single flavor. But it just strikes me every time I pick up a new Samsung phone how many hoops I have to jump through just to get it to work the way I want — sometimes you can go overboard in offering options, and Samsung is walking that line. I doubt the software bloat will actually dissuade anyone from buying these phones, but that doesn't mean it isn't filled with potential frustration points.

Quickly, a paragraph about Bixby! The Bixby Home panel connected to your home screen still lacks standout features, leaving me to wonder if we'd all be better served by just integrating the few pieces of it that work into other areas of the phone and leaving this full-screen Home experience to die, as most of it just isn't useful. Bixby Voice recognition is actually pretty good, if you just downright don't know how to do something and want it to handle it over voice — but most of the time, touch is faster and more accurate. I could go deep into why Bixby is a flawed system that isn't making any strides in terms of changing the way we use our phones, but let's save that for another time — the important part here is that you can use Bixby if you want, and you can turn it off entirely if you don't.

Bixby has a few good things going for it — but it commands far more attention than it deserves.

It's sort of the same "use it or forget it" situation for AR Emoji — Samsung's new Apple Animoji competitor. It works, it's neat to play with and maybe the younger crowd will latch onto it. But for most of us, we'll stick to taking great pictures with the camera rather than putting weird masks on our quasi-cartoon avatars in selfies. Samsung once again deserves praise for having a camera feature that's dead simple to capture and export anywhere, rather than locking you into its platform, but this isn't compelling enough to be an actual selling point of the phones.

Performance

The Snapdragon 845 processor I'm using in this U.S. model of the Galaxy S9+ is the latest and greatest from Qualcomm, and honestly it's far more powerful than anything we need in a smartphone today — particularly when it's paired up with 6GB of RAM. But hey, it means this phone's ready for the future.

This processor is good for today and far into the future.

As far as using the phone every day, it doesn't feel any different from the Galaxy S8 using Oreo, or the Note 8 using Nougat for that matter. Anyone who's spent time with a Pixel 2 or even last-gen Pixel will be able to sense moments of dropped frames or stutters on the Galaxy S9, but let's be honest it just isn't that big of a difference. The Galaxy S9+ handled everything I threw at it without any hesitation, and I experienced zero slowdowns, app crashes or system instability. The phone's been rock solid, and I just hope it stays that way over time.

Samsung Galaxy S9+ on a wireless charger

Battery life

Samsung's promise of "all day" battery life holds true in my use, if just barely, with the 3500mAh capacity inside the Galaxy S9+. Without fail, I got 17 to 18 hours of battery life each day, including 3 to 4 hours of "screen on" time, at the point when I settled into bed and tossed the phone on its wireless charger. That's certainly good enough for most people, and roughly on par with what I get out of my Pixel 2 XL — but heavier users will need a midday top-up if they're going to be hitting the phone hard.

I got 17-18 hours of battery life without fail, and that's plenty for most people.

On the other side of things, light users will still be charging at night regardless, as the standby battery life just isn't fantastic on the Galaxy S9+. Even with light usage and most of my day spent at home on Wi-Fi, the phone was still estimating roughly 18 to 19 hours of battery life. Consistency is good in most cases, but keep in mind that even if you baby it throughout the day you aren't going to be able to push far into a second day without charging.

Despite this being the year 2018, Samsung is curiously still supporting just Quick Charge 2.0 charging speeds and supplies the same charger as it did with the Galaxy S7 and S8. It's not really an issue, and the phones do support USB-C Power Delivery for another fast charging option, but it's so odd that an otherwise extremely technologically advanced phone wouldn't have at least Quick Charge 3.0.

Sticking with a 3000mAh battery, I have worries about the standard Galaxy S9's longevity.

As I only have the larger Galaxy S9+ for this review period, the only question mark that remains is just how the Galaxy S9, with its smaller 3000mAh battery, will fare. Given my S9+ experience of a full day, and realizing that the Galaxy S9 has all of the same specs and capabilities with what is still a very large display, I expect the smaller phone to once again underwhelm in its longevity. That's the one trade-off you take into consideration when getting the smaller phone for its ease of use in one hand.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The big improvement

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Cameras

With the move to a an all-new 12MP sensor, the Galaxy S9 has dramatically improved its processing for photos of all kinds. Each photo saved is the combination of 12 frames captured simultaneously, blended into 3 batches and then worked into a final image. The result is insanely crisp details and almost no noise even in extremely dark conditions, without the typical over-processed or artificially-smoothed look we so often see associated with low noise.

Samsung's new sensor and lens isn't just hype, it's a huge jump in quality from the Galaxy S8.

The camera's trick new lens that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 helps even further. A majority of shots are taken at f/1.5 to let in as much light as possible and give the sensor a better chance at keeping the ISO down. It will switch to f/2.4 in bright daylight scenes and provide even better fine detail, and I found the camera does a great job of choosing which one is right for the job. You can fiddle around with Pro mode if you want, but I was blown away by the quality of photos in Auto.

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Samsung Galaxy S9+ camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy S9+ camera sample

The biggest comparison here is of course the Pixel 2's camera. These phones don't take the same types of photos, but they both produce fantastic images in their own right. The Pixel 2 is capable of creating scenes that no other smartphone can, and uses its advanced HDR processing to create eye-catching photos that have a very dramatic look with extra saturation and highlights — it basically does an advanced editing job after capturing. On the other hand, the Galaxy S9 comes closer to natural reproduction of a scene, with great colors and amazing detail — you might want to tweak it in some cases, but you get a fundamentally great photo to start with.

The Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2 take different types of photos, but both are fantastic in their own ways.

On the whole, I'd say both phones have great cameras that anyone would be happy to shoot with. The Galaxy S9+ isn't going to dethrone the Pixel 2 as the "best" camera out there in my opinion, because things are just more nuanced than that, but it does just as good a job in most situations and has plenty of features the Pixel 2 doesn't. I was consistently amazed by the photos I took with the Galaxy S9+ — and at that point, whether it took the "same" photo as the Pixel 2 in any given situation is basically irrelevant to me.

The photo quality is so good from the main camera it almost obviates the need for the secondary camera — which is near-identical to the Note 8's. That second sensor and lens aren't anything special, meaning in many dimmer scenes you'll just be using the main sensor with a digital crop anyway. And the Live Focus portrait mode still runs into processing issues where the f/1.5 main lens can often provide better, natural background blur. None of the photos I'm showing in this review use Live Focus ... I always took a better shot in Pro mode at f/1.5. When you take this into account, it really doesn't feel like Galaxy S9 buyers are losing much by not getting that second camera — so don't let that be your deciding factor between the two sizes.

The new camera sensor tech also enables 960 frame per second slow motion, which is very clearly a gimmick — but it's a darn fun one. With the right conditions and a steady hand, you can get jaw-dropping slow-motion scenes. And Samsung's automatic capture interface makes it dead simple to get the shot you're looking for — something that was sorely missing when I reviewed the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. Be sure to check out our review video for some choice slow-mo action from the Galaxy S9+.

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The new standard

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Bottom line

It's become increasingly clear to me that the Galaxy S line of phones is no longer exciting, at least from the standpoint of those who strive to see the latest and greatest technology. They are, instead, becoming the new standard Android phone by which all others are measured as a baseline. A vast majority of Galaxy S9 buyers will not know much about the details of their phones, nor do they need to — but they know that this phone has cool new features, does everything they ask of it, and in turn brings no measurable flaws, trade-offs or downsides.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ aren't necessarily exciting, but they don't have to be — because Samsung made two fantastic phones that do what people want.

These are expensive phones, but the value proposition is pretty simple. When someone walks in the store and asks for a phone that has a specific feature or can do certain things, undoubtedly the Galaxy S9 or S9+ can do it — and that same phone can fulfill different requests from the next person that walks in. Samsung doesn't have to turn away any customers, because these phones just do everything.

It's funny how we now appreciate a phone that just does things customers want, in a normal way, rather than trying to force some new agenda or change before it's ready to happen. With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, Samsung isn't pushing the envelope: it's just making phones that can appeal to as many people as possible. The excellence in these phones is that Samsung managed to make the "phone for the masses" while keeping them grounded as a proper, finished product rather than a portmanteau of random ideas that's less than the sum of its parts.

Discerning phone buyers may consider a Pixel 2 or 2 XL instead, and for good reason, but nobody will be unhappy with a Galaxy S9 or S9+.

The real question is, for the discerning buyers out there who don't want a phone that does everything but wants one that does certain things best, and will put up with a couple compromises, whether they'll be better served by a phone like the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL. They may not have the brilliant display or mountain of features, but their software experience and simplicity are undeniably better — and that's important for some people. If you're willing to look at the details, you may be better served by those phones — but statistically most people will buy a Samsung phone, probably one of these two in 2018, and they'll undoubtedly love it.

4.5 out of 5

Samsung is going to sell an insane number of these phones — not because they're groundbreaking or hyper-innovative, but because they're solid, beautiful, feature-packed and have fantastic cameras. And that's why Samsung is now the default choice for non-iPhone buyers — and even some in Apple's camp — around the world.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

90 Comments
  • I definitely agree, the s9 & + are the most featured packed phone's on the planet. Design change, didn't need to. Still one of the best looking phones money can buy. No notch, stereo speaker's and ear buds with the box. 6gb's & the 845 processer, variable aperture camera Dx0 99, one of the best. More toys than you know what to do with. Samsung once again hits the mark with these two. Thank you Sammy no notch & ear buds included!
  • And Pro Mode that is awesome for the rest of us that actually like to take time and have input on how their shots come out.
  • Agreed. Though many are happy with the point and shoot way of capturing images. I like to select my own point of digits and with current apatures(I'm on my note8), have 100% control.
  • No notch but an esge screen that is worst imo. I don’t like watching atca picture or even some videos on it. I will take a notch any day over that because in the end a notch doesn’t take away from the content
  • Looks like the best available phone available right now to me. It might not be a huge upgrade from the S8 but for people who haven't upgraded their phones in 2-3 years it'll be a monumental upgrade.
  • My two complaints about Samsung phones (I have the Note 8 but they apply to the S9): The Bixby replacement for Flipboard is even more useless than Flipboard, but I never used that, either. And I never used the Google equivalent. I guess some people like that sort of thing, but it's not for me. The settings are often a pain to manage because the phones have so many features, the setting you want to change is often difficult to find. Having said that, it's nice that you can use Bixby to change a setting you don't know how to find through the interface. I don't use Bixby that way, but that's probably because I don't talk to my phone. My one complaint about reviews of this phone is the negative attitude about it not being revolutionary. Is it a great phone, or not? If it's great, then who cares if it's not revolutionary? And it sure seems like it's great - probably the best phone of the year, unless the Note 9 ends up being better. Sorry, Andrew, but unless Google pulls its head out of it's ass, I seriously doubt the Pixel 3 will be "the best Android phone you can buy".
  • It's a relief you can always disable the leftmost panel (be it Bixby or Flipboard) by long press on homescreen and scrolling to such panel.
    Btw, I also agree there is nothing wrong about not being revolutionary, I think the S9 family just gets everything right and then it adds some more. This non revolutionary attitude is not only from Samsung, it's practiced by Google, Apple, Sony and more companies, but at least Samsung is not removing any features.
  • They have to be negative about lack of revolutionary change, otherwise they'd look like hypocrites because Android folks always heap crap on Apple for not revolutionizing the iPhone every year.
  • And they have to complain about something, so they can later report that Google's latest phone doesn't have that "problem."
  • Why no mention of the blood pressure feature. I wouldnt call this a full review. Seems very rushed.
  • Maybe the writer doesn't use that feature? I know that I don't use it.
  • Because it's an extremely niche feature, and Samsung has been shipping heart rate monitor sensors in its flagships since the Galaxy S5. Beyond that, it's not a particularly accurate sensor on the level of proper medical devices. It's just a thing that's there, not a selling point of the phones. I spent 9 days with this phone, wrote a 3400 word review and we put up a 10-minute video review. Now tell me how "rushed" this is?
  • Still, it's a new feature that almost no one knows about. Is there any other phone with blood pressure sensor?
  • A blood pressure sensor in a phone is useless. I wouldn't trust my health with that.
  • Did you test it?
  • wouldn't you need profession medical equipment that's been calibrated to test against?
  • If S9 can give me same or close results as my wrist pressure monitor than I'm all for it. Super handy.
  • You clearly found out about it without my review pointing it out. And that's all there is to say about it.
  • you kids harp on the dumbest of things...
  • The S7 had a heart rate monitor.
  • Some of you don't understand. There is a difference between heart rate monitor and BLOOD PRESSURE monitor. The blood pressure monitor is a new feature.
  • Andrew wrote: "Samsung has been shipping heart rate monitor sensors in its flagships since the Galaxy S5." I corrected that statement.
    So...
  • Don't cry. He is giving a critique. Kinda like your whole article is written. Instead of a review it reads as a whole article of complaints. To completely redesign a device cost a lot of money. Every manufacturer now does a redesign and the following year the refine it. With the slowdown in tech there is only so much companies can do. You want a new design buy a different brand. Bixby is useful for many once you understand it also. I don't have a issue with it. And you don't have to comment on your article or video and how rushed they are. Just because you write a article or make a video doesn't make you right or the authority on the subject. All your doing is voicing your opinion.
  • I agree with you here, almost half the video was complaints with the complaint section starting at 5:45.
  • The entire review had one objective: to say how "awesome" the iPixel is. I mean... I personally don't expect much from AC's reviews these days. The thing has gone downhill since Phil left the helm.
  • Cannot roll my eyes any harder.
  • Instead of rolling your eyes, maybe you should listen to your readers. The pro-Google slant of AC is widely recognized.
  • Oh come on now, there's been plenty of critique of the Google line-up.
  • There's legitimate criticism and complaint, and then there's what DJCBS is doing.
  • What is DJCBS?
  • This is what I have noticed as well. Plus rude responses to comments such as the one pointing out the lack of coverage of the blood pressure sensor... Not exactly professional.
  • Blood pressure without a cuff is huge. I mean it can change peoples lives. There are articles on other sites about somebody else being able to do this without a cuff. This can literally save somebodys life. Not mentioning a feature like that does seem rushed to me. Also its different then heart rate.
  • Other reviews -- like Engadget, Verge and Android Police -- don't mention the blood pressure monitor either (in fact, I tried to google reviews that mention it, but couldn't find any...granted, it was just a quick "rushed" search and there may be some review out there that talks about it in depth, but not many if there is one). Maybe it's just a feature that most people don't care about or will never actually use. So why bother bringing it up in a phone review? Don't let this issue get your blood pressure up, though. ;-)
  • I like the review, most notably the reason Samsung hammers LG, HTC, Pixel, Sony in sales: "When someone walks in the store and asks for a phone that has a specific feature or can do certain things, undoubtedly the Galaxy S9 or S9+ can do it — and that same phone can fulfill different requests from the next person that walks in. Samsung doesn't have to turn away any customers, because these phones just do everything." Perfectly sums up the situation. Some beat it in single areas, a la Pixel for camera, HTC for camera, LG for looks, Sony, last year for slow mo, most others with quick charge. What Samsung understand is that they can easily be top 3 in every feature, inc wireless charging, camera, head phones, screen, battery etc. They tick EVERY box.
  • Pixel and HTC for camera? hahahahah, thanks man, i needed that.
  • Well there's not a huge difference between the S9 and the iPhone 8 or X in photo quality, and HTC is already better than the iPhone in camera performance (especially low light), so it's a reasonable reference. I would say the S9 absolutely does tick the top boxes for wireless charging, camera, and screen. Headphone output is ummm, adequate, and battery is poor, but the rest of the list is ok.
  • Yes, Samsung has been shipping heart rate monitor sensors with prior phones. What they haven't been shipping and is the first with the S9 series is BLOOD PRESSURE monitor, which is different than heart rate monitors. No other phone has a blood pressure monitor. Now granted, the accuracy of such a sensor could be called into question, but the fact remains that this is a new sensor and it is not getting much attention and many confuse it with heart rate.
  • Seriously? Imagine how long this would be if he got into such niche Samsung features, of which there are myriad.
  • I hate posting "this is happening to me" comments, but I have two different phones, Z2play and g6, and this particular article shows up in a funky format completely different from the other articles. I'd say it's just me but it's that way on both phones, all other articles show up in dark mode, this one light, other articles fit the screen size, this one requires side scrolling . . Any ideas why? It's not ruining my life but just curious . . .
  • Great review. This looks like a fantastic phone...if you are currently carrying an S5 to S7 edge. S8 owners would be advised to hold off until the Note 9 or Galaxy X.
  • First, I can say it's not just you. Since we pushed out this new site design, we're working through various issues that always corp up with these sorts of things. Second, I'd ask to give me some more info on how you're reading — website, app, website from search, AMP? That all helps us create reports and track down a fix.
  • Same here. Galaxy s6, the font is very large and I can't seem to resize it
    Joe
  • I preordered the S9+, but I think I'm going to cancel it. The S9+ should be stylized S8+S because it's not a completely different phone from the S8+, except the added rear camera and the stereo speakers. Yawn. Wake me up when the fall releases come around.
  • Thank you Sammy, no notch!
  • Shame about the battery size.
  • Yeah, battery is kinda it's achilles heel, which makes it even stranger that they don't include a more current version of Quickcharge.
  • Phones have reached a point where full redesigns aren't going to happen.
    When a phone has 95% screen on the front, you really can no longer make the front look any different. its just screen and sensors/camera.
    on the back, why would you change to a worse design, just to make it look or feel different.
    Apple will be the first one to do it, but Hardware and software should be on 24 month cycles with just security and stability updates in between.
    Like I said, Apple will start this soon, android will follow. Then all phones could be supported for 48 months. which is long enough. 1 major software update in 4 years (2 years after it was new), then just security updates.
  • I think I'll pass!
  • Who needs excitement? A great phone no matter what the wow factor must get the job done.
  • Meh... This might be the first time I don't get the latest galaxy on release. Might be time to jump the Samsung ship. They don't make the active variant for Australian customers, so I'm stuck with these slippery fragile devices..
  • Buy a case?
  • "If any other company did this, its phones would quickly be cast into the shadows for lacking innovation or an eye-catching feature to draw in potential buyers." What bullshit. iPhone 6, 7 and 8 anyone?
  • I totally agree. Theres strange statements in this article : 'It's become increasingly clear to me that the Galaxy S line of phones is no longer exciting, at least from the standpoint of those who strive to see the latest and greatest technology' --- so who the f**k IS pushing the technological barrier then? If wedging all this tech in a high quality shell including a headphone jack and dual speakers isnt bloody impressive ...Honestly who is way more leading edge huh? 'It's funny how we now appreciate a phone that just does things customers want, in a normal way, rather than trying to force some new agenda or change before it's ready to happen.' -- is this guy just disappointed that the S9 didn't come with an ass wiping service or have the ability to pour him a beer from the fridge??? 'The real question is, for the discerning buyers out there who don't want a phone that does everything but wants one that does certain things best, and will put up with a couple compromises, whether they'll be better served by a phone like the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL' -- Ok, so the Pixel 2 / XL. The S9 offers more as a package, bulld quality / features etc....has at least as good a camera or as close to on quality output to the Pixel 2 phones. Sooooooo, please tell me what is a) best as in better than the S9 about the Pixel 2 ? And please don't say 'well, it's got a purer version of Android' A weird article, quite negative in its tone about a phone that betters everything else outhere or at worst matches the best available. I dont get it tbh.
  • The review here is on par with other reviews out there in that the phone is great but otherwise kind of boring and an iterative upgrade to the S8. Most are recommending that S8 owners skip this one. From what I've seen from this phone, those sentiments seem to align with reality. The comments in these articles are also very similar where you have Samsung Galaxy (I guess you'd call them) fans getting furious about perceived slights to their brand of choice. People are getting really mad that reviewers aren't praising this phone more than they are. I have a solution, though. Reviewers should publish 2 reviews. One for sensitive Samsung fans where you do nothing but praise the phone with superlatives and another for the rest of us who just want an honest review based in reality. That way, no one gets butt-hurt and everyone can be happy! We can also do the same with Pixel fans too so they don't feel left out. :-)
  • I think we can always acknowledge that Apple plays in a different space entirely. Being the only retailer of iOS devices makes it quite a bit easier to iterate at their own pace.
  • I find the title a little odd / demeaning . It may as well as said 'A fantastic phone for the masses, but it isnt an oil tanker' There isnt a smartphone out there currently that you could call 'exciting' they're all not or notch excting. So each new phone review ought to begin now with an exciting rating. So What does 'Fantastic phone for the masses' mean ? a phone that betters most and can be equally compared to the best isnt for those others who arent part of the masses? Oh jeez man. So if you dont want any fuss (what fuss? I really dont know), arent bothered by not having decent build quality nor want a multitude of extra features thrown in for your hard earned money including top of the class (joint top of the class?) camera and trailblazing screen, are completely bamboozled by a few extra menus and are blown away by show stopping unique coloured side buttons. Then its Pixel 2 all the way then! Both Pixel 2 and S9 are great great phones, but why the 'for the masses' quip? as if to be-little what is pretty decent smartphone if physically the same as the S8. Reckon Samsung were due an 's' version of their phones whilst possibly biding their time to (hopefully) bring us something dare I say exciting for the S10 model. I've more than likely read that article with my wrong head this morning and taken the wrong tact here.
  • I take the term "for the masses" in this context to be very positive and not demeaning at all. For the masses just means that it will appeal to almost everyone. Isn't that a good thing? If one phone appeals to the masses, while at the same time pushing boundaries with new features, and another appeals to only techies (while also pushing some boundaries), you would definitely want to be the phone appealing to the masses because you're going to completely outsell the other phone.
  • Lol at the idea that a person would need "excitement" from their phone.
  • We all spend an immense amount of time with our phones. Some people don't want to be bored with them, they want them to be more than blank boring slabs of utility — they want them to be exciting.
  • Please. Tell me what current Android phones aren't "blank...slabs of utility"? The Pixels? Not hardly, they offer less than most other phones. The non-Essential? I'll take some utility over the mediocre camera and feature set. The V30? I suppose if a fancy DAC is the most important feature, but otherwise. The truth is that ALL the current headliner phones are far more the same than different. None of them will change you life, or even change the way you get things done. They're all pretty boring.
  • I think most reviewers are judging this phone from the point of view of someone who's used a Galaxy S8 or S8+ before. In my opinion, the S9 is only boring if you've been using a Galaxy S8 or S8+. Otherwise, it's a very exciting phone full of features. The only thing making it "boring" is that the S8 and S8+ were so awesome, and look almost identical. And there aren't many stand out features that set the S9 apart from its predecessor (at least in most reviewers' opinions).
  • Was this review written just to troll Samsung users? I swear it was. This article was just ridiculous. What's even better is how the author pretends not to notice his own repeated bias as readers continuously call him out, article after article. How does AC allow this stuff to even hit the site? The phone is not "exciting" but yet it's full of features? Is that not paradoxical? By his own judgement, the camera is pretty much as good as the Pixel 2 AND has a ton more features/controls, but let's not dare call it the best. The blatant pro Pixel slant knows no bounds as there's an entire paragraph dedicated to a phone that wasn't the subject of the review! Who does that? Bring back Phil AC. Please, we beg you.
  • Are you being serious? Look at the S9+ objectively for a second. What standout features does it have over the S8+, besides the extra camera and the placement of the FPS? Not much. It has 2GB more of RAM, but most of us won’t notice it. Android Central’s review was similar with many other reviews I’ve read yesterday. Most of them find the S9+ to be great, but also “meh”, which is spot on.
  • What "standout features" do you expect in a phone? This is mature technology. Every year SoC's get a little faster, screens get a little better, Android gets a little..... different. Not necessarily better. Is the phone supposed to tell you you're going to get a call in 2 minutes? Maybe tell you what to take a picture of? What, really, do the PIxel 2 phones do that the PIxel phone didn't? Or the iPhone 8 that the iPhone 7 didn't? Even the vaunted iPhone X only offers two "standout features": Face unlock (useful, but I still prefer a fingerprint sensor) and talking poo.
  • LOL...you people drove Phil out of here and now people are calling for him back because the Samsung army is insulted.
  • Phil, is that you?
  • Phil hired me. I learned pretty much my entire foundation of technology journalism from Phil. To insist that because Phil is no longer the EIC of AC that the whole thing is just crumbling and turned to some crazy biased affair is just insulting.
  • To ignore the people who think AC has gone downhill may be more than insulting. It may be the kiss of death. Smart companies listen to their customers. You seem determined to ignore them.
  • My biggest question is in regards to the standard S9's performance longevity. No doubt, out of the box the 2GB less RAM than the + will not be an issue, but how about 9-12 months down the road? I went from S7 to Pixel 2 because after less than a year the S7 was already slowing down. That and I prefer Google's cleaner interface and on-time updates, but the performance was my primary issue with the Samsung.
  • What makes this phone exciting to me is that it's not jumping on the ridiculous, embarrassing "notch" iPhone copycat bandwagon. The S8/S8+ and the S9/S9+ all have higher screen-to-body ratios than the iPhone X and they do it without that ugly intrusion on the screen.
  • And let's hope they keep it that way.
  • Amen to that, and props to Samsung for doing it better.
  • I don't really need "exciting." I need a good solid reliable phone that works, and works well, all the time. The S8 was good enough that there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Refinement of a proven design is often better than starting from scratch and having a whole new batch of minor issues that need to be refined the next time around. As for all of Samsung's options, do you really find them THAT difficult? Somehow normal, non-tech nerds manage to use Samsung phones without any issues, so I would expect a senior tech writer to be able to handle it, too. I get that you personally prefer the limited feature set of Google's version of Android, but don't exaggerate. It really isn't that hard to navigate through the settings, and many of us like some of the features Samsung gives us. I don't use them all, but I use some. Other people won't necessarily use what I do, but will use others. Choice is generally a good thing. And I'm relatively confident that Samsung's version of Oreo has been thoroughly tested before release, which is something that no one, ever, said about Google's version. If I have any objection to the design of the phone, it's the fragility that comes with all the glass design, but Samsung isn't unique in that regard. It's pretty much irrelevant how pretty the phone is when 99% of buyers will cover it in a plastic case. If it weren't for the cost associated with breaking one of these, it would be laughable that after sites like AC spent years complaining about cheap looking plastic phones, we now walk around with our "premium" phones encased in even cheaper looking plastic cases. If Samsung offered a phone with all the tech of an S9 in a quality polycarbonate body, I'd snap it up. Make the back and battery removable and replaceable, like the late, great, S3, S4 or S5, and I'd be in hog heaven.
  • Might give this a try!!
  • Re: U.S. RELEASE UPDATE: 128gb & 256gb version of s9/s9+ - Though Samsung will continue to allow U.S. citizens to purchase the Galaxy S9/S9+ 64gb model (with option to use SD card type memory up to 400gb on top of base 64gb), Samsung will be prohibiting U.S. citizens from purchasing a 128 or 256gb model. Instead, Samsung will exclusively reserve the 128 & 256gb versions of the S9/S9+ phone with same option to expand further memory through micro - SD slot, only for those that do not live in U.S. markets, which include those living in Asian & some European markets. Samsung maintains that for U.S. citizens, using expandable memory for the 64gb model will have to suffice, but U.S. citizens will not be allowed to purchase the 128 nor the 256gb base model, as these models are reserved exclusively for non-U.S. citizens/non-U.S. markets. Furthermore, any attempt of U.S. citizens to bypass this restriction by purchasing the 128gb of 256gb models for import & use into U.S. markets, will then result in said purchased phone units having other included phone features, such as Samsung Pay, effectively disabled on phone unless returned to origin market, thus maintaining phone's reduced capability by this method instead while being used in U.S. markets. Higher memory models released for use outside of U.S. markets will maintain use of all included features as long as said units are not used in U.S. markets. Exceptions for this U.S. restriction will not be made by Samsung- For those NOT in U.S. markets, you will be allowed purchase of 128gb & 256gb models with option to add memory on top of that through expansion card memory and full use of all included phone features.
    But for those who reside in U.S. markets who are interested in purchasing the S9 or S9+ without the disabling of any of phone's included features, if they wish for more than 64gb of storage, the memory expansion card option will have to suffice.
  • You have a link to the original source for this? The wording doesn't sound even remotely like something a company like Samsung would put in the press release. I simply don't believe this is an authentic document.
  • Could you please also "rant" about how US phone prices are much much lower? I'm not sure you as an american could afford 1100€+ phones.
  • If Samsung would take a page from Apple and: Take the GS7 body (PREMIUM BUILD, NO PLASTIC) and input the technology of the GS9 including camera. Like Apple did with the 5SE. PLUS keep the price moderate... I would buy it tomorrow! The S9 body, aspect ratio, curved edges is not for me.
  • It's fine if you prefer a different phone but maybe have someone else do the review instead.
  • Here's my 2 cents. I've had the Note 8 for about 6 months and I've really enjoyed it. I got it at a time when they had a promo where you could trade a phone in for, in my case, $300 plus an accessory freebie. So those discounts made it affordable for me. If you need a phone right now I would go with the 8. It's been in the real world use for 6 months now so all of the glitches have already showed themselves and there's lots of info out. With the 9S series you're dealing with a device that's new and full price in most cases and it has had little time in the world. So if I were going for the 9S and 9S+, I'd wait for some discounts and field time.
  • Good review Andrew! I found it informative and thorough.
  • What a ripoff.
  • Why don't you journalists start standing for something and refuse to even review these devices that are made completely out of fragile glass, and without replaceable batteries. And those that are charging nearly $1,000 for throwaway tech that don't keep their phones up to date. And those that follow ridiculous Apple trends like removing a headphone jack (I know, not the S9, doesn't change my point). Oh, because that wouldn't pay the bills now would it? Have some integrity. Maybe then people wouldn't buy this crap which limits practical device options for everyone else because "it sells". How about saying, "We cannot recommend this phone because they will not guarantee 3 years software support. "But, but, it's hard to keep software up to date". Then get out of the hardware business if you can't provide at least quarterly security updates for 3 years.
  • It may not be exciting for you, but I’ve been using an iPhone since I left my Note 5 and I’m excited as hell to get my GS9+ on Friday! I’m not bashing iPhones here but being able to change up the look of my phone again is going to be a refreshing change.
  • It's good that you're leaving controling Apple behind and getting a S9 which o like the look of but not Samsung's software, as I'm a pure Google and stock Android lover so Samsung's features are not really any use to me and I care about having a fast, smooth and bloat free experience with consistent and fast updates and security patches which only the Pixel line can provide, Sorry but as much as I love the look of the S9 and S9+ especially, Samsung's software isn't true Android, the Pixel's software is, but that's the beauty of Android, we have choices, you like Samsung's software and I like Google's software and it's vision of Android which aligns with mine.
  • « On the other side of things, light users will still be charging at night regardless » Even with phones with far better battery life, you would have to charge every night if you don’t want the phone to day in the middle of the next day... A day of battery us all we need, the extra is more just a bonus. Until we can have phones that can last several days
  • No, you don't have to charge every night. Some phones can do a full two days, with power to spare. Matter of fact, how about SIX days in power save mode? As I write this, I'm heading into day four on one charge, with the battery still at 51%. HTC just figured it out, screenshot below... https://photos.app.goo.gl/WLOOmWFYTxLDngKr1
  • I spent hours looking at photo comparisons last night until my eyes hurt. The S9 had the upper hand in a lot of them, but I was very surprised that it lost out in the low light shots to the U11. Daylight shots were a tie, and the S9 had an edge in more of the macro shots, but the S9 struggled with some of the low light photos. Color me surprised.
  • S9 is fantastic and exciting. Surely more exciting than the Pixel.
  • For the masses? You meant: THE BEST? Like "popular music"... it's popular only because it conects to most people, it is not cheap! On contrary, it is the best composed and played!
    As is S9! It does all it should! It IS THE MOST ADVANCED PHONE! There is no that "wow" effect that you were looking to as it is done for years in a row, it is simply pinacle of all that evolution...