Samsung's new Galaxy S9 and S9+ are definitely iterative updates over last year's dramatically redesigned Galaxy S8 series, but that's not a problem. Instead of going back to the drawing board altogether, Samsung focused on fixing a lot of the issues while making drastic improvements to the camera experience and retaining everything that made the last generation so great.
Whether you're looking to buy or make the most of your new Galaxy S9, we have all of the information you need right here.
The latest Galaxy S9 news
December 25 — Samsung One UI update with Android Pie rolls out to Galaxy S9 in some markets
Samsung users have been waiting for Android Pie for months, and for some S9 users, that wait is finally over. The One UI update — build number G960FXXU2CRLI — has begun rolling out to S9 and S9+ users in several countries in Europe and the Middle East. This is a wonderful Christmas surprise, as the One UI update wasn't slates to roll out to the S9 until January, but you won't find up complaining.
Featuring the many, many features of Android Pie and Samsung's biggest design update in years, this is a big update with a lot to unlock in it, but luckily, we've had weeks with the One UI update already thanks to the One UI Beta program. You can see a full list of new and improved features in the official change log.
November 13, 2018 — Galaxy S9 released in gradient 'Ice Blue' color in China
The Galaxy S9 is one of the year's best-looking phones, and for our readers in China, it's now available in its most striking color yet — Ice Blue.
This is Samsung's first attempt at a gradient color, with Ice Blue having a deep blue hue at the top that gradually transitions into white. It really is something.
Sales for the Ice Blue Galaxy S9/S9+ begin in China today, and at this time, there aren't plans for bringing it to any other countries. I wouldn't hold your breath too long for a North American release, but with the Galaxy S10 right around the corner, we could see it made available in a similar style with (hopefully) broader availability.
All the big details
What are the big changes over the Galaxy S8 series?
In a word, the camera. Samsung has kept the primary sensor at 12 megapixels, but that's where the similarities end. The S9 and S9+ have adjustable apertures, switching seamlessly between f/1.5 and f/2.4, sitting in front of an all-new sensor that is great in low light. The Galaxy S9+ also gets a second 12MP sensor with a "telephoto" lens that provides 2X zoom and facilitates Live Focus, Samsung's version of portrait mode that debuted with the Galaxy Note 8.
In terms of specs, the Galaxy S9+ (but only the S9+) has two more gigabytes of RAM than last year's models. And let's not downplay the importance of the fingerprint sensor being relocated to a much more sensible place on the back of the phone — below the now-vertical camera module.
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Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S9?
This is the big question — and as always, it depends. If you're running a Galaxy S6 or S7, and want to move to something new in the Samsung world, the answer is absolutely. If you're rocking a still-new Galaxy S8 or Note 8, the answer is no. While there are substantial differences that clearly make the Galaxy S9 a better phone, the S8 is just a year old at this point, and has most of the Galaxy S9's features thanks to its Android 8.0 Oreo update.
- Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
- Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs. Galaxy Note 8: Which should you buy?
Is the Galaxy S9 better than the competition?
There are so many great phones on the market right now — how do you decide which one to buy? Here are our looks at the new phones compared to some of the best devices on the market.
The Galaxy S9 is the smaller of the flagships, and here's how it compares to some of the other major phones on the market.
- Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. iPhone X: The best of metal and glass
- Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Which should you buy?
- Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Honor View 10
And how about the larger Galaxy S9+?
- LG G7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S9+: Which should you buy?
- Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs. Google Pixel 2 XL: The true flagships
- OnePlus 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy S9+: Which should you buy?
Should you buy the Galaxy S9 or larger S9+?
OK, so you've made up your mind to buy the Galaxy S9 — but wait, should you get the S9 or the larger S9+?
Unlike last year, the Galaxy S9+ feels like more of the "default" choice of the two. It has extra RAM and a secondary rear camera in addition to its overall larger screen and bigger battery — yet the price delta between the two hasn't changed. If you can handle the size difference and would like the extra battery life, go for the Galaxy S9+.
What colors are available?
Like last year, there are multiple colors of the Galaxy S9 series to purchase: Midnight Black, Lilac Purple, Coral Blue and Titanium Gray. U.S. buyers only get access to three of the four — silver is only available internationally — and both blue and purple are slight updates over last year.
A few months after the S9's release, Samsung introduced two new colors in the form of Sunrise Gold and Burgundy Red.
Burgundy Red and Sunrise Gold are available around the world, and we took a look at the latter and it's beautiful!
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You can get as much as 256GB of internal storage
No matter where you decide to buy the Galaxy S9, 64GB is the default storage space that's available with the phone. 64GB should be more than enough for most people, but if you want, you can always expand it with a microSD card.
However, if you're someone who has a lot of local files and goes through GB like nothing, you may want to consider upgrading to a 128GB or even a 256GB model.
These larger configurations are sold exclusively on Samsung's website and you'll spend an extra $50 per each storage upgrade.
Where can I get the best deal on a Galaxy S9?
The Galaxy S9 is now available worldwide, both from carriers and also unlocked.
In the U.S., the Galaxy S9 costs between $720 and $800, while the Galaxy S9+ goes for between $870 and $915. For all the details, take a look at our roundup of the best Galaxy S9 deals.
Getting started with the Galaxy S9
Once you pick up your new phone, there are a few things you should do immediately. Here's how to make your GS9 experience great!
- The first 9 things to do with your Galaxy S9
- The first 5 things to turn off in the Galaxy S9's software
What's this about bad battery life with the Exynos processor?
Samsung has regularly used both its own processors and Qualcomm's latest chips in different markets, and it's regularly been a point of discussion between enthusiasts as to which one is "better" overall.
In the Galaxy S9 and S9+, there's a clear differentiation in that the Exynos versions of the phone have been getting much shorter battery life. To make things worse, the Qualcomm models are also outperforming Exynos in many synthetic benchmark tests.
So what can you do? Well, not much — Samsung doesn't sell both versions of the phones in the same markets, so you can't exactly cross-shop the two processors. The hope is that Samsung could update the firmware on the Exynos models to improve processor efficiency a bit.
Help me get started with accessories!
Once you have your Galaxy S9 or S9+, you'll want to look into accessories like cases and screen protectors that make the phone even better. We've rounded up our favorites for you.
- The best Galaxy S9 accessories
- The best cases for the Galaxy S9
- Four Great Quick Chargers for Galaxy S9
- Spigen Rigged Armor case for Galaxy S9+ review: Low cost, rugged protection
- Maxboost mSnap case for Galaxy S9 review: The only case you need
Having battery life problems?
The Galaxy S9 isn't perfect —obviously, no phone is — but if you're experiencing battery life problems, we have a guide on how to fix that.
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