For me, the Galaxy S8 was the best smartphone of 2017, so I looked forward to reviewing its successor. After spending two weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, I feel that the latest and greatest addition to the line-up, will probably rain supreme again this year, despite looking almost exactly the same – designwise – compared to last year’s model of the Plus. Not to say that the design is unappealing, quite the contrary as the metal and glass look feels incredibly premium, easy to hold, and still highly pocketable. It is also still waterproof.
The only two changes can be found at the back of the device, with the first of these being the fact that the fingerprint sensor moved from the side to beneath the rear-facing camera, which makes it much easier to reach than is the case with the S8 (and S8 Plus). The other is more profound in that it goes beyond design and convenience, and that is the camera being dual aperture. The dual aperture that supports F1.5 and F2.4 mode, translating in apparalled low-light image quality on the S9 Plus. In fact, the camera (in F1.5 mode) delivers vibrant photos late into the night.
Besides the practical enhancements brought about by this snapper, it also offers some more gimmicky features that you may use once or twice yourself and another couple of times to impress your friends and these include Super Slow-mo. This functionality works well and is smooth and in addition, you can set the video to music or turn it into a looping GIF, and share it with a tap.
The only downside being that the videos are 720p compared to full HD on the slow mo videos of the Sony Xperia XZ2 and even the midrange XA2 for instance, making them better for playback on your large screen HDTV for example. You can also create an augmented reality version of yourself simply by taking a selfie and then sharing your real-life feelings as emoji stickers and videos. This is fun, but does not work as well as animoji on iPhones due to the lack of depth-sending front-facing camera. You do however, get a very capable 8 MP selfie shooter.
Performance in other areas is also good as the Octa-Core Exynos 9810 keeps things ticking along smoothly and snappily, thanks to being paired with 6 GB of RAM. You can expand the onboard storage via MicroSD to up to 400 GB.
Also onboard is a 3000 mAh battery that will get you through a day of usage, but the Xperia XZ2 for instance made it to a day and a half by comparison. Where the S9 Plus hits back was with its 6.2″ screen 2960 x 1440 (Quad HD+) dual edge Super AMOLED, which is simply the best in the business. It offers unparalleled saturation levels, brightness, detail and viewing angles.
Ultimately, the specs, camera performance, and design – especially the screen as the centrepiece – makes the S9 Plus feel every bit as classy and premium as its R18 000 pricetag would suggests it should feel. If you want the best all-rounder smartphone/phablet, the S9 Plus is just for you.