Samsung Galaxy s8 vs s9: The Galaxy S9 has arrived, and the general consensus is that Samsung has made no changes. But don’t take my word for it.
The truth is that Samsung has made a lot of smart changes and updates that are well worth your time. The main concern is whether they are sufficient.
Refinements to Design & Display are Required
Few would argue that the Galaxy S8 was one of the most appealing smartphones of 2017, but it had a number of ergonomic and structural flaws that Samsung has rectified with the Galaxy S9.
The shift in thickness and weight gives the hint:
• Galaxy S8 – 5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31-inch, 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm, 155g (5.36oz)
• Samsung Galaxy S9 measures 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm (5.81 x 2.70 x 0.33 inch) and weighs 163 grammes (5.75 oz)
Yes, the Galaxy S9 has improved both of these metrics. The extra weight is due to significant improvements in durability, including firmer aluminium in the chassis, 20% better drop protection, and thicker display glass.
Samsung continues to defy convention by keeping favourite features like the headphone port and microSD expandable storage (now compatible with 400GB cards).
The Galaxy S9, on the other hand, is somewhat shorter than the Galaxy S8 due to its reduced top and bottom bezels.
Due to the iPhone X’s divisive notch, the Galaxy S9 has a higher screen-to-body ratio than the iPhone X.
Elsewhere Samsung has corrected any obvious typos or omissions. The Galaxy S8’s stupidly placed rear fingerprint reader has been moved to the centre of the phone.
Beneath the camera (like every other rear-mounted phone), and an amplified earpiece means it now has dual stereo speakers, with Dolby Atmos support.
Lilac Purple, which joins Midnight Black, Coral Blue, and (in some locations) Titanium Gray as new launch colours, is also available. In the future months, this list should grow much more.
These aren’t life-changing changes, but they are practical. The Galaxy S9 corrects the flaws of the Galaxy S8, while maintaining the features that set it apart from Apple’s iPhone X and Google’s Pixel 2.
The Best Display Money Can Buy
Samsung sets a new standard every year, and this year is no exception.
The Galaxy S9 display is “almost indistinguishable from perfect,” according to expert reviewer DisplayMate.
While the display size (5.8 inches) and resolution (1440p by default) remain same, there is a 20% increase in brightness, class-leading colour accuracy, and the lowest mobile screen reflectance ever recorded.
Samsung also boasts the most consistent OLED display on a phone, with minimal colour change at 30 degrees.
These achievements, in my opinion, are not the most important features of the Galaxy S9 for the ordinary customer, simply because Samsung displays have been so fantastic for so long that customer dissatisfaction has long passed.
Instead, Samsung’s success is more about marketing, as the iPhone X momentarily took the top display spot. Yes, Samsung also built the display for Apple.
A Dual And Singular Story About Cameras
This is the Galaxy S9’s most significant update, as well as the source of the most debate.
A potentially game-changing ‘dual aperture’ 12 megapixel rear camera that can switch between F2.4 (for more detail in well-lit images) and F1.5 (for more detail in low-light shots) is included in the upgrade (for low light).
As standard, switching between these modes will be automatic, but ambitious photographers will have manual control over both in the Pro mode. You can learn more about the distinctions between them here.
When capturing video at 720p, there is also a 960fps ‘Super Slo-Mo’ mode. While Apple’s latest iPhones and Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium can equal this.
Samsung adds a sophisticated auto-detect technology that starts the slow-mo only when an object passes through the particular spot you pre-select on the display. Smart.
Meanwhile, the uproar stems from Samsung’s decision to handle the Galaxy S9 differently than the Galaxy S9 Plus for the first time.
The Galaxy S9 Plus receives a second telephoto 12 megapixel rear camera, and the Galaxy S9 loses 2x optical zoom and Portrait Mode as a result of losing out.
The latter is a popular feature on the iPhone X and Pixel 2, and Google’s phone even does it with just one rear camera.
The front-facing camera on the Galaxy S9 also appears to have remained unchanged.
It’s still 8 megapixels with the same F1.7 aperture as the Galaxy S8, which was already behind the Pixel 2 in selfies (which can manage Portrait Mode there as well).
I’ve reached out to Samsung for more information.
Biometrics have been improved.
Whether you like or dislike Face ID, the iPhone X has forced Android handset manufactures to compete. And ‘Intelligent Scan’ is the Galaxy S9’s answer to Apple’s Face ID.
It works by automatically switching between facial recognition and iris scanning to improve speed and accuracy (the latter works in darkness).
Personally, I doubt Intelligent Scan will be able to defeat Face ID in a head-to-head comparison (the Galaxy S9 lacks key Face ID components like the infrared dot projector), but it should be a significant improvement over the inconsistent Galaxy S8.
Samsung, on the other hand, has preserved and repositioned the aforementioned fingerprint sensor, and fingerprint unlock is arguably more handy at times.
That, like so much about the Galaxy S9 (headphone jack, microSD), is a triumph for versatility and choice.
The debut of ‘AR Emoji,’ Samsung’s counterpart to ‘Animoji’ on the iPhone X, is the company’s other major Apple catch-up/Galaxy S8 improvement.
The main selling points are that AR Emoji operate with third-party apps (Animoji are, obviously, limited to iMessage) and that you can use them to build an avatar of yourself.
AR Emoji, in my opinion, are less polished than Animoji, although I expect software updates to be frequent.
It’s unclear whether they’ll be available on the Galaxy S8, but for many, they won’t be a big deal.
Splits Cause Issues in Performance
Samsung will offer the Galaxy S9 in two different configurations, depending on where you live:
• Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core chipset (4x 2.7 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver CPUs), Adreno 630 GPU, Galaxy S9 (US)
• Exynos 9810 (4x 2.8 GHz Mongoose M3 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A55 CPUs), Mali-G72 MP18 GPU (Europe and Asia)
This should ring a bell:
• Samsung Galaxy S8 (US) – Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor (4x 2.35GHz and 4x 1.9GHz Kryo CPUs), Adreno 540 GPU; 4GB RAM
• Exynos 8895 (4x 2.3 GHz & 4x 1.7 GHz CPUs), ARM Mali-G71 MP20 GPU; 4GB of RAM (Europe and Asia)
Overall, the Galaxy S9 will provide a 20 percent performance jump and a 30 percent efficiency rise (which has a knock-on for battery life – more later).
Although the Exynos version appears to be superior, Samsung’s infamous bloatware (more on that later) is more likely to have a larger role in overall performance.
It’s also worth mentioning that, like the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy S9 has 4GB of RAM, but the Galaxy S9 Plus will feature 6GB.
This is mostly for the Plus model’s twin camera system, though it also helps with multitasking, so it’s sad that Samsung hasn’t given both new models the same boost.
The Galaxy S9 improves its cellular performance over the Galaxy S8, which is less newsworthy but worth noting.
The improvements are somewhat theoretical (1200 Mbps downloads, 200 Mbps uploads vs. 1024/150 Mbps in the Galaxy S8), but they obviously future-proof the phone.
Other than that, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 remain the same.
Samsung’s Achilles Heel is still software.
Software has historically been Samsung’s Achilles Heel, and the Galaxy S9 is no exception.
The new phone will come with Android 8.0, which is five months old, even though Android 8.1 is only three months old.
For the record, the Galaxy S8 is just getting Android 8.0 at the moment.
As a result, the differences between the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S8 are modest.
The Galaxy S9 offers a new ‘app pairing’ option that allows you to save combinations of split-screen apps to a home screen shortcut.
Additionally, the camera will add real-time text translation (through Google Translate) and purchasing information for products you capture (like Google Lens).
As useful as these are, I expect they’ll all make their way to the Galaxy S8 at some point.
Apart from that, the Galaxy S9’s Android customization (dubbed “Samsung Experience”) will include the usual bloatware: two app stores, two calculators, two web browsers, two mobile payment services, two clocks, and so on.
This is the price you pay when you buy a Samsung phone, so there’s no point in whining.
Virtual Stagnation in Battery Life
The Galaxy S9, like the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8, comes with a 3000 mAh battery.
Samsung has been able to eke out fractionally greater battery life thanks to processor efficiencies in previous years, and this has happened again (the Galaxy S9, for example, has longer music playback), but don’t anticipate any significant advances.
The quality of Samsung’s batteries, on the other hand, continues to be a strength. Samsung’s batteries, unlike those of one brand in particular, last a long time.
Samsung promises 95 percent battery capacity retention after two years with its ‘8 Point Quality Check’ (added after the Galaxy Note 7 incident).
Apple, on the other hand, anticipates a 20% reduction in battery capacity year over year.
However, if you own a Galaxy S8, you already have these advantages.
The basic charging options of the Galaxy S9 are also available to Galaxy S8 owners: fast wired charging (charger supplied, of course) and fast 15W wireless charging.
The industry’s fastest wired charging, Dash Charge, is still employed by OnePlus, but Samsung’s versatility is the primary selling point once again.
Global Price and Storage Differences
While Samsung raised prices in most places, it tried to lower them in the United States until many carriers became greedy. Despite this, as compared to the Galaxy S8 when it first arrived, buying direct (and unlocked) from Samsung remains appealing:
• Samsung Galaxy S9 64GB ($720 / €899 / £740)
• $750 / €799 / £689 for the Galaxy S8 64GB
Furthermore, while costing only £21 more than the iPhone 8, the Galaxy S9 is certainly a near match for the $999 iPhone X. Meanwhile, for the first time since the Galaxy S6 in 2015, Samsung will release 128GB and 256GB editions of the Galaxy S9 (price TBC) outside of Korea and India. These are storage monsters when paired with a 400GB microSD card.
On the other hand, the Galaxy S8 is still widely accessible, and I expect the Galaxy S9 to sell for far under $500 when it is released (March 16th).
It’s true that the Galaxy S9 isn’t a huge step forward from the Galaxy S8, but it didn’t have to be.
Samsung has improved its predecessor’s fingerprint sensor placement, added dual speakers, increased durability, added Intelligent Scan facial unlocking.
Reduced bezels even more, improved performance and display, and considerably improved the camera. It has also kept fan favourites like as the microSD card and headphone port.
Since the iPhone 6 released in 2014, this is a more significant update than any other generational move Apple has made to its 4.7-inch iPhone lineup.
The Galaxy S9, on the other hand, is not the update that Galaxy S8 users were hoping for.
This is the model Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S6 owners should buy due to the popularity of two-year contracts.
As a result, the main debate is whether the Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S8 is the better option.
Personally, I believe the Galaxy S9 camera is worthwhile, but a significantly discounted Galaxy S8 definitely offers better value.
With the Galaxy S8, Samsung established its own distinct personality, and the Galaxy S9 improves on it in practically every way.
That may not be enough for Galaxy S8 owners, but Samsung has done an excellent job with the Galaxy S9.