Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Review: The Galaxy Refined, Not Reimagined

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This is the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, Samsung’s latest flagship device packaged to suit everyone. Whether you’re a gamer, photographer, business professional, it has something to offer, however, it still comes with its own flaws; let’s check it out.

When it comes to design, Samsung already nailed it and why fix it when it ain’t broke? With the S9 plus comes subtle changes with an Infinity edge display that hides the sensors better and slightly thinner bezels. It’s still Water and dust resistant, there’s a USB C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, HR monitor and Blood pressure sensor on the back with a fingerprint sensor that’s been moved for better usability. If the 6.2 inch 2960 x 1440 Super AMOLED display isn’t for you, you can opt for the standard and smaller S9. The screen is vibrant and bright, again one of the best if not the best there is when it comes to the display quality. One thing most people probably don’t mention in their reviews is the led notification which i find super useful in discrete situations.

If I have anything bad to say about the S9 Plus’s design, ti would be that after 3 weeks I started getting hairpin, micro scratches and it’s a fingerprint magnet, you can get a dbrand skin for that and perhaps also get a case as it will smash easily.

Under the hood, there’s the latest Snapdragon 845 processor or the Exynos 9810 if in the UK, 6GB RAM, 64GB Storage, 3,500mah battery and Android 8.0.0 with Samsung’s flavor on top.

Samsung’s software is not as bloated as it used to be with some functional feature like swiping down on the home screen to bring down the notification tray, apps edge, loading two apps at the same time, Bixby, and you can even swipe down the notification tray using the fingerprint sensor too. Bixby also sees some welcomed improvement like language translation on the fly, recognising items for shopping with Bixby vision and while not everyone likes Bixby assistant, I think it’s great how embedded it is enough to use it instead of your hands if you have the patience at times.

For security, you not only get a fingerprint sensor, you also get Intelligent scan which is a combination of Iris scanner and face id unlock. Intelligent scan works really well but can be slower than the iPhone or standard Face unlock on the OnePlus.

For media consumption, the top earpiece is now also a speaker to simulate a stereo speaker setup and I have to say it’s definitely louder and there’s aptx for Bluetooth audio. For such a vibrant and large edge-to-edge display, it’s perfect for watching movies and if you like to game, the processor, memory and GPU combo offer a lag-free experience.

With a 12MP camera, a second lens for 2x optical zoom and live focus, a variable mechanical aperture that can go from F1.5 in lowlight below 100 lux to F2.4, it’s great not only on paper but also in use.

With a large F1.5 aperture you can achieve nice blurry background in your pictures especially in Pro mode and prevent less grainy shots in low light.

One thing I’ve noticed when taking photos is that despite Samsung’s saturated SuperAmoled screen, it’s very close and accurate when I transfer to my laptop for post editing. In Pro mode, you can also save RAW files. The S9 Plus can shoot up to 4K at 60FPS although you lose video stabilisation.

With a large F1.5 aperture its crushes lowlight photography and I would put it on par with the Pixel 2, I’ll also compare it to the new Huawei P20 Pro when it lands on my desk. In the usual lighting conditions, images are vibrant, colours are accurate, there’s no over-sharpening or over processing and I can’t complain there at all.

Elsewhere you can shoot 960FPS videos at 720P and although less than that of the Xperia XZ2, you can still have some fun with dramatic shots, you can follow on Instagram if you want to see some we took. And follow to see all the shots I’ve taken so far.

The S9 Plus battery is a large 3,500 mah battery and with an optimised processor and software, it lasts me the whole day, however, i find that i have to use medium power saving mode to allow my phone to last all day. That’s my usual social media, emails, videos, gaming activity. Samsung does allow for fast charging via cable and wirelessly too so you can keep it topped up, but I hope the next iteration we get something the level of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

Do I recommend the S9 Plus? For sure, however, if you have the S8 or S8 Plus or the Note 8, I would wait as there isn’t a lot of reasons to upgrade from those devices.

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Camera Kit:
Sony A7S II
Metatabone adaptor for Canon lenses
Samsung Portable SSD T5 1TB

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