Samsung Galaxy S9 & S9+ First Impressions: It’s not about the specs

Intro

Samsung Galaxy S9 Malaysia

Last year’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ were launched at a critical time for Samsung as they were just recovering from the Galaxy Note7 fiasco. Samsung wasn’t just trying to win back the trust of their customers, but they also aim to set a new benchmark on what a smartphone could be. The result is a stunning flagship duo with the Infinity Display taking centre stage. Arguably, Samsung was the company that made “Full View” smartphones a trend for 2017.

Fast forward a year later, we have these two, the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9+. At first glance, you might think Samsung is getting complacent by recycling the same design. If improvement means to you a larger screen, more cameras and bigger battery, then you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you look deeper, you’ll find that these two smartphones are very different from its predecessors.

Similar to the previous models, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are still having the same 5.8” and 6.2” Quad HD+ Super AMOLED displays which are still one of the best you can get on a smartphone. The forehead and chin aren’t going to change anytime soon as it has become an identity associated with Samsung’s flagship series. Both models still feel just right in the hands and like the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

However, if you take a closer look, the bottom chin is thinner than the S8 and S8+ but only slightly. Another nice touch is that Samsung has made the front glass panel slightly darker for a cleaner look when the phone is in sleep mode. Looking at the upcoming smartphones, I’m glad that Samsung isn’t succumbing to the notch design.

What I do like about the new Galaxy S9 and S9+ are its new colour options. The classic Midnight Black remains unchanged with a solid black exterior throughout but Coral Blue and Titanium Silver look nothing like its previous model. They are still a fingerprint magnet, but the colours look different when viewed from different angles. The prettiest of the lot is Lilac Purple which can sometimes appear to be reddish maroon when it’s held at a certain angle.

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Over at the rear, the difference is more noticeable as Samsung has repositioned the fingerprint sensor which now sits below the camera module. There’s also a frame around the camera and fingerprint sensor which makes it easier to locate.

Another nice addition to the display is proper support for landscape mode like Apple’s iPhone Plus models. This is useful while watching videos or when the device is mounted on a tripod or a stabiliser gimbal. This means you can view your apps and home screen without the need of rotating the phone to portrait.

The wide 18.5:9 screen is great for watching videos and Samsung has finally included stereo speakers, which is something I believe every smartphone should have. The speakers aren’t front facing and it uses the earpiece and bottom firing loudspeaker combo that is tuned by AKG. There’s also the option to enable Dolby Atmos virtual surround sound. In my short usage, it does sound louder than a single speaker on the Galaxy S8 and Note8. We’ll definitely do a more in-depth audio comparison in our full review.

Alexander Wong