Dual cameras come to Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus, and that’s enough to divert your gaze away from the regular Galaxy S9
Plus-sized phones tend to occupy a bit of a niche – but Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus threatens to steal the spotlight from the regular S9. That’s because it has dual cameras at the rear, promising truly exceptional photographic capabilities, while the normal S9 continues to make do with one.
And it’s not just about strength in numbers. The camera now has a variable aperture, which widens or narrows depending on the lighting conditions – plus, of course, its innards have seen a slight bump in processing power. These upgrades aside, the S9 Plus doesn’t bring much to the table that you haven’t seen before. But it all adds up to a hell of a phone.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review: UK release date and specifications
- 6.2in 18.5:9 QHD+ (2,960 x 1,440) display
- Octa-core 2.7GHz Exynos 9810 processor
- 4GB of RAM
- 64GB of storage (expandable up to 400GB via microSD)
- 12-megapixel F/1.5 and 12-megapixel F/2.4 telephoto rear cameras
- UK price TBC
- Released on 16 March 2018, pre-orders from 25 February
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review: Design, key features and first impressions
Samsung’s latest generation of smartphones looks a lot like the previous generation. The top and bottom bezels on the front of the S9 Plus handset have been shrunk ever so slightly compared to the S8 Plus, but really there’s nothing new here when it comes to aesthetics.
Don’t get me wrong, though: the S9 Plus is still one seriously impressive smartphone. That dominating, plus-sized display on the front makes a real statement. Measuring 6.2in from rounded corner to rounded corner, its excellent bezel-less design is still a sight to behold and, while the look isn’t as fresh as it was a year ago, my eyes still light up every single time one of these 18:9 beauties is unveiled.
The specs are the same as last year, so again we’re talking about a 6.2in QHD+ (2,960 x 1,440) resolution display. As usual, it benefits from Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology, so expect effectively perfect contrast levels, and near-unrivalled image quality, too.
Much more has changed internally. Inside, UK customers will find Samsung’s own octa-core 2.7GHz Exynos 9810 processor, while those in other territories get Qualcomm’s similarly-appointed Snapdragon 845. There’s also 4GB of RAM for multi-tasking, and 64GB of onboard storage, which is expandable up to 400GB via microSD.
And then there’s the camera. Dual-camera arrangements certainly aren’t new, but this is the first time we’ve seen one on Samsung’s flagship S range. As with the Note 8, one is a wide-angle 12-megapixel f/1.5 camera, while the other has an f/2.4 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom.
The numbers might not sound all that exciting, but that f/1.5 aperture is the widest we’ve ever seen on a smartphone. It’s seriously bright, letting in 28% more light than the S8’s snapper.
And that’s not all that’s clever about it. Just like its regular-sized sibling, the S9 Plus features a two-position aperture that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 depending on the lighting conditions. Samsung says it switches to the wider aperture at about 100 lux, which is roughly the brightness of a cold, grey morning in the capital.
Essentially, this helps ensure that shots in good light aren’t hideously overexposed, while pictures taken in low-light pick up as much detail as possible. You aren’t at the mercy of the automatic controls either: simply switch over to the camera’s Pro mode, and you can switch between the different apertures at will.
On top of that, there’s also a 960fps slow-mo mode, just like with last year’s Xperia XZ Premium. In this mode, the phone’s capable of capturing 0.2 seconds of 720p footage and stretching it out into six seconds of video. After your shot is saved, you can set it as your lock screen, or send it out to your friends in GIFable format.
Lastly, let’s talk about Animoji… er, I mean, AR Emoji. This is Samsung’s stab at making animated emoji a little bit more personal, by allowing you to create your own unique avatar. Simply tap the app and scan your face; it’ll then create a customisable likeness of you, which can capture and mirror your expressions, to be stored or sent to your friends.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review: Early verdict
Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus is a seriously impressive handset – not that that was ever in question, was it? The design, while familiar, is as sumptuous as it ever was, and the upgraded camera breaks new ground for smartphone photography.
The only issue is, perhaps, that these plus-sized smartphones invariably come with price tags to match. The cheaper S9 doesn’t have the dual camera, but it has the same super-wide aperture for excellent low-light performance – so potential buyers might be temped to save £100 or so and opt for the smaller brother.