I had a pleasure playing and reviewing the Galaxy A8 about a month ago. But for the last 4 weeks, I had my hands on the Samsung Galaxy S9 for a similar (but better) review. And here is my honest review on the Galaxy S9.
As I said earlier, I was testing the Galaxy A8 about a month ago. I felt that the A8 was slim and nice to hold (and operate) with one hand. But then I held the Galaxy S9 in my hand, it felt even more slimmer and comfortable.
The design is very much similar to last year’s Galaxy S8, including the size and feel. I think they’ve only changed the hardware for better performance, but maintaining the ergonomic design. Yes, it is nice, beautiful and power packed. I immediately fell in love with the S9.
What’s In The Box
The box is pretty much standard.
At the back of the box, you can find the basic specifications of the phone plus some of the extra features that comes with it such as the earphones are tuned by AKG and it is secured by Knox. It does support wireless charging but I don’t have any wireless charging pad to try it with.
In the box you can find most of the basic stuffs (other than the phone itself). You have the fast charging adapter, earphones (tuned by AKG), USB to Micro USB connector (for USB OTG) and a Micro USB to USB type-C connector.
The nano SIM and MicroSD slot is located at the top of the phone. So put your SIM and MicroSD card in there and you’re good to go.
Design and Features
When it comes to phone designs, I will be very particular about where certain buttons or features are located. If the camera module is located in the center, the fingerprint scanner should also be in the center, maybe below the camera.
I kinda have that type of OCD. Everything have to be in perfect alignment. And it is a good thing that the Galaxy S9 is well proportionately designed symmetrical phone. Well, almost.
The upper and lower “lip” is evenly distributed with the round edged screen in the middle. The sides curved down towards the edge, thus having it called the “infinity display”. Screen is beautiful. Phone is gorgeous. Everything goes where it supposed to.
The lonely power button is located on the right side of the phone. While on the left side, you can find the volume rocker and the Bixby button below it. The Bixby button function as a quick Bixby launch on the main screen.
At the top of the Galaxy S9 is the nano SIM and MicroSD card slot on one end and a microphone hole on the other end. At the bottom of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone jack (thank you Samsung for not omitting this), USD type-C port, another tiny microphone hole and the phones’ loud speaker.
The 12-megapixel camera module is located at the back center. Now I don’t mind that the LED flash being on the right side of the camera because it looks “okay” there. And the fingerprint sensor is below the camera, which is a better location than the S8.
For all I know, the Galaxy S9 is a well designed phone suitable for anyone who loves a good looking phone.
Specifications and Performance
Now any tech and phone geeks would love to know about this. We (tech geeks) will always look at the specifications in order to know what the device is capable of. One thing for sure, I know that the Galaxy S9 will be able to handle whatever I throw at it.
Let’s have a look at the specifications first.
|Samsung Galaxy S9|
|OS||Android 8.0 Oreo, Samsung Experience 9.0|
|Display||5.8-inch AMOLED, 2960 x 1440 (18.5:9)|
|Processor||Exynos 9810 Octa 10nm 64-bit|
|Expandable||microSD up to 400GB|
|Primary rear camera||12MP Super Speed Dual Pixel, OIS, f/1.5 or f/2.4|
|Secondary rear camera||n/a|
|Front camera||8MP, f/1.7, auto focus|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO, 1.2Gbps (Cat-18) LTE, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos, 3.5mm headphone|
|Charging||USB-C, Fast Wireless Charging|
|Security||Fingerprint sensor, Iris scanning, Face unlock|
|Dimensions||147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm, 163 g|
|Colors||Midnight Black, Lilac Purple, Coral Blue, Slate Grey|
Android Oreo 8.0 on the Galaxy S9 works really well. Everything is very smooth and seamless. Samsung have removed most of their bloatwares that you can find in the previous Samsung series. The bloatwares were the reason why I dislike the brand for the longest time. But after the release of Galaxy S8 last year, Samsung managed to get rid as many bloatwares as they are able to.
Also, now we are able to remove any unwanted native apps on the phone. Some of those native apps are the bloatwares. But they don’t seems to take up as much system resources as they used to. So having them around doesn’t bring any problems. You can also opt to install a native app if you wish to. That’s entirely up to you.
The Galaxy S9 is powered by Exynos 9810 Octa core chipset (2.7 GHz, Quad core, M2 Mongoose + 1.7 GHz, Quad core, Cortex A53) and Mali-G72 MP18 GPU together with 4GB of RAM. That also translated to a powerful beast ready to be unleashed.
On the Antutu test that I did, the Galaxy S9 unit that I have scored 244,896 which is in my opinion, a very good score. Why I say it’s good? An average Antutu benchmark score by an iPhoneX is 226,000 and that is according to an online statistics that I saw recently.
So I can easily say that the performance by the Galaxy S9 is way better than that particular rival.
The 3D graphics and rendering is smooth. I usually will see a stutter in the 3D video benchmark but I don’t see it on the Galaxy S9. From the moment it started, I knew this phone will have a high score on Antutu. And I was right.
Gaming on the Galaxy S9 is also a breeze, especially when it comes to graphic demanding games such as the on that I particularly hooked on at the moment – PUBG.
Players Unknown BattleGround (or PUBG) is the rising star for mobile gaming. It is a first person shooter (FPS) type of game, which I happen to love. And the gameplay is battle royale, meaning you have to be the last one standing.
The graphic demand for this game is high. Although you can set the graphics usage to “low” for your gameplay, but where’s the fun in that? With the Galaxy S9, I can set the graphic to “high” with all the details available.
So playing a game, any game, on the Galaxy S9 will be fun. That is guaranteed. With high graphic details, I can see an enemy from afar. Heh, and shooting from far is a lot of fun too. So yes, you won’t be disappointed with the Galaxy S9 when it comes to performance.
Playing games, you need good quality sound too right? Did you notice in the above specifications it says that the Galaxy S9 supports Dolby Atmos? Well, it does.
Looking at the phone, you will only see one (1) loudspeaker, which is at the bottom of the phone. But did you know that the earpiece at the top of the phone next to the front facing camera doubles as a loudspeaker too?
So while you’re playing games or listening to music or watching a movie on the S9, both speakers are working in unison. Boom, now you have a stereo speaker powered by Dolby Atmos. No kidding.
The sound quality from the S9 is impressive. In PUBG gaming, I can actually hear footsteps (of an enemy) moving from left to right and back. I can easily know where to enemy is coming from just by listening. That’s so cool.
So, stereo speakers on S9, check! And I love it.
User Interface and Samsung Experience 9.0
As I mentioned earlier, the Android Oreo 8.0 works wonderfully on the S9. The OS is very responsive, stable and easy to use. First time users will find that they are able to master the phone within only a few hours.
Here’s how it looks like…
Home screen is kept as minimum as possible. Everything you need is available in the app drawer which you can reveal by swiping upwards anywhere on the home screen. Folders are well organised and kept simple. Which the multi-tasking apps can be browsed at one glance.
Swiping left from the right edge of the home screen will reveal the edge panel. The edge panel is a short cut for your most used apps that you can open anytime and from anywhere, not necessarily from the home screen only. You can also install and remove the edge apps to your liking.
The call app is something familiar because it doesn’t look that much different from other phones. While the settings panel is very neat and tidy, making is easy for you to tune your phone.
Apart from the standard Google Play Store, Samsung has their very own Galaxy Apps. Most of the apps here are also available in the Play Store but there are some apps here available exclusively for Samsung Galaxy series. Here you can decide whether you want to add that extra bloatware or not.
The S9 also comes with its’ very own Device Maintenance app. I usually would use a third party “cleaner” such as Clean Master but with the S9, I don’t have to. It works wonderfully, if not, better.
Battery usage after a full charge can last me a whole day and a half. That’s about 36 hours in total before it hits below 10%. So you can leave your powerbank at home if you use an S9.
Beautiful user interface like the Samsung Experience 9.0 coupled with a gorgeous looking phone really made me feel good overall. I just keep wanting to use the phone all the time. Darn.
Camera and Underwater Goodness
Now comes the best part. Buying a smartphone is also like buying a good camera. And a good phone with a good camera is a winner. No doubt that I love the camera on the Galaxy S9. Here’s why…
We often try and take a photo quickly before we missed it. With the S9, I don’t usually miss. Double press the power button will launch the camera immediately and you’re ready to snap a picture. Everything is snappy that way. Pun intended.
The autofocus works well and fast. So getting a blurred image is very unlikely (other than bokeh), except if an F1 car sped by you at high speed of course. That will be blurred.
So how does the camera performs? I’ll just show some sample photos that I took with the S9 and you’ll be the judge yourself, ok?
Now this is something interesting. Below is a photo that I shot from outside my window. On the left is basically what I shot but the photo on the right is what I can see when I zoomed in. Click on the picture to enlarge.
I can see my cat! She’s sitting on the wall at the other side of the road. Even when I zoomed in, the details in the photo is still clear. Image is not distorted or whatsoever. Maybe a little “noise” but those are forgivable.
The Galaxy S9 also has a “food mode” in its’ camera app. For those who love posting food photos on Instagram, should give this one a go. Turning the food mode on will enhance the colour and focus. You will see a bokeh created around the focus area to give some sort of depth. And the focus area image will be sharper too.
Here are some samples, first photo is off and second photo is on.
So the camera on the Galaxy S9 is, in my opinion, great. I love how it has tons of functions that came along with the camera app. I don’t get much blurry photos with the S9. Colours are natural and not washed out in bright daylight. Night or low light shots are good with no obvious noise. Images are sharp and the bokeh is so lovely.
As for the food mode, I seldom use it unless I have good and bright lighting. It tends to be over saturated while using food mode in low light places.
Last but not least, the Galaxy S9 is so much fun to use while being outdoors especially if you like water sports. Bringing this phone to Sunway Lagoon will be a whole lot of fun, that I can assure you.
Just one thing that is probably a bug is that the touch screen is too sensitive. Why I said this is because the display tends to move like you’re swiping left and right with your fingers while being underwater. It’s like the water is doing all the swiping, not your fingers. That’s all.
More photos in the photo gallery at the end of this review.
Wait, what about the video?
Ah yes, the video is something you will love. I won’t show the normal full HD video because that’s not as fun as shooting in Galaxy S9’s slo-mo function.
The Galaxy S9 can shoot at an incredible 960 frames per second (FPS) while in slo-mo mode. I know other phones already have this function but does it perform as good as the S9?
Watch my sample slo-mo video below and tell me what you think.
That’s a cool slo-mo video eh? I don’t have a good video editing software so I make do with whatever I have to edit my videos.
If you have anything to comment about my review, please do so at the end of this blog post.
What I think of the Galaxy S9? It’s one heck of a phone.
The performance is great. Playing games on it is absolute fun. The Dolby Atmos stereo speakers sounds good and loud. Listening to music with the stereo speakers sounds natural and acoustic. I don’t mind using the S9 as my entertainment phone, just for that purpose.
But then I won’t be using it as an entertainment phone. I will also use it as my camera because of the awesome features that comes with it. There are so much more that I can say about the S9 but that will make this a very long article. So to keep it short and straight to the point, I will say that I love the S9.
Currently I am reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S9+ as well. Be sure to check back to this website for my Galaxy S9+ review. We shall see how the dual camera S9+ goes in my next review.
You can view the other photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy S9 in the gallery below.