I get excited about phone launches. You know, the live blogging, new features, innovations all that craic. Needless to say, Samsung’s 2018 Unpacked event got the full treatment with me sitting there, watching the live stream and taking in everything the company’s speakers had to say. Come the end of the launch, I was begging Samsung to have a Steve Jobs-style “one more thing” moment, introducing a feature that knocked my socks off – but would it come?

Meet The Samsung Galaxy S9

In the build-up to Samsung’s 2018 Unpacked event at Mobile World Congress, there had been countless leaks. I’m pretty sure the only thing I learned from the launch that wasn’t leaked was a partnership with Disney. Still, let’s just run through what was confirmed.

The Camera “Reimagined”

I was a bit harsh on the leaks about Samsung’s S9 camera prior to launch. I predicted that the core message of a “camera reimagined” combined with upgrades primarily driven by software would be underwhelming. My apologies; I was wrong. Samsung’s S9 camera does actually have a hardware upgrade, boasting a dual-aperture lens to capture better shots in bright and low light. I do, however, stand by what I said about that being underwhelming.

It’s a damn shame that Samsung is keeping the dual-lens camera for the S9+. I’ve been enjoying their Live Focus on my Note8 since launch day and it is incredible. Pity Samsung S9 owners will never get to enjoy it.

Slow Motion Capture

Now I will concede the S9’s slow-motion capture is pretty cool. I remember being blown away by Sony’s take on this over the years and now Samsung are really upping the game. The Galaxy S9 can take a 0.2 second moment (that’s about a blink) and create a 6-second video.

While it’s cool, I still wonder how many people will be rocking slow-motion videos. Like, just how useful is this? It’s cool, sure, but slow-motion is probably only useful if you want to get some Jackass-style nut shots or jumping cat videos.

A Fingerprint Scanner Where It Nearly Makes Sense

I’m not entirely sure what Samsung was thinking when it came to fingerprint scanner placement lately. Everyone knows that most manufacturers are putting these centred on the back of the phone, but Samsung went a bit mad placing them to the right of the camera.

Finally, they’ve placed it where it belongs, centred below the rear camera. In a perfect world, everyone would follow Sony’s lead and integrate the fingerprint scanner into a side power button, but no one is perfect.

AR EmojiĀ 

This is where I kind of lost faith in humanity. I’ll admit I’m gathering years. I’m turning thirty this year and while I know that’s not really that old, I don’t really get things like Snapchat. Sure, it’s cool that I can creep on my area through Snap Maps, but other than that I don’t get Snapchat.

I cannot believe that both Samsung and Apple think translating human emotion into a digital avatar is ground-breaking.

Again, don’t get me wrong; it’s bloody cool, but it does feel like they’re scraping the barrel for innovations when these get a hefty share of a keynote launch.

And bucking the usual trends, people seem to agree with me:

Regardless, the launch of AR Emoji went really well for Samsung. The speakers got their avatars set up seamlessly and they do look pretty cool.

Samsung’s Sounds

The new flagships will have dual front-facing speakers, with the top speaker doubling up as an ear-piece. Dual-facing speakers are amazing. I don’t understand by more manufacturers don’t big this up given HTC nailed it a few years ago. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ speakers are tuned by AKG and boosted by Dolby ATMOS. While some don’t like the fake equalisation, you can be sure that for most users, the new Samsungs will simply pack an incredible audio punch.

Oh, it’s important to point this out these days; both phones will have a headphone jack.

And Meet the Samsung Galaxy S9+

Simply put; if you’re going to upgrade to this generation of Samsung flagships, you really need to give the Galaxy S9+ serious consideration. With the “camera reimagined” as a core launch message, the S9+ is the only phone from the pair that comes close to delivering. Even so, the big win for the S9+’s camera is the dual-lens which Samsung first featured on the Note8. I have this and I love it.

Beyond that, there’s not much more to set the S9+ apart from the S9. Of course, the S9+ has a bigger screen measuring 6.2-inches versus the S9’s 5.8-inches. You’ll also get a bigger battery on the S9+ with 3500 mAh versus the S9’s 3000 mAh, but of course, the bigger screen needs more juice.

Samsung Galaxy S9 European Price

Rather surprisingly, Samsung didn’t take their opportunity on stage at Mobile World Congress to share pricing on either the S9 or S9+. Pricing was leaked a few days ago, but it was very awkward pricing.

We’ll let you know as soon as it’s confirmed though.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Launch Date

While pricing remains an unconfirmed mystery, 16 March as confirmed as a launch date. Yup, you’ll be able to have your phone a whole day before you lose it down some toilet on St. Patrick’s Day.

Should You Buy the Samsung Galaxy S9?

Probably not.

Samsung is targeting two different groups with the Galaxy S9:

  1. Owners of much older smartphones
  2. Enterprise contracts (business phones)

Samsung’s focus on Enterprise really suggests they don’t believe there’s massive consumer hunger for the Galaxy S9. Sure enough, if you’ve got yourself something like an S6 or S7, it’ll be tempting to upgrade to either the S9 or S9+. I upgraded from the S7 Edge to the Note8 and I’ll be honest, it was a great upgrade. Many believe I should have gone for the Galaxy S8, but then I wouldn’t have the gorgeous dual-lens setup and Live Focus.

So what should you do?

Well, if the camera is a big deal for you and you’re rocking a single lens right now, give either the Note8 or Galaxy S9+ some serious thought. If smartphone photography isn’t a massive deal for you either the Galaxy S8 or S8+ is going to pack plenty of bang for your buck while looking exactly like the S9. Remember, it’s not like these cameras are complete muck either.

Should you consider Apple?

If you haven’t moved to Apple already, there’s still no real reason to. The iPhone X for all its noise is coughing and spluttering in terms of adoption and its features are all a little meh. There’s still pretty much nothing you can do with an iPhone that the new Samsung’s can’t do. Actually, you could probably go as far back as the S7 Edge if you really wanted to.

Then again, the iPhone 8 Plus does indeed have that lovely dual lens set up, so give it some thought for a second then buy yourself a Note8.



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