Sincerely from an ex-Samsung user.
Samsung’s latest pair of iPhone’s rivals; the Galaxy S9 and S9+, hit Malaysian stores on 16th March. With the tagline of ‘The Camera. Reimagined’, the phones take Super Slow-Mo shots at 960 frames per second (fps) and in low-lighting conditions—thanks to its dual aperture lens which allows more light to the sensor, brightening up shots and capturing more detail. Other than that, not wanting to be left behind—though already quite late to the party—the latest Samsung series introduces Augmented Reality (AR) Emoji which allows you, the user, to create and customize an animated version of yourself.
But it’s not just about what’s new. There are plenty of more subtle features that have existed on Samsung phones for years that may be worth paying attention to. After spending a week using the Galaxy S9, it is time for me to put in my two cents here about the latest flagship.
Before anything, a quick DISCLAIMER—I am by no means an IT expert. I was once a Samsung devotee for almost 4 years before switching to Apple’s iPhone 5 months ago. That being said, here are a few things you should know before spending your cash on the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+.
The Super Slow-Mo
After all, this is arguably the most highlighted feature of the Samsung S9/S9+. Just by watching the commercial video you could get all hyped up and want to get the phone right away. It’s true, the Super Slow-Mo shots taken with the S9/S9+ are undeniably exceptional but that is only if you know how to use it. You see, Samsung is well-known for its sophisticated User Interface (UI) and taking a perfect Super Slow-Mo shot could be a pain in the ass if you do it wrong.
To get that perfect shot worthy of your Instagram, you have to make sure your hands are steady, ready on the trigger and the lighting is at its best. You can set the S9 to automatically sense movement, but this only works in bright light with the phone almost motionless – don’t expect this to work well in your ordinary human hands.
Another new feature but unfortunately, too much of a gimmick. It is a clear response to iPhone X’s Animoji, except that it feels like a watered-down version of the competition.
It’s pretty simple to create an AR Emoji, though. You just smile at the front-facing camera and the S9 will create a basic avatar of you. After that, you have the option to change your avatar’s hair and choose an outfit you think that represents you. However, I’ve found that I needed to create my avatar a few times, as there were occasional glitches like misshapen faces and weird eyes while my colleague ‘suffered’ from a missing upper lip. And let’s be honest here, the avatar created doesn’t always turn out to look like us, and that could spoil the fun of having the AR Emoji feature on your phone.
Stereo Speakers with Dolby ATMOS
A big complaint levelled at Samsung phones in previous years has been their poor speakers. The down-firing mono speaker that sat along the bottom edge of the Galaxy S8 (and other models as well) was awful. After countless suggestions done by many tech reviews—including some famous tech Youtubers, Samsung finally listened and gave us an improved speaker setup. The speaker at the bottom remains, but there’s now one at the top too, offering an immersive experience when you’re watching videos or playing a game.
The S9/S9+ boast surround sound speakers with a “theatre-like audio experience” as the audio is tuned with AKG to create a sound that is 1.4 times more powerful than previous Galaxy phones. In addition, the stereo speakers come with Dolby Atmos—a technology that is normally employed in a room with supported speakers positioned above you, giving you a sense of space from the audio coming out from your phone.
Well, the S9 and S9+ are Samsung’s best phones yet, but they are not revolutionary. Despite some newly introduced features and upgrades from its predecessor S8 and S8+, an immediate update to the S9/S9+ might not necessarily be worth the cash. It’s good to finally see some changes to have been made like the stereo speakers. Other than that, personally, I believe that Samsung could have done better for some of the S9’s features like AR Emoji and Super Slow-Mo.
All in all, the S9 is not a revolutionary phone, instead it’s an example of Samsung improving what was right and adding what is needed. As such it is excellent, but then so was last year’s S8/S8+. If you have already bought the S8 or S8+ last year, this isn’t the one to replace it.
Maybe the S10?
Patience is a virtue, they say.