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OPINION 6 min read 7 comments

4 reasons to buy the Samsung Galaxy S9 (and 3 not to)

Without a doubt, the Samsung Galaxy S9 will be one of the most talked-about phones of the year. The current magnum opus from the South Korean brand comes prepared to dazzle with its fancy features but at the same time, there are some caveats under the surface that our close inspection has revealed. Is it still worth a buy? Let's find out.

Reasons to buy the Galaxy S9

1. Fluid performance

The S9's fluidity is simply captivating. The speed of its software is unparalleled. It runs butter-smooth and is always satisfying to use for our daily tasks. This is mainly thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 845 chipset. Right now, don't expect the difference in RAM between the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus models to have any major impact, though the 6 GB of the larger model does work to future-proof it.

Our in-depth performance test was revealing in some important aspects. While the overall performance is great, these fantastically fluid phones aren't immune to the occasional hiccup. That's due to poor software optimization on Samsung's part, but in all honesty, it's barely perceptible unless you're watching very closely for it.

s9 software
The interface of the Galaxy S9 / © AndroidPIT

2. Impressive camera (although not revolutionary)

Every year, users demand more and more from their smartphone cameras, and Samsung's Galaxy S flagships are at the forefront of competing for our attention with cutting-edge tech. The Galaxy S8 had a superb camera, but this new generation takes it s step further with some fancy new gimmicks.

The variable aperture of the lens is the best ever for a smartphone: f/2.4 for bright spaces and f/1.5 for dark interiors or exteriors. In addition to that, the noise reduction in photos at night is really very good.

We tasked our camera experts with putting the photographic qualities of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus to the test. Overall, it's undeniable that the Galaxy S9 has one of the best cameras on the market right now.

Though the typical user should have nothing to worry about in terms of quality of shots, serious photographers will want to examine the competition to find out specific details. There's going to be some competition this year, for example, from the RED Hydrogen One.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy s9 noise
Great noise reduction in action on the Galaxy S9. / © AndroidPIT

3. Super Slow Motion 

The camera's sensor has the same technology that we saw previously on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. This allows the S9 to capture super-slow motion video at 960 frames per second, in high definition. This fun feature is enhanced by the addition of the self-timer.

4. The gorgeous display

Let's face it, we spend a lot of time with our eyes glued to the smartphone display. Too much time, especially if you're a tech geek or use your phone a lot for work or gaming. Samsung are experts at display design, and the S9 is the pinnacle of their work on mobile technology.

HD movies, graphically gorgeous games and other high quality media content are easy for the S9, which renders realistic colors in fantastic detail. But it's also the little things that count. In day-to-day use, a beautiful smartphone display can still be delightful just for  web browsing and using basic apps, and the S9 certainly won't disappoint you in this regard.

Reasons not to buy the S9

1. Middling battery life

Surprisingly enough, the Galaxy S9 has the same battery as its predecessor, the Galaxy S8. The battery is 3,000 mAh, but the rest of the hardware in the device has been beefed up considerably from the previous generation.

You can guess the results of this—last year's batteries in this year's flagship fail to keep up with the demands of the more powerful components and applications.

Samsung is still burned by the exploding Note 7 debacle and has played it safe when it comes to battery power. It's great that your S9 won't blow up, but that does mean that the improved performance takes quite a toll on battery life. At least you don't risk your real life.

Using the S9 to the fullest means you'll need regular boosts from the charger. Fortunately, its fast charge will give you 50% battery life in just 39 minutes.

2. Bixby STILL isn't quite up to standard for a modern voice assistant

Since its inception, we've seen Bixby slowly grow from a bad joke to a serious contender in the voice assistant market, but it's still not in the top tier. The voice command "Hi Bixby" isn't always recognized, leaving us awkwardly shouting at a brick out on the street. Not a good look for showing off your premium hi-tech smartphone. If I want to be ignored, I can talk to my cat.

samsung galaxy s9 s9p bixby c2vx
Bixby keeps catching up, but can't take the lead. / © AndroidPIT

3. It's still early in the year

In many ways, the new Galaxy S flagship is going to set the standard to beat for the year. We're not quite through the first quarter and you bet that other manufacturers are going to try to beat it, either by outperforming Samsung in all aspects or pitching a more specialized offering at different price points.

Consider, for example, that we're about to see Huawei enter the ring with its new P20 flagships, with a triple camera on the Pro version. HTC will also be looking to follow up the HTC U11, one of our favorites from last year, with the HTC U12.

Google's next generation of Pixel phones will no doubt be contenders for the best camera, and have better software optimization than the S9. Then there's the upcoming OnePlus 6, designed to topple exactly the kind of flagship the S9 represents.

Conclusion

The Galaxy S9 remains an impressive device, but think twice before succumbing to the marketing blitz and surrendering your $720+. I'd recommend taking a dive through our in-depth testing of the device, and also taking a glance at the competition.

Want to see the S9 before you order? Take a look in our hands-on video:

Did you buy the Galaxy S9? Are you happy with your choice? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Based on an article by Juan Felipe Guerrero C. for androidpit.es, our Spanish language site

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  • If you're having difficulty with Bixby, it's because you're not using it properly. I just got an S8 and I love Bixby, with and without the button. My first command to Bixby was, "Go to my calendar, find PetSmart's address and show it to me on maps". All I had to do was press "Start" in Maps and I had my driving navigation. Not bad for a voice assistant. If I had added, "and start navigation", I suspect that I probably wouldn't have needed to press Start in Maps

    What you're probably having trouble with is comparing it to Google Assistant (or Siri, etc) - two completely different functions. Bixby is for Samsung phones, Assistant is for the internet. Bixby can read the phone, Assistant can read the net. A question like, "What's today's weather?" on Bixby will give a short blurb and bring up the weather app. On Assistant, Google will tell you more detail and bring up the weather app. (And Siri and Amazon aren't even in the same ballpark as Assistant.)

    But if you tell Bixby to interact with your phone, such as, "Set an alarm for 9 am", Bixby functions flawlessly. You could change the command to, "Set an alarm for 9 in the morning". Or, "Remind me to get eggs when I reach the xxx store". Try that on Assistant.

    Bixby can do multiple commands without programming, like my first command to Bixby above, but if you want to, you can program commands as well.

    Fortunately, with the S8, I get both Bixby and Assistant, so I can tell my phone anything. I just have to know what I'm asking for. Bixby is the best thing about the S8 and S9.


  • reason 4 not to purchase the s9, bad firmware update policy from samsung. Android P is on it's way samsung only released Oreo a month or two ago. Doesn't help you have a i7 of mobile devices but you have windows xp as your operating system.


  • Mike 7 months ago Link to comment

    Reason 4 (to not buy one) - I don't need a new phone


  • Sorin 7 months ago Link to comment

    The freshman in the race, P20 Pro, also has a very high quality photo. I'm curious about a comparative test between these extremely powerful handsets, which in turn are extremely expensive. It would also be interesting to compare the quality of the photos taken with these phones and some dedicated mirrorless cameras.
    But whatever I say, their evolution is absolutely spectacular!


  • I admire both Apple and Samsung for their hardware innovations that keep goosing the industry, and wish them continued success - with other consumers - while I buy other, cheaper devices following in their footsteps. I'm not interested in living as a crawdad in either Apple's ultra-sticky ecosystem swamp or Samsung's ecosystem puddle that's more nuisance than "experience".


  • Samsung this year will not be to successful with there S9 models,by doing there own stupid mistake,doing what they always do,Copy Apple,by using there older phones body and offer updates in Chips & Camera,there S8 models will be more popular now with the price not being too expensive now,Copied Apple again with there pricing policy and this will back-fire on Samsung,after There stupid mistake i am definetly looking for another phone with top class features that will be more affordable or keep loyal to the S8 plus,Samsung seems to be the company that starts off a trend and the rest will follow them,but i hope the trend now is everyone else over pricing there phones or there will struggling phone companies increasing Lg a good example


    • I use the s8+ & the main reason I purchased it was for the display. Viewing videos is simply a pleasure. Plus the performance is still one of the best. When I upgraded my s7edge I got it for 540.00, a deal I could not refuse!

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