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Review #MWC18 6 min read No comments

Samsung Galaxy S9+ hands-on review: More than a stretch

As with siblings, the middle child always has the hardest time. While the baby receives the most fuss and the firstborn has enjoyed the unrivaled devotion of the parents, the middle child is always competing for attention. A similar picture can be seen in Samsung's flagships: the Plus version has always occupied the difficult position of the sandwich child. Samsung, however, gives the Galaxy S9+ the necessary character traits to compete against Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 8. You can find out what these are in our first hands-on session.

Samsung Galaxy S9+ design and build quality

If you compare the Galaxy S8+ with the S8 carefully, then the Plus model only stands out for its size and the accompanying bigger display and battery.

Everything else like software features and technical equipment was taken over by the S8+ from its smaller brother. The Note 8, on the other hand, got an S Pen, more RAM, more premium features. In order to differentiate the Galaxy S9+ better from its smaller sister model and to move a little bit closer to the Note 8, Samsung gave the Plus model a lot more to work with this time around.

Plus receives a second camera

At first glance, the Galaxy S9+ doesn't differ very much from the Galaxy S9, only the dimensions are higher and wider due to the larger display. All the design optimizations on the Galaxy S9 have also been applied to the Galaxy S9+. But if you turn the S9+ around, one of the fingerprint sensors, now centered in the middle and extended further down, will delight you. However, the presence of two camera modules on the back of a Galaxy-S-Plus model is a novelty.

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The camera in the Plus version is a mix of the Galaxy S9 main camera and the telephoto lens of the Note 8. / © AndroidPIT

While the main camera is almost identical to the Galaxy S9, a 12 MP camera with dual pixel, phase- and laser- autofocus, optical image stabilizer and Super Slow Motion function, the second camera is borrowed from the Galaxy Note 8. In effect, this means for the Galaxy S9+ user that there is a telephoto lens unit in addition to the dual-aperture camera in order to bring a faraway object closer via optical zoom.

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Thanks to an automatic shutter release, Samsung's camera software helps enormously with slow motion capture. / © AndroidPIT

As with the small Galaxy S9, the super slow motion function of the main camera is especially impressive. From a technical point of view, Sony provided the basis, as only the Japanese company currently has the DRAM buffer memory integrated in the sensor. The Galaxy S9+ can only record up to 960 frames per second in HD thanks to the buffer memory. 

We will get further opportunities to test the Galaxy S9+ camera for you during the MWC, but there wasn't enough time during the hands-on event.

Advancing in step with the Galaxy S9

In terms of technical features, the Galaxy S9+, like its sister model, comes with the in-house Exynos 9810 in Europe, while the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is used in North America and some Asian countries. In order to further differentiate the Plus model from its smaller brother in terms of features, Samsung offers the Galaxy S9+ with only 6 GB RAM as standard. In terms of internal memory, there is a choice between 64 GB and 256 GB.

In addition to the main SIM slot, both versions also have a second as hybrid. The user can decide for themselves whether a second SIM or a MicroSD card with up to 400 GB is required. The hybrid slot eliminates the need for a Galaxy S9+ Duo version.

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There's almost a tie between the S9 and S9+ in terms of technical specs. / © AndroidPIT

Otherwise Samsung uses the 6.2 inch SuperAMOLED with WQHD+ resolution from the Galaxy S8+, the 8 megapixel front camera with f/1.7 aperture and the rechargeable battery with 3,500 mAh for the new Galaxy S9+.

Due to the increased energy efficiency of the 10 nm Exynos 9810 processor, the Galaxy S9+ should in theory be a little better in battery life than its predecessor. But we have to find out in a separate battery test for the Galaxy S9+ as soon as we were allowed to spend more time with a final test sample.

Pre-ordering available, sales start in mid-March

Certainly one or two people are already interested in buying the Galaxy S9+. If you are one of them, you will be pleased to know that Samsung will take pre-orders soon. 

The price for the Galaxy S9+ with 64 GB memory is $839. The Galaxy S9+ with 256 GB will set you back 1,049 euros, which is equal to $1290, but we sadly don't yet know the official US price for that model yet.

The Galaxy S9+ has three colors to choose from, just like the S9: Midnight Black, Lilac Purple and Coral Blue.

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Three color versions will be available at the launch of the Galaxy S9 and S9+. / © AndroidPIT

As an incentive to buy a Galaxy S9+ or S9, Samsung also offers a trade-in program for an indefinite period of time. With this trade-in program, you can pay for your old smartphone by purchasing one of the Galaxy S9 models. According to Samsung, depending on the model and condition, you might be able to save yourself a few hundred dollars.

Samsung Galaxy S9+ technical specifications

Dimensions: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm
Weight: 189 g
Battery size: 3500 mAh
Screen size: 6.2 in
Display technology: AMOLED
Screen: 2960 x 1440 pixels (531 ppi)
Front camera: 8 megapixels
Rear camera: 12 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
Android version: 8.0 - Oreo
Internal storage: 64 GB
256 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Samsung Exynos 9810
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2.7 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0

Final verdict

With the Galaxy S9+, Samsung clearly spends more effort to justify the 'Plus' in the model name than its predecessor. Instead of just enlarging the display and battery, as with the Galaxy S8+, the Galaxy S9+ now has a second camera and 50 percent more RAM. Thanks to these distinguishing features, Samsung has succeeded in giving the middle child a character of its own to beat the other two siblings from the S and Note series. The Galaxy S9+ is a better multimedia and camera smartphone than the Galaxy S9 or the Note 8.

For those who are still undecided, we will publish the first baseline comparative test against the direct competitors of the Galaxy S9+ in the coming hours and days. Until then you are welcome to discuss the Galaxy S9+ with us in the comments or in our forum. If you would like us to provide you with additional information about the Galaxy S9 or the Plus version during the Mobile World Congress, the comments section below is the perfect place to ask.


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