We checked out Samsung’s latest Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones – and they’re similar to their predecessors

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+, furnished with powerful camera technology, are the latest in the Galaxy smartphone line-up.
Business Insider/ Sujin Thomas

Samsung just revealed the latest members of its flagship Galaxy family of smartphones and they will be available in Singapore from March 16, announced the company on Monday (Feb 26)

Pre-orders for Galaxy S9 and S9+ will commence from March 1 at 12pm. There are four colours to choose from: Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Coral Blue and a new Lilac Purple.

Rumours have previously circulated about the supposed bumped up price of the S9 to match that of Apple’s iPhone X which launched with a price tag of S$1,648 ($1,250.17) for 64GB and S$1,888 for 256GB models –  the most staggering for smartphones so far.

The myth has been partially confirmed.

The S9 launches at a retail price of S$1,198 while the S9+ is priced at S$1,348 (64GB) and S$1,498 (256 GB).

It’s a slight price increase from its predecessors – the S8 and S8+ – which cost S$1,148 and S$1,298 respectively at launch.

Nonetheless, Samsung isn’t anywhere close to pricing its premium smartphones at the same level as Apple has – yet.

Business Insider had some hands-on time with Samsung’s new offerings at a special “First-Looks Media Session” and tried out their most defining features which could possibly make the S9 a real game-changer in the smartphone market.

With Samsung touting the S9 (5.8-inch screen) and S9+ (6.2-inch screen) as “the phone, reimagined”, the odds have been stacked against the new smartphones when it comes to impressing potential buyers.

Aesthetically, the S9 deviates very little from the S8, with the most notable difference being the shift of the back-facing fingerprint scanner from the right of the camera on the S8 to underneath the camera on the S9.

The S9 is also slightly heavier at 163g compared to the S8 at 155g.

Where the S9 may lack in distinct design, it has made up for in its fresh technological features.

Samsung has relentlessly trumpeted the S9’s camera as revolutionary in its promotional campaign.

In a statement, DJ Koh, president and head of IT & Mobile Communications Division, Samsung Electronics, said: “With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, we have reimagined the smartphone camera.”

“It’s a smartphone that’s designed to help them connect to others and express themselves in a way that’s unique and personal to them.”

And it’s not difficult to see how.

The camera’s AR Emoji feature lets users share real-life emotions through a 3D avatar created from a photo of the user, adding a touch of personality to how people express themselves on social media and messaging.

We experimented with the AR Emoji and the results have proven to be pretty accurate – although the avatar seemed to be lying disturbingly close to the uncanny valley.

Business Insider/ Sujin Thomas

The smartphone’s low light camera, armed with Dual Aperture (F1.5/F2.4) functionality, produces clearer and sharper photos, while Super Slow-mo creates dynamic slow-motion videos (up to 960 frames-per-second at 720p) with the option of background music.

One of the S9’s stand-out accessories is the DeX Pad docking system that connects the smartphone to a larger monitor, keyboard and mouse for enhanced document editing or even full-screen gaming.

Business Insider/ Sujin Thomas

The Galaxy device can be transformed into a touch pad while connected too.

Customers who buy the S9 or S9+ are granted membership to the Samsung Trade Up Programme, Koh shared at the event.

Through the programme, customers can receive exclusive trade-in values for eligible devices up to S$610 via the Samsung Trade Up (SG) app.

Our verdict: The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will prove to be strong contenders for avid photographers and active social media users. The many new camera innovations would also bring hours of entertainment and memories.

However, don’t expect them to be very much different from the S8 and S8+ which are currently in the market.