Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ review roundup: What the experts think
The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ went on sale in mid-March in nearly 70 countries, and Samsung will be releasing its latest flagships in the rest of the world by the end of this month. As we had noted in our review, we really like these phones, especially the Galaxy S9+. The S9+ is darn near perfect and brings the best of the Galaxy S8+ and Galaxy Note 8 with refinements in areas those phones were found lacking (which weren’t many, if we’re being honest). We did, however, realize that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ aren’t big upgrades for owners of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, and that’s not surprising as evolution is always the name of the game a year after Samsung introduces a major new design or form factor.
What do other experts think?
What’s the take of other experts on Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+, though? Well, if you’ve been researching the merits and demerits of buying one of these phones, you’ve probably checked out a ton of reviews across the web. But if you haven’t and have been wondering about the consensus on the S9 and S9+, we thought we’d round up a few reviews from other publications to help you out. Most of these reviews are for both the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+; where they aren’t, we’ve made it a point to separate them.
I had hoped that, after exhaustively going over all the ways the S9 is new, I’d find the updates here to be more significant. But I still don’t. The new camera features aren’t must-haves unless you plan on shooting in darkness a lot, and you can get basically all the new Bixby stuff by installing third-party apps. Plus, Samsung plans to roll out the Bixby updates to S8 and Note 8 owners eventually.
But even though these changes feel incremental, the S9s are still strong flagships. If you’re looking to upgrade from an older Android phone, these are worth considering thanks to speedy performance, capable cameras and long-lasting batteries. As the first flagships launched in 2018, the S9s are competent, if unexciting. It’ll be more interesting to see how they measure up to flagships from Apple and Google later this year. [Full review]
Galaxy S9: The Galaxy S9 is a nice incremental upgrade, but its low-light camera isn’t a game changer and some new features fall far behind the iPhone X. S8 owners can skip, but it’s a good upgrade from older Androids. [Full review]
Galaxy S9+: Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus is the more robust Galaxy S9, and the one for power users to get. [Full review]
Without a new design or other new obvious advancements in technology to distract from Samsung’s usual problems, the software issues on the S9 become more obvious than they were with the S8. The upshot of most of this is that you can ignore Samsung’s marketing-focused gimmicks and really enjoy the Galaxy S9 (and none of them fall to the level of other Android manufacturers’ software problems). You can turn off Bixby, never bother to use AR Emoji or super slow motion, and disable most of Samsung’s apps. That leaves Samsung’s poor software update history as the big sticking point for a lot of people.
The rest of the S9 and S9 Plus is as great as we’ve come to expect. It has a head-turning design, fast performance, a great screen, and a very good camera. Outside of the display, the S9 isn’t a class leader in any category, but it’s good enough in all of them that the whole package makes for a great phone.
Owners of the S8 probably don’t need to upgrade this go-around — the differences aren’t great enough to warrant splurging on the S9 — but if you’re using a Galaxy S7 or any other phone from two years ago, the S9 is a significant step up in every respect.
Predictably, Samsung has made yet another excellent flagship phone. But, just as predictably, it still has plenty of room for improvement. [Full review]
Galaxy S9: The truth is the Galaxy S9 can’t be a meaningful upgrade to any S8 user. But we live in some interesting times, where incremental upgrades do happen, and regular users are best upgrading every two years, at least theoretically.
The ninth Galaxy S is cutting-edge no two words about it. Design, screen, and performance are top of the line, while the camera is unique enough to make even some Apple users jump ship.
It’s just that the S9 omits the aura of excitement any headliner should come with. It was an entirely predictable device – blazing fast, with enough hardware updates, but didn’t make enough progress for a meaningful generation jump. It’s more of a Galaxy S8S than S9 but we are glad it re-introduced the variable aperture snappers to the market, and we hope it makes them the next big thing. Because the S9 just isn’t that. [Full review]
Galaxy S9+: It’s an awesome phone, the Samsung Galaxy S9+. But awesome doesn’t necessarily make it an easy recommendation if you can have 0.95*awesome at 0.8*price. Let’s put it this way – if there’s room for reason in your life, the Samsung to have right now is the Galaxy Note8; if moderation is not your thing, well… make it the Galaxy S9+, then. [Full review]
It’s funny how we now appreciate a phone that just does things customers want, in a normal way, rather than trying to force some new agenda or change before it’s ready to happen. With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, Samsung isn’t pushing the envelope: it’s just making phones that can appeal to as many people as possible. The excellence in these phones is that Samsung managed to make the “phone for the masses” while keeping them grounded as a proper, finished product rather than a portmanteau of random ideas that’s less than the sum of its parts. [Full review]
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ are subtle upgrades to last year’s S8 line. The most significant improvements are found in the fingerprint scanner position, the new intelligent face scan feature, the AR Emoji 3D avatars, and the camera, but only for the S9+, which gets the secondary zoom camera of the Note 8. In any case, if you’re a current Galaxy S8 user, we’d say an upgrade to the S9 would be completely unnecessary, but that’s expected. For owners of older devices, like the S7 or S6, the Galaxy S9 will feel like a major step forward.
Samsung has once again managed to craft desirable handsets with the S9 and S9+; one can hardly find anything remotely as elegant, as advanced, and as polished, all in a single product, on the Android market. The closest it gets to that are LG’s V30 or Google’s Pixel 2, but each of these has certain drawbacks that position them a step below Samsung’s impressive package. [Full review]
Galaxy S9: The Galaxy S9 is a comfortable and compact phone that offers a fantastic camera and great performance. We do think the S9 Plus is worth it for the second, versatile camera, but the S9’s perfect size makes it hard to ignore. [Full review]
Galaxy S9+: The Galaxy S9 Plus brings a refined design, but it’s the ‘reimagined’ camera that makes this phone stand out, and worth the high price tag. [Full review]
The Galaxy S9 is much like the S8: an all-glass phone with a heavily skinned OS and slow updates. Samsung did what it needed to do: it fixed the fingerprint reader, the Galaxy S8’s most glaring problem. In the context of a phone that was always planned to be a minor upgrade, a change like that is pretty good.
The new camera will be a heavily marketed feature, and it’s great. It consistently pumps out quality pictures, and it has some of the best low-light performance out there. The variable aperture setup really has nothing to do with the great camera quality, though, and exists as little more than a marketing gimmick.
The brand-new Snapdragon 845 SoC is nice to have. It feels like a perfect match for the Galaxy S9: both are obligatory updates that must arrive every year, and, with little other competition, they’ve changed just enough to feel like new products.
AR Emoji and the “intelligent scan” face unlock feature are Samsung at its worst, however: reflexively copying Apple without stopping to think if something is good for consumers or even good for the company. Samsung’s pile of gimmicks grows ever larger, but the good news is that these two new items are (unlike Bixby) easy to ignore. [Full review]
Galaxy S9: The camera is the big reason to go for the Samsung Galaxy S9, along with the uprated power and improved construction, but it’s not a great leap forward. The camera flatters to deceive at times, with the color reproduction the main issue for us.
It’s annoying to see that a photo which only looks half-decent when you snap it can be instantly improved simply by adding an effect in post-processing – it’s hard to work out why Samsung doesn’t just do this automatically.
The extra cost is going to be tough for some people to stomach, as you’ll get a lot of the features here on the Galaxy S8, as long as you don’t mind some finger gymnastics to get to the fingerprint scanner on the back and aren’t bothered about having the best camera Samsung can create.
The Galaxy S9 could still well be the phone of 2018 – but the competition has a real chance to catch up this year. [Full review]
Galaxy S9+: The Galaxy S9 Plus is a great phone, but personally, I’m not very impressed. The changing aperture is very cool to look at, but it doesn’t make a big difference. The camera can’t beat our current favourite, the Pixel 2 and other aspects of the phone are the same as last year. The Galaxy S9 Plus is a good phone, but it’s more like a Galaxy S8 2 than a whole new flagship. And that, is disappointing. [Full review]