Cringe along as we turn ourselves into Samsung AR Emojis

galaxy s9 hands-on review photo grass emoji
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Samsung’s latest Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus let you turn yourself into emojis with augmented reality, or as Samsung calls them, AR Emojis. Since it debuted on February 25 at Mobile World Congress 2018, AR Emojis haven’t received the most positive coverage — largely because they just don’t look great, and the results seem hardly accurate.

The Digital Trends Mobile team at MWC decided to test Samsung’s “Create My Emoji” feature, to see what it thinks we look like. For this exercise, we did not customize the AR Emojis, only adding glasses for people wearing them. Take a look:

Andy Boxall, senior writer

I’m not bald. I’m not over-furnished in the hair department, but at the very least I want my emojis to make me feel good about myself, and this is the problem. Emojis are supposed to be fun, cute, and playful. Samsung’s AR Emoji’s run those aspects through the corporate grinder to come up with a safe, board-approved end result, in an app that doesn’t have the software prowess to properly realize. Yes, I can edit chromedome in the picture above, but because I hate it from the very first second, I’m not motivated to do so.

Brenda Stolyar, staff writer

While my AR Emoji doesn’t capture exactly what I look like, I wouldn’t want it to anyway. The fact that it instead exaggerates my features — from the size of my eyes right down to my chin — is what I think makes AR Emoji fun and hilarious to use. She’s quirky and cute, which is what I hope the cartoon version of myself would look like given the chance to step into an animated world.

Julian Chokkattu, mobile editor

The biggest disappointment using Samsung’s AR Emojis is the lack of any automatic skin tone-detection feature. My AR Emoji makes me look white, and that’s not good. I’ve yet to see it choose a different skin tone for anyone; maybe it’s just not capable at the moment. There is a slider you can move around after it creates your emoji to change the skin tone, but it doesn’t have many dark-skinned tones at all — yet it does get incredibly white. That fact is a little odd. I also don’t think the emoji looks like me, but making me white bothers me more.

Simon Hill, associate mobile editor

Other people’s AR Emojis seem to capture something of the subject; mine is just ridiculous. Interestingly, when I tried out the feature at the launch event, it produced an emoji that looked exactly like Pete Holmes, this time around it seems to be channeling an Italian footballer complete with man bun. Needless to say, it doesn’t look much like me.

Steven Winkelman, staff writer

Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon, but I just don’t get the point. Since I was already graced with a large head, I’ve never been a big fan of caricatures, and Samsung’s AR emojis are just that. And to top it off, it’s not even a very good caricature; other than the ever-present scowl on my face (I swear I’m nice!), the facial hair is way too sparse and too light! In short, I don’t want my AR emoji doppelganger to be Walter White from Breaking Bad.

With Animoji there’s an element of fun and whimsy, but Samsung’s take on AR emojis seem a bit like Bitmoji gone terribly wrong — and that should give you anxiety. I mean, if I want to send a likeness of myself, isn’t that what the front-facing camera is for?