The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus have arrived. Here’s what you should know

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus — Samsung’s flagship phones for 2018 — have finally landed! The smartphones are similar to the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, except they’re faster, sleeker, and come loaded with a bunch of new features, including a variable aperture camera. Here’s everything you need to know about the two devices, whether you’re looking for camera details or those pertaining to each phone’s display and processing power.


galaxy s9 Plus hands-on review front full
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

At first glance, it may seem like the Galaxy S8 and S9 are the same phone, because both models tout a Quad HD Super AMOLED screen, 18.5:9 resolution, and either a 5.8- or 6.2-inch display (depending on the model). Upon closer inspection, however, you can see there are some subtle differences; the bezels on the Galaxy S9 are smaller than those on its predecessor, the topmost sensors are better hidden, and the fingerprint sensor on the back has been repositioned.

The phone is also IP68-certified — meaning it’s protected against dust and temporary immersion in water — and like the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, it supports both fast charging and fast Qi charging. On the left side of the phone you have the volume rocker and Bixby button, the latter of which Samsung has promised to improve this time around, while the right houses the power button. On the top, you’ll find the SIM card and microSD combo slot, and on the bottom, a USB-C charging port, headphone jack, and one of two stereo speakers.


The Galaxy S9 utilizes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the latest version of said processor. The S9 also comes with 4GB of RAM, while the Plus touts 6GB. Both phones support Gigabit LTE, with peak download speeds of 1.2 gigabits per second. The S9 also features a 3,000 mAh battery, while the Galaxy S9 Plus, which is logistically bigger, features a 3,500 mAh battery.

In terms of privacy and security, the S9 features a repositioned fingerprint scanner on the back, located directly beneath the camera(s). It also comes with iris and facial recognition, both of which can be used to unlock your device.


Galaxy S9 Plus
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

This is where the Galaxy S9 Plus really shines. Both the S9 and S9 Plus feature a front-facing 8-megapixel camera with a f/1.7 aperture lens, as well as a 12-megapixel camera on the back with an adjustable aperture from f/1.5 to f/2.4. The S9 Plus, however, houses a second 12-megapixel shooter on the back. This telephoto lens comes with a fixed 2.4 aperture, allowing for better shots in low-light scenarios.

This is where the Galaxy S9 Plus really shines.

If you’re shooting in Pro Mode, the controls for the rear-facing camera let you manually switch between 1.5-aperture shots (for low lighting) and 2.4-aperture shots (for brighter settings). You can also set it to Auto Mode, which will prompt the device to automatically switch between the two settings depending on the lighting conditions at hand. The S9 Plus also comes with Panorama Mode and Live Focus, a setting from the Note 8 that allows you blur the background with greater ease.

There is also a Selfie Focus Mode, which allows you to blur the background using the front-facing camera, as well as Regular Selfie Mode, Wide Selfie Mode, and AR Emoji (more on that later). When recording in Super Slow Mo, you can capture 720p videos at 960 frames per second, but only for a split second. The feature can be used manually or will automatically engage when the camera detects movement while using the app. The S9 has a continuous slow-mo feature that can capture 1080p videos at 240 fps as well, but unfortunately, it wasn’t available on the phones we tested, so it’s usability is still TBD.


AR Emoji
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

AR Emoji is a new feature exclusive to the S9 and S9 Plus, one that lets you use selfies to create emojis that looks just like you (or at least some version of you). There are currently 14 pre-determined poses you can use in GIFs, and you can use your emoji avatar to send short video clips to your friends.

Bixby has also gotten some new tricks.

Other characters can be used in the app as well, and as a result of a recent partnership with Disney, characters such as Micky Mouse and Elsa will be coming to the device shortly. Make-up Mode and a wine bottle scanner powered by Vivino also allow you to try on makeup or learn more about the bottle of wine you’re drinking (including the cost and tasting notes).

On the operating side of things, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus run Android Oreo, with Samsung’s proprietary UI on top. Samsung’s virtual assistant, Bixby, has also received an overhaul. The feature can scan items, for instance, and let you shop for them via partners such as Nordstrom’s and Sam’s Club. Another forthcoming feature will allow you to take photos of your food and automatically input their nutritional data into Samsung health.

There are also several apps designed to help you get around. The first, Translations, allows for the real-time translation of text, while the second, Places, allows you to identify landmarks via your camera. There are also the normal Samsung apps, including SmartThings, Voice Recorder, My Files, Internet, Samsung Health, Galaxy Health, and Samsung Gear.

Product Review

With the S10e and S10 Plus, do we really need the Samsung Galaxy S10?

The Galaxy S10 is the middle child in this year’s Galaxy S10 range, between the Galaxy S10e, and the Galaxy S10 Plus. There’s no striking reason to buy it, but it’s still an excellent phone you’ll be happy with.

How to disable Bixby Home on Samsung Galaxy smartphones

Samsung's Bixby virtual assistant can be helpful, but Bixby Home, which sits on the left of the home screen, hardly offers any kind of value. If you're annoyed by its existence, here's how to disable Bixby Home.

Guard your Galaxy with the best Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus screen protectors

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are two of the best phones to ever grace this planet -- but the screen still isn't brick-proof. Here are the best Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus screen protectors to keep yours safe.

Check out our favorite Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus accessories

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are two of the most talked about smartphones of 2018. If you've managed to get your hands on one, you're no doubt looking to score some new accessories. Here are a few of our favorites.

Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.

Get your hands (and ears) on Apple’s new AirPods — here’s where to find them

Apple's new AirPods with wireless charging are the latest version of the much-loved wireless earbuds. Unfortunately, they aren't widely available yet. Here's where you can find them right now, and where they will show up soon.
Product Review

There’s almost nothing bad to say about the Mi Mix 3, but you still shouldn’t buy it

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is good-looking, really well made, packed with features, and is a powerful, modern, desirable smartphone. But you probably shouldn’t buy it. Why? Nothing wrong with the device itself, but Xiaomi itself is mostly to…

You can now use the innovative Red Hydrogen One on Google Fi

The Red Hydrogen One was first announced in 2017 and has been delayed a few times since then. Now, the Red Hydrogen One is finally available, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.

Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat may be coming soon

At its September event in 2017, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.

The best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods might be new and improved, but they aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, with attractive features. These are the best AirPod alternatives on the market today.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

The latest Google Doodle lets you create Bach-like music of your own

Google is celebrating the life of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, and to that end the company has released a new Google Doodle that allows you to create Bach-like melodies and harmonies of your own.

Amazon’s new Kindle has an adjustable light and costs less than $100

Amazon has taken the wraps off of a new Kindle model, which boasts a number of great features and comes at a very affordable price. Perhaps the best thing about the new Kindle is that the device has an adjustable.

Apple iPad Air vs. iPad (2018): Which Apple tablet is right for you?

The new iPad Air replaces the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, but it doesn't pack quite the same punch. It is a fair bit cheaper, starting at $500, but it's a lot more expensive than Apple's 9.7-inch iPad which starts at $330. If you're shopping for…