Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs Samsung Galaxy S8+
What's new for Samsung's Galaxy S-range?
Samsung promised us ‘The Next Big Thing’ in the run-up to the launch of the Galaxy S9 and S9+. But rumours warned that the handset wouldn’t be radically different to the S8 and S8+, which received rave reviews last year.
On first impressions, these rumours have proved accurate. Aside from expected improvements to the camera and processor, not a huge amount has changed since the S8.
That’s not to knock Samsung – we don’t expect manufacturers to release ground-breaking technology each year. Yet, the fact remains that this phone isn’t much different to its predecessor, and you won’t feel a burning desire to upgrade from an S8+.
If, however, you’re thinking of switching to Samsung or upgrading from an older Samsung phone, you should seriously consider the S9+. For a little extra, the phone offers the most up-to-date specs and small adjustments improve your overall experience.
5 things the Samsung Galaxy S9+ has over the S8+
- The rear camera on the S9+ performs better in low light
- The design of the S9+ is more ergonomic and durable
- Both phones have similar battery lives although the S9+ charges faster
- The S9+ has stereo speakers that produce loud, high-quality sound
- A faster chipset inside the S9+ will please anyone with a need for speed
So you’re clear on how the S8+ and S9+ compare, here’s a detailed breakdown…
The S9+ has received a score of 99 from image quality specialists, DxOMark. The score is produced by testing camera quality in areas like autofocus, white balance and noise reduction.
To top the performance of its previous phones’ cameras, Samsung has focused on the camera’s hardware. For example, a dual-aperture lets the camera lens let in more light in dim surroundings. With two sizes available – f/1.5 and f/2.4 – the aperture can expand and contract depending on how bright the environment.
Although you can take superb pictures with the S9+, the style of image isn’t to everyone’s taste. With auto-focus on, you sometimes find the glare from headlamps and streetlamps more noticeable, which detracts from the subject of your photo.
The front-facing camera on the S9+ is the same 8MP camera you get with the S8+. The camera takes a decent selfie, although your skin can look over-saturated indoors.
Design-wise, the S9+ and S8+ are similar. Both have a 6.2-inch display and an 84 percent screen-to-body ratio with a beautiful Infinity Display. Moreover, Samsung has kept that classy combo of two glass panels melded together by an aluminium chassis.
Perhaps surprisingly, the S9+ is 16g heavier and a fraction thicker than the older S8+. The extra weight is owing to a thicker (but brighter) display panel and an upgraded aluminium frame that’s proven to absorb greater impact.
One of the most praiseworthy improvements to the S9+ is the movement of the fingerprint sensor to a central position beneath the camera. The new position is far more comfortable to use; the S8+is tricky to unlock without flipping the phone over to locate the sensor.
The S9+ will be available in the UK with an Exynos 9810 Octa chipset – its fastest chipset yet.
As well as being super-fast, the chipset has a new face-tracking engine for accurate face recognition. Although Samsung attempted a face ID feature on the S8+, the technology proved unreliable when Youtubers posted videos of themselves unlocking the phone with a selfie.
In addition, the Exynos 9810 chipset includes a Cat. LTE modem for quicker data transmission (up 1.2 Gbps). You won’t see those kinds of speeds day-to-day, but you will see faster download/upload speeds than you would with the S8+.
Both the S9+ and the S8+ have octa-core chipsets that manage multi-tasking well. Also, they’re both available with 6GB RAM, further satisfying your desire to run games and apps that eat up memory.
Battery life & audio
The Galaxy S9+ and S8+ have a 3500 mAh battery and support wireless charging. The handsets also last a similar amount of time on a full charge (12 – 16 hours depending on how much you use them).
Where the S9+ goes one-up on the S8+ is when it comes to charge times. In early tests, the S9+ has charged faster than the S8+, managing to jump from 0 to 50% battery in 45 minutes. In comparison, the S8+ takes an hour to regain as much juice.
Another small but helpful improvement to the S9+ is its speakers. The S9+, unlike the S8+, has stereo speakers that boost its volume. When out in public showing a video to your friends, having the option to crank up the sound comes in handy.
S9+ updates that don’t add much
Like all mobile manufacturers, Samsung tends to exaggerate how much its latest handsets improve upon previous models. So that you’re not persuaded to spend more to get features you won’t use, here are a few “showcase” S9+ features that deserve a healthy dose of cynicism.
The smarter Bixby
The Bixby on the S9+ does several things that older versions of the AI assistant doesn’t. It can translate images displaying text in foreign languages and tell you how many calories are in your food.
But it doesn’t do anything that third-party apps or rival AIs like the Google Assistant don’t do better. What’s more, many of these alternatives work offline, whereas Bixby needs to be connected to the web.
The Samsung S9+ is capable of recording video at 960 frames per second (fps), which creates an extreme slo-mo effect. Samsung likes to show-off this feature as it’s not found on rival Apple and Google devices.
However, a framerate this high is more than most people need (the 240fps recorded by the S8+ is fine for all but video professionals). Also, this extreme slo-mo mode is one of the harder features to grasp on the S9+, and it’ll take you a while to perfect videos using it.
The face recognition technology inside the S9+ doesn’t just let you unlock your phone with your face; it can also turn you into an augmented reality (AR) emoji.
Creating an AR cartoon version of yourself might be fun, but the novelty soon wears off. Even as someone who likes to express myself visually, I can’t say that AR emojis do anything for me that apps like Bitmoji can’t.
Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs Samsung Galaxy S8+: which is the better buy?
The Samsung Galaxy S9+ currently retails at £869, which is £90 more expensive than the S8+. That said, if you’re on a two-year contract, the difference in monthly payments will be small.
Is the Galaxy S9+ worth the extra doe? If an excellent camera, ergonomic design and enhanced performance all matter to you, then yes.
Admittedly, the S9+ could be improved upon. It’d be great to see a fingerprint sensor under the front screen to make unlocking the phone even easier. Plus, the face ID technology, although much improved, still struggles to recognise you in bright sunlight.
But these are small gripes and overall the experience offered by the S9+ surpasses that of the S8+. Once again, Samsung has shown its willingness to listen to feedback from its fans and incorporate suggestions into new products. The result: a more user-friendly phone that pushes technology a touch further than any other plus-sized Android.
Galaxy S9+ vs Galaxy S8+ product specs
|Samsung Galaxy S9+||Samsung Galaxy S8+|
|Price||circa £869||circa £779|
|Dimensions||158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm (6.22 x 2.91 x 0.33 in)||159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm (6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32in)|
|Size||6.2 inches (~84.2% screen-to-body ratio)||6.2 inches (~84.0% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Resolution||1440 x 2960 pixels, 18.5:9 ratio (~529 ppi density)||1440 x 2960 pixels (~529 ppi pixel density)|
|OS||Android 8.0 (Oreo)||Android 7.0 (Nougat)|
|Chipset||Exynos 9810 Octa - EMEA||Exynos 8895 Octa - EMEA|
|CPU||Octa-core (4x2.7 GHz Mongoose M3 & 4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A55) - EMEA||Octa-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz) - EMEA|
|GPU||Mali-G72 MP18 - EMEA||Mali-G71 MP20 - EMEA|
|Card slot||microSD, up to 400 GB (uses SIM 2 slot) - dual SIM model only||microSD, up to 256 GB (dedicated slot) - single-SIM model, microSD, up to 256 GB (uses SIM 2 slot) - dual-SIM model
|Internal||64/128/256 GB, 6 GB RAM||64GB, 4GB RAM or 128GB, 6GB RAM|
|Image capture||Dual: 12 MP (f/1.5-2.4, 26mm, 1/2.55", 1.4 µm, Dual Pixel PDAF) + 12MP (f/2.4, 52mm, 1/3.6", 1 µm, AF), OIS, phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom, LED flash||12 MP, f/1.7, 26mm, phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash|
|Video||2160p@60fps, 1080p@240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR, dual-video rec.||2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, HDR, dual-video rec|
|Capacity||Non-removable Li-Ion 3500 mAh battery (13.48 Wh)||Non-removable Li-Ion 3500 mAh battery|