Samsung’s latest flagship is really good if you spend most of your time in Instagram feeds or creating content for the internet.
For everything else the handset is just a marginal upgrade on last year’s Galaxy S8 but you’ll be pleased to know that the experience has been refined somewhat in a number of ways.
Having already discussed the handset at length I’ll keep this review brief.
Samsung Galaxy S9 review – By the numbers
Contained within our Samsung Galaxy S9 is the Exynos 9810 CPU.
This chipset boasts eight cores running at a maximum frequency of 2.7GHz. What impressed me is that even when demanding every inch of performance the CPU has to call on the handset didn’t get too hot or uncomfortable to hold.
The performance numbers are outlined below.
In real world usage the handset performs well. Facial recognition takes less than a second and the fingerprint scanner reads my digit in less time than that.
Gaming is a joy and apps have never lagged or crashed on me even when I forget to open the millions of them that I have open.
Samsung Galaxy S9 review – Battery abuse
Average use of the S9 meaning checking messages, browsing through Instagram and other social media will net you a full day of use. That is to say that if you unplug your handset at 6:30AM you will need to plug it back in when you go to bed.
With the screen on constantly, streaming movies over Wifi I managed to get 10 hours of life from the S9 which is great for a long haul flight because your Wifi would be off while you stream.
The battery is not going to change your life completely but it’s nice to know that you can get at least a full day of use from the handset.
Samsung Galaxy S9 review – Capture what you see, at 4K
So Sony put the screws to Samsung at MWC 2018 when it announced 960fps video recording at a 1920 x 1080p resolution.
But if I’m honest I’ve used the slow-motion feature twice in my time with the handset. Yes, it’s cool and it makes for great Instagram stories but it is so delicate that it’s not practical.
The S9 can record slow-motion video in one of two ways. Users can either film a scene that is currently happening and turn it into a slow motion video or you can use the second option which allows you to move the scene into a yellow box which will trigger a recording as soon as motion is detected.
Beyond that you can only capture two seconds of footage. Once again, cool feature but not very practical.
Samsung makes up for that though by fitting one of the best cameras I have seen on a smartphone in recent memory. It’s not just in day light that the camera is great but in low light, or no light as well.
Me telling you how good it is does it no justice, take a look at the gallery below. Note – these photos have been scaled down from a 4K resolution to Full HD due to size constraints.
The S9 continues its fantastic camera performance when recording video. Pulling focus while recording at 30 fps is incredibly fast, like Canon DSLR auto-focus fast. You are able to record at 60fps at Full HD and 4K resolutions but you lose the snappy auto-focus and video effects.
Recording at a 4K resolution also removes image stabilisation but at 4K you have enough room to crop the image if needed.
Samsung Galaxy S9 review – Conclusion
To my mind this handset is designed for content creators. It is good for working professionals and gamers and folks that just want a gawk-worthy smartphone but I cannot shake this feeling that Samsung wants to target creators.
The firm has worked with folks such as Casey Niestat, Peter McKinnon and Akilah Hughes in the last year and this phone and its camera is primed for creators like them.
I feel I need to augment that with a warning – the S9 is not a replacement for a camera.
What this handset is however, is a great back-up or secondary camera for the creator in the field. For creators that are just starting out and might not be able to fork out the money needed for a DSLR or mirrorless camera, the S9 is a compelling alternative, and you can get it on a contract.
[su_box title=”Samsung Galaxy S9 South African specifications” box_color=”#f37021″]
OS Android 8
Chipset Samsung Exynos 9810
Storage 64GB (microSD support)
Resolution 1440 x 2960
Rear camera 12MP, F1.5 – 2.4, Dual Pixel
Front camera 8MP
Interface USB Type C, fingerprint scanner, face unlock
Price R15 499
A previous version of this review incorrectly stated that the Samsung Galaxy S9 review unit we had contained a Snapdragon 835 CPU. We have since ammended this to reflect the correct CPU the Exynos 9810. At the time of writing the application we use to determine which CPU is contained in a smartphone identified the chipset incorrectly.