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Samsung Galaxy S9 - 10 Things Before Buying!

This is the Galaxy S9 in glorious lilac purple, it also comes in midnight black and Coral blue. The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are official, they've got a pretty cool trick up their sleeve that impressed me. I got to go hands on with them. And these are 10 things to know before buying.
Samsung Galaxy S9 - 10 Things Before Buying!

So first up, and this may inherently disappoint some people out there, and that's the fact that the Galaxy S9 is not a redesign, but rather it takes everything that was good about the Galaxy S8 and even the things that were lacking and improves upon them in pretty much every possible way.

We still see that same beautiful 18.5 by nine infinity display, the Galaxy S9 sizes in at 5.8 inches, whereas the Galaxy S9 Plus is 6.2 inches. Now the big difference between the Galaxy S9 Plus and S9 aside from the screen size is going to be RAM and battery life. With the S9 Plus, you get six gigabytes versus four on the S9 and then with battery life, you're getting 3500 milliamp hours on the S9 Plus versus 3,000 on the S9. I realize those numbers might be slightly disappointing for some people out there, but the good news is, especially for those in the US, is the Snapdragon 845 inside these will not only lead to better performance but also better efficiency, which should translate to overall better battery life.

Now, the other giant difference between these two is going to be dual cameras in the S9 Plus. You get a wide angle and then a telephoto lens, very similar to what we saw in the Galaxy Note 8, versus the single shooter on the Galaxy S9. From that, number two, speaking of cameras, both the S9 Plus and S9 have a really cool trick up its sleeve, variable aperture. So the best way to imagine this is the camera on the Galaxy S9 essentially is going to react to light in a very similar way to how your eyes would. You're outside where it's super bright, effectively your eyes are letting less light in. And then you go inside where it's a little bit lower lighting situation, then your eyes adjust and let more light in. The same thing is happening here where the camera on the Galaxy S9 will adjust and adapt and effectively switch the F-stop from 2.4 down to 1.5. That lets a ton more light in and the crazy cool thing is you can actually see this happening. That, in turn, should lead to much better low-light performance.

Now, to clarify, because the whole variable aperture and dual cameras on the S9 Plus versus single camera on the S9 might be a little confusing. The way that works is both phones do get variable aperture, but the S9 Plus, that's going to be on its main wide angle lens, whereas the telephoto lens is only F/2.4.

Next from there, we're going to jump over to video. And the third thing to know is the Galaxy S9 can record super slow motion video up to 960 frames per second. What's really cool with this is the Galaxy S9 is smart enough to know and react when the motion happens, so you do not have to guess or react when that's happening to yourself. I got a chance to blow up some confetti, which of course looks way cooler in slow motion. Watching that back on the Galaxy S9, everything about this was all automatic. So there was no triggering, no reacting. It was simply pressing record. It knew when the confetti popped out, and we have this clip. From there, beyond just saving the video, you can turn it into a GIF. You could even turn it into your moving wallpaper if you wanted to.

The 960 FPS comes in at 720P, so it's not the highest resolution, but still pretty impressive, nonetheless. Beyond that, you can do 1080P at 240 frames per second or up to 4K at 60 frames per second. So there is a ton of video options on the Galaxy S9.

From there, number four, in a world where headphone jacks aren't that common anymore, where wireless charging still isn't a standard on every major flagship yet, the Galaxy S9 is packed full of the essentials. The headphone jack is still there. And I'm one to admit, I actually love and prefer wireless headphones, but to a lot of people, that headphone jack is a valuable and sacred commodity, and it is here on the Galaxy S9.

You have USBC, which in turn gives you quick charge 2.0, but you have the best of both worlds with fast wireless charging as well. MicroSD card expansion, and as of now, there are 400-gigabyte microSD cards, which will work in the Galaxy S9. Again, it's not new, but the Galaxy S9, of course, is water and dust-resistant. So these core features by themselves are not game-changers, but together, show that Samsung has done a really good job trying to accommodate to all kinds of users out there.

Next at number five, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus now feature front-facing stereo speakers. And if you've never had that on a smartphone, it is a beautiful thing. I got a chance to listen to this at the event. It was a little loud, a little noisy, so it wasn't the best environment to really form an opinion, but at the very least, you could still hear a really big difference between the Galaxy S9 and S8. From there, beyond the stereo speakers, there is now Dolby Atmos support. In talking to Samsung, again, their idea with this was the refinement process. With the Galaxy S8 and its infinity display, that kind of kicked off the ultimate viewing experience. With the Galaxy S9, that kind of takes that, rounds off the audio experience, so now you get the best of both worlds.

Next at number six, Samsung listened to everybody that complained about the terrible location of the fingerprint reader on the Galaxy S8 and moved it on the Galaxy S9. So no longer do you have to move your finger around in an awkward spot and kind of guess where it is to unlock your phone. Now, on the Galaxy S9, it is right below the camera, which is a much better location. With that, though, that means the fingerprint reader on the Galaxy S9 is still going to be the main form of security. You of course can unlock your phone with your eyes, but that's going to be an option as opposed to the main form of security like something on the iPhone X.

Next up at number seven, I'm not sure if AR Emoji is cool or creepy. What is AR Emoji, you ask? It takes a 2D image of your face and then maps over 100 different facial expressions and then translates that into this 3D image that reacts to your expressions. It's almost like Bitmoji and Animoji got smashed together, except just a little bit weirder. I will say weird or not, it is very responsive and works as advertised, so this is me moving my face around as an AR Emoji. You can pop in different backgrounds. You can save it as a GIF, as a picture, as a video. The possibilities seem to be endless. I will say I guess the potential advantages over Animoji is, one, you can record longer than 10 seconds, and two, you have way more customization. Either way, though, I'm not sure this is going to be the main or most attractive feature of why you'd want to buy a Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus.

Next up at number eight, Bixby is better than ever. Now, when I hear Bixby, to this day, I still can't not think of Bubsy Bobcat. I realize Bixby, especially that dedicated Bixby button, gets a lot of hate, but one feature that I thought was cool on the Galaxy S9 is the ability to instantly translate signs or different languages through the camera. Previously, you would need to take a picture in order to translate that text, but now, through AR, it is instant through the camera. And honestly, it works really good.

You can see if I turn the camera slightly off axis and then back, how fast the translation actually happens. So if you're out traveling, I could see this being really useful. Is this enough to warrant the praise and full-time use of Bixby or even being happy with that Bixby button? I'm not sure if I'm quite there yet. But still, it's nice to see some useful features coming to Bixby, especially on the Galaxy S9.

Now, next at number nine, along with the Galaxy S9 comes improved DeX experience. If you remember last year, I turned my Galaxy S8 into a desk setup because of DeX. That stands for Desktop Experience. Now it is better than ever with the Galaxy S9. It's actually more of an alternative as opposed to a replacement, so you still have the option to dock your DeX setup. But this is rather an option where you can place your Galaxy S9 down and then use that as a mouse and keyboard. So the touchscreen, kind of very similar to what we saw on Razer in the Project Linda, that's happening here with the Galaxy S9 where you can plug this into a display and then use that as your control.

So the idea with this is most places you're traveling to will probably have some sort of TV or monitor, and this allows you not to have to carry a keyboard or a mouse and kind of keep things lightweight. On top of that, with those performance improvements on the Galaxy S9, that's kind of where they showed off a gaming scenario plugged into a monitor. I'm not sure if I'm quite sold on the whole gaming plugged into a dock kind of thing with your smartphone. For me, I'd probably rather just stay on the smartphone itself, but either way, it's kind of cool to see Samsung staying on top of this.

So last up at number 10 is when you can buy the Galaxy S9, and to answer that shortly, pre-orders begin March 2. They will hit the stores March 16. So that is very, very close. Typically, Samsung announces their Galaxy S lineup in March. That in turn hits the stores in April. That's what we saw with the Galaxy 8. But this year, we're getting our hands on it just a little bit early. So with that, I would love to hear what you think of the Galaxy S9. Is it enough of an upgrade? What do you think of the colors? Are you team lilac purple, midnight black, or probably in my case, coral blue.