Samsung galaxy s9 an excellent phone, but so was the previous one apple tablets on sale

Apple’s decision to price its premium iphone X above $1500 has given rival samsung a market opening. This year the korean manufacturer wasted no time in exploiting it by bringing forward the announcement of the galaxy S9 and S9+ by about a month compared to last year.

For this review, I had the larger galaxy S9+. It has a 6.2-inch display rather than the S9’s 5.8-inch one. It has a dual lens camera system with a wide-angle dual aperture lens and telephoto lens on the back.

S9+ is cheaper. An S9 with 64GB of storage is $1349, with 256GB it’s $1499. IPhone X equivalents cost $1579 and $1829, so you save $230 to $330, or more where S9 is discounted.

The S9 additionally offers another 400GB of storage if you shell out $300+ for a microsd card. There’s no way to similarly augment iphone handset storage.

There are particular features that get me using galaxy phones.

Within limits, you can directly connect USB sticks and external drives to them, and transfer media effortlessly.Dual aperture

Generally premium samsung phones have had better displays. This is not necessarily so this year with iphone X and S9 both having an AMOLED display. It’s the first time apple has offered it on a smartphone. The S9/S9+ offers better than 2K resolution.

The S9/S9+ has a regular 3.5mm audio socket, something apple scrapped to the annoyance of many, but in fairness you can get better audio quality with a lightning connection.

On the other hand, we have duplicate samsung versions of apps already available from google so you have two email clients, two calendar apps etc. Samsung gives you bixby but the phone already has the far more capable google assistant.

This reinventing of the wheel and duplication can get annoying. Take bixby translating a menu when you hold your camera over it. Google has offered this for some time through google lens and has announced the rollout of it to all android phones via photos.Dual aperture

The big drivers to apple remain the reliability of its mobile operating system, ios, users familiarity with how apple phones operate, and the company’s long-held reputation for aiming at perfection.

But in 2018, the enormous cost of iphone X might lure some to android in the quest for premium features, and to samsung in particular as the dominant android premium handset. Improvements with version 8 of android (oreo) is likely to see android users more satisfied and less likely to defect to ios. So how does the S9 change the equation? In my view, not much. Physically, the S9 and S9+ look the same as last year’s models, and their displays are the same aspect ratio and resolution.

You’ll notice that the fingerprint scanner is now underneath rather than beside the back-facing cameras which means you are less likely to smudge the lenses when groping for it.

There’s the new animated emojis, the company’s response to apple’s animojis, where you scan your face and create animated gifs or create talking videos in your likeness.Dual aperture I have enjoyed creating them and sending them to friends. See this story. But this gimmick would not lure me into buying an S9.

Samsung super slow-mo video example shot at the sydney opera house @samsungau #galaxys9 pic.Twitter.Com/pozwyiavnk— chris griffith (@chris_griffith) march 12, 2018

Samsung also offers an astonishing similar super slow-mo mode to what sony promoted a year ago. The presence of memory adjacent to the camera lens lets the phone capture 960 frames per second in extreme slow motion in short bursts. (sony’s is also 960fps.) you can capture a balloon disintegrating piece-by-piece, or water descending in individual droplets.

Samsung however makes super slo-mo easier to use. In automatic mode, you start shooting a video, and when something moves into the small window in the display, super slow-mo recording kicks in automatically. Alternatively you can start the mode manually by hitting the super slow-mo button.Dual aperture

The first is the new intelligent scan mode, where it performs both face recognition and iris scanning to let you unlock your phone and access secure apps.

It’s good for those of us with glasses. If the phone can’t recognise your face with glasses on, it can scan your eyes and authenticate you that way. It works well in decent light, but you mostly need to hold the phone at eye level for it to work. I found it unreliable at night, especially if I was wearing my specs then. It seemed to me that iris recognition struggled in low light.

The other feature is the camera. Samsung’s back facing camera on both models has two aperture settings: f/2.4 for day photography, and a big f/1.5 aperture for low light and night photography. It kicks in below 100 lux.

I won’t overindulge in the technicalities, except to say the dual aperture gives users the best of both worlds. The f/1.5 setting is wider than apple’s f/1.8 aperture which means better low light photography, all other things being equal.Last year’s

You can take lovely, artistic photos at night with iphones provided you have a reasonable light source. Where there is just enough light for a photo, I have found that samsung’s cameras perform better.

In the camera stakes, samsung is competing not just against iphone X, but against huawei mate 10 which has an excellent camera, and google pixel 2 XL. This comparison is particularly relevant in asian markets.

I took photos with this year’s and last year’s samsung handsets and the S9+ shots are brighter and retain more colour and definition in low light. If night-time photography matters, the S9+ is an attractive option even with a dim light source.

The dual aperture set-up has another benefit. At f/2.4, the daytime aperture is a lot smaller which means sharper shots with less overexposure.

As for performance, the antutu benchmark rated my S9+ at 243,200 with excellent CPU and graphics performance.Dual aperture that’s above the 226,000 achieved with iphone X. Before samsung gets too smug, anandtech’s tests claim the opposite.

With 5G looming, upload/download speed metrics become more important as some handset makers will embrace the faster speeds more readily than others.

Over a fast cellular network (telstra 4GX), the S9+ download speeds were consistently faster: 152/8.51 mbps download/upload versus 101/9.12 mbps for iphone X.

Overall the S9+ is a great phone, but so was last year’s S8 and not that much has changed. However samsung still sets the benchmark for android handsets. If very low light photography matters, you may be swayed towards galaxy S9/S9+ handsets also.