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Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know, all in one place

Samsung's latest flagship phone looks like the S8 that it replaces but it's all new inside.

galaxy s9 holding
Christopher Hebert/IDG

To the untrained eye, it's impossible to pick the Samsung Galaxy S9 out of a lineup of Galaxy S8s. The Galaxy S9 has the same all-glass body, Infinity screen, slim bezels, and 3.5mm headphone jack as its predecessor, but if you look closer, there are lots of little changes that add up to a worthy upgrade. Here's everything that's new about Samsung's latest flagship.

Galaxy S9+ hands-on

We go hands on with the biggest new features of the Galaxy S9, including an in-depth look at AR Emoji.

Galaxy S9 review

Check out our review of the Galaxy S9, one of the best phones of the year so far.

Galaxy S9 and S9+ cases

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ have changed just enough so last year's S8 cases won't fit. So, if you're looking for some protection for your Galaxy S9, check out our roundup of best cases in every style, which we will be updating regularly.

Galaxy S9 and S9+ tips and tricks

We kept track of every single awesome tip and trick we could find while testing the Galaxy S9 and collected them all, so you can master your S9.

Galaxy S9 and S9+ design and display

galaxy s9 screen Christopher Hebert/IDG

Samsung pretty much blew us all away with the 18:9, slim-bezel design of the Galaxy S8, and the S9 doesn't stray too far from the winning formula. But it's not quite a carbon copy of its predecessor:

Dimensions

Galaxy S8: 148.9 × 68.1 × 8.0mm
Galaxy S9: 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm

Galaxy S8+: 159.5 × 73.4 × 8.1mm
Galaxy S9+: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5mm

The phones are also a touch heavier than their predecessor, clocking in at 163 grams and 189 grams compared to 155 grams and 173 grams, respectively. That's due to a more rugged aluminum frame than the Galaxy S8, and thicker glass. Otherwise, the screen sizes are exactly the same:

Galaxy S9: 5.8" Quad HD+ Super AMOLED (2960x1440)
570 ppi
Galaxy S9+: 6.2" Quad HD+ Super AMOLED (2960x1440)
529 ppi

galaxy s8 vs s9 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Galaxy S9 (left) is a smidgen shorter top to bottom than the Galaxy S8 (right). But the display size remains static at 5.8 inches.

Around the back, the changes between the phones are more apparent. Instead of horizontal arrangement for the camera and the fingerprint sensor, which made it a little hard to reach, the Galaxy S9's camera is vertically aligned down the middle of the phone, right above the fingerprint sensor.

galaxy s9 ports2 Christopher Hebert/IDG

Rejoice! The Galaxy S9 still has a headphone jack.

On the sides of the phone, you'll find the same three buttons: power on the right, and Bixby and a volume rocker on the left. And the bottom edge features a USB-C port, speaker, and 3.5mm headphone jack.

Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

On the inside, the Galaxy S9 is all-new, with the latest chips and a bump in the RAM for the S9+:

Galaxy S9

  • Processor: Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Network: Enhanced 4x4 MIMO/CA, LAA, LTE Cat.18
  • Water resistance: IP68
  • OS: Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Speakers: Stereo

Galaxy S9+

  • Processor: Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Battery: 3,500mAh
  • Network: Enhanced 4x4 MIMO/CA, LAA, LTE Cat.18
  • Water resistance: IP68
  • OS: Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Speakers: Stereo

Both models also include support for expanded storage up to 400GB, an increase from the 256GB limit on the S8.

Galaxy S9 and S9+ camera

samsung galaxy s9 biometrics fingerprint Ryan Whitwam/IDG

Samsung's marketing materials tout the camera in the Galaxy S9 as having been "reimagined," but the specs don't tell the whole story:

Galaxy S9:

  • Lens: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor
  • Sensor size: 1/2.55 inch
  • Pixel size: 1.4µm
  • Sensor ratio: 4:3
  • FOV: 77 degrees
  • OIS: Yes
  • Optical zoom: No
  • Aperture: Dual, F/1.5, F/2.4

Galaxy S9+

  • Main lens: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor
  • Sensor size: 1/2.55 inch
  • Pixel size: 1.4µm
  • Sensor ratio: 4:3
  • FOV: 77 degrees
  • OIS: Yes
  • Optical zoom: No
  • Aperture: Dual, F/1.5, F/2.4
  • Secondary lens: Telephoto 12MP AF sensor
  • Sensor size: 1/3.6 inch
  • Pixel size: 1.0µm
  • Sensor ratio: 4:3
  • FOV: 45 degrees
  • OIS: Yes
  • Optical zoom: 2X
  • Aperture: f/2.4

The first thing that jumps out at you is the Galaxy S9+'s dual camera, as well as the S9's lack of one. For the first time, Samsung has opted to distinguish its two phones by more than just the size of their screens. On the S9+ you'll get a dual-camera setup like on the Note 8, while the smaller S9 has just a single lens. That means you won't be able to enjoy Samsung's Live Focus portrait mode on the 5.8-inch Galaxy S9.

galaxy s9 camera Christopher Hebert/IDG

The S9 doesn't have a dual camera, but it makes the most of its single lens.

Take away the second camera, the two cameras are very similar. You'll get optical image stabilization and 8X digital zoom, as well as two new features: Dual Aperture and Super Slow-mo. Where every other smartphone shoots in the lowest possible aperture and adjusts in processing, Samsung lets you choose between F/2.4 and f/1.5 when shooting in different lighting. It's not a digital trick: The lens physically opens and closes when you switch apertures.

Also new is Super Slo-mo, a video recording mode that lets you shoot in a mind-boggling 960fps. It's limited to 720p and you can only capture 20 shots per video with approximately 0.2 seconds of recording and 6 seconds of playback for each shot, but it's still a pretty cool trick. If you want to stick to 4K recording, you can capture up to 60fps.

The front camera is the same on both models:

  • Lens: 8MP AF sensor
  • Sensor size: 1/3.6"
  • Pixel size: 1.22µm
  • Sensor ratio: 4:3
  • FOV: 80 degree
  • Aperture: f/1.7

Galaxy S9 and S9+ AR Emoji

galaxy s9 ar emoji Christopher Hebert/IDG

Samsung has added a new feature to the camera app called AR Emoji that's similar to Animoji on iPhone X. While both systems let you control a cartoon character with your face, Samsung's method is quite a bit different. For one, you aren't limited to 10-second messages like on iPhone X, and for another you can create custom characters in your own likeness. By using the front camera to snap a selfie, the S9 will make a custom "emoji" that you can use to make videos and stickers. There are a few cartoonish AR Emoji available as well, and Disney characters are on the way. And yes, you can sing karaoke if you'd like.

Galaxy S9 and S9+ price and colors

galaxy s9 color range Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ come in four colors: midnight black, titanium gray, lilac purple, and coral blue. The prices for an unlocked phone are as follows:

S9: $720
S9+: $840

Pricing varies through the carriers, so check with your wireless provider before making a purchase.

This story, "Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know, all in one place" was originally published by PCWorld.

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