Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the new Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. In the latest iteration of Samsung’s flagship, the focus isn’t so much on what the phone looks like but more on what it can do. If you’ve seen the leaks for the devices, you’ve already gotten most of the key features of it. We’re just hear to confirm that it exists; and it can land in your hands in the next few weeks (starting March 16th, to be exact). Let’s just dive right in, shall we?

Focusing on the camera

Samsung is putting the focus on those they’re calling “mobile natives” or those between 10 and 30 years of age—the crowd they consider to be completely reliant on their devices and who rely more on visual forms of expression. And so the central focus of these devices, as we’ve seen in the invites for this, is the camera.

Samsung is introducing a slew of new features for the cameras on both the Galaxy S9 and S9+. None of these really come as a surprise at this point but the new features include Super Slow-mo mode, better low light performance, dual rear camera setup for the S9+, and AR Emoji.

Its Super Slow-mo mode catches up with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium’s own with its capability to capture 960fps videos at 720p resolution. Super Slow-mo mode can start capturing clips in slow motion when it detects movement within a small square on the screen. After capturing the video, you can even add your own music or preset background music to your clips to add a bit more drama or fun to the video. It’s also possible to make GIFs out of these clips. You can even set your Super Slow-mo video as your lockscreen.

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Low light has been improved further with the S9, with the aperture going from f/1.7 in the S8 to f/1.5 in the S9. Noise reduction is said to be 30% less than what you have in the S8, too. Speaking of aperture, Samsung added dual aperture into the S9, allowing the camera to adjust according to the lighting condition. It’ll be set to f/2.4 in bright conditions and f/1.5 in low light. It’s something we haven’t seen done yet with smartphones so it’s impressive Samsung was able to pull that off. For the S9+, with its dual rear camera setup, you can take clearer and crisper photos from a distance and in low light thanks to the combination of the optical zoom and dual optical image stabilization.

The dual rear camera setup on the S9+ also provides users with Live Focus capability, meaning you can adjust background blur right before you take a shot. You can also do this after the fact. Samsung is also introducing what they call Art Bokeh, which as its name suggests let’s you play around with the lighting effect on things like nighttime cityscape shots.

Samsung takes its cues from Apple’s Animoji with what they call the AR Emoji. What Samsung has over Apple’s version is it’ll let you create your own 3D avatar with the help of a 3D modeling algorithm and face tracking technology. It’s a simple enough process and you can change things like skin tone, hair color, whether your avatar wears glasses or not, and the type of clothes he or she wears. On top of that, you get a set of premade Emoji stickers based on your avatar that you can share on other apps. Samsung just partnered with Disney so you can even use AR Emojis of beloved characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse and even characters from The Incredibles.

There are also some animal-based AR Emojis and other AR masks and stickers to play around with. You can add frames and stickers to your photos as well, which should appeal to those who want to share new types of photos in apps like Instagram and Snapchat. We’ve noticed you need to articulate your facial movements more to get the AR Emoji to move. But it’s a fun thing to play around with.

What really impressed me personally is the “beautification” feature. Like what we’ve seen in other phones, you can add makeup to your selfies like what you can do in other devices, but you can make it appear as subtle or as dramatic as you want it to be. And it comes out naturally and so exact that it can really make it look like you’re wearing makeup. It does so even behind my glasses. It focuses so quickly on your face and can easily follow your movements that when you take a photo you can be sure the eyelashes are where they’re supposed to be.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 was able to add and extend my lashes in one of the more natural modes.

No design surprises

We’ve gotten confirmation that there isn’t really going to be that big of a change in terms of the looks of the S9. We get the Infinity Display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio and a glossy back. The welcome change though is Samsung finally decided to relocate the fingerprint sensor below the camera sensor. There is also a new lilac purple color option for those who want a softer, unique color for their device. Also, yes the 3.5mm audio jack is still here.

The S9 is also the first time Samsung integrates a high-powered stereo speaker that’s been tuned by AKG and supports Dolby Atmos Surround Sound. From our short time with the device, it does come out loud and crisp. But we haven’t been able to test it yet with a variety of songs.

As what’s been reported, the S9 is water-resistant and comes with an IP68 rating. It can withstand to be in fresh water for up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.

An appeal to the enterprise market

An official video for the S9 leaked earlier and put the focus on some enterprise-grade features that the device offers. One of these is the introduction of what the company says is a “fast and convenient” way to unlock devices: Samsung is calling it “Intelligent Scan.” It combines the infrared sensors and RGB sensors to make logging into your device faster and to prevent anti-spoofing. Samsung says this is enough to secure the device for your use and it should identify you separately from let’s say a twin or the use of a photo. But this, of course, has to be put to the test.

Samsung has also updated its DeX Dock and launched the DeX Pad to easily turn the S9 into a mobile computer. It lets you select different screen resolutions (from WQHD, Full HD, to HD) and comes with an HDMI connection and two USB 2.0 ports. It gives you the option to turn the S9 into a touchpad.

Bixby’s new features

Samsung’s own personal assistant is getting some new handy features as well. Bixby adds Live Translation support, similar to what Google Translate does. So, just take a photo of words you want to translate and the assistant will do that just for you. You can also use it while you’re out and about to get information about an area. It works similar to Google Lens. But has a few modifications of its own. For example, you can point the camera to the ground to get your location; point it at a restaurant, for example, to get information on the place; or point it to the sky to get weather info.

Specs rundown

If you want to get into the nitty gritty of the device, here are its specs for comparison:

S9 S9+
Display 5.8″ Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 6.2″ Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9
Camera Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (f/1.5 / f/2.4) rear + 8MP AF (f/1.7) front Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (f/1.5 / f/2.4)  + 12MP OIS (f/2.4) rear + 8MP AF (f/1.7) front
Memory 4GB/64GB + microSD slot up to 400GB 6GB/64GB/128GB/256GB + microSD slot up to 400GB
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810
Network Enhanced 4×4 MIMO/CA, LAA, LTE Cat. 18 Enhanced 4×4 MIMO/CA, LAA, LTE Cat. 18
Etc. Face recognition, iris scanner, fingerprint scanner, IP68 rating, USB Type-C, wireless charging Face recognition, iris scanner, fingerprint scanner, IP68 rating, USB Type-C, wireless charging
Battery 3,000mAh 3,500mAh

All the extras

Samsung is also introducing some new accessories with the S9. There are two kinds of cases: the Hyperknit Cover, which features the fabric used for sportswear, and Protective Standing, which offers a bit more protection and has a kickstand. The latter can still be used with wireless charger. The Hyperknit will retail for P1,799, while the Protective Standing will go for P1,999.

The S9 and S9+ will be coming to the country in three different colors, the aforementioned Lilac Purple, Midnight Black, and Coral Blue. The S9 comes in Lilac Purple and Midnight Black and retails for P45,990 for the 4GB/64GB version. The S9+ comes with 6GB of RAM and in three different storage options: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. The 64GB version will come in Midnight Black and Lilac Purple for P52,990, the 128GB will come in all three colors for P55,990, and the 256GB will come in Coral Blue and Midnight Black for P60,990.

If you pre-order the S9 and S9+ starting February 27 until March 6, you get to choose among three different freebies to accompany your purchase. You can opt to get an AKG S30 Bluetooth Speaker, Wireless Charger Convertible, or P3,500 Samsung APS discount. You also get AKG earphones and clear cover, screen warranty for six months, 25 percent off Zalora for a minimum purchase of P1,500, and P200 off on food and P500 off on groceries from Honestbee. The phones will be available through Globe and Smart, Lazada, Abenson, and other authorized Samsung dealers.

When the phone comes out on the weekend of March 16 to 18, Samsung is also offering 20 percent off on one selected S9 or S9+ accessory as well as 10 percent off one selected wearable. You can also use your Citi Bank or BDO credit cards to pay for the phones. Citi offers 0 percent interest for up to 36 months, while BDO offers the same for up to 24 months. PSBank offers debit cashback of P3,500 for straight payments. This will be available through participating Samsung Experience Stores around the country.

There will also be a trade-in, trade-up option at 31 selected Samsung Experience Stores and selected stores around the country. You can trade in your old phone for the new devices. For straight payments, the net value of your phone plus P4,000 token will be taken off the Galaxy S9’s price.

About The Author

Nicole Batac
Managing Editor

Nicole calls herself an accidental techie that has learned to love all things consumer tech since she started with this line of work around seven years ago. In her spare time, she devours books, TV shows, movies, and a large amount of Japan-related entertainment.