GIMME: Smile and say S9
The S9 introduces a ‘super slow mo’ feature that is capable of shooting video at 960 frames per second
The specs of Samsung’s 2018 flagship devices were leaked before its launch last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, taking some of the punch out of the event.
But the Galaxy S9 and S9+ handsets — with their equal focus on consumers and business users — have been welcomed for some standout features, especially their superior camera.
It brings variable aperture to a smartphone for the first time, switching between F1.5 for low-light photography and F2.4 for outdoor conditions.
Both handsets have this feature, but the S9 has a single 12MP camera, and the S9+ has a dual camera setup (12MP wide angle; and 12MP telephoto). Samsung claims that there is a 60% improvement with low-light photos compared with the S8.
The S9 also introduces a "super slow mo" feature that is capable of shooting video at 960 frames per second.
Videos shot at 960fps can record in 720p HD, and a live demo of water being poured into a glass showed details not visible to the naked eye. Samsung says 0.2 seconds of video will result in six seconds of playback when shot at 960fps.
Another new feature is augmented reality emojis, which are similar to Apple’s Animoji on the iPhone X. But Samsung’s version allows for personalisation that starts with a selfie. You can pick a more realistic look or a cartoon version of yourself, and change basic settings.
Samsung S9 and S9+
Cool factor 4/5
Value for money 4/5
We tested this in Barcelona and found that it needs a bit of work, as features such as curly hair are not supported. It does not do 3D mapping like the iPhone X and can be compared more to Snapchat’s Bitmoji feature. Cute or creepy, you decide.
Both handsets feature stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos surround sound, bringing a cinematic experience to your palm.
Other improvements are a better-positioned fingerprint sensor beneath the camera instead of next to it; and biometrics that give priority to facial unlocking in brighter conditions, instead of an iris scan.
The Enterprise Edition software for corporates is available at a separate cost, including four-year support from Samsung. It allows organisations to customise the S9. Features such as the camera, SD card slot, and screenshots can be disabled when it is at a certain location — the workplace — but once home, and not connected to the company network, these features become accessible.
This also means sensitive information can be accessed by select individuals at certain locations. It also features various levels of access based on seniority.
Both phones will be available from March 16. It won’t be easy to choose among the top-end devices from different manufacturers. But price may help make that decision. The recommended retail price is R15,499 for the S9 and R17,999 for the S9+. That’s significantly less than the cost of the iPhone X.