Along with the official announcement, I wrote some of my first impressions after using the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus for a couple of hours during a briefing.
I now have a retail unlocked Midnight Black Galaxy S9 Plus in hand and am able to share more of my experiences before we post a full review later this week. My T-Mobile SIM was inserted a couple of days ago as I use the S9 Plus as my daily driver.
It is clear that the Galaxy S9 Plus improves upon the S8 Plus with the following:
In addition to the above design improvements, Samsung focused on camera features in the Galaxy S9 Plus. These include:
The key improvements over last year's Galaxy S8 Plus are the new processor, improved manual dual aperture camera, reconfigured fingerprint scanner, and stereo speakers tuned by AKG. The S9 Plus is 15 grams heavier, 0.4mm thicker, and 0.3 mm wider than the S8 Plus.
The first thing I noticed about the hardware, when compared to the S8 Plus, is that the two sides have a wider flat area. This may prevent fewer accidental screen presses on the curved sides of the display. However, some may also find the less rounded sides to be a bit uncomfortable.
Unlike the challenging off-center rear fingerprint scanner on the S8 Plus and Note 8, I hit the center rear fingerprint scanner every time. There is also a much quicker fingerprint training process on the S9 Plus that seems to make unlocking the device more consistent as well.
I've captured quite a few outside shots that look great, but also need to take more low light photos. The slow motion video is interesting and I look forward to discovering more scenarios to capture slow motion footage. This functionality encourages creativity and it will be interesting to see what people do with this capability.
The display is fantastic as Samsung once again sets the bar for smartphone displays with the S9 Plus. It is stunning and watching video content is a wonderful experience.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus launches with Oreo, but there isn't a ton of apparent differences since Samsung already pushes ahead of Google with its own innovations.
Thankfully, Samsung still includes its own email, calendar, contacts, image gallery, music player, and web browser software. All of these offer more than the stock Google apps and while others move to purely stock Google apps, there is still a ton of value in these Samsung applications that offer more for the enterprise.
A SmartThings app is installed out of the box, but so far I have not been able to get it to connect to my existing SmartThings hub so had to also install the separate SmartThings app. I need to explore this further with Samsung to figure out what the issue is here.
The super slow motion demo I saw at the briefing is also taking me some time to figure out and the ability to create GIFs and then share them is not as intuitive as I saw at the briefing. In order for super slow motion, and other advanced Samsung features, to be useful to the masses then these experiences need to be obvious and intuitive.
It was rather pleasantly surprising to see Samsung announce the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus at nearly the same price as the S8 and S8 Plus, much less than the iPhone X. The $720 and $840 pricing for the S9 and S9 Plus, respectively, is reasonable for the high level specifications and functionality included in these two new phones.
Pre-orders launched last week with the devices appearing in stores at the end of next week. Samsung has come a long ways over the last few years in shortening the time between new device announcements and availability, which is something Apple set the bar for and others can still use as examples of how to do things right.
As I continue to use the S9 Plus as my daily driver, I plan to test out the battery life, reception and call quality, dual camera performance, Bixby functionality, and ability to unlock and be used immediately. Please let me know if there is anything specific you want me to test and discuss in my full review.
As much as I enjoy using the iPhone X, it is possible I may visit T-Mobile and exercise the Jump On Demand program to move to a Coral Blue S9 Plus. We'll find out after another week or so using this evaluation unit.
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