As you know, TechRadar loves to put a phone through its paces so we haven’t stress-tested the new Galaxy as yet – but we’ve spent two days with the phone, so here are our first impressions of the Samsung’s great new hope for the smartphone industry.
- Want more detail? Check out our hands on: Samsung Galaxy S9 review
The camera doesn’t look like it’s changed much, but there’s actually a fair amount of difference under the lens surface – the dual aperture sensor is supposed to make the Galaxy S9 immense in low light.
And it is – we were really impressed with what it can capture when there’s very little light around. We haven't managed any stunning low light shots yet, but we've not stress-tested it yet.
There are some other impressive new flourishes in the camera from Samsung on the Galaxy S9 – for instance, the software works out when there’s an object or person in the foreground, and gives the background a slight blur, which is really appealing to the eye.
Super Slo Mo
We’ve played with this mode extensively on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium last year, and the version Samsung has brought out is technically identical to the one the Japanese brand produced.
However, the software change of capturing slow motion when action is seen in the central square is interesting – we kept getting told to hold the phone steady when playing with the mode. We were doing it in darker conditions, and it’s clear that the Super Slo Mo mode is best used in bright lights, so we need to try that out.
Here's a video taken late at night – the darker conditions, like with Sony, aren't great with the Super Slo Mo, but it's more designed for brighter scenes, which we'll play with more this week:
OK, these are weird. We firstly thought that what we got looked nothing like us – and it’s annoying that the costumes on offer are a bit limiting. That said, the phone is good at getting the general idea of what you look like, and some of the automatic GIFs it generated are pretty funny and accurate (and they’ll freak your friends out, trust us).
It’s really nice how Samsung has embedded the ability to use the AR Emoji throughout the phone – for instance, it’s already available as a sticker on WhatsApp that you can send to chums.
You can create little videos of yourself with your AR Emoji from the front-facing camera, but the sensor doesn’t seem super accurate, only picking up a few flickers of the face – it’s not something that you’d really want to share with friends (unless we find a bit more practice makes it more usable).
The Galaxy S9 generates a lot of AR Emoji in different scenarios that you can use as GIFs to your pals, filling your gallery with them instantly. They’re fun, if a little strange. We’re not sure if this is going to be a massive feature or a novelty…
Design and biometrics
OK, there's barely anything new in the design on the S9… this is just the Samsung Galaxy S8 with a fingerprint scanner in a different place.
The look and feel is identical – if you owned both phones then you’d easily pick up the wrong one time and again, and probably not notice which you had until you found it hard to unlock.
What is nice is that the biometric security already seems way better than the Galaxy S8 – Intelligent Scan is so much more rapid than the iris / face scan, and you can also have the fingerprint scanner running at the same time.
There were multiple occasions when the scanner fired up and were in before even realizing what had happened. It doesn’t work very well when placed down on the desk, but it’s still a big step up from last year.
The dual speakers are also really nifty – so much louder than last year and offer a wider, more expansive sound. We’re still working out how best to test the Dolby Atmos abilities on the phone, but again, this is a small upgrade that looks like it’s making a big difference.
MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.