We have now had the chance to fully review the S9, and it's now available to buy, the new Galaxy S9, at first glance, looks incredibly similar to the old version of this phone. But there's a lot more to the story than just looks.
Here's how the Galaxy S9 compares to the Galaxy S8.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S8: Design
- Both glass front and back with metal core
- New location for the rear fingerprint scanner on S9
- New Lilac Purple colour
There are minor differences to the physical size of these two handsets: the Galaxy S9 is fractionally smaller, but 0.5mm thicker, while the weight goes up a little. Both phones are IP68 rated for protection against dust and water.
Both give you glass front and back, curving into that central metal core and both are lovingly constructed for a premium result. One of the things that Samsung has tried to do is make the bezel of that display hide the top sensors a little better, but that's about it.
The real difference is around the rear. The location of the fingerprint scanner next to the camera was an oddity on the Galaxy S8. It is now below the camera, so there's better symmetry, but we also found it easy enough to hit first time.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S8: Display
- S8 and S9 both have a 5.8-inch Infinity Display
- Both are edge-curved AMOLED
When Samsung unveiled the Infinity Display on the Galaxy S8 is was something novel. Sporting an 18.5:9 aspect, it was one of the first devices to make this change and Samsung is sticking to it.
Also staying in place is the size, with the smaller Galaxy S9 model getting a 5.8-inch display. Samsung has stuck to AMOLED, retained HDR to boost your videos and kept that 2960 x 1440 pixel resolution.
We loved the display on the Galaxy S8, but the Galaxy S9 display is better. Although it keeps the same specs, it's now brighter and performs better, although it's worth noting that it defaults to a lower resolution rather than the sharpest settings.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S8: Hardware and specs
- Galaxy S9: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810, 4GB RAM, 64GB + microSD
- Galaxy S8: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895, 4GB RAM, 64GB + microSD
- Both have 3000mAh batteries, fast and wireless charging
- Dolby Atmos and AKG speakers for Galaxy S9
On the hardware front the Galaxy S9 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or the new Samsung Exynos 9810. This positioning very much reflects the arrangement of the Galaxy S8. While these new hardware platforms will be better in some areas than the previous generation, we're not expecting huge power savings, although the graphical abilities should be boosted, along with AI handling.
When it comes to the battery, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is sticking at 3000mAh, the same as the Galaxy S8, so we'd expect the performance to be pretty close. Both benefit from fast charging, both wired and wireless and the battery life remains the chief downside of these models.
On the audio front there is a boost, however, with AKG tuning the Galaxy S9's speakers and bringing Dolby Atmos to the offering - and these speakers on the S9 will rock your world.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S8: Cameras
- S9: 12-megapixel Dual Pixel, dual aperture single rear camera
- S8: 12-megapixel Dual Pixel single rear camera
- S9 gets 960fps slow-motion capture
When it comes to the camera we start to see the real difference. While Samsung isn't going to be ramping up the megapixels, it is offering innovation on the Galaxy S9 in the form of a dual aperture function.
This will give you a low light f/1.5 aperture and a f/2.4 aperture in the same lens, meaning it can change the physical properties to suit the conditions. It's also now a stacked sensor, with DRAM integrated, meaning it's able to process data much faster.
Although the Galaxy S8 has a great camera, the dual aperture feature adds low-light skills that the previous camera lacked, while the enhanced slow-mo gives you another fancy feature - although it's a little tricky to use. Elsewhere, the Galaxy S9 gets enhanced noise reduction on images, taking 12 shots in succession, comparing and combining for clean low light shots. The S8 only does this with 3 images.
The Galaxy S9 to be a better camera experience, including more features, but it's only incrementally better.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S8: Software
- Android Oreo
- Samsung Experience UX
- AR emoji
- Bixby Vision enhancements
The Samsung Galaxy S9 launches with Android Oreo, bringing with it some new features in the form of the latest version of Samsung Experience UX. The software offering looks and feels very much the same, but Samsung has been a little slow to push the Oreo update to older phones.
The biggest change comes in the form of the introduction of AR emoji. This is Samsung's take on Apple's animoji, allowing you to capture your face and use an avatar of yourself as an emoji. We've no idea if this will be coming to the S8 as a software update.
Elsewhere, Bixby Vision gets a boost, giving you live translation for example. Again, it's difficult to know if this will be coming to other devices too, we suspect that it will.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S8: Price and conclusions
- Mostly the same design
- Mostly the same features
- It's all about the camera
- S9 is £140 more
The Samsung Galaxy S9 doesn't add a huge amount to the Galaxy S8, but it's coming from a very strong position. The Galaxy S8 was one of the best phones of 2017 and that striking design and display stays in place.
The big change is in that dual aperture camera that promises to give you an enhanced low light shooting experience, as well as delivering that 960fps video capture - and it's the former that's the more exciting.
That's really there the difference lies in this experience. Is the Galaxy S9 an exciting phone? Yes, it is - but so was the Galaxy S8. Should S8 owners upgrade? We're not sure it's worth the money if you already have the Galaxy S8.