Samsung once again has a fantastic pair of flagships.
Samsung's new Galaxy S9 and S9+ are definitely iterative updates over last year's dramatically redesigned Galaxy S8 series, but that's not a problem. Instead of going back to the drawing board altogether, Samsung focused on fixing a lot of the issues while making drastic improvements to the camera experience and retaining everything that made the last generation so great.
Whether you're looking to buy or make the most of your new Galaxy S9, we have all of the information you need right here.
May 16, 2018 — Samsung announces two new colors and ARCore is finally available
If you're interested in the Sunrise Gold variant, you'll be able to pick it up starting this June in Australia, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. The eye-catching Burgundy Red will, unfortunately, see a much more limited release, with availability only planned for China and Korea later this month.
In addition to the new colors, it was also discovered that both the S9 and S9+ finally support Google's ARCore!
What are the big changes over the Galaxy S8 series?
In a word, the camera. Samsung has kept the primary sensor at 12 megapixels, but that's where the similarities end. The S9 and S9+ have adjustable apertures, switching seamlessly between f/1.5 and f/2.4, sitting in front of an all-new sensor that is great in low light. The Galaxy S9+ also gets a second 12MP sensor with a "telephoto" lens that provides 2X zoom and facilitates Live Focus, Samsung's version of portrait mode that debuted with the Galaxy Note 8.
In terms of specs, the Galaxy S9+ (but only the S9+) has two more gigabytes of RAM than last year's models. And let's not downplay the importance of the fingerprint sensor being relocated to a much more sensible place on the back of the phone — below the now-vertical camera module.
This is the big question — and as always, it depends. If you're running a Galaxy S6 or S7, and want to move to something new in the Samsung world, the answer is absolutely. If you're rocking a still-new Galaxy S8 or Note 8, the answer is no. While there are substantial differences that clearly make the Galaxy S9 a better phone, the S8 is just a year old at this point, and has most of the Galaxy S9's features thanks to its Android 8.0 Oreo update.
OK, so you've made up your mind to buy the Galaxy S9 — but wait, should you get the S9 or the larger S9+?
Unlike last year, the Galaxy S9+ feels like more of the "default" choice of the two. It has extra RAM and a secondary rear camera in addition to its overall larger screen and bigger battery — yet the price delta between the two hasn't changed. If you can handle the size difference and would like the extra battery life, go for the Galaxy S9+.
Like last year, there are multiple colors of the Galaxy S9 series to purchase: Midnight Black, Lilac Purple, Coral Blue and Titanium Gray. U.S. buyers only get access to three of the four — silver is only available internationally — and both blue and purple are slight updates over last year.
A few months after the S9's release, Samsung introduced two new colors in the form of Sunrise Gold and Burgundy Red.
Burgundy Red is already available in both China and Korea with Sunrise Gold rolling out in June to Australia, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. There aren't currently any official plans to launch either color in the U.S., but it looks like Sunrise Gold could make an appearance sooner or later.
No matter where you decide to buy the Galaxy S9, 64GB is the default storage space that's available with the phone. 64GB should be more than enough for most people, but if you want, you can always expand it with a microSD card.
However, if you're someone who has a lot of local files and goes through GB like nothing, you may want to consider upgrading to a 128GB or even a 256GB model.
These larger configurations are sold exclusively on Samsung's website and you'll spend an extra $50 per each storage upgrade.
What's this about bad battery life with the Exynos processor?
Samsung has regularly used both its own processors and Qualcomm's latest chips in different markets, and it's regularly been a point of discussion between enthusiasts as to which one is "better" overall.
In the Galaxy S9 and S9+, there's a clear differentiation in that the Exynos versions of the phone have been getting much shorter battery life. To make things worse, the Qualcomm models are also outperforming Exynos in many synthetic benchmark tests.
So what can you do? Well, not much — Samsung doesn't sell both versions of the phones in the same markets, so you can't exactly cross-shop the two processors. The hope is that Samsung could update the firmware on the Exynos models to improve processor efficiency a bit.