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Samsung unveils Galaxy S9 and S9+

Photo: Samsung

The day is finally here. At this point it’s safe to say we knew at least 90% of what to expect from the Galaxy S9 and S9+, but here’s the official run down of what Samsung has to offer.

Samsung takes a page from Apple’s book by not changing much of the phone’s physical design when compared to the Galaxy S8 series. Some of the major features remain the same including the 5.8 and 6.2 inch Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 screens on the 9 and 9+ respectively. Depending on how much storage you choose, you get 4GB of RAM with the 64GB option, and 6GB of RAM with the 128GB storage option (just like the S8).

However, they do upgrade a few other essentials. Let’s run down some of improvements over the S8 and S8+

Improved camera technology; Dual lens camera on S9 Plus

As confirmed from a previous leak, the S9 series features an improved camera sensors with its primary lens featuring an adjustable aperture at either f/1.5 or f/2.4. The smaller f-stop number (f/1.5 versus f/1.7 on the S8) allows for 28% more light. In auto mode, the system can determine which works best depending on the light setting, but can be also be manually adjusted in Pro Mode. Unfortunately there are no other f-stop numbers in between those two options.

Regardless, the better f-stop number should result in better low light photos.

The S9+ joins the other flagship packs by offering dual lens technology. The second lens has a fixed aperture at f/2.4, allowing for higher quality photos at 2 times the zoom of the primary wide-angle camera. Thanks to the dual lens setup, they now have a camera feature called Live Focus which operates like Apple’s Portrait mode on the 7 and 8 Plus. It uses software technology to measure the objects in and out of focus from the perspective of both lenses, to keep the object that’s in focus looking sharp as ever, while blurring the background.

There is also dynamic, slow-motion video that captures 960 frames per second. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also offer automatic Motion Detection, a feature that detects movement in the frame and automatically begins to record – all users have to do is set up the shot. After capturing the Super Slow-mo video, users can select background music from 35 different options or add a tune from their favorite playlist. Users can also easily create, edit and share GIF files with a simple tap in three playful styles of looping to watch the action over and over again.

AR Emoji

The S9 and S9+ features its own spin on Apple’s Animoji feature, with AR Emoji. Using your front or back camera, the phone captures a photos of your face and uses data-based machine learning algorithm to analyze the 2D image and measure more than 100 points, which is then converts into a custom 3D character.

Photo: Samsung

These characters can then be customized, in a similar fashion to what you can do with Snapchat’s Bitmojis.

Your AR Emoji can be used for video; and you can also create 18 custom GIF reaction ‘stickers’ than can then be used in your various messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more. The character mimic our expressions with subtle features like winks, nods, smiles, and much more.

Certainly sounds more interesting than an animal. We should make note that Samsung threw a lot of shade at their animal-based emojis, and the infamous notch.

Bixby

Samsung really wants to make Bixby happen by adding more AR functionality to the camera app. For instance, the camera can be pointed as a sign in a foreign language. Using its ever learning AI software, it can then translate it on the fly right on the screen.

Photo: Samsung

This feature was highlighted in a recent leak showing a technician seeing virtual labels on a series of cables that may have be confusing otherwise without them. Bixby can also identify various food items on your plate and even look up the nutritional value. I guess later on we will see what other tricks it has up its sleeves.

Biometric unlocking

As part of its security platform, Knox 3.1, Intelligent Scan combines facial recognition with iris scanning to provide for even more secure biometric security. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ still retain their fingerprint sensors on the back in a slightly lowered position stacked in a vertical and central manner below the camera lens(es).

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also introduce Dedicated Fingerprint, giving users the option to use a different fingerprint to access Secure Folder than the one used to unlock the phone.

Upgraded processor and OS

As with previous Galaxy models, your processor will vary depending on which market you purchase it from. Both US and Chinese models will feature the Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 845 SoC Octa-core processor (4×2.7 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver) while Europe, the Middle East and Africa variants will have the Exynos 9810 Octa SoC Octa-core processor (4×2.8 GHz Mongoose M3 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A55).

Like most other major Android devices, the S9 will launch with Android 8.0 (Oreo), which also features Project Treble. This is essentially a major rebuild of the entire OS, splitting the Android framework from vendor implementations, allowing for more timely OTA updates in the future. If it goes as planned, this should be one of the biggest fixes for fragmentation issues across the platform.

Colors

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be offered in Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, Midnight Black, and a new hue, Lilac Purple (2nd from right).

The Titanium Gray option unfortunately will not be available to the US market.

Photo: Samsung

Pricing and Availability

Unlike previous rumors, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be available unlocked for a more reasonable $719.99 and $839.99 respectively. It will also be available via all US carriers ranging from $720 to $930, depending on who you buy it from and which model you get.

Both models will be available starting in March 16, 2018 in select markets. Pre-orders can be made as early a March 2nd.

Official specifications

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