Ever since the introduction of the plus-sized S variants with the 2017 flagship models, questions have been raised about their redundancy with the similarly sized Note series. After all, one of the greatest selling points of the Galaxy Notes from year to year has been the titanic panel sizes, which allowed for a striking multimedia experience that only improved with the passing years. However, we’ve reached a complicated plateau with smartphones today, what with nearly bezel-less designs pushing the limit of display real estate while maintaining a relative semblance of single-handed operation. The Galaxy S9+ continues the controversial trend with its own panel: a whole tenth of an inch smaller than the Note 8.
On the other hand, the Note series has always brought more than just huge displays. The S-Pen is an epic benefit for graphic designers, note-takers and hygiene-oriented minds who find their needs where stubby fingers can’t scroll, swipe and tap with enough precision. Classically, Notes have always justified their top-of-the-line price tags with other special additions such as further boosts to processing prowess and the ever-expected gig or two of extra RAM, but keep in mind that the S-Pen’s Wacom digitizer packs memory-intensive software under the hood that needs a healthy chunk of that. Still, we think Samsung could do better to draw the line between the S flagships and their Note counterparts, and the dampened disparity was criticized heavily with the Note 8.
If you’re just here to see the best of the best on the market and have no interest in how the Galaxy S9+ stands up against the Note 8, that’s okay — we’ve got what you’re looking for. Read on for an in-depth analysis of the hardware to help you decide if you’re ready to own the most powerful piece of Android hardware on the market right now.
Processing and Storage
Anyone who’s familiar with Samsung’s flagship handsets knows by now that the best of the best is usually packed between the chassis, and the S9+ doesn’t disappoint that standard by any means. The latest in Qualcomm’s mobile processing comes with a juicy 6 GB of Samsung’s proprietary LPDDR4 RAM, which is the most spacious, efficient and speedy memory type on the market right now. The Adreno 630 pushes the limits of high-end smartphone graphics currently, and nothing short of a dedicated gaming phone will beat this. You also have a healthy 64 GB of super-fast UFS 2.1 on board to store your precious moments, favorite apps and more with around 800 MBps I/O horsepower to keep the loads at a minimum.
For the savvy personalities who walk among us, that AnTuTu of 240,000 should make you blink; that’s about 70,000 better than last year’s S8, S8+ and Note 8. Whether you care about benchmarks or not, the S9+ takes the cake across the board in this category. There’s no faster Android handset that money can currently buy.
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SDM845
- CPU: 64-bit octa-core 2.8 GHz Kryo 385, 10 nm
- RAM: 6 GB LPDDR4 RAM
- GPU: Adreno 630
- Inbuilt Storage: 64 GB UFS 2.1
- MicroSD Support: Yes, up to 2 TB
The shooter is perhaps the most notable upgrade from last year’s S8 and S8+, and to be honest, those handsets were no slouches when it came to photography. Relatively huge pixels (1.4 μm), a unique variable aperture with 2x optical zoom and a dual-camera array bring you the closest you’ve ever been to professional photography with a smartphone. Complete with 4K video capture at a butter-smooth 60 FPS, optical image stabilization and high dynamic range make for an impeccable shooting experience with Samsung’s massive smartphone.
For the inner pro photographer, you have the option of enabling RAW image capture from the settings, which will cause the RAW version of every photo captured in Pro Mode to be saved alongside the post-processed JPEG. Remember that RAW photos usually don’t look as nice as JPEGs at first since they haven’t been touched up; as such, you’ll need to take the photos into an editor to manually apply the changes to make the most of RAW’s potential. It’ll surely be a thrill on the massive AMOLED display and 64 GB of inbuilt storage!
- Photo Resolution: Dual 12 MP back, 8 MP front
- Video Resolution: 4K UHD 60 FPS back, 2K QHD front
- Aperture: F1.5-F2.4
- Pixel Size: 1.4 μm
- Features: RAW photography, panorama, high dynamic range (HDR), optical image stabilization (OIS)
As you’d expect, Samsung takes the lead in the display category once again with the S9+. Sitting pretty with a QHD+ Super AMOLED panel at a full-figured 6.2 inches stretched over their 18.5:9 aspect ratio (“Infinity Display”), the pixels are invisible to the naked eye, and the display is incredibly rich to behold. There’s no equal on the market today, so if the absolute best display is essential to you, look no further than the Korean manufacturer’s latest and greatest.
- Screen Size: 6.2 inches
- Resolution: 1,440 x 2,960 (2K QHD+)
- Pixel Density: 531 ppi
- Aspect Ratio: 18.5:9
- Screen-to-Body Ratio: 83.68%
- Display Technology: Super AMOLED
With an above-average juicer capacity paired with Samsung’s recent penchant for exceptional efficiency, the Galaxy S9+ will carry you through a whole day at full-power settings on hours of heavy usage. If that fails, you have the latest in quick-charge technology to bring you back from the brink — 0-50 percent in a half hour.
- Capacity: 3,500 mAh
- Removable: No
- Technology: Li-ion
- Features: Quick charging, Qi wireless charging
Design and Features
The recycled design isn’t anything to write home about as it’s nearly identical to the S8+, but it’s still a mighty fine layout that’s lightweight and rests easily in the palms. The aluminum unibody that seals away the juicer isn’t wasted on this handset, which includes IP68 ruggedness to protect it from spills and dirt. However, don’t take this to mean that you don’t need a case — always invest in one to be safe. Also included is the newest Android operating system, an improved back-mounted fingerprint scanner, and a new dual-speaker design to improve the cinematic experience. Samsung wins once again in this category although we hope for a refreshed chassis in next year’s release.
- OS: Android 8.0 Oreo
- Material: Glass body, aluminum accents
- Dimensions: 6.22 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches (158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm)
- Weight: 6.67 oz (189 g)
- Ruggedness: IP68 water- and dust-resistance
- Features: Back-mounted fingerprint scanner, front-mounted iris scanner, dual speakers
- Colors: Blue, Purple, Gray, Black
As if the hardware wasn’t convincing enough, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ have been earmarked for their comparatively low costs, which is an extremely compelling buy for anyone with a Galaxy S7 or older. You’re investing in the fastest Android device that’s dressed to the nines with a top-performing display, peerless camera suite and a compete spectrum of additional features such as biometric scanners and inbuilt ruggedness. Dare we say that the S9+ offers the greatest bang for your buck right now? If this isn’t currently the best deal for Android users, it’s certainly not far from the crown. However, if you’re considering an upgrade from a Galaxy S8 or S8+, we may recommend that you hold off until the Note 9 or S10.