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Galaxy S9: Samsung’s 9 best features

Published Feb 26th, 2018 8:41AM EST
Samsung Galaxy S9 Review
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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Samsung on Sunday finally announced its hotly anticipated flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. We’ve already told you everything you need to know about the new Galaxy S9 duo, and we gave you your first hands-on look at Samsung’s hot new phones. We also went over pricing direct from Samsung and through every major carrier in the United States, and we took a deep dive into Samsung’s Galaxy S9 specs. Of course, it was Sunday so there’s a very good chance you were busy living life instead of gluing your eyes to your smartphone or computer screen to check out all the action as it unfolded.

We can’t fault you there, but we will tell you that Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are very impressive new phones that you definitely need to check out. Remember how they seemed boring in leaks because they looked exactly like last year’s Galaxy S8 and S8+? Well forget all that. The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are new smartphones inside and out, with powerful new internal components and an incredible new camera wrapped in a sleek housing with smaller bezels, thicker glass, sturdier 7000 series aluminum, and a slightly more compact form factor overall.

Of course, we explained all that in our in-depth hands-on preview of Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. We highly recommend going back to that article and checking it out. But if you prefer your Galaxy S9 news in bite-sized doses, we’ve got just the thing for you. Below, you’ll find the top-9 features of Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+.


There are so many things to be impressed with on Samsung’s new flagship smartphone duo, but there’s absolutely no question that the new camera is the star of the show.

Samsung first introduced the Dual Pixel camera on the Galaxy S7 in 2016, and it was so good that it remained largely unchanged on the Galaxy Note 7, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, and Galaxy Note 8. In 2018, however, the company decided it was time for an upgrade… and what an upgrade it is.

The new “Super Speed Dual Pixel” camera, as Samsung calls it, is by far the most impressive camera the world has ever seen on a smartphone. We’ve only spent a few hours with it at this point, but we’re already comfortable making that bold statement. It’s better than Google’s camera on the Pixel 2, and it’s better than Apple’s camera on the iPhone X. It’s the best. Full stop.

Samsung introduced a number of enhancements on the Super Speed Dual Pixel camera. It’s the first smartphone camera to include dual apertures, with one f/2.4 aperture for wonderfully crisp pictures of well-lit scenes, and a second f/1.5 aperture for shockingly clear low-light photos. The new camera also has an embedded DRAM chip to process data right on the sensor rather than having to send it to the phone’s main RAM. The result is photos with far less noise than anything we’ve seen on a smartphone.

There are plenty of other camera features we’ll go over in our main review, but there’s one in particular we want to discuss here in this post…

Super Slow-mo

Samsung’s Super Slow-mo feature on the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ is mind-blowing. The camera captures video in 720p HD resolution at a mind-blowing 960 fps. And because the quality of Samsung’s new Super Speed Dual Pixel camera is so good, the clarity of well-lit Super Slow-mo videos is flat-out nuts.

There’s also a great secondary feature of Samsung’s Super Slow-mo mode called Motion Detection. This way, you can begin recording normal-speed video at any time. Once motion is detected inside a specific area in the frame, the camera automatically switches to Super Slow-mo to ensure you don’t miss a moment of the action.

AR Emoji

AR Emoji is also a feature of Samsung’s new camera, and it’s the South Korean company’s take on Apple’s Animoji feature that was introduced on the iPhone X.

There are a few different components of AR Emoji, and the first is basically a carbon copy of Animoji. You can select a character from the Galaxy S9’s stable, and it’ll mimic your expressions, head gestures, and mouth movements as you speak. There’s another layer to it though, and it’s kind of nifty but also kind of hilarious.

Remember when Siri-enabled “iTV” rumors first popped up and Samsung rushed out new TVs with a voice assistant built-in so it could beat Apple to the punch? Well last year it was rumored that the iPhone X would have a feature that would let someone scan his or her face to create a 3D avatar that could then be animated in a wide range of scenes. That feature never materialized on the iPhone X, but wouldn’t you know it… Samsung included it on the Galaxy S9.

Bixby Live Translation

Bixby’s live translation feature is awesome, but it’s not really anything new. In a nutshell, you can point your camera at a sign or any printed text in one language, and the Galaxy S9 will translate it in real-time and overlay the translated text on whatever you’re looking at.

This is something that has been around for years, and there are plenty of apps out there that can do it. But what makes live translation extra awesome on the Galaxy S9 is the fact that it’s built right into the main camera app so you don’t have to go hunting around for it when the need arises.

Iris Unlock

Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ don’t have sophisticated 3D face scanners like the iPhone X. As a result, the Galaxy S9’s facial recognition feature still isn’t secure enough to use for things like mobile payments. That’s why Samsung has two other biometric authentication features on the Galaxy S9 that are far more secure.

The first is a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone. This, of course, is nothing new. The second is built-in iris scanning technology though, which could be the most secure biometric authentication method currently available on a smartphone. According to Samsung, there’s only a 1 in 10 million chance of someone other than the user unlocking the phone with an iris scan. If accurate, Samsung’s iris scanning tech is 10 times more secure than Apple’s Face ID.

New DeX Pad support

For people who used it, the Desktop Experience on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 was easily one of the coolest and most useful features of the phones. On the Galaxy S9 and S9+, it’s even better. We’ll dive into it in our upcoming full review, but the new DeX Pad accessory is at the heart of Samsung’s upgraded experience. Instead of being a dock that props up your phone, it’s a pad that lets your phone lie flat so you can use it as a touchpad or even a virtual keyboard while in desktop mode.

Design and build changes

This is area we dove into in our hands-on Galaxy S9 preview, and we’ll dive even deeper into it in our full review. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ appeared to be identical to their predecessors in leaks, but the phones are actually quite different. The overall design is similar, of course, but the bezels above and below the phones’ displays are smaller. The result is an even better screen-to-body ratio that climbs up above 90%.

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are also made of new 7000 series aluminum, which makes the construction more sturdy overall. The glass is 20% thicker to help prevent breaks, and the phones are heavier than the models they replace. Finally, in terms of dimensions, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are shorter and narrower than the S8 and S8+, but also slightly thicker.

Brighter display

Samsung is the king of smartphone displays. We all know this. And with the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, it somehow improved upon perfection. The company’s Super AMOLED screens on the Galaxy S8/S8+ and Galaxy Note 8 were already so crisp and clear that it’s impossible to tell with the naked eye if there’s any difference on the new S9 and S9+. What you can tell, however, is that the screens are noticeably brighter than their predecessors, which is quite a feat.

Performance and power

Last but most certainly not least, there is also a noticeable difference between the S9 series and S8 series when it comes to power. Improved internal components headlined by the Snapdragon 845 chipset provide way more oomph as well as more efficient power consumption. According to one report, the larger Galaxy S9+ can deliver a day and a half of usage on a single charge, which would be quite an accomplishment.

We’ll dive deeper into performance in our full review, but suffice it to say you won’t find a more powerful Android phone anywhere right now.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.

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