While it may not have been the company which started the trend – some would argue that honour falls to Xiaomi with its stunning Mi Mix – Samsung is arguably the firm that popularised the concept of a ‘big screen’ smartphone. The promotional campaign for last year’s Galaxy S8 asked consumers to ‘unbox’ their handsets, stripping away those cumbersome display bezels to embrace the wonder of the 18:9 aspect ratio screen. Samsung’s superb Infinity Display was unquestionably the highlight of that model – and of the Galaxy Note 8, which followed shortly afterwards. However, you’re only as good as your last product in the fast-paced and competitive smartphone market, and with practically all of its rivals hopping on board the big-screen bandwagon – most notably Apple with its iPhone X – Samsung needs something remarkable to steal back those valuable column inches in 2018. What we’ve been given is a device which isn’t revolutionary, but is still arguably the best smartphone money can buy right now.
In a move that mimics Apple’s two-year design cycle, Samsung has opted to evolve the design of the S8 rather than overhaul it, which isn’t an entirely unreasonable approach when you consider how attractive last year’s model was. It’s once again available in two sizes – the standard S9 and the more substantial S9 Plus – the latter of which is the focus of this review. The design language between the S8 and S9 is practically identical, with a glass front and back sitting on a sturdy metal frame. The rounded corners give the device a pebble-like feel – the norm for most modern smartphones these days – and the front is predictably dominated by 2960×1440 pixel Super AMOLED display – 5.8 inches on the S9 and 6.2 inches on the S9 Plus.
Depending on where you buy your Galaxy S9, you could end up with very different tech inside. Europe gets the spec outlined below, based on Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 chipset, while other regions enjoy the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, which features four 2.7GHz Kyro 385 Gold cores paired with four 1.7GHz Kyro 385 Silver cores. Graphics are handled by an Adreno 630. While CPU power seems broadly comparable between the two SoCs, the Adreno 630 has a significant performance win against the Exynos’s Mali.
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