A bold new camera, cutting-edge processor and a fix to a galling ergonomic pitfall -- all in a body that looks nearly identical to last year's model.
That, in a nutshell, is the Samsung Galaxy
S9 (with a 5.8-inch screen) and its larger step-up model, the Galaxy S9 Plus ($839.99 at Best Buy), which sports an even bigger 6.2-inch screen.
You can preorder them March 2 at prices starting from $720 in the US for the standard S9 and $870 for the S9 Plus, depending on your carrier.
The phones are unquestionably beautiful, but
what do we get with these slightly curved, all-screen specimens?
On the surface, it looks as if Samsung has only incrementally
refreshed last year's Galaxy S8 ($597.29 at Amazon.com) and S8 Plus. But the 2018 models sport a
serious camera upgrade that includes two lenses for the S9 Plus and a variable
aperture for both phones that's designed to capture much better low-light
shots. (I'll test the hell out of the cameras in my full review, coming soon.)
The second improvement is more of a fix. Samsung moved the fingerprint reader from the side of the rear camera to the center of the phone's back, fixing what was without a doubt the Galaxy S8's most maddening design flaw. Last year's model made you stretch your finger awkwardly to hit the fingerprint target.
It’s added enhanced stereo surround sound,
thanks to a microphone acting as a second speaker. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset inside
promises at least 25 percent faster processing speeds than 2017 Android phones,
as well as longer battery life. (Note, as per usual, that depending on your
local region, you could have a Samsung Exynos 9810 processor instead.)
The wild-card bursts of color in coral
blue and lilac purple on the phone's body, which jolt the Galaxy line from its
monochromatic stupor. And the two phones keep tried-and-true high-end phone
features such as waterproofing (rated IP68), wireless
charging and support for external microSD storage.