Belfast Telegraph

New Samsung S9 Plus a superb all-round choice for Android fans

Technology Review: Samsung S9 Plus

Screen time: the new Samsung S9 Plus Pros
Screen time: the new Samsung S9 Plus Pros
Camera action: the S9 Plus
Camera action: the S9 Plus

Pros: Excellent design, great all-round choice, Cons: Very similar to last year's model, modest storage, Price: £869

If you're a Samsung user with an S7, S6 or older phone, this is a prime upgrade phone. You'll notice the different features straight away. You'll also be very happy with it, as this is a superb handset.

The same goes for those thinking of a high-end Samsung phone and who currently use another Android device. With the exception of Huawei's P20 Pro, this is indisputably the top of the pile in Android land.

But if you already have last year's S8 or S8 Plus, it's a slightly different story. Other than the camera, there arguably isn't enough to justify replacing your S8 or S8 Plus with this year's model. It looks the same and, other than the camera in low light and some emoji, largely acts the same as the phone you already have.

The 6.2in display on the S9 Plus vies with Apple's iPhone X as the best screen on the market. Both are 'Oled' screens as opposed to the LCD displays that most phones have. That means colours render in a better way, as do blacks. Some independent testing outfits (such as DisplayMate) say the S9 Plus is now the best screen on the market (and even better than almost any high-end 4K TV or monitor) based on in-depth measurement of colour accuracy, brightness, outdoor visibility, and reflectivity.

The S9 Plus's battery is very good (3,500mAh), though not the best on the market. In general, it will last through a full day's use other than in exceptional circumstances, such as a day spent between trains and waiting rooms. This is now Samsung's best battery phone since they had to reduce the size of the Note 8's battery in line with design alterations to remedy the overheating defects experienced by the ill-fated Note 7.

From a design and handling perspective, both the S9 and S9 Plus are almost indistinguishable from their predecessor devices, the S8 and S8 Plus. In one sense, this is a pity. On the other hand, the flagship Galaxy S phones are probably still the best-looking handsets on the market (although the iPhone X also has a claim to that title). The whole edge-to-edge screen design template was set by Samsung and it still arguably does it best.

Does this mean the design is flawless? To my mind, no - the one disadvantage of the gorgeous-looking curved glass edges is that it makes gripping the phone a little more uncertain, as well making the overall handset a bit slippier.

Obviously, this can be remedied by a case, which most people will probably get. The S9 Plus's camera is up there with the very best.

It has two rear 12-megapixel lenses, one of which has a very powerful feature. The wide-angle lens can, when it detects dark conditions, revert to a 'variable aperture'. This lets it open up wider than any other camera can (to a setting of f1.5). Doing this means that it physically lets more light in than other cameras.

The phone can also make some incredibly clear low-light photos by taking five shots consecutively (almost immediately) and combining them to take the best bits from each. Buttressed by optical stabilisation, this eliminates 'noise' artefacts that often make low-light photos look a bit shabby and sub-par.

The handset has 64GB of internal storage, which is modest for an Android phone at this price.

A last word: this is the only major flagship phone to still offer a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Belfast Telegraph