Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented samsung galaxy s9+ smartphone honor 10
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Product Review: Samsung Galaxy S9+

 

At first Tech Trends was excited to get hold of the S9+ but less thrilled once we turned it on.

I used to be a Samsung Galaxy smartphone fan, in fact, my first smartphone was an S2 and I stuck with them for years before stepping out and trying LG and Sony, then back to Samsung with the S7 in 2016, which was an OK phone. So I feel I am qualified to review the enormous S9+. Sadly I’m not impressed, not at all impressed.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented samsung galaxy s9+ smartphone honor 10

It is a subtly curved glass monolith that feels so nice in the hand that only the threat of dropping it forced me to put an excellent Catalyst case on it Click To Tweet

It looks spectacular and I am a huge fan of the design changes through the Galaxy S8 I reviewed last year, to the S9+. It is a subtly curved glass monolith that feels so nice in the hand that only the threat of dropping it forced me to put an excellent Catalyst case on it. The new position of the fingerprint reader is significantly better than the S8 but still leads to smudges on the camera lens which is just lazy design.

Sound quality is amazing and probably the best thing about the phone but as a package, it is not worth £869. Not even close! I’m not going to go into exhaustive depth on the faults with the S9+ because I don’t need to as they are blatant and obvious. I’ll look at the most annoying starting with the worst.

Sound quality is amazing and probably the best thing about the phone but as a package, it is not worth £869. Not even close! Click To Tweet

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented samsung galaxy s9+ smartphone honor 10

There are a lot of detailed tests and benchmark results out there that seem to show the S9+ is a speed monster but they don’t mean anything. My only metric is real-world use Click To Tweet

Now there are a lot of detailed test and benchmark results out there that seem to show the S9+ is a speed monster but they don’t mean anything. My only metric is real-world use. If it smokes the GPU & CPU tests it should feel slicker than hot vaseline, right? Well, No. It is slow, mindbogglingly slow, hair-tearing slow, screaming at it slow. This is just not acceptable. To give you some context I tested its startup against an Honor 7X, which I reviewed last Christmas, and the results are stunning. The Honor 7X costs £229.99, less than a third of the price of the S9+ yes… I know, surely not a fair competition.

The S9+ is slow, mindbogglingly slow, hair-tearing slow, screaming at it slow. This is just not acceptable in 2018 Click To Tweet

I cloned the phones so they were identical in every possible way, installed all the latest updates, the same launcher and apps, left notifications on for the all the apps, signed it into the same Play account, hooked up to the same superfast broadband and turned them both off for two days. Later that week when I turned them on, I did it with a stopwatch running and the results back up my criticism.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented samsung galaxy s9+ smartphone honor 10

The Honor 7X synched everything, filled my screen with notifications and updated the eleven apps showing updates in the Play store in under seven minutes. The S9+ was still checking notifications after thirteen minutes. Now that is a real world speed test and left the Samsung humbled. To be fair I ran the test again, twice and the results were worse so being a nice guy I am highlighting the best results out of three. The S9+ is pathetic at startup. Unbelievable!

Oh and it’s important to note that both phones were fully charged before I turned them on and during this startup test the S9+ used 6% of battery while the Honor used less than 1%, it didn’t even register. I am speechless.

The Honor 7X was quicker and more fleet of foot at everything while the Samsung was laggy, slow to load apps and generally frustrating to use Click To Tweet

Of course, I paid close attention to speed during use including opening apps, playing games, downloading & playing video, and came to the conclusion that the Honor 7X was quicker and more fleet of foot at everything while the Samsung was laggy, slow to load apps and generally frustrating to use. After years of using and testing Samsung smartphones, I recognise this as a long-term problem with Galaxy phones. They have always been laggy and the interface looks sluggish after using an iPhone for example.

 

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented samsung galaxy s9+ smartphone honor 10

 

That might have been acceptable five years ago but in the current market Samsung just can’t compete yet are still building and selling phones like the S9+ that are inexcusably expensive and that underperform. Some will say, yes but the S9+ has some advanced features the Honor doesn’t, but really? If it can’t perform the basics who cares if it can make you an AR Emoji or charge wirelessly. This is a chronic problem for Samsung but I just don’t think they see the problem exists!

Samsung just can’t compete at the moment but are still building and selling phones like the S9+ that are inexcusably expensive and that underperform Click To Tweet

A few more negatives spring to mind. The AR Emoji feature is a cringing embarrassment and should never have left the lab. It is heavy, very heavy. At 3500 mAh the battery is not enormous enough to cause this so not sure why it feels like a brick in my back pocket.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented samsung galaxy s9+ smartphone honor 10

The screen is also a delight with rich colours and crisp edges and that AMOLED black that I love Click To Tweet

On to the positives, the cameras on the last couple of top end Samsung smartphones have been excellent and this one is no different but with the extra added camera I am not seeing any real improvement in image quality since the S8’s single camera and the new low light F1.5 aperture mode really doesn’t add anything, images are over processed, blocky and lack detail. However, you can rely on the S9+ to produce excellent images indoors and out in most conditions.

The cameras on the last couple of top end Samsung smartphones have been excellent and this one is no different Click To Tweet

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented samsung galaxy s9+ smartphone honor 10

Sound is very good, both wired and via Bluetooth Click To Tweet

Sound is very good, both wired and via Bluetooth. As an audio buff, this has been one of the reasons I stuck with Samsung for several years. The screen is also a delight with rich colours and crisp edges and that deep AMOLED black that I love. However I do question the need for a Quad HD+ screen, even on a phone this size. No human can really tell the difference from HD and the hit the higher resolution takes on the battery is not insignificant so I recommend you scale the screen resolution down in the settings and keep your phone alive for a bit longer every day.

So in summary, there is no sane reason why this handset costs £869, not at all. Would I recommend it? No, I wouldn’t.

However, if you want one they are available here.

Tom Atkinson is a Digital Producer & Photographer at R3Digital and Reviews & Dept. Editor at Tech Trends. Connect on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @R3Digital