Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus might be the best phones Samsung has ever made, and they’re nearly here. On Friday, March 16, the company’s new flagship handsets will bring their fancy new dual-aperture cameras (and stereo speakers!) to stores around the globe.
That’s why I built this guide. Just scroll down until you see the phone you own, and I’ll take it from there.
Note: If your Samsung phone isn’t on this list, it’s either old enough or has been outclassed enough that you should definitely consider an upgrade.
Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus CNET
The Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus look an awful lot like their predecessors — but don’t be fooled. There are plenty of changes under the hood, even if Samsung kept fan-favorite features such as the headphone jack and microSD storage.
But are any of these changes important enough for you to upgrade right away? I don’t think so. “The differences between the two phones are so minor, there’s no point in upgrading,” wrote my colleague (and long-time Samsung Galaxy reviewer) Jessica Dolcourt. Plus, we’re still testing the phone’s battery life — it’s not clear the S9’s battery is better, and it might even be worse.
What you get with Galaxy S9Auto-switching dual-aperture camera (f/1.5 and f/2.4) to let in more or less light as neededCrisper photos in bright outdoor situationsSlightly better (but occasionally blurrier) photos in low-light situationsSecond camera with 2x telephoto lens (Galaxy S9 Plus-only)960fps super-slow motion video (240fps at 1080p)A better position for the rear fingerprint sensorStereo speakers (also 40 percent louder than S8)A slightly faster processor2GB of extra memory (Galaxy S9 Plus-only)15 percent brighter screenSlightly slimmer screen bezels (1.2mm)Android 8.0 Oreo (in case your phone is still waiting for it)
A new Lilac Purple color optionFaster LTE internet, where available (1.2 Gigabit vs. 1 Gigabit)128GB and 256GB options internationallyAR Emoji (which isn’t that great)What’s the same
Pretty much everything else, including:
Aluminum chassis with curved glass front and backExcellent 5.8 inch (Galaxy S9) or 6.2-inch (Galaxy S9 Plus) super high-definition screenBattery capacity: 3,000mAh (Galaxy S9) or 3,500mAh (Galaxy S9 Plus)Second camera with 2x telephoto lens (Galaxy S9 Plus-only)IP68 water and dust resistanceFace and iris scanning (though they’re now combined in Intelligent Scan)Bixby buttonWireless chargingMicroSD expandable storageHeadphone jackWhat you lose upgrading to Galaxy S9Consistent photo quality: Galaxy S9 sometimes misses shots in low lightSlightly thinner, lighter build: S9 and S9 Plus are very slightly thicker and heavierSlightly taller build: S9 and S9 Plus are very slightly shorter and widerThe money to buy a new phone so soon after your last oneGalaxy Note 8
Yeah, it’s pretty doubtful a Galaxy Note 8 owner would go for a Galaxy S9. Would you really ditch your larger screen and your stylus for the S9’s camera and processor upgrades, particularly when you’ve already got the optically stabilized 2x telephoto lens?
But hey, maybe you’re ready for a smaller phone and you’ve got a friend who’ll buy your Note. If so, here’s what you’ll get.
What you get with Galaxy S9Auto-switching dual-aperture camera (f/1.5 and f/2.4) to let in more or less light as neededCrisper photos in bright outdoor situationsSlightly better (but occasionally blurrier) photos in low-light situations960fps super-slow motion video (240fps at 1080p)A better position for the rear fingerprint sensorStereo speakersA slightly faster processorSlightly higher battery capacity (S9 Plus only)Faster LTE internet, where available (1.2 Gigabit vs. 1 Gigabit)A new Lilac Purple color optionAR Emoji (which isn’t that great)Android 8.0 Oreo (in case your phone is still waiting for it)What’s the