Three days with the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: here’s what we think so far

You won’t be able to experience the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus until March 11, but we’ve gotten a few days of perspective using the new Plus-sized Android phone while at MWC 2018.

It’s literally and figuratively the biggest smartphone here in Barcelona, with an expansive 6.2-inch display and elegantly curved edges that spill over the sides. And unlike other all-screen phones we’re seeing pop up at MWC this year, it doesn’t have that iPhone X-like notch at the top.

We haven’t been able to stress-test the Galaxy S8 Plus in the first few days of use for a proper full review, but can give you insight into it with first impressions. 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

At first, or even the tenth glance, the front of the Galaxy S9+ looks identical to the the phone that preceded it. It’s a bit thicker and heavier than the Galaxy S8+ but also a tad bit shorter with slightly reducing the bezels. These changes aren’t really noticeable but improve the overall feel of the device in your hand.

Where you do notice a couple of changes is when you turn the phone over. There are two cameras on the Galaxy S9+ instead of one and they are stacked vertically. Below them, sits the  fingerprint sensor which is now very easy to reach compared to the S8+ where it sat next to the single camera lens. We do wish that the sensor was a bit taller in size but it does the job.

With the new location of the fingerprint sensor as well as the combination of using Face unlock with the Iris scanner, unlocking the Galaxy S9+ is a whole lot easier and faster than the previous version of the phone.

In fact, Samsung has made considerable improvements with speed and we’re surprised that there wasn’t any time allocated to the performance of the S9+ during the launch presentation. 

The new Exynos 9810 processor along with 6GB of RAM make the S9+ feel very zippy and a lot more smoother than any other Galaxy phone from the past. Moving between applications or scrolling through lists were mostly stutter-free.

Bixby levels uping here

Samsung has laid out the grand plan for it’s virtual assistant Bixby and SmartThings integration between all of its appliances and devices in the next couple of years. While Bixby is still at it’s first version, it has gain some new smarts where it can do live translation by simply pointing the camera at a foreign language.

It’s also much faster and smoother on the Galaxy S9 though that could be attributed to the new faster processor. Samsung mentioned that Bixby 2.0 will be released later in the year (maybe with the Galaxy Note 9) and we’re excited to see what Samsung does with it.

Taking mobile photography to new levels

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and the S9+ have the first cameras in the industry that switch aperture either automatically based on lighting conditions, or manually using the pro mode. The camera works at f/2.4 aperture when there is plenty of light and at an industry leading f/1.5 when light levels go below 100 lux.

We haven’t had a chance to test the camera thoroughly but with our limited usage, it can take some stunning shots- though not as effortlessly as the Google Pixel. If you put some thought into framing your shot, there’s a good chance that the S9+ will take a better shot than any other phone currently available. Here are some pics we took with the Galaxy S9+

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Also new to the camera is super slow motion video that can capture at 960fps.

More testing to be done

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is as complex as it is big, so we have more testing to do on it before we give it a full review. However, using it as our primary smartphone during MWC 2018 gave us insight into its camera, Bixby, and biometric powers.

We’ll continue to test the phone, but for more, check out our Galaxy S9 hands on and Galaxy S9 Plus hands on.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

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