Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs S8+ for travellers
Hi there, and welcome to TechTravelGeeks. We're continuing our S9+ coverage with a question - is the S9+ an upgrade over S8+, especially if you're a traveller? Let's see.
As we discussed in the unboxing video, there's not much of a difference between the phones when it comes to design. Size-wise, the S9+ is very slightly shorter due to smaller bezels, but also marginally thicker and heavier. Some of this also affected how the screen is situated, making the new phone slightly more durable. And for a phone which is mainly glass, any improvement in that area is welcome. Also, arguably, the phone is now slightly more comfortable to hold, but that's quite subjective and you're unlikely to notice unless you hold both phones one after another.
Continuing on the subject of the screen, the current one is an evolution of the last year's edition, but it's now brighter by around 15%, which should definitely help both when used in darkness, but also when using in bright light. But you can't go wrong with either of those screens, both are still top of the class. They also both support HDR video, so if you want to watch some high quality Netflix content on the plane, you can definitely do that.
When it comes to hardware, as expected, the S9+ is an evolution in most areas - the processors are now faster and perform better. There's now 6GB of RAM instead of 4GB, which lets the phone perform slightly better and allows it to keep more applications in memory, increasing load times. What's slightly more practical for travellers is that the storage has increased - the built-in storage has doubled to 128GB, and the maximum SD card capacity has increased from 256 to 400GB. That could come in handy if you take a lot of photos and videos or if you'd like to download all 10 seasons of Friends from Netflix to watch them on your holidays.
There's unfortunately no change in battery capacity, so we should expect similar battery life on both devices. In theory, the S9+ should last slightly longer due to improved and more optimized processor performance, but I haven't noticed a major difference over my two weeks of testing. I also haven't done a proper battery drain test, especially since batteries deteriorate over time, so the S8+ would be at a big disadvantage. Luckily, there's still quick and wireless charging on both devices, no changes there.
Where you will see, or rather hear, a difference, is with sound quality. Both the headphones and speakers are tuned by AKG, which is a brand of Harman, who were acquired by Samsung last year. The speakers are now stereo and sound significantly better and louder. The new phone now also supports Dolby Atmos, but that's limited to music coming from speakers and wired headphones - if you want to experience Dolby Atmos on wireless headphones, you'll have to use a traditional 3.5" cable. But the sheer fact that we still have a headphone jack is great especially when travelling, in case you lose your headphones and need to get a cheap new set at the airport.
Software-wise, there's not much of a difference. The S9+ came out with Android 8, Oreo, and the S8+ has just been updated to Oreo in most markets, so you shouldn't see a big difference there. This of course assumes that you're a fan of Samsung's TouchWiz software, but since you're this far in the video, I'm guessing you don't mind it.
The main difference, as you will know from the "Camera Reimagined" slogan, is the new camera, or rather, cameras. The S8+ had a single 12 megapixel rear camera with f/1.7 aperture and Dual Pixel autofocus. The new one now has two cameras. The additional camera is an f/2.4 aperture lens with autofocus, which allows both to zoom in without losing quality, and improves the portrait mode, allowing much better depth detection compared to the S8+. The main camera has a dual-aperture lens (more on it in the unboxing and a future review) which is fantastic both in low light, where it beats practically any camera (I cannot wait to test it against the Huawei P20 Pro soon), but is also great in bright light.
In addition to improved optics, thanks to the new dedicated memory buffer for the camera and an improved processor, it can now shoot better slow-motion video. Thanks to it, you can now shoot super slow motion videos, allowing you to shoot 960 frames per second of video for 0.2 seconds, extending that to 6 seconds, which results in 32 times slow motion. Just make sure you're shooting in excellent light conditions, since even trying it in a seemingly well-lit room will result in unusable footage, or even no slow-motion at all. The S8+ can only shoot 240fps in HD resolution, while the S9+ can do the same in higher Full HD resolution, which is fantastic. You can expect a separate TTG video on frame rates and how they affect video soon.
There's not much change in the front-facing camera department, both are great, just check out my photo on our About Us page.
So, is the S9+ a worthy upgrade to S8+? It depends on what phone you're currently using and what your budget is. If you're on the S7 Edge or older, or want to move to a Samsung phone, then it's definitely worth it. However, if you're using the S8+ already, it's more difficult to justify the price jump. For me, I've been very happy with it, mostly thanks to the amazing camera, louder stereo speakers, brighter screen and improved performance, and don't regret it at all. But if you don't mind not having the latest phone and camera in your pocket and expect a great device nonetheless, you might be happy either keeping your S8+ or benefiting from recent discounts on that devices and upgrading to it instead.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments down below and we'll make sure to answer them.
Thanks for reading TechTravelGeeks!