With Samsung’s introduction of the Galaxy S9, the Galaxy S8 is no longer its flagship smartphone. The new model features Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 CPU and a handful of other upgrades, but the Galaxy S8 is still a very strong smartphone.
Let’s see whether it’s worth replacing your S8 with the S9.
|Name||Samsung Galaxy S9||Samsung Galaxy S8|
|Operating System as Tested||Android 8.0||Android 7.0|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|Processor Speed||2.8 GHz||2.35 GHz|
|Dimensions||5.8 x 2.7 x 0.33 (HWD) inches||5.87 by 2.68 by 0.31 inches|
|Weight||5.75 oz||5.47 oz|
|Screen Size||5.8 inches||5.8 inches|
|Screen Type||Super AMOLED||Super AMOLED HD|
|Screen Resolution||2,960 by 1,440 pixels||2,960 by 1,440 pixels|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||570 ppi||570 ppi|
|Camera Resolution||12MP Rear/8MP Front-Facing||12MP Rear/8MP Front-facing|
|Total Integrated Storage||64 GB||64 GB|
|Read the Review||Read the Review|
The Big Changes: CPU and Camera
The GS9 has two significant upgrades over the Galaxy S8 in the processor and camera departments. The new phone is the first we’ve seen that uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the company’s most powerful mobile processor yet. The eight-core CPU has a clock speed of 2.8GHz over the 2.35GHz speed of the Galaxy S8’s Snapdragon 835, but that’s only the start. The Snapdragon 845 also incorporates a more powerful GPU and a faster modem (more on that later).
Samsung incorporates a new dual aperture lens on its 12MP rear-facing camera, which otherwise has the same resolution as the Galaxy S8’s rear camera. The lenses can open up to f/1.5 or f/2.4 depending on the shooting conditions, and according to Samsung can offer much better low light performance than the Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S9 camera can also take super slow motion clips at 960fps. If you want dual rear cameras like on the Galaxy Note 8 or iPhone X, you’ll need the larger Galaxy S9+.
With the Snapdragon 845, the Galaxy S9 features Qualcomm’s new X20 wireless modem. It’s a step up from the Snapdragon 835’s X16 modem, supporting 5×20 carrier aggregation with LTE Category 18 and download speeds up to 1.2Gbps (which North American carriers don’t yet support). It isn’t a huge jump from the 4×20, LTE Category 16 X16 modem, but it’s faster and more future-proof.
In terms of size and resolution, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S8 have identical screens. Both phones use 5.8-inch AMOLED screens with 2,960-by-1,440 resolution for 570ppi pixel density. Samsung says the Galaxy S9’s screen is brighter, but otherwise it doesn’t seem to be a major upgrade.
The Galaxy S9 is a little shorter and heavier than the Galaxy S8, but not by any measure you would notice without a scale or calipers. It’s thicker by just 0.02 inches and longer by just 0.07 inches, and weighs less than a third of an ounce more. You won’t be able to use the same case you used with your Galaxy S8, but different button and camera placement wouldn’t have let you do that anyway.
There aren’t many other significant differences between the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S8 on the hardware side, but the new phone does introduce a new feature Samsung is pushing to chase after Apple’s Animoji avatars. AR Emojis are emoji the Galaxy S9 generates by scanning your face with the front-facing camera. They can be animated clips, or even short videos based on your facial expressions.
Should You Upgrade?
We can’t be certain about the Galaxy S9 until we get it into the lab for testing, but for now it seems more like a modest step up from the Galaxy S8 than a huge jump. It’s faster and has new camera tricks, but otherwise it features very similar hardware and functionality. We’ll take a closer look and give our final verdict next month when we review the Galaxy S9.
For more, see how the Galaxy S9 compares to the iPhone X.