The new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ have just gone on sale last week, and a lot of users will be eager to buy the latest and best that Samsung has to offer. In terms of design, there isn’t much of a change compared to last year’s Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ or the Galaxy Note 8. But more than the looks, it’s the internal hardware that matters. And like every year, this time too, the cameras are the center of attention.
The Galaxy S9+ and the Galaxy Note 8, both come with dual cameras at the back, and we pit both smartphone cameras in different lighting conditions to see the level of improvement Samsung has made. But before we jump into the comparison, let’s first take a look at the camera hardware.
Samsung Galaxy S9+ cameras
Unlike the Galaxy S8+, the new Galaxy S9+ now comes with dual cameras at the back – one is a 12-megapixel sensor with wide-angle lens and variable aperture (ranging between f/1.5 to f/2.4).
The other is a 12-megapixel sensor with telephoto lens of aperture f/2.4. Together, the cameras help you capture photos with DSLR-like bokeh effects and wide-angle photos too. The telephoto lens also allows for 2x lossless zoom. Both cameras come with optical image stabilization (OIS) to help you capture blur-free photos.
The variable aperture camera works at f/2.4 aperture in day-light, and as it gets dark after a certain level, it automatically switches to f/1.5 to help you click better photos. There is also a manual mode that lets you switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4. Up front, the smartphone comes with an 8-megapixel auto-focus front camera for selfies and video calling, and it also supports portrait mode to keep your face in focus and blur the background.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 cameras
The Galaxy Note 8 was Samsung’s first smartphone to feature a dual-camera setup at the back. Out of the two, one is a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens with f/1.7 aperture, whereas the other is a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with f/2.4 aperture.
Just like the Galaxy S9+, both cameras on the Galaxy S9+ also come with optical image stabilization (OIS) to help you capture blur-free photos. The cameras allow for 2X optical zoom, and a portrait mode to add DSLR-like bokeh effects to your photos.
Up front is an 8-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization for selfies and video calling. Now let’s go ahead and take a look at the camera samples shot on both smartphones.
I started by clicking some photos in broad daylight where there was ample amount of light. As you can see below, both photos clicked on the Galaxy S9+ and the Galaxy Note 8 offer enough details and look good. However, I couldn’t help but notice that the S9+ photo has slight yellow tint, whereas the one shot on the Note 8 has a bluish tint, making the sky look a little better. Also, the building color looks white in the Note 8 shot, whereas in case of the S9+, there it looks a bit pale yellowish. And that the same time, mind purple fringing is also noticeable in the lower half.
Both cameras also support 2X lossless optical zoom. Once again, both cameras are able to capture enough details, but the slightly blue tone on the Galaxy Note 8 makes it look a bit natural, compared to the slightly warmer tone on the Galaxy S9+.
Next, clicked a photo of the flowers slighlty against the sunlight, and there is some difference that is clearly visible. The camera sensor on the Galaxy S9+ handles the scene properly, resulting in a bright and detailed photo, whereas the Galaxy Note 8 produces a slightly dull photo.
Then, I also clicked a couple of close-up shots in outdoor lighting conditions, and as you can see below, the colors and the depth of field effects in the first photo looks good and very natural. However, when it comes to detail, notice the branch of the photo clicked on the Galaxy S9+, it is slightly sharper than the Galaxy Note 8.
But, in the second photo, the Galaxy Note 8 is able to capture a marginally better photo, with the petals properly in focus. Look at the samples below.
Now, let’s move to where the real magic happens – in the dark. Most smartphone cameras click good photos in daylight, but as the sun sets down, the problem starts. The Galaxy Note 8 and the Galaxy S9+ are not afraid of the dark, and the f/1.5 aperture camera on the new Galaxy S9+ is set to make things better. But does it?
Here are two shots that I captured on both the Galaxy smartphones. The first photo of the CST Terminus, the sensors on both smartphones have done a good job in capturing good photos with accurate colors and details, while keeping the noise low. At first glance, you wouldn’t find much of a difference, but on closer inspection, you’ll notice that the one shot on the Galaxy S9+ is marginally brighter and detailed.
Now, in the next photo that I shot at the Gateway of India, but I didn’t notice much of a difference. Just that the one shot on the Galaxy S9+ maybe just 3-5 percent better, which is negligible difference. Check the photos below.
Now, if you want to see the real difference between the f/2.4 and f/1.5 aperture, the below photo will help you understand. I was sitting in a restaurant and I asked to turn of the light above the table, and just turn on the dim light. I clicked photos of the same frame in both aperture settings, and look at the difference for yourself. The one with f/1.5 aperture is brighter, sharper and captures more light, making the photo look better.
There is a negligible amount of noise with F/1.5 aperture and slightly blurry, but that was my mistake, as it did not tap to focus, just clicked the photos in a hurry.
Yes, who doesn’t love to click selfies? I clicked slefies on both the Galaxy Note 9 and the Galaxy S9+, and both of them fared well, with the sensors able to capture accurate skin tones and details.
Selfies – Portrait Mode
This is where Samsung has made improvements in the Galaxy S9+. On the Galaxy Note 8, there is a mode called Selfie-Focus, which uses the auto-focus camera to click multiple photos and add depth to the selfies. On the Galaxy S9+ also you get the Selfie-Focus mode, but this time, it adds the background blur in real time, giving you a clear idea of how the photo would look like.
In terms of quality, the Galaxy S9+ obviously does a better job. Notice the edges of my shoulder carefully. While both failed to do the job right of detecting the edges, the Galaxy S9+ fares better, compared to the Galaxy Note 8 that goes completely haywire.
Overall, both the Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy Note 8 are capable smartphones, but the camera improvements that Samsung has made in the new Galaxy S9+ are clearly visible. Yes, the improvements are margial and if you already own a Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ or a Galaxy Note 8, you may not need to switch to the new Galaxy S9 duo. But, if you are using the Galaxy S7 duo or anything before that, an upgrade would offer a better overall experience.