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Samsung Galaxy S9: Is it worth upgrading from a Galaxy S8 or Galaxy Note 8?

Here’s a look at whether the design improvements, dual aperture camera, and AR emojis in the Galaxy S9 duo make it a worthy upgrade for a Galaxy user.

samsung galaxy s9 lead image

The wait is finally over! Samsung has launched its much-awaited Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ smartphones in India. Prices start at Rs 57,900 for the 64GB storage variant for the Galaxy S9, and Rs 64,500 for the Galaxy S9+ 64GB variant. Both smartphones go on sale starting March 16. Of course, many of you must be waiting to get your hands on the new flagship Android smartphones. But what do you do if you already own a Galaxy S8 or a Galaxy Note 8? I pondered over this mystery for you and help you make the decision.

Existing Samsung Galaxy user

I have been a Galaxy S8 user for over six months, and when the Galaxy Note 8 was launched, I switched to the new smartphone, while using the Galaxy S8 as a secondary device. Of course, there was a lot going for the Galaxy Note 8 – the dual cameras, larger battery and of course, the S Pen stylus. For me, the biggest takeaway was the dual camera, and as I’m more into photography, and it made sense. But you can’t do that always, unless you have good amount of money lying around. Before I tell you if it is worth an upgrade, let me highlight some key aspects of the new Galaxy S9 duo.

Dual aperture camera

If you’re into photography, and you’ve used the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S8 or Galaxy Note 8, you’d already know how good the cameras are, and the kind of photos you can click. Even in the trickiest low-light scenarios, the camera is able to capture sharp photos with enough details, and very low noise.

With the new Galaxy S9 duo, Samsung has improved the camera even further. You now get a dual aperture lens – which ranges between f/1.5 for low-light and f/2.4 during bright outdoor lighting conditions. In auto mode, the camera automatically switches based on the lighting, but you can also switch the aperture in manual mode.

The Galaxy S9+, on the other hand, comes with dual cameras at the back, out of which one is a wide-angle lens with dual aperture (f/1.5 to f/2.4), and second is a telephoto lens with aperture f/2.4. Just like the Galaxy Note 8, you get to click photos with DSLR like bokeh effects, and 2X lossless optical zoom as well. This is a new addition to the Galaxy S9+, compared to the Galaxy S8+ that comes with a single lens camera.

I got to play around with both the new smartphones at MWC 2018 in Barcelona, and also at the India launch event. Sure, the new dual aperture camera on the Galaxy S9 duo is once again appealing enough, and able to capture sharp photos with less noise. But I will reserve my final judgment until I put the smartphones through the paces.

960fps slow motion video recording

When the Sony Xperia XZ Premium was launched in India, I got to review it and I was extremely impressed with slow motion recording, it was more like stopping time to add some fun to the videos. While the Galaxies and iPhones of the world feature slow motion video recording, the frame rate is capped to 240fps. Now, with the dual aperture camera and 960fps slow motion (in 720p HD quality), the Galaxy S9 does a fantastic job from the demos that I have seen.

Besides slow motion recording, you also get reverse motion and loop motion for the videos you shoot. Of course, you can share them on your social networks and let a few jaws drop. But, you can also set those slow motion videos as your live wallpapers, making the screen even more intuitive. Some may say it is just another gimmicky feature, but, if you can personalize and add cool elements to your videos, then why not. And it doesn’t end there. You can also customize those videos by adding nice background music to them.

AR Emojis

Well, Apple iPhone X inspired Animojis or not, Apple users always crave for features they see on Android, and vice-versa. Huawei added a similar feature to its Honor View10, but it is yet to see an official rollout, whereas Samsung’s AR Emojis actually work out of the box. In the camera app, simply swipe to the left and tap on ‘create your emoji’ and the camera will click your selfie, analyse the facial points and create your animated avatar.

You can change the hair style and color, change clothes, add glasses and do a lot more – 18 different options to choose from. By default, it creates a few emojis with you doing different actions – wink, fist bump and more. Now unlike Apple iPhone X, where you can only share them on Apple Messages, Samsung allows you to share them on your social network – including WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger and more. You can even record a message with your expressions and send them as a video note to your friends.

Faster hardware, more storage and stereo speakers

When we talk about incremental upgrades, you do get a faster chipset, which means your smartphone will be as snappy as possible. Samsung has also bumped the onboard storage up to 256GB, and a microSD card slot for up to 400GB, which means you will not easy run out of space, even after recording 4K videos, slow motion videos and more. And lastly, you also get stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos, letting you enjoy your music, watching movies or TV shows, or playing games on the smartphone.

Cashback and exchange offers

You get a few offers when you buy the new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. If you are an HDFC Bank credit or debit card holder, you get flat Rs 6,000 cashback, which bring the Galaxy S9 effective price down to Rs 51,900, which is about Rs 40,000 cheaper than the Apple iPhone X. Even the Galaxy S9+ with Rs 6,000 cashback, the price comes down to Rs 58,900, which is even cheaper than the new iPhone 8.

The same Rs 6,000 cashback offer is also applicable when you make your purchase using Paytm Mall. And lastly, those upgrading to the new Galaxy S9 also get extra Rs 6,000 exchange bonus. So, if you have a Galaxy S8 working in a good condition, Cashify gives you Rs 31,700 as buyback value, and add another Rs 6,000 to it, which makes it Rs 37,700. Effectively, the Galaxy S9 will set you back by Rs 20,200, approximately.

If you give the Galaxy S8+, you get up to Rs 34,000 + Rs 6,000, that is Rs 40,000, whereas for the Galaxy Note 8, you can fetch up to Rs 38,000 + Rs 6,000, which is about Rs 44,000 in total.

Is the Galaxy S9 a worthy upgrade?

Well, if you’re the kind who upgrades to the latest Android flagship, upgrading to the new Galaxy S9 duo is a no brainer. In case you’re currently on the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge, it depends on whether or not the new features look appealing enough to make the switch. But considering it’s already two years old, and will be getting the last major software update (Android Oreo), a switch makes good sense.

For Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 users, I honestly don’t think there is a big reason to switch, unless you want the new facial recognition feature, AR Emoji and better cameras. If the purchase doesn’t strain you and you just want to enjoy the best Android experience from Samsung then the S9 is your answer. Meanwhile, a more detailed review on BGR India in the days to come would answer the finer questions around the device.

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  • Published Date: March 6, 2018 6:03 PM IST