We test the Galaxy S9 in the real world
We test the Galaxy S9 in the real world
9:22

We test the Galaxy S9 in the real world

Phones
Barcelona, a city stooped in rich history, iconic architecture, and unforgettable food. And yeah, sometimes rain, sometimes lots of rain So we're here to test Samsung's new Galaxy S9 from its cutting edge dual aperture camera and design upgrade to 3D Avatars using feed of yourself. Today, we'll visit some of the studio's famous sites with the F9 as our constant companion. [BLANK_AUDIO] Hey, Andy, wanna come meet me in the lobby in five minutes? See you soon. [MUSIC] From the front, Galaxy S9 and larger S9 Plus look virtually unchanged from last year's phones. But from the back, the fingerprint reader moves beneath the camera module, and the S9 Plus picks up a second lens. Samsung has managed to shave down the bezels even more, leaving us with a gorgeous high-resolution display that subtly curves along both sides. The S9's 5.8 inch screen and the S9 Plus's 6.2 inch screen are full and bright, and take up almost the entire phone face. [MUSIC] The S Line phones have that customizable edge menu that you can access from any screen. It works like a speed dial for your contacts and apps. The button on the left opens up Bixby Voice, Samsung's very own voice app. Unfortunately you can't reprogram it to open any other app But you can keep Bixby home screen from opening when you press the button. Well, at least there's still Google Assistant. [MUSIC] Our day starts at the [UNKNOWN] Market, a glorious wonderland of Catalonian gastronomical delight. I don't even know where to go. I think we need to go find some ham. This way. Yes. It's raining outside, but the S9 phones can take a dip in up to three feet of water for as long as thirty minutes so I'm not worried. The Bokorea is a feast for the senses and also the sensors. The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are the first phones with dual apperture lenses. The 12 megapixel camera senses your lighting conditions and swaps apertures to make low light shots brighter with less digital noise. You can also switch into pro-mode and toggle apertures manually. The Galaxy S9+ we have here includes a 12 megapixel telephoto lens on the back. In addition to the main camera. That means you can take [UNKNOWN] the field portrait photos that blow the background and make your scenes pop. You can adjust the [UNKNOWN] level and keep both those white angle in portrait pecks. The Galaxy S9 8 megapixel front casing camera picks up a new trick too, Selfie focus brings some of that background blowing magic to your self portraits. This tool uses software and not a second lens. So your photos aren't quite as good, and you may up blurring parts of yourself that shouldn't be blurred. We're only just starting to take photos every day, but so far pictures are looking pretty bright and crisp. When Andy wanders off, I get a chance to test out the S9's improved speaker set up which amplifies audio using the speakers on the top, a microphone on the bottom, and Dolby sound technology. It's loud in the Boqueria, but I can hear him above the din. Hey! Hey! I'm at the central bar but I lost you. Where are you? Yeah, I just have to go back for some more of that ham. Okay, do you wanna come meet me here? Yeah, sure. Okay, I'll get you a beer, okay? Bye. Bye. [MUSIC] After walking around in the cold for awhile, we've worked up an appetite for late lunch. So we head to El Nacional, a beautiful building showcasing restaurants That specialize in Iberian cuisine. Unfortunately it's close, but we're hungry so we settle on a sidewalk cafe to watch the world go by. Look, more rain. Throughout the day I've been unlocking my phone with my fingerprint and my iris, which are both secure biometric methods for getting into the phone. I love not having to reach across the camera anymore to hit that fingerprint reader. But I feel other phones still do this better by dishing out the fingerprint target and making it easier to find without a case. What I don't like is intelligence scan, which Samsung added as a convenient way to open the device without error. It combines face unlock, which is not secure. And iris scanning, which is. That means nothing about this feature is secure, so why even include it in the first place? [MUSIC] While we deciding what to order, we open up a translation tool, powered by Google. It's pretty useful, when it works. The same goes for a dietary detection and calorie Its getting app which didn't consistently identify our food. Poached egg, okay it's a fried egg. And, curd skin rolls. Very creative. Lunch was delicious. And our bellies full, we hop on the Metro to check out a different part of town. Andy Briggs had a game, and I tune into a video. You'll notice when we go back to the home menu that the app icons are in landscape mode, so you'll no longer have to turn the phone on Upright to browse. This is an option you can now find in the settings. The S9 phones run on Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 845 chip, which boasts performance improvements for silky test processing and slightly longer battery life. Some S9s will get Samsung's own Exynos chip instead. Hey, what's that? Are those wires sticking out of our ears? Yes, it's true. There is a headset jack. many top phones ditched theirs long ago, but Samsung actual throws in a pair of AKG ear buds into the box they retail for about a hundred dollars US and the audio quality is quite good. In need of a pick me up, we duck out of the rain for a break in one of Barcelona's specialty coffee shops While Andy watches the bags, I break out Samsung K which works at any terminal that accepts credit cards. Not just the ones that take Google Pay. And that's a good thing because we're running low on euros. [MUSIC] Los Sagrada Familia Gaudi's ambitious masterpiece of the Catholic Church That was first started in 1882 and is still unfinished. The gorgeous stained windows inside create an irresistable kaleidoscope of color. This is the perfect place to see if the Galaxy S9 can capture the magical moment in photo and video. We've really been impressed with the S9's image quality overall. And there are tons of settings to choose from. Even if you never strafe from automatic photo and video modes. This is one of the top performing cameras we've seen. We just wish it wasn't so easy to accidentally flip from one mode to the next. Not every camera tool is absolutely perfect. The new super slow-mo video we took at this popular skater spot Records at a lower 720p resolution and works better outdoors than inside. You'll want to use manual controls for the best results. It's really fun sharing these videos with your friends, but for higher resolution video, go for the regular slo-mo option. Back at the hotel we cool our heels until cocktail hour by playing with Samsung's new 3D avatars, called AR emojii. You don't have to be familiar with Apple's animojii to see that these. Are not good, in fact almost defensively bad. We asked a bunch of CNET editors to build their own, and here's what they thought. I don't know why the AR emoji gave me a man ban, I definitely don't have one. Lord have mercy. Yeah, that's unsettling. That looks like I've Yeah, had some real sort of nerve problems. It's kinda, it's horrifying but I can't take my eyes away from it. I'm basically locked onto this kind of plastic-y The image that is meant to be me that I don't identify with at all in any way, shape, or form. But even if crossing into the uncanny valley to create your own digital humanoid clone isn't for you there are tons of other effects and stickers you can apply to lighten up your messaging game. Me I like a practical tool so I'm partial to the new notification window that lets you swipe down a text message to reply directly. The idea is that the widget won't entirely pull you out of what you are doing you can just exit out and keep watching your video or puttering around on your browser The Galaxy S9, and S9 plus, are pumped full of top shop specs, like Android 8.0 Oreo, quite a lot of storage, and that ambitious low light camera. And I love that they don't just sell around the world in gray and black. In fact, I like the purple and blue shades best. The S9 plus' battery lasted a full day of sightseeing. But we did want to give it a top up before going out for a late dinner and drinks. You can charge the phone wirelessly or through the fast charging cable that comes in the box. [MUSIC] Are the Galaxy S9 and S9 plus worth the sky high price? Well if you've already got an S8, they're too fundamentally close to rush out for an upgrade. But if you're over due for a new phone anyway, they fulfill almost every requirement for day to day use. Really nice design, battery life that takes you throught the day, pleasing photos with lots of tweaking options. As long as though core features stay the course, and by and large they do, I can look past Samsung's bungled gimmicks and see the Galaxy S9 phones for the sum of their parts. These are two strong devices that earn a place in your pocket.

Up Next

Android 15: See New Features in Action
yt-android-15-clean-1

Up Next

Android 15: See New Features in Action

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Ultimate Good Lock Tips and Tricks
240509-yt-galaxy-s24-ultra-good-lock-app-v04

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Ultimate Good Lock Tips and Tricks

Google's Pixel 8A Is Here: What's New and Different
240506-yt-pixel-8a-first-look-v10

Google's Pixel 8A Is Here: What's New and Different

Living With Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: 3 Months Later
240424-yt-living-wiht-s24-ultra-v03

Living With Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: 3 Months Later

How Google Tests the Cameras in Its Pixel Phones
240417-site-google-pixel-lab-exclusive-1

How Google Tests the Cameras in Its Pixel Phones

The Missing Piece to Apple's Eco-Friendly Mission
240418-site-omt-the-core-problem-of-apples-green-goals-v1.jpg

The Missing Piece to Apple's Eco-Friendly Mission

What's the Future of Phones? Expert vs. AI
240412-site-what-is-the-future-of-phones-expert-vs-ai-v1

What's the Future of Phones? Expert vs. AI

We Revisit the iPhone 15 Pro Max, 7 Months After Its Launch
iphone-15-pro-max-7-months-later

We Revisit the iPhone 15 Pro Max, 7 Months After Its Launch

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Review: The Best Camera Phone I've Ever Used
240404-yt-xiaomi-14-ultra-camera-for-pro-v08

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Review: The Best Camera Phone I've Ever Used

Apple to Talk AI in June: This WWDC Is a Big Deal
240328-yt-omt-wwdc24-v07

Apple to Talk AI in June: This WWDC Is a Big Deal

Tech Shows

The Apple Core
apple-core.png

The Apple Core

Alphabet City
alphabet-city.png

Alphabet City

CNET Top 5
top-5.png

CNET Top 5

The Daily Charge
the-daily-charge.png

The Daily Charge

What the Future
what-the-future.png

What the Future

Tech Today
tech-today.png

Tech Today

Cooley On Cars
on-cars.png

Cooley On Cars

Carfection
carfection.png

Carfection

Latest News

Finding the Best Budget Smartwatch Under $100
240517-site-smartwatches-under-100

Finding the Best Budget Smartwatch Under $100

Klipsch Flexus Soundbars: Which One is Right for You?
Klipsch Flexus Range

Klipsch Flexus Soundbars: Which One is Right for You?

Unitree G1 vs. Boston Dynamics Atlas: Hypermobility in Humanoid Robots
240523-site-unitree-robotics-thumbnail-2

Unitree G1 vs. Boston Dynamics Atlas: Hypermobility in Humanoid Robots

Apple TV Just Leveled Up with the RetroArch App
240523-site-i-turned-my-apple-tv-into-a-sega-genesis

Apple TV Just Leveled Up with the RetroArch App

Everything Announced at Microsoft Build 2024
240521-site-microsoft-build-supercut-thumbnail

Everything Announced at Microsoft Build 2024

Sonos Ace Headphones Get Set to Take on the AirPods Max (First Look)
240520-site-sonos-headphones-4

Sonos Ace Headphones Get Set to Take on the AirPods Max (First Look)

Microsoft Announces First Surface Copilot Plus PCs Powered by Qualcomm
240520-site-microsoft-reax-2

Microsoft Announces First Surface Copilot Plus PCs Powered by Qualcomm

Everything Announced at Microsoft's Surface Copilot Plus PC Event
microsoft-event-5-20-24-20-may-2024-02-00-39-pm-00-08-21-09-still001

Everything Announced at Microsoft's Surface Copilot Plus PC Event

Android 15: See New Features in Action
yt-android-15-clean-1

Android 15: See New Features in Action

If Apple Makes Siri Like ChatGPT or Gemini, I'm Done
240516-site-hey-siri-lets-talk

If Apple Makes Siri Like ChatGPT or Gemini, I'm Done