The Samsung Galaxy S9 has finally be revealed by the South Korean tech powerhouse after months of rumours and speculation over how it would respond to the Apple iPhone X .
At a special "Unpacked" event in Barcelona, Samsung revealed the desirable new gadget on stage in front of the tech industry press.
The new device carries over many of the features of last year’s Galaxy S8 – such as the ultra-wide "Infinity Display" – but also makes improvements in several areas.
The camera has been upgraded to include a super slow-motion mode that captures video at 960 frames-per-second, spinning out 0.2 seconds of video into around six seconds.
According to Samsung, over 1.2 trillion photos were taken in 2017 and the advent of video messaging means the camera has become one of the primary features of the phone. Both the Galaxy S9 and the larger S9+ have 12MP cameras on the back of the device.
Fittingly, the S9 packs in an 8MP front-facing autofocus camera and the ability to create an "augmented reality" emoji – basically a 3D cartoon version of your face that can recognise up to 18 different expressions. Just like Apple’s face-controlled Animoji, you’ll be able to record small clips and send them through WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
As well as creating these animated characters and shooting slow-motion video, the camera on the S9 has another impressive trick. Using Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby (its version of Siri) combined with the camera it can translate foreign language into English.
So, for example, you can point it at a menu or a road sign while abroad and the foreign words will magically rearrange themselves into English. Providing you’ve got a data connection, of course.
As well as this, you can use the Bixby vision feature to count calories in food or discover if there are any nearby places you might want to visit just by pointing the S9’s lens at either your plate or a nearby road sign.
On the hardware side of things, Samsung has made a few necessary tweaks to last year’s S8 design. The most prominent of which is shifting the fingerprint scanner from the side of the camera lens to below it.
A frequent complaint from last year was user’s inadvertently jabbing at the camera lens while trying to get to the scanner.
Samsung has also added dual stereo speakers to the device for the first time – which have Dolby’s surround-sound Atmos technology built-in for giving audio and video even more punch.
And better yet – Samsung has opted to KEEP the 3.5mm headphone jack. Despite the likes of Apple and Google dropping it from their flagship handsets, Samsung will let you plug in your old headphones and keep listening dongle-free.
The S9 has an IP68 rating, which means it is water resistant to a maximum depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes, and is protected from dust, dirt and sand without the need for extra caps or covers.
Inside is a 10-nanometer octa-core processor which gives the phone enough power to double up as a desktop PC through the DeX accessory. First revealed last year, DeX is a cradle for the phone that lets you plug in a monitor, keyboard and mouse and use the S9 to handle documents, browse the web and play games.
Samsung says that its DeX cradle has been redesigned this year, allowing the phone to lie flat and act as a touchpad or even a keyboard. The South Korean company is targeting this more at industry users than consumers and says it already has interest from a few financial companies.
Other specifications include a choice of either 4GB of RAM or 6GB depending on whether you opt for the 5.8-inch S9 or 6.2-inch S9+. Both feature the same "Quad HD+" screen, translating into a resolution of 2960×1440 pixels.
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As you would expect, the larger of the two devices has the bigger battery: 3,500mAh compared to 3,000mAh but given the improvements to Android 8 Oreo, battery performance should be negligible. The S9+ also has 128GB of storage space compared to the 64GB on the S9 – but both can be upgraded to a massive 400GB with the addition of a microSD card.
The S9 charges via USB-C but Samsung has also added wireless charging and created a new dock that you can buy separately.
In terms of getting hold of the actual handset, Samsung is making pre-orders live at 6pm GMT on February 25th. Both version of the phone will be available to buy in-store on March 16 – meaning you only have to wait a couple of weeks if you’re desperate to upgrade.
As usual though, the top-tier Android handset will make a noticeable dent on your wallet.
Samsung has priced the S9 at 849 euros (£750; $1,047) and the S9+ at 949 euros (£838; $1,170) – 50 euros more than the S8 and S8+.
The only silver lining to that is that once again Samsung is running its global trade-in program allowing anyone to trade-in older Samsung phones, other Android handsets or iPhones for a discount on the new phone.