We’re going to be looking at the key differences between the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs the S9 Plus, which has just been announced. So, if you currently have an S8 Plus and you’re thinking of upgrading, or if you’re in the market for a new smartphone and you’re not sure which one of these to go for, then hopefully this comparison should help you out.
So let’s break this down…
Design – Even Smaller Bezels
First thing’s first, in terms of the design, the S9 Plus is definitely an incremental upgrade to the S8 Plus. At first, you may not notice any change at all. The Galaxy S9 Plus once again rocks Samsung’s infinity display design. So that means the display just curves nicely around the edges of the device. There is also a very slender bezel up above and down below as well. Samsung reckons that they’ve trimmed off some of those bezels but I’m struggling to notice any difference.
Here are the specifications for the Galaxy S8 Plus and the Galaxy S9 Plus:
- Galaxy S8 Plus – 6.2-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display, 6 GB of RAM, runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, and is IP68 rated water and dust resistant.
- Galaxy S9 Plus – 6.2-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display, 6 GB of RAM, also runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, and is IP68 rated water and dust resistant.
The display size is the same on both of these, 6.2 inches, Quad HD, Super AMOLED, with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Now both of these are some of the best displays in the market right now, and you really cannot go wrong with either of these. But with the S9 Plus, Samsung has said that the black is actually deeper, so when you’ve got black on the screen, it’s going to blend in better with those bezels and look like you’ve got no bezels at all.
You’ve still got a metal frame with curved glass panels on the front and back. In my opinion, these still look really good, and the S8 Plus was one of the best-looking devices of last year anyway. I get some people may have wanted to see a bit of a refreshed design, but I’m assuming that’s going to come next year. Now, something you’re going to experience with both devices is fingerprints, so I definitely recommend picking up skins from Amazon. You can order skins for your S8 Plus as well as your S9 Plus right away.
Display – The Sleek vs The Old
Now both devices are IP68 water and dust resistant, and both of them also feel very, very similar in the hand. The S9 Plus is slightly heavier and it’s also slightly thicker, but it’s slightly shorter compared to the S8 Plus, and that is because it has slightly smaller bezels. Now, based on early, leaked renders, it looked like the S9 Plus might behaving slightly thicker bezels compared to the S8 Plus, but thankfully, this is not the case and we have smaller bezels than the small bezels we already had.
Now moving on to the additional features, with the S8 Plus you’ve got the fingerprint scanner in an awkward place, this is something that a lot of people were complaining about last year. It’s very difficult to reach, especially on the large device. Samsung has addressed this, and with the S9 Plus, you have the fingerprint scanner below the cameras and it’s in a much more accessible position and much more centrally located rather than being out awkwardly to one side like the S8 Plus. That means it just falls naturally under your finger when you go to unlock the phone. You’ve got iris scanners on both devices as well as facial recognition, but with the S9 Plus, you have Intelligent Scan, which uses a combination of the iris scanner as well as the facial recognition to give you additional security.
Bgr also claims that the facial recognition isn’t as secure as Samsung wants you to think.
Biometrics – AR Emoji and Bixby
There’s also a new feature on the S9 Plus and that is AR Emoji. I call this Samsung’s answer to Apple’s Animoji. This is basically going to create a 3D avatar of yourself within the device by using the front-facing camera. Now, I did a brief test of this, it didn’t really look that much like me but it probably did need some tweaking. It maps your face and looks at 100 facial features to give you realistic expressions on your AR Emoji, which then you can share with your family and friends over things like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Both devices do have Samsung’s AI system, Bixby, and this can be launched by the dedicated button. Now there are some improvements in Bixby, especially in terms of Bixby Vision. There’s a live translate, which is going to let you point your camera at the text, say on a menu, and it’s going to translate that on the screen, there and then. And there’s also things like being able to point it at food and it’s going to tell you some information, like how many calories it’s got. Now whether or not these features are going to be coming onto the S8 Plus final update, I’m not too sure about that.
Read more: iPhone X vs Galaxy S8: Who’s the Winner?
Performance – Bigger Storage and New Chip
For the operating systems, you’ve got Android. We don’t have Oreo on the S8 Plus as of yet. That’s supposed to be coming soon. With the S9 Plus, it is going to come with Android Oreo out of the box. Moving onto the audio, you’ve got a 3.5mm headphone jack on both devices, and I’m glad that Samsung has kept this on the S9 Plus. It’s something that we’re seeing much less of these days, and with the S8 Plus, we’ve got a single bottom-firing speaker, which sounds okay but it isn’t great. With the S9 Plus, however, you do now have stereo speakers tuned by AKG. These are 1.4 times louder compared to the S8 Plus, and they also support Dolby Atmos. So, you can switch this on and it’s going to give you a much more immersive experience.
Now moving onto the internals, the S8 Plus has either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor or Samsung’s Exynos 8895, depending on your region. With the S9 Plus being the new device, it does have this year’s processors, which are the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Samsung’s Exynos 9810. It also has 6 GB of RAM vs 4 GB of RAM on the S8 Plus, and you could expect the S9 Plus to be faster overall because it does have the new internals. How much faster? Well, there will be some speed tests when the retail version of the S9 Plus is out. And in terms of storage, you’ve got 64 GB as a base on the S8 Plus. On the S9 Plus, you have a base of 128 GB. So you do have an advantage here with double the storage as a base, and both of these are expandable, so that’s absolutely great. You’re not going to be stuck with the storage that you buy when you get the devices.
Read more: 6 Secret Tips to Save Storage on Android
Cameras – 28% More Light
Now let’s move on to the cameras. With the S8 Plus, you’ve got a single 12-megapixel camera, which has a dual pixel to focus, optical stabilization, and an F1.7 aperture. Now, this was actually a really good camera and did perform really well last year. With the S9 Plus, there are some major improvements. Firstly, you’ve got dual 12-megapixel cameras, both optically stabilized, the primary camera is wide-angle and it actually has a dual aperture.
This is really cool; you’ve got F1.5, which is the widest aperture on any smartphone right now, this is going to let in 28% more light compared to the S8 Plus. So you’re going to have much better low-light performance. But it’s also got an F2.4 aperture and it’s going to mechanically switch between these two, and seeing that change is actually pretty awesome. If you look closely, you can actually see the aperture changing, and that is absolutely insane. The way this is going to work is if you’re in a situation with less than 100 lux of light, it’s going to use the F1.5, but if you’re in a situation with more than 100 lux of light, then it’s going to use the F2.4. And this is going to allow you to have more things in focus and have a more pleasing shot in a better light.
When it comes to the front-facing cameras, you’ve got eight megapixels on both with an F1.7 aperture and autofocus. So, in terms of the hardware, there doesn’t really seem to be a difference, but we do have improvements in terms of the software, and you’ve got selfie focus on the S9 Plus. This is basically a portrait mode from the front-facing camera like what we’ve got on the Google Pixel 2, as well as the iPhone X. It’s going to blur the background and give you a nice shot. In my testing, it did seem to work pretty well.
Now for the second camera, it’s a telephoto camera, similar to what you had in the Note 8 and Pixel 2 XL, with an F2.4 aperture. This is going to allow you to have optical zoom, but it’s also going to give you Live Focus. This is the portrait mode for Samsung and it’s going to give you a blurry background. You can also edit that blur after the fact, and it’s going to take a wide-angle shot at the same time, so you do have that if needed. Live Focus actually worked really well in my experience on the Note 8, and I expect it to work very well on the S9 Plus too.
When it comes to video with the S8+, you’ve got 4K at 30 frames a second. With the S9 Plus, you’ve got 4K at 60 frames a second, and you’ve also got super slow-mo. Now super slow-mo is 720p at 960 frames a second, but it’s only a short burst. This is similar to what we had on the Sony devices last year. But the problem with the Sony devices, what I found was that you had to press it at the exact time, which meant that, more often than not, you would miss the shot. With the S9 Plus, however, you have automatic motion detection, so you’re going to be able to put a square around the area where it’s going to look out for motion, and when it does notice motion in that area, that’s when it’s going to do that burst of 960 fps. From the demo, this looked absolutely epic, and I’m sure lots of people are going to have lots of fun with this feature.
When it comes to the front-facing cameras, you’ve got eight megapixels on both with an F1.7 aperture and autofocus. So, in terms of the hardware, there doesn’t really seem to be a difference, but we do have improvements in terms of the software, and we’ve got selfie focus on the S9 Plus. This is basically a portrait mode from the front-facing camera like we’ve got on the Google Pixel 2, as well as the iPhone X. It’s going to blur the background and give you a nice shot. In my testing, it did seem to work pretty well.
Now, let’s look at the batteries. The batteries are actually unchanged, You’ve got the same size battery on both devices, 3500mAh. But, with the S9 Plus, and you do have the newer processors, so they should be more efficient.
Fast charging and fast wireless charging is on both devices and it’s great to use if you need a quick top up. And finally, looking at pricing and availability, the S9 Plus is actually coming in more expensive compared to what the S8 Plus came in at, and this is because of the new additional features. So we’ve got the dual cameras, we’ve got new processors, we’ve got larger storage, etcetera. And with the S8 Plus, because it’s last year’s device, you actually will be able to pick it up much cheaper than its release price.
Read more: 17 Best Tips to Extend Your iPhones Battery Life
Bottom Line – Price and Storage
- Galaxy S9 Plus – 64GB – $840 / €999 / £869
- Galaxy S8 Plus – 64GB – $850 / €899 / £779
“The UK and Europe are dealing with significant price rises ( $1,200 for a Galaxy S9 Plus) and even though these prices include sales tax, its a vast difference to the States. In fact, lucky US customers are actually receiving price cuts compared to last year’s models. Furthermore, Samsung is offering $100-$350 trade-ins across a wide variety of phones.” – Forbes
With the S9 Plus, it is going to be coming out on the 16th of March, but if you pre-order it early, then you will be getting it a little bit earlier too. So, that is the S8 Plus vs the S9 Plus, and although we don’t have too much of a change in terms of the design, hopefully, this helped you to see all of the other improvements, such as with the camera especially.
So, is it worth upgrading from the S8 Plus to the S9 Plus? Well, if you’re somebody who wants all of the latest features, then the S9 Plus is offering something that we haven’t seen on any other device before with that variable aperture. But, at the same time, if you’re happy with the S8 Plus, that is still a pretty good device and it should last you another year. And if you are somebody who’s in a bit of a budget and cannot afford the S9+, then right now would be a good time to pick up the S8+, because it will be dropping further in price when the S9+ is released. What do you think of the S9+? Definitely drop me a comment below and let me know.