Two words sum up everything you need to know about the new Samsung Galaxy S9 – photos and sound. I mean, really, I could bore you to death with a bunch of technical details, but the Galaxy S9’s new camera features and vastly improved sound quality are the real reason to switch (or upgrade) to the Galaxy S9.
Taking photos with the Galaxy S9
If you’ve been paying attention to any of the popular photo apps (Snapchat, Instagram and now even Facebook) lately, you’ve likely noticed a huge trend towards making taking photos with your smartphone a lot more fun. Whether it’s using a filter, adding colorful stickers or doodling on top of your photo, photo enhancements are what it’s all about right now.
This is where the Galaxy S9 delivers. If you want your smartphone camera to make you look like a gun-toting cowboy or Walter White’s alter ego “Heisenberg” from Breaking Bad, the Galaxy S9 has you covered. Or, if you want to slap a clown face on your head or show your eyes popping out of their sockets, the Galaxy S9 again has you covered.
For the record, I did all the above with the Galaxy S9. Here are the results:
Samsung didn’t stop at fun filters and stickers. The Galaxy S9 also lets you create an Augmented Reality (AR) emoji of yourself. This may sound like rocket science, but it’s not. It’s actually quite easy to do. You start by taking a selfie. The Galaxy S9 does most of the work after that. If you want, you can fine tune your personal emoji by tweaking your skin tone, hair style, eye wear and clothing.
When you’re done, you end up with something like this (I think it looks like me, do you agree?)
With your new AR Emoji stored on your Galaxy S9, you can launch it at any time. You’ll see your emoji on the camera and it will mimic any head movement or facial expressions you make. You can then record these and share them as animated GIFs on social media and messaging platforms that support them.
Here’s a short video from SlashGear demonstrating the AR Emoji feature:
As a bonus feature, once you create your AR Emoji, the Galaxy S9 creates a handful of animated GIFs for you, depicting different expressions. Here are a few it made for me:
Real time language translation with Bixby Vision
Like the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy S9 comes pre-packaged with Samsung’s virtual assistant, Bixby. But with the Galaxy S9, Bixby learned a few new tricks. One is translating foreign language signs in real time with the camera. Not only does it translate the text, but it also virtually changes the text you see to your language.
Here’s the sign I tested with Bixby Vision along with what the Galaxy S9 displayed on the screen a few seconds later:
I’m not going to go through every single camera feature of the Galaxy S9, but I will mention another favorite of mine – selective focus. This feature allows you to tap on the screen, while in camera mode, to tell the Galaxy S9 what to focus on. When it takes the picture, the Galaxy S9 will soft blur everything else in the background. It’s a step closer to taking the type of photo you usually can only take on a digital SLR. You can even adjust the blur effect after the photo is taken.
Here’s a selective focus photo of some flowers I took with the Galaxy S9:
I did mention there were two reasons to switch or upgrade to the Galaxy S9. The second is the audio quality. The Galaxy S9 now has Dolby Atmos sound on stereo speakers tuned by AKG. That’s a mouthful so let me simplify it. The audio on the Galaxy S9 sounds fantastic!
I even did a side-by-side comparison on the same YouTube video on my existing Galaxy S8 and the new Galaxy S9. The sound difference was amazing. It sounded richer and fuller with much better bass tones on the Galaxy S9.
In fact, the sound was so much better, I thought I might be biased so I called my wife in to my office to do a blind audio test. She didn’t even hesitate a second to point out that the Galaxy S9 had better sound. “Way better!”, she said.
Other features I should probably mention
Like I said earlier, I’m not going to bore you with all the technical details of the new Galaxy S9. But I will give you a short bullet list of some of the other notable features.
- Edge-to-edge display (similar to the Galaxy S8)
- Dual aperture camera lens which automatically adapts to bright daylight or super low light
- Super slow-mo video mode
- Add music to your videos or convert them to animated GIFs
- Unlock your phone with Intelligent Scan – a combination of face and iris scanning
- Share photos and videos on your Galaxy S9 to other devices via a Samsung account
When it comes to Android smartphones, there is a short list of phones that really stand out among the others. The Galaxy S9 is one of them. Buy it new if it’s been a while since you purchased a new phone. Or, upgrade to it if the photo features and improved sound quality are on your must-have list. Really, you can’t go wrong with the Galaxy S9.
Note: The Samsung Galaxy S9 in this review was provided to me by Verizon Wireless and can be purchased at your local Verizon Wireless store or at www.verizonwireless.com.
Want to see the new Galaxy S9’s new features in action? Check out the official Samsung Galaxy S9 commercial below: