We've seen Samsung introducing major improvements in its flagship Galaxy S series over the years and this year's launches -- Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ -- are no different.
A section of users are of the view that Galaxy S9 series is not a radical departure from its predecessors. However, the new line-up has a plethora of small changes which will come in handy.
At Rs 64,900 (for 64GB onboard storage variant), Galaxy S9+ comes with dual aperture and dual primary camera as its USPs. Does the smartphone pack in enough to compete against other flagships? Here is our view.
With the same curved glass-sandwich design, metal sides and bump-less camera setup on the rear, Galaxy S9+ looks almost identical to its predecessor.
The front is dominated by a big, gorgeous 6.2-inch Quad HD+ AMOLED display which made black colour look deep and rich.
The display with 18.5:9 ratio curves away on each side to meet the frame that made it look alluring, thus making Galaxy S9+ one of few devices that deliver an immersive viewing experience.
We particularly liked how Samsung has squeezed the display into a narrow frame that made it surprisingly easy to hold when compared to its rivals such as Google Pixel 2 XL.
This is still a big device, but one key change over last year's Galaxy S8+ is the position of the fingerprint scanner on the rear. It now sits below the rear cameras, making it much easier to reach.
The tiny bezels at the top house the iris scanner, various sensors and a selfie camera.
The primary 12MP dual cameras with optical image stabilisation (OIS), "Dual Pixel" AF is a major upgrade from last year.
The company has debuted dual or variable aperture for the first time on its device where the lens can go from f/1.5 to f/2.4. Notably, this is not a mere software gimmick but we could actually see the aperture closing and opening.
When in a dark environment, the lens opens up to a wide aperture of f/1.5 to let in more light, quite like a human eye. Meanwhile, in bright conditions, the lens defaults to f/2.4 aperture.
This is the best Android camera that produced photos with great dynamic range and well-balanced details, irrespective of the lighting scenarios. The low-light camera performance was impressive.
The camera app interface has been tweaked and made much easier. The various modes are now selectable by swiping right or left on the display.
The 8MP AF (f/1.7) front camera is one of the best selfie cameras out there. It captured detailed self-portraits and did fairly well in dim-lighting conditions.
One great thing about the camera is the super slow-motion mode that can shoot videos at 960 frames per second.
Samsung has also debuted Augmented Reality (AR) emoji with the device. Some found that creepy while others took it as fun. We found it both fun and easy to use.
You can create your virtual avatar by clicking a photo and the smartphone generates a version that can be customised with several hairstyle and outfits.
Galaxy S9+ is powered by Samsung's latest homegrown "Exynos 9810" chipset coupled with 6GB RAM and 64GB/128GB/256GB onboard storage which can be upgraded up to 400GB via microSD card slot.
The flagship processor ensured excellent performance and there was no stutter during multi-tasking or gaming with high-end graphics.
Galaxy S9+ retains a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack which should appeal to most users. Samsung has also made the device weatherproof with IP68 dust and water resistance.
The device is one of the first Samsung smartphones to run Android 8.0 Oreo Operating System. It comes with "Samsung Experience 9.0" on top.
S9+ has the capability to duplicate messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Messenger where the users can run two social media accounts at a time.
What does not work?
We did not find any significant improvement in the company's own personal assistant "Bixby" from last year.
There is a dedicated Bixby button which cannot be customised to perform other functions.
Conclusion: Galaxy S9+ sure has a head-turning design, amazing display and excellent camera with snappy performance. It packs everything a user would expect from a single premium package.
(Krishna SinhaChaudhury can be contacted at email@example.com)