Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

Front view of the phone.
Back view of the phone.
Testing Samsung's AR Emojis.
Testing Samsung's AR Emojis.
The dark box test.
Bixby live translation.
Side view of the phone.

AFTER unveiling the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona earlier this week, Samsung Electronics Malaysia invited selected members of the media to try their hand on the company's latest flagship phone.

After a short briefing by Julian Thean, Head of Product Marketing, IT and Mobile Business, Samsung Malaysia Electronics, we were each given a unit of either the Samsung Galaxy S9 or the S9+ to play with for the day. Of course, I went with the S9+.

In hand and by design the S9+ continues the motif and feel set by the Galaxy S8. The thin bezel and the 2:1 display aspect ratio makes it a good fit for most hands while giving the most amount of screen space.

Its curved corners and sides make it feel smooth in hand, but I would not call it slippery. The Super Amoled is, of course, gorgeous, and I would not expect anything less from Samsung.

However, because we here handed the phone without a case, It took us a while to figure out how to handle the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ without accidentally tapping or swiping something on the touchscreen.

The first feature I tested on the S9+ was its augmented reality capabilities using the AR Emoji feature.

Where virtual reality puts you into the virtual world, augmented reality places the virtual world into existence. With AR Emoji, you can quickly create an avatar, or a virtual representation of yourself, by just taking a selfie.

You can customise your avatar with clothes, hairstyle, and even edit it to your liking. With it, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ could create a set of pre-generated emojis all featuring your likeness. These AR Emoji can be used with any third party messaging application.

Additionally, you can use the 8MP front camera of the S9 and S9+ to emote and puppeteer the virtual character.

The process of making and using these AR Emoji is easy and fun, but like most of the new features on the S9 and S9+ requires the users to read the instructions to get the most out of it.

Another highly touted feature of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ is its ability to capture Super Slow-Mo videos. In technical terms, the rear camera on these Samsung phones can record at 960 frames a second. It effectively turns 0.2 seconds of footage into a 6-second clip.

This feature is novel and fun. I appreciate how Samsung implemented an optional trigger box system into its Super Slow-Mo video caption implementation.

When in Super Slow-Mo mode and set to automatic, you will see a square on the screen. The square acts as a motion detector and trigger. As soon as it detects movement, it will trigger the 0.2-second recording to help you capture just the right moment.

This square can be moved and resized as needed.

To capture the Super Slow-Mo video, just press the button, wait until a yellow notification pop up, and the phone is ready to capture the moment when it detects movement in the designated square.

Initially, it felt complicated at , that is until we were shown how it is correctly done.

Another unique feature of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ is its Dual Aperture. Aperture refers to the size of the opening in a camera's lens. Basically, the bigger the opening, the more light can come in, but the less of the picture will be in focus. When the opening is smaller, the opposite is true.

The primary camera on the S9 and S9+ has a mechanical aperture that physically shifts between a substantially large F1.5 and an outdoor-friendly F2.4, similar to how our eyes work.

I tested this feature by taking a low light shot, in this case, a sign with the words #GalaxyS9 pasted onto the inside of a cardboard box. The result is impressive.

Last but not least, I tested out the Bixby real-time language translator.

I noticed that it is less jumpy and sporadic compared to Google Translator and it translates with context better than Microsoft's translator which does not do real-time translation. The translation done by Google Translator came close to what Bixby can do but only when I took a picture and had it translate the lines of text that I have to highlight, line by line.

First impressions are important, and I am impressed with my first time with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. Nevertheless, we will only know how it fares as a daily device once we get our hands on one for review.

You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S9, and S9+ from March 1 at 10 am to March 4.

A deposit of RM300 is required for each preorder. In return, each purchase will be rewarded with a Harman Kardon Onyx Mini Bluetooth Speaker worth RM699 for free.

The Galaxy S9 will only be available with 64GB of storage for RM3,299.

On the other hand, the Galaxy S9+ will be available in 64GB of storage for RM3,799, 128GB for RM3,999, and 256GB for RM4,399.

In Malaysia, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be available in lilac purple, midnight black, and coral blue, however, the Galaxy S9+ with 256GB storage will only available in midnight black.

Meanwhile, there will also be a trade up and save programme for those who are looking to upgrade to a Galaxy S9 series phone. The plan will launch on March 9 and ends on April 30.

For more information, please visit the Samsung Malaysia official website.

Below is a video of the phone:

Below is a video of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ Super Slow Mo test: