Samsung Galaxy S9: impressive camera tricks undermined by lack of innovation
Samsung has launched the Galaxy S9 which boasts a number of impressive camera tricks including “super slow-mo” and excellent low- light capabilities but it ultimately fails to bring the same level of innovation demonstrated by the S8.
Visually the S9 is almost identical to the previous generation but comes equipped with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor and an improved dual-aperture camera (F1.5/F2.4).
The dual aperture functionality allows the camera to take much better photos in low light without over exposure in more brightly lit scenes.
At its pre-MWC launch event, Samsung showed that the S9 could take some impressive looking photos in dimly lit scenes, although it won’t be until its commercial availability that this can be fully tested.
It’s also capable of “super slow-mo” footage by running the camera at 960 frames per second.
The results were impressive during hands-on time with the device, although it must be said that Sony’s 2017 flagship, which was launched at last year’s MWC, was capable of the same trick.
Samsung also demonstrated the S9’s ARCore abilities, Google’s augmented reality platform which it added to its Android mobile operating system last year.
Users can now create “AR emoji”, effectively a cartoon version of themselves which they can animate in a variety of poses and expressions.
AR Emoji uses a data-based machine learning algorithm, which analyses a 2D image of the user and maps out more than 100 facial features to create a 3D model that reflects and imitates expressions like winks and nods.
As someone older than 14, the feature was not massively appealing, but younger users may enjoy the ability to bring some personalisation to their emoji.
Samsung has included an improved facial recognition system, probably in an attempt to compete with the iPhone X’s Face ID. It also made a point of stating that the device still includes a headphone jack, unlike any iPhone released since 2016.
For the first time Samsung has used a dual speaker setup which promises proper stereo sound at a greater volume.
But while the camera abilities are undoubtedly impressive, the S9 fails to make as big a splash as the last generation.
The S8 introduced a massive, crisp display that even the most casual smartphone user would notice in comparison to the previous generation.
But holding the S8 and the S9 side-by-side, one would be hard pressed to tell the difference. The infographic below comparing the two devices makes it clear how little has changed spec-wise in the intervening year.
The S9 is still a beautiful device to hold and use, but it has fallen into the same trap as the rest of the industry, where innovation is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve as manufacturers struggle to improve on what has already been.