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UK Insights

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 is fun, interactive and very useful

Dominic Sunnebo

Global Insight Director

Mobile 26.02.2018 / 00:01

Samsung Galaxy S9

And if you think smartphone cameras have peaked, think again.

Confirming the developing trend for smartphone manufacturers to follow a two-year design cycle, Samsung today announces the launch of the Galaxy S9 and S9+. However, the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ seems more than fitting with the Galaxy S9.

The Galaxy S8 was a genuine leap forward in smartphone design, with the ‘Infinity Display’ screen setting a design path many others have now followed. Since launch to December 2017, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ combined accounted for 1 in 10 smartphones sold in Great Britain, and Samsung achieved a sales share of 27.5% in the last three months of 2017, up 1.2 percentage points year on year.

Twelve months on and the Galaxy still looks as fresh as anything out there. Changes are minimal on the outside, except for a dual lens camera on the Galaxy S9+ model and a new attractive colour, Lilac Purple (a nod to Pantone’s colour of the year, Ultra Violet), helping to differentiate the device from its predecessor. The colour works very well with the handset, highlighting its design finesse and marking a welcome change from the usual grey and black.

There are several changes inside which, to Samsung’s credit, centre around making the device fun, interactive and well, just useful. Improvements to the camera are the focal point – a decision that makes sense, as Samsung stats that show consumers now take 1.2 trillion photos each year, send 5 billion emojis a day, and share 1 billion GIFs.

The new camera in the Galaxy S9 is Dual Aperture, offering the ability to toggle between f1.4 and f2.4, depending on light levels. An advantage of this is significantly improved photographs in low light levels – one of the few remaining areas for smartphone cameras to really nail. These new aperture options should mean 28% more light than the Galaxy S8 in poor light conditions and 30% less noise. In the demo, comparisons certainly showed a notable improvement, particularly with regards to noise levels in high detail pictures.

The phone’s Slow-Motion capabilities have also been enhanced, with the camera able to capture images four times faster than the Galaxy S8, with an auto motion detector also helping to smooth out the process.

Next up is the AR (Augmented Reality) Emoji. Take a selfie with the Galaxy S9 and then convert it to one of twelve personalized animated emojis, ranging from crying in a sea of your own tears to exploding with excitement. The facial recognition worked well, providing a reasonable semblance of my face, and you can then manually select the hair, clothes, and accessories. These are then automatically made available in your keyboard.

Samsung’s own personal assistant Bixby, which made its first appearance on the Galaxy S8, is back in full swing with the Galaxy S9. Its AI capabilities may not be as good as those of Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri, it is likely to play a key role in integrating the control functions of all Samsung’s devices in the future. For now, Bixby showed off just a few new features, but they were genuinely impressive. Many smartphones have attempted to provide translation services, for example, but somehow they’ve generally been clunky and unsatisfying. With Bixby vision, you can hover the Galaxy S9 over something like a menu in a foreign restaurant, using the camera function, and it will translate straight away into your home language, whilst looking the same in style and layout. There is apparently support for over 50 languages from launch. Augmented reality at its best – simple and useful.

Whilst the excitement of new phone launches has been somewhat dampened by the two-year design cycle, Samsung’s focus away from internal hardware spec improvements for the Galaxy S9 (which are there) and more towards fun, interactive and useful software, has meant that the Galaxy S9 appears more customer centric than ever with a dose of playfulness that might just give it the edge.

Read more of my thoughts on this here.

Source : Kantar Worldpanel

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