Speed test: HTC U11 vs Galaxy S8+ vs 2017's other top smartphones

We’ve just done our full review of the HTC U11, and we’ve come to the conclusion that HTC’s latest and greatest is a true rival of the Samsung Galaxy S8. But, how does it stack up against the S8, and other top flagships of the moment, in terms of real life performance? To find out, we’ve done a true to life speed test with each phone, launching apps side-by-side to show how they perform. Check out the video and results.

We’ve designed our speed test to find out which phones perform the fastest in real life situations. For this race, these top flagships were chosen: the Huawei P10 Plus, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, the HTC U11, the LG G6 and the Google Pixel loaded with the Android O Beta. To make it as true to life as possible, we’ve used a benchmark called DiscoMark, which opens a custom series of apps multiple times. We chose apps that normal users might use everyday: Google Calendar, the default camera app, Chrome, Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, Google Maps, Facebook Messenger, Google Photos, Spotify, Twitter and YouTube. Then, we placed each phone side-by-side and launched the tests simultaneously to see which loads the fastest. To ensure consistency, we prepared the phones beforehand by factory resetting each phone, installing firmware and app updates, standardizing the display brightness settings, plugging the phones in, then finally restarting them. Watch the speed test in action in our video below!

The speed test results

Taking first place, three phones finished less than one second apart. These were the HTC U11, Huawei P10 Plus and Google Pixel with the Android O Beta. Four seconds later, in fourth place, were the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus and Sony Xperia XZ Premium, which finished within one second of each other. A full five seconds after that, the LG G6 came in last place.

The results of our speed test show that the three 2017 flagships with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processors, the Xperia XZ Premium, Galaxy S8 Plus and the HTC U11, beat the phone with the old Snapdragon 821. The LG G6, despite being launched around the same time as these phones, has the Snapdragon 821 processor and unfortunately lagged behind all the other phones in the test. Despite it being older (released in 2016), we also tested a Google Pixel with the same 821 processor, and it managed to beat the G6, the S8 Plus and the XZ Premium. This result was likely due to the Pixel running the optimized Android O Beta. All the other phones in the test were running either Android 7.0 or Android 7.1.1. The Huawei P10 Plus, which packs Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor, also finished with the top. With 6 GB of RAM, 2 GB more than all the others, that’s no surprise.

Technical specs and benchmark results

  Huawei P10 Plus Sony Xperia XZ Premium Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus HTC U11 LG G6 (US) Google Pixel
Release date February 2017 February 2017 April 2017 June 2017 March 2017 October 2016
Processor Kirin 960 Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 821 Snapdragon 821
RAM 6 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB
Android Version Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat Android O Beta
PC Mark Work 2.0 (2.0.3710) 6084 6338 5094 6788 5104 5666

We’ve also run a separate benchmark test on each phone. PC Mark’s Work 2.0 performance benchmark is similar, if only in spirit, to the DiscoMark test we conducted, as it is based on common, everyday tasks. The phones with the highest scores, the HTC U11, Sony Xperia XZ Premium and Huawei P10 Plus, don’t necessarily correspond to those that performed best in our speed test or in other benchmark tests. That’s because there’s no single benchmark which can accurately quantify how a phone performs in everyday life. There’s no substitute for hands-on experience, which is why doing in-depth reviews is essential for evaluating smartphones. Still, speed tests and benchmarks like these can help enrich our understanding of how smartphones fare against each other and illustrate what it’s like to use a phone in everyday situations. If you’re considering buying any of 2017’s top smartphones, we hope this helps you make a more informed purchase.

Were the results what you expected? Would you like to see more speed test videos in the future? Let us know in the comments.

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Galaxy A6/A6+: Samsung’s next mid-range appears in renders

All eyes have been on the Galaxy S9 recently, but Samsung has something else in the works. If you follow the brand, you’ll know what we’re talking about: the Samsung Galaxy A6, the more modest device. This mid-range phone will be released in the coming months, so read on to find out what we know so far, including the latest leaked renders. 

Reminiscent of the A8 and A8+ which were released this year, the glass covering the display of course be completely flat, while the glass on the rear of the phone will be curved slightly to improve the handling. You can clearly see the camera, with fingerprint readers underneath the camera in Galaxy S9 style, don’t you think?

Nothing surprising with the specs

The smaller of the two models, the Galaxy A6, will pack a Samsung Exynos 7870 octave SoC core 1.6GHz, 3GB RAM and a 5.6-inch 18.5:9 format display. The Galaxy A6 Plus will use a SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, 4 GB RAM and a 6-inch display in 18.5:9 format.

This places the Galaxy A6 only just below the Galaxy A8 (2018) in terms of power, as well as a micro USB charging port unlike the USB Type-C used in January’s devices. In terms of display size, it stays the same. 

The Samsung Galaxy A6 will use a single rear camera, while the Galaxy A6+ will use a dual camera, the specifications for which are not yet known.

dual camera a6 Clearly visible is the dual camera on the A6+ / © OnLeaks

Samsung Galaxy A6: Technical Specs

  Samsung Galaxy A6
Display 5.6″, 18.5:9
Processor Exynos 7870 octa-core (8x 1.6 GHz)
RAM 3GB
Camera Single camera (Specs TBC)
Other

Fingerprint sensor, 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB

Samsung Galaxy A6+: Technical specs

  Samsung Galaxy A6+
Display 6″, 18.5:9
Processor Snapdragon 625
RAM 4GB
Camera Double camera (Specs TBC)
Other

Fingerprint sensor, 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB

GA6P 08 Why has Samsung has opted for a Micro USB? / © AndroidPIT

Depending on the market, it could be called the J8

According to @Onleaks, they could be called the A6/A6+ or J8/J8+ depending on the market. It seems that Samsung isn’t yet decided on its target audience. Additionally, there is no word regarding price and availability stateside as of yet, but we could expect it to be around $ 400 if we consider the price of the A5 at launch, for example. 

What do you think about these mid-range smartphones? Do you think Samsung is making some interesting decisions? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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How to back everything up on your Galaxy smartphone

Our steps here are suitable for most Samsung Galaxy devices, so whether you’re still hanging on to your trusty S4, S5, S6 or S7, or whether you have a new device such as the S8, S8 Plus or the recently released Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus and most other Galaxy devices, you can follow these steps to secure your data.

MobiKin Assistant for Android

So, how do you backup your Samsung? The fastest and easiest way to backup everything on your Galaxy is to get the MobiKin Assistant for Android. Enjoy the peace-of-mind of knowing all of your contacts, text messages, music, videos and more are backed up.

Simply download the software to your PC, plug your phone in and everything will be backed up very quickly. All you need to do is follow some easy instructions. You can also recover your data from this device if you so choose. 

mobikin screenshot Backup and recover everything on your Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S9 and the majority of other Galaxy phones / © MobiKin

MobiKin backs up all your data by securely exporting your files to your computer, all of which will be transferred in their original format and data quality, at the end you’ll not only have a backup, but you’ll free up precious memory on your device. Get started by downloading the software and secure everything on your Galaxy.

Which category should I use to backup my Samsung Galaxy?

Backups basically fall into two categories: those for rooted users, and those for non-rooted users. If you are not rooted, there are several options available, which we’ll cover below. If you do have root level access, you’ll have an easier time performing your backup (that’s a topic for another tutorial).

We’ll show you the best methods for keeping your apps and data safe so if you have your phone stolen, get a Gremlin-filled update or otherwise fall foul of good luck, your essential data will still be safe.

Important: don’t only rely on backups

There’s a lot to be said for the old-fashioned way of backing things up: regularly transferring them to your computer. Connect with a USB cable (don’t forget to install the Android USB drivers first) and copy your pictures, music and documents to your hard drive.

You can also use cloud storage to automatically save various files on your computer, such as Google’s great Photos app that automatically uploads your camera shots. You can also link certain folders to a cloud service such as Drive or Box (I do this for screenshots).

Your emails are internet-hosted and WhatsApp messages are safe because they are backed up to your SD card every day at 4 am anyway, so you just need to save the database file before doing a reset.

backup1 CAPTION – REPLACE ME! / © Mobikin

Your device isn’t rooted? No problem, there’s another option

In the settings menu of your smartphone or tablet you’ll find the backup and reset settings, where you can add an account to which your apps, data and passwords can be backed up. This is usually your Google account.

This is also where you set your restore options and activate a factory reset. It is also a good idea to sign in to your favorite apps with an account that can be used to store your data if you lose your phone or have to reinstall the app at some point. Many apps also offer cloud backup options and you’ve got plenty of cloud backup services that you can use to regularly schedule backups too.

How to create a backup

If you don’t want everything stored in the cloud or on your Google account then you can simply use your computer to make a backup of your apps and data. The best in class in this area is Clockworkmod’s Carbon Backup, now known as Helium.

Helium – App Sync and Backup Install on Google Play

Simply install Helium on your Android and then on your computer, click the following link to download Helium for desktop and follow the prompts. You’ll be able to backup all sorts of stuff, including your apps and data, predictive typing predictions, text messages and call logs. Here’s how it’s done.

AndroidPIT USB Debugging Developer Options You need USB Debugging enabled first. / © AndroidPIT

1. Don’t forget: you need to have USB Debugging enabled in Developer Options in your phone first (see screenshots above).

2. Tap build number (in Settings > About Phone) seven times until it pops up. Connect your Galaxy to your computer with a USB cable and establish the connection.

mobikin image 2 Go to Settings > Accounts tab > Backup and reset and set up your backup account. / © AndroidPIT mobikin image 3 Ensure USB debugging is enabled. / © AndroidPIT

3. Once the connection is established, start selecting the apps and data you’d like to backup.

4. ”Select all” or select individual apps and you also have the option to only backup your app data, but not the app itself. This makes your backup file much smaller, and you will simply need to reinstall the app from the Play Store before restoring your data.

mobikin image 4 Tap the blue window icon in the bottom left to get started, or tick individual apps. © AndroidPIT / © AndroidPIT

5. Make sure you enable PC Download in the action overflow menu to activate a unique IP address on the Helium server from which you can access your backup from your computer. Type in the unique URL to download your backup for safe keeping. Otherwise, hit Backup and you’re done.

Now, you just need to remember to do backups regularly!

AndroidPIT Helium Backup Server Backup everything on your Galaxy. / © AndroidPIT

Have you ever lost all the data on your phone? We hope you’ve backed everything up on your Galaxy now! Leave a comment and let us know.

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How to save battery power on the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

After analyzing Samsung’s new flagships for 2018, it has become clear that the battery isn’t its strong point. That’s why in this article we’re focusing on how to improve autonomy on the Galaxy S9 and S9+, ranging from quick fixes to full control of the device.

We’ve sorted the different types of settings from the simplest, fastest, and most battery-saving to more detailed application options and settings that will stretch the S9’s battery life to the max. If you’re looking for more tips, we have an article just for tricks for the S9 and S9+.

Screen resolution, time and brightness

To better control energy consumption, the first thing to do is put the consumption on the screen at bay. The easiest way is to lower the brightness of the screen or at least turn it to automatic, reduce the time it takes for it to turn off from inactivity, and reduce the resolution at which objects are displayed on the screen.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 battery tips 01 These three easy settings can save a lot of battery power.. / © AndroidPIT

The three options can be changed within the settings in the screen section in Brightness/ Automatic brightness, Screen resolution (HD+ will consumes less), and Screen timeout (15 seconds).

Deactivate Always On display

After our battery test we were able to quantify how much battery life this option requires. At the end of each day of use, the Always On display option took away between 6% and 10% of the battery life on the S9 or S9+. To disable the option, go to Settings>Lock screen>Always On display. Once deactivated, I hope you won’t turn on the display to look at it every 5 minutes, because this will in fact use even more battery power than the Always On display does.

Limit automatic connections

The latest generation of devices have an option to activate the Wi-Fi connection as soon as you’re within reach of a known network. It’s a very convenient feature, but it uses a lot more battery power than if you turn the Wi-Fi on and off yourself. The quickest way to deactivate this option is to search for it by name in settings search bar under: Turn on Wi-fi automatically.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 battery tips 02 It’ll cost you battery life if your Wi-Fi signal is on at all times. / © AndroidPIT

MED energy saving mode

There are options directly within the device to control battery consumption, and two quick options: MED and MAX, which you can quickly activate to set a number of parameters and save battery power. The first will give you decent savings and a couple more hours of use without sacrificing many of the good feature on the S9. My ideal configuration of this mode is:

  • Background network usage: activated
  • Always On display: deactivated
  • Speed limiter: deactivated
  • Decrease brightness: -10%
  • Screen resolution: FHD+

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 battery tips 03 Resolution: FHD++Average savings from day to day. / © AndroidPIT

MAX power saving mode

The second mode is the maximum economy mode and can extend battery life another 5 or 6 hours. The purpose of these settings is to extend the device’s autonomy as long as possible at the cost of sacrificing all possible functions. The best settings for this mode are:

  • Background network usage: deactivated
  • Always On display: deactivated
  • Speed limiter: activated
  • Decrease brightness: -10%
  • Screen resolution: HD+

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 battery tips 04 Maximum savings for those longer days. / © AndroidPIT

Sleeping apps

Some applications consume power even if they’re kept in the background. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will let you know which applications are consuming the most power. You can close the process in the background from the notification itself so that it will stop draining the battery.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 battery tips 05 Beware of the applications that are most consuming. / © AndroidPIT

Careful monitoring of app consumption

If you still want to have more control over your applications’ power consumption, you have two additional options. The first and fastest way is to go to device maintenance within the settings and select the battery section. Under the saving modes, there are the applications that consume more battery power.

Check the applications you see fit and click on the solution button above. The selected applications will be closed, even from multitasking. Below the list of applications to close, there are two more sections: unsupervised apps and always inactive apps. It’s worth taking a look to control which applications are in each section.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 battery tips 06 Put a few apps in line at once. / © AndroidPIT

The second option is to go application by application and adjust the battery consumption in the apps list under Settings>Applications. If necessary, include the application in the list of optimized applications.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 battery tips 07 Limit activity in the background. / © AndroidPIT

Restrict use of data in the background

One of the things you can’t view is that more energy is consumed through 4G data transfer when apps are connected to the internet in the background. Within the information for each application, there’s a section dedicated to mobile data, where you can limit the use of data for each application.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 battery tips 08 Limit the data connections of individual apps. / © AndroidPIT

Do you know any other tricks to save battery life on the S9 or S9+?

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Samsung plays sensor roulette with Galaxy S9 camera

Of course, not everything in your Samsung phone is made by Samsung, because the components of a device come from different sources. Samsung doesn’t like to talk about this, but a recent teardown reveals an interesting tidbit: for the camera sensor in the current Galaxy flagship, the market leader actually uses two different suppliers. 

Techinsights wanted to know exactly which components were in the Samsung Galaxy S9, so they picked up a screwdriver and set about exploring the Galaxy. Different specimens were dissected in the name of knowledge. A close look at the camera sensors of the Galaxy S9 reveals: Samsung uses some of its own image sensors, but also uses chips from Sony.



The Sony sensor has the designation IMX345 and is based on the IMX400, Sony’s first three-layer sensor to make its debut last year in the Xperia XZS. The alternative from Samsung has the model name ISOCELL S5K2L3 and is also constructed in three layers. Both chips differ in the connection of the DRAM, which was attached directly to the back of the camera sensor in the ISOCELL sensor.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 0984 The camera of the Samsung Galaxy S9 is one of the best on the market. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

What’s the difference?

Customers shouldn’t notice any difference between the two camera sensors. The chips have the same key data and identical features; neither Samsung’s nor Sony’s sensors are superior to each other. While laboratory values may vary slightly, no noticeable difference is to be expected in everyday life.

It is not unusual for Samsung in particular to purchase individual components from different manufacturers. The Korean company has been doing this in the Galaxy S-Class for years, for example with the processor, which comes either from Qualcomm or Samsung itself. The batteries of Samsung smartphones also only partially come from in-house production.

Do you have a Galaxy S9? If so, what do you think of the camera capabilities?

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Poll results: Will the iPhone 8 be better than the Galaxy S8?

We won’t find out for sure until September if the iPhone 8 is as good as, or maybe even better than, the Galaxy S8. Nevertheless, last week we asked if you think Apple’s next flagship will manage to beat Samsung’s latest, and now we’re back with the results.

I want to know what the hype is around NVIDIA Shield TV games.

What do you think?

22898 participants

Since the Galaxy S8 came out in April, we’ve done a full review of the device and it impressed us in almost every way. Its technical specs give it superior performance, whilst its design is among the absolute best on the market. It would be a difficult task for the iPhone 8 to top this, and the poll results reflect this.

The results show that over half of AndroidPIT readers who participated are doubtful that the iPhone 8 will be better than the S8. 21 percent of voters were certain that it wouldn’t be better, responding “no way”, while 33 percent were kind of leaning the same direction, responding “I doubt it”.

On the flip side, a quarter of respondents answered positively about the iPhone 8’s prospects against the S8. 13 percent said it would be better than the S8 “without a doubt” and 12 percent said it was “very likely”. Those who have confidence in the iPhone 8 are a minority among AndroidPIT readers.

21 percent of the 281 voters said they were “not sure yet” whether it would be better. This makes sense, as there just haven’t been enough consistent leaks about the device so far to make a proper judgment. The latest rumors about the device say that it will have a more powerful processor than its predecessor and smaller bezels, in addition to a vertical dual camera and 3D facial recognition camera. To really set itself apart, the next iPhone could increase its battery life and perhaps opt for better placement of the fingerprint scanner than the S8. But, until details are unconfirmed by Apple, we can’t be sure of anything.

Are you excited about the next iPhone? Let us know why or why not in the comments.

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4 reasons to buy the Samsung Galaxy S9 (and 3 not to)

Reasons to buy the Galaxy S9

1. Fluid performance

The S9’s fluidity is simply captivating. The speed of its software is unparalleled. It runs butter-smooth and is always satisfying to use for our daily tasks. This is mainly thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 845 chipset. Right now, don’t expect the difference in RAM between the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus models to have any major impact, though the 6 GB of the larger model does work to future-proof it.

Our in-depth performance test was revealing in some important aspects. While the overall performance is great, these fantastically fluid phones aren’t immune to the occasional hiccup. That’s due to poor software optimization on Samsung’s part, but in all honesty, it’s barely perceptible unless you’re watching very closely for it.

s9 software The interface of the Galaxy S9 / © AndroidPIT

2. Impressive camera (although not revolutionary)

Every year, users demand more and more from their smartphone cameras, and Samsung’s Galaxy S flagships are at the forefront of competing for our attention with cutting-edge tech. The Galaxy S8 had a superb camera, but this new generation takes it s step further with some fancy new gimmicks.

The variable aperture of the lens is the best ever for a smartphone: f/2.4 for bright spaces and f/1.5 for dark interiors or exteriors. In addition to that, the noise reduction in photos at night is really very good.

We tasked our camera experts with putting the photographic qualities of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus to the test. Overall, it’s undeniable that the Galaxy S9 has one of the best cameras on the market right now.

Though the typical user should have nothing to worry about in terms of quality of shots, serious photographers will want to examine the competition to find out specific details. There’s going to be some competition this year, for example, from the RED Hydrogen One.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy s9 noise Great noise reduction in action on the Galaxy S9. / © AndroidPIT

3. Super Slow Motion 

The camera’s sensor has the same technology that we saw previously on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. This allows the S9 to capture super-slow motion video at 960 frames per second, in high definition. This fun feature is enhanced by the addition of the self-timer.

4. The gorgeous display

Let’s face it, we spend a lot of time with our eyes glued to the smartphone display. Too much time, especially if you’re a tech geek or use your phone a lot for work or gaming. Samsung are experts at display design, and the S9 is the pinnacle of their work on mobile technology.

HD movies, graphically gorgeous games and other high quality media content are easy for the S9, which renders realistic colors in fantastic detail. But it’s also the little things that count. In day-to-day use, a beautiful smartphone display can still be delightful just for  web browsing and using basic apps, and the S9 certainly won’t disappoint you in this regard.

Reasons not to buy the S9

1. Middling battery life

Surprisingly enough, the Galaxy S9 has the same battery as its predecessor, the Galaxy S8. The battery is 3,000 mAh, but the rest of the hardware in the device has been beefed up considerably from the previous generation.

You can guess the results of this—last year’s batteries in this year’s flagship fail to keep up with the demands of the more powerful components and applications.

Samsung is still burned by the exploding Note 7 debacle and has played it safe when it comes to battery power. It’s great that your S9 won’t blow up, but that does mean that the improved performance takes quite a toll on battery life. At least you don’t risk your real life.

Using the S9 to the fullest means you’ll need regular boosts from the charger. Fortunately, its fast charge will give you 50% battery life in just 39 minutes.

2. Bixby STILL isn’t quite up to standard for a modern voice assistant

Since its inception, we’ve seen Bixby slowly grow from a bad joke to a serious contender in the voice assistant market, but it’s still not in the top tier. The voice command “Hi Bixby” isn’t always recognized, leaving us awkwardly shouting at a brick out on the street. Not a good look for showing off your premium hi-tech smartphone. If I want to be ignored, I can talk to my cat.

samsung galaxy s9 s9p bixby c2vx Bixby keeps catching up, but can’t take the lead. / © AndroidPIT

3. It’s still early in the year

In many ways, the new Galaxy S flagship is going to set the standard to beat for the year. We’re not quite through the first quarter and you bet that other manufacturers are going to try to beat it, either by outperforming Samsung in all aspects or pitching a more specialized offering at different price points.

Consider, for example, that we’re about to see Huawei enter the ring with its new P20 flagships, with a triple camera on the Pro version. HTC will also be looking to follow up the HTC U11, one of our favorites from last year, with the HTC U12.

Google’s next generation of Pixel phones will no doubt be contenders for the best camera, and have better software optimization than the S9. Then there’s the upcoming OnePlus 6, designed to topple exactly the kind of flagship the S9 represents.

Conclusion

The Galaxy S9 remains an impressive device, but think twice before succumbing to the marketing blitz and surrendering your $ 720+. I’d recommend taking a dive through our in-depth testing of the device, and also taking a glance at the competition.

Want to see the S9 before you order? Take a look in our hands-on video:

Did you buy the Galaxy S9? Are you happy with your choice? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Based on an article by Juan Felipe Guerrero C. for androidpit.es, our Spanish language site

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Galaxy S9 and S9+ camera review: Still waiting for the revolution

But here’s one disclaimer before we get started: in our camera tests we used two devices of each model and none of them were equipped with the final firmware. So there could be some differences in image quality, but ordinarily, manufacturers don’t perform any miracles at this stage in the development.

Let’s begin with the hardware: Samsung has actually given the camera in the Galaxy S9 and S9+ some new features. With a luminous intensity of f/1.5, the new flagship duo currently has the fastest aperture of all mobile phones. And apart from the Samsung W2018 reserved for the Asian market, the S9 and S9+ are the first smartphones to have a variable aperture. This means that the aperture ratio can be reduced to f/2.4 if required. But we’ll discuss that later in greater detail.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus 1055 The Samsung Galaxy S9+ has a dual camera. The Galaxy S9 does without the Tele Mode, which we’re familiar with from the Note 8. / © AndroidPIT

Under the f/1.5 lens there’s a sensor that is not specified by Samsung. Compared to the Galaxy S8, the sensor has grown a bit (at least according to EXIF data), and the crop factor is now 6.05 instead of 6.19, which corresponds to an increase in area of about 4.65%. The resolution is still 12 megapixels. The Galaxy S9+ also has a second camera, the same module that Samsung uses in the Galaxy Note 8, with an f/2.4 aperture and 12 megapixels. Both the wide-angle and telemodule have an optical image stabilizer.

Galaxy S9 and S9+ in daylight: Good image quality

As far as the hardware requirements are concerned, you can immerse yourself in the photos. In daylight, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ deliver beautiful photos that look impressive, especially on the AMOLED displays of the devices themselves. On a color-calibrated monitor, however, I found the images supersaturated and they look extremely colorful. But apart from the saturation, the color rendering is sufficiently precise, but the image processing can also iron out the color nuances. The following photo looks pretty colorful, but the colors of the bananas and lemon were much further apart in reality.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 colors Even if the colors look lively here, in reality the color of the lemon is significantly different from the color of the bananas. / © AndroidPIT

The same can be said for the following photo, in which we compared the same subject once with the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and once with the Apple iPhone X. The iPhone photo simply looks more natural. At the same time, the image processing of the Apple smartphone has become more round, and the details are evenly emphasized throughout the entire photo. Samsung, on the other hand, places greater emphasis on the details in some areas of the picture, but then irons them completely flat in others.

The iPhone X brings more natural colors to the picture. In comparison, the photo from the Galaxy S9+ looks really flat-pressed or blurred in some places. / © AndroidPIT

And while we’re talking about lunch: the Galaxy S9 and S9+ feature a ‘food’ mode that has a prominent position in the camera app. The feature essentially adjust the colors a little: a pale yellow will turn into a crisp, rich gold. A blur at the edge of the image also directs the viewer’s focus to the plate, which ideally is placed in the center of the image.

In terms of contrast, there are parallels to the color reproduction criticized above: on the smartphone display, the images look crisp, and on the computer they suddenly look strangely dull. The HDR mode likes to overdo it and produce a typically artificial HDR look. This can be seen in a direct comparison between the Galaxy S8 and S9, which often look very similar. With high contrast subjects, however, the S9 tends to fully extend its HDR capabilities.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 has significantly increased the dynamics through HDR. / © AndroidPIT

In my opinion, however, the Galaxy S9 wants too much from extremely high-contrast motifs, and tries to get all the details out of them. This can lead to unsightly effects, especially on large, bright surfaces. In the following photo, for example, most of the image is underexposed just to save the actually unimportant details in the lamp. This could have overexposed the electronics. Of course, this problem can be solved by adjusting the exposure compensation. But often you rely on the automatic system and don’t spend any time checking the photos you’ve just taken.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 hdr desaster The automatic system could have overexposed the lamp here and made the whole picture brighter, but HDR mode leads to unattractive elements in the lamp. Alternatively, of course, the user could have adjusted the exposure, but who checks every photo immediately after it’s taken? / © AndroidPIT

The white balance of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ occasionally tends to produce slightly reddish tints. This is particular noticeable in the various comparison photos with the Galaxy S8. The predecessor basically shot some more neutral photos, and the Galaxy S9 series often tends towards warm tones. With cloudy skies and a lot of sea in the picture, the S9+ colors the whole picture blue, including the stone fortress.

One thing remains to be said: The detail reproduction is really impressive in good lighting conditions, which brings us to the next point:

What does the variable aperture in the Galaxy S9 and S9+ do?

As soon as the new flagships detect more than about 100 lux, a small mask moves between the lens and the image sensor, shifting the aperture ratio from f/1.5 to f/2.4. 100 lux corresponds to the lighting typically found in corridors and stairwells in public buildings. But why does Samsung even bother? Because light is refracted to different degrees depending on the wavelength.

samsung galaxy s9 plus camera aperture c2vx The Galaxy S9 and S9+ have a variable aperture. If you look closely, you can see that it’s not a real iris diagram like in DSLR lenses. There are also two different apertures to choose from: f/2.4 and f/1.5. / © AndroidPIT

To be more precise, the lower the aperture ratio of an optical system, the more strongly the lenses are curved. Towards the edge of the lenses, the angle of refraction increasingly differs from the angle of refraction in the center of the image, and as with a prism, the light is fanned out according to the wavelengths of the colors. This causes spherical and chromatic aberrations. The spherical aberrations cause blurring, especially towards the edge of the image, and the chromatic aberrations usually manifest in the form of violet and green color fringes at transitions with great differences in brightness. The complex optical correction of these effects usually also plays an important role in the price of the camera lenses.

On the other hand, the tiny sensors in smartphones are still a good reason to install high-intensity optics. In low lighting conditions, the negative influence that high ISO sensitivities has on image quality is greater than the negative influence of a high-intensity lens. The difference between f/1.4 and f/2.4 is approximately one a half f-stops. This in turn usually allows the smartphone to shoot with ISO 1250 instead of ISO 3200, which significantly reduces noise.

As this picture shows, the detail reproduction is clearly improved with f/2.4 dimmed optics. / © AndroidPIT

In daylight, however, even a small sensor gets enough light, and the problematic peripheral regions of the lens are eliminated by dimming to f/2.4. As the preceding photo shows, this is really effective: the reproduction of details is much better at f/2.4 than at f/1.5, which is also noticeable in a direct comparison between the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S8. On its predecessor, Samsung still used an f/1.7 aperture. In this case it’s also noticeable that despite better quality, the file size of JPEG images slightly shrinks.

In a direct comparison the detail reproduction is better with Galaxy S9 than with the Galaxy S8, but I like the colors more in the old model. Again, a slight red cast is visible with the Galaxy S9. / © AndroidPIT

Night shots with the S9 and S9+: f/1.5 primarily helps Samsung’s marketing

But does the f/1.5 aperture really revolutionize night vision? The short answer is no. The difference between f/1.5 and f/1.7 is about one third of one f-ship, or the difference between ISO 320 and ISO 250. You can use the Pro mode of your smartphone and simply take two photos with these sensitivities and compare the results on your computer. ISO 250 may look a little better, but it’s not quite a revolution. The advantage in direct comparison with a Galaxy S8 is correspondingly small.

When taking shots at night, the difference between the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 is limited. In order to highlight the differences a little more, we brightened up the upper right corner of the picture. / © AndroidPIT

It is noticeable, however, that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ deliver very noise-free shots. According to Samsung, multi-frame noise reduction is said to have reduced image noise by 30 percent compared to the S8, but this may not be quantifiable. In practice, it turns out that the Galaxy S9 photos are actually very low-noise, but they also lose many details. In direct comparison with the iPhone X, for example, the Apple phone gets significantly more details, even if there is more noise.

More details (iPhone X) or less noise (Galaxy S9): which do you prefer? / © AndroidPIT

A very similar comparison can be made between the Galaxy S9 and Google Pixel 2 XL. With HDR+, the Google smartphone brings significantly more image noise to the photographs in the dark, but it also gets more details than the Samsung Galaxy S9, so I find the results from the Samsung device more natural in this case. The iPhone X creates an image that is noticeably too dark in this scenario.

The Google Pixel 2 XL offers more dynamics than the Galaxy S9, but in direct comparison it is also clear that the image noise is significantly higher. / © AndroidPIT

There’s another aspect to the extremely bright optics of the Galaxy S9 and S9+: we found comparatively more halo effects and dazzling spots in photos, especially in shots taken at night. These are problems that come with such extreme optics. To put it into perspective, Canon’s 50 mm lenses with apertures of f/1.8, f/1.4 and f/1.2 cost around $ 125, $ 330 and $ 1,350, so Samsung is treading into technologically challenging territory here.

AndroidPIT comparison2 iphone x iphone x pixel 2 xl galaxy s9 The iPhone X is clearly too dark here. / © AndroidPIT

Selfies with the Galaxy S9(+): More shadows than light

Besides all their promotion for the main camera, the selfie camera hardly plays a role in Samsung’s marketing strategy. Their priorities in development seem to be similarly aligned. The selfie camera on the Galaxy S9 takes nice pictures, but in terms of image quality, the main camera is clearly superior.

The lower dynamic range is the first thing you’ll notice here. In daylight, selfies often struggle with overexposed areas in the image. The sky and sea in the background often appear completely in these selfies. As least Samsung reliably focuses on the person in front of the lens and exposes them correctly.

In return, however, there is the same orderly color rendering of skin tones that the main camera offers. At the same time, however, the selfies on the computer also tend to appear exaggeratedly squeaky and colorful and tend to shift in the red direction. At least the colors might be a desired effect for Instagram, etc.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 selfies While the colors are bright and intense, the selfie camera regularly has problems with dynamic range: see the left photo. And I promise: Fabi isn’t really that orange. / © AndroidPIT

Telecamera on the Galaxy S9+: Really nice portrait photos

Unlike last year’s generation, this year there is one more good reason to opt for the plus version of the Galaxy S9: the telecamera. As in the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung uses a second camera module in the larger model with a focal length of 52 millimeters

Higher focal lengths are much better suited for portraits than wide-angle cameras typical of smartphones with a focal length of 24 to 28 millimeters in 35mm equivalent. Photos taken with a wide angle lens always have a slight fisheye effect on the photos, which can for example make a nose appear unnaturally large.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus portrait The Galaxy S9+ takes really successful portrait photos with the 52-millimeter camera. / © AndroidPIT

Like the Galaxy Note 8, the Galaxy S9+ shoots beautiful portraits with the 52-millimeter snapshot. The bokeh effect also works well and is usually free of noticeable errors. Particularly in daylight, the pictures turn out really well, although the colors here are also borderline bright in a very Samsung-typical fashion.

Video quality: Weaknesses in the stabilizer

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ each offer a 4K video mode. The image quality in daylight is excellent, although the videos are often a bit too reddish for our taste. Skin tones in particular like to drift off into the orange zone. The detail reproduction is pleasingly clear, but the sharpness of movement is limited.

In poor lighting conditions, clear image noise becomes noticeable, resulting in unattractive posterization effects that mercilessly flatten details. The Image stabilization in video mode isn’t 100% convincing. The HTC U11 Plus was more convincing in the camera test. Although the stabilizer compensates for slight shocks quite well, it then repeatedly produces blurred areas in the image.

The sound is one positive aspect about the videos. Different sound sources in front of and behind the camera can be assigned well, wind noise is only noticeable in stormy situations, and the sound is always pleasantly clear and well-balanced.

Finally, there is a slow motion function that offers up to 960 frames per second in 1270 x 720 pixels, although only 0.2 seconds of recording time? Doesn’t this remind you of Sony? While the Japanese manufacturer has now made the leap to Full HD with the Xperia XZ2, Samsung has been working on the practicality of the high-speed feature with the Galaxy S9. Motion detection automatically triggers the high-speed feature as soon as the motion is registered in an image area defined by the user.

In the following video you can see a compilation of different scenes, which we recorded with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+.

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Galaxy S9 and S9+ battery test: The disappointing truth

The new Galaxy S9 and S9+ are a reflection of their predecessors, the S8 and S8+. This is true to the extent that their batteries have the same capacity: 3000 mAh for the S9 and 3500 mAh for the plus version. So the question is, how has the battery life responded to the increase in power? We analyzed the S9 and S9+ battery in detail.

The autonomy of Samsung’s new flagships leaves something to be desired

Let’s face it, we expected this. By the time the data on the battery capacities of Samsung’s new flagships was leaked, doubt spread like wildfire. The press and users already know what happens when you put a more powerful processor with the same battery. It’s almost the inverse of what happened from the Huawei P9 to the P10, as the P10 increased its battery life, but decreased its power.

But let’s see how the new hardware has affected the battery life in the newest member of the Galaxy S series.

AndroidPIT samsung galaxy s9 plus 0782a Always On display takes almost 10% of the battery. / © AndroidPIT

The S9 offers 12 hours of autonomy at half gas without any problems

The S9 features a Snapdragon 845 processor in the U.S. (Exynos 9810 in all other regions) along with 4 GB of RAM and 3000 mAh of battery power. We tested the Exynos processor, which gave the S9 and S9+ the best overall performance we have ever tested. With more power than the Galaxy S8 and the same battery, the S9 is able to stay for 12 to 16 hours with just over 4:00 hours of screen time. These are values for daily use with videos (more than hour), games (more than hour), lots of messages and emails, some geolocation, use of specific apps and plenty of internet browsing.

The optimized mode (recommended by Samsung) with automatic brightness and screen resolution at FHD+ was used to obtain these results. When you play a games, the mode changes to optimize the game by increasing the resolution to WQHD+ and the screen brightness by 10%.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 test battery This is all the juice that the S9 has with FHD+ resolution. / © AndroidPIT

In somewhat unusual scenarios where I haven’t used the smartphone much, the battery life exceeded 18 hours, but with only about 2 and a half hours of screen time. The most I’ve stretched the screen time while watching movies and videos amounted to nearly 6 hours.

The processor may be more efficient than the previous one, but it is also more powerful, and the power consumption has inevitably increased. The reduction in battery life is significant when we see that the S8 could handle 6 hours of screen time in standard use.

S9+ autonomy is more of the same, 3 hours of screen time with maximum resolution

Both the S9 and S9+ have the same processor, but in the plus version it comes with 6 GB of RAM and a 3500 mAh battery. In terms of battery life, there is no difference in hardware or battery capacity. The S8+ battery basically offers autonomy for a 12-16 hour journey, just like the S9. In this case the difference between it and its predecessor is somewhat more pronounced. The S8+ could reach 5-7 hours of screen time with WQHD+ resolution activated.

As you can see in the screenshots from my colleague Luca Zaninello, screen time doesn’t exceed the 4-hour barrier with WQHD+ resolution. When Luca used the Pixel 2 XL in the sam way, he got 7 hours of screen time.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus test battery S9+ with resolution set to WQHD+. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ PCMark battery life benchmark

Smartphone Duration Capacity (mAh)
Razer Phone 10:43 hours 4,000
Nokia 8 9:25 hours 3,340
Samsung Galaxy S9 7:15 hours 3,000

Does it at least recharge quickly?

Yeah, yeah. The battery can be charged as fast as it gets drained (not the irony). Seriously, at least the fast charge is still as good as ever. In the first few minutes of charging, the percentage goes up quite quickly, but it takes about an hour and a half to reach 100%. One important point is that the charger is as small as they come and is easy to carry, especially if you compare it to The Dash from OnePlus. The following chart compares the charging time to the charging percentage: the more horizontal the curve, the faster the device loads.

AndroidPIT s9 charging time At 80% charging begins to slow down, and it takes an hour and a half to reach 100%. / © AndroidPIT

Conclusion: It lasts a day without many luxuries

Samsung’s top-range device can survive a day of use in 2018. But I don’t mean 24 hours, I mean the time from when you wake up until when you go to sleep. And that’s in optimized mode. If you want higher performance or to maximize the screen resolution, the battery life is drastically reduced.

Samsung equips the S9 and S9+ with several energy-saving options that can stretch the stored energy a bit further, but they require sacrificing some premium options like maximum performance or fabulous screen resolution. This is a shame for how much you need to spend on a flagship in 2018.

What do you think of these findings? Would you still be interested in purchasing the Galaxy S9?

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One year with the Galaxy S8: good and bad surprises

After exactly one year of using the Galaxy S8 and following my colleague Camila’s 100 day review, it makes perfect sense for me to reflect on both the positive and negative experiences i’ve had, especially considering the S9 and S9 Plus have been released. Below i’ll focus on which features i’m all for, or against. 

Pro: still beautifully designed

For me, it was the smartphone’s greatest asset and it still is a year later. Call me superficial, but design is an important aspect for me when buying a smartphone. In my opinion, the Galaxy S8 is still one of the best-looking on the market, and Samsung has nothing to worry about from competitors. The brand is aware of this fact, since its successor, the S9, has not changed much in appearance. Samsung thankfully didn’t include the notch on the display, a trend that most seem to dislike.

After 365 days of use, it still has the wow effect. The screen, extra-slim bezels and the overall shape of the device give it a more compact appearance than it really has. The only downside is its fragility. Without a protective cover, it will probably get scratched and damaged.

AndroidPIT galaxy s8 pierre 0354 It’s a very well-designed smartphone. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Pro: excellent photos

I use my smartphone a lot and the camera is one of the best features. If there is one point where I have no criticism to make, even after a year, it is the camera. Although the Galaxy S8 does not have a dual sensor system (like the S9), the unit proves to be a great companion for capturing your favorite moments. Its 12MP camera (f/1.7 aperture) together with its Dual Pixel technology, makes it possible to get clear and detailed shots, even in low-light conditions.

The camera application is easy to use and takes three images each time, automatically combining them into one image to prevent shaking. The result is up to expectations and it is quick to focus. Pro mode is easily accessible and usable, even for those who are new to photography. Compared to the S9, the S8’s camera still performs well, even considering the successor has a variable aperture.

Con: the fingerprint reader and Bixby

For manufacturers, the quest for a bezel-less design comes down to saving space on the front of devices. One possible solution is to make the physical home button on the phones disappear. Unfortunately, that technology is not yet ready, but that hasn’t stopped Samsung from re-positioning the home button, and the fingerprint reader (allowing fast unlocking) at the back.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S8 1992 This was a poor decision from Samsung. / © AndroidPIT

Many manufacturers have also looked into the issue and all come up with a simple solution, however, while keeping the button within reach. With the Galaxy S8, it’s different. because this fingerprint sensor is located to the right of the camera lens, it’s an awkward and impractical location that often causes you to put your finger on the camera lens. As for the iris scanner, this does help with unlocking for certain people. If you wear contact lenses or glasses though, you can forget about it. 

The Bixby button is in the wrong place

As for the Bixby button, the fact that it can be deactivated doesn’t change the bad placement. Not a week goes by without accidentally pressing it. 

Con: battery and software experience

Let’s be honest: the Galaxy S8 really struggles to last a full day with a day of normal use. Of course, this isn’t surprising – it’s one of the most common problems in the smartphone world, but I was expecting a little more from the top mobile phone manufacturer. The charging process may be fast, but I was hoping a little better. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to improve this situation with software updates.

Since I mentioned it, the software interface is also a disappointment. Samsung has certainly corrected some elements with Samsung Experience, but it’s a shame that the brand doesn’t make more of an effort on the software side. Samsung may try to do something different to Google’s interface, but the result just isn’t great. After a few months, the smartphone had some problems with software performance. This is not acceptable for a high-end phone with a high price.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S8 2019 Samsung should improve its update policy. / © AndroidPIT

If translation problems for Bixby can be heard, Samsung’s update policy remains an mystery. It took more than 6 months for Android Oreo to arrive. A definite failure from Samsung, which had to cancel the update once, and the second update seems to have caused connectivity problems in some models. For a flagship that wants to compete with the iPhone, it needs to improve quickly on this.

Overall, positive results

Despite these problems, it’s safe to say that my experience has been positive. It’s been a good year with the S8, and although there were some unpleasant surprises, I absolutely do not regret my purchase. Yes, the Galaxy S8 is a good smartphone and yes, the smartphone remains a solid option in 2018, especially since its price is much lower now, and the Galaxy S9 doesn’t offer much more in my opinion. While not perfect, the Galaxy S8 is a reliable, powerful and efficient companion you can count on (most of the time). 

If you have any questions about this smartphone, fire away in the comments, and if you own an S8, we’d love to hear about your experiences. 

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