back to article Samsung Galaxy S9: Still the Lord of All Droids

There’s a lot to be said for not buggering up a winning formula. And there’s something to be said in 2018 for a premier brand. Samsung's Galaxy S9 is the best all-round Android phone you can buy. You’ll find phones that can do most of what it does that are much cheaper, and nothing depreciates faster than a Samsung Galaxy - …

  1. djstardust Silver badge

    Hmmm

    I have the Note 8 and it's almost perfect, apart from the headphone volume being limited to death and no FM radio. The new Galaxy S9 is pretty much the same device.

    I still think the issue here is pricing. For some time now Samsung have put £50 on each new handset to match Apple and it's getting ridiculous. The price of some contracts for this are over £60 a month.

    Bear in mind this is the same level of handset as the original Galaxy S, and it sold for £399.

    I'm not denying it's not a great handset but the price (and profit margin) is just too high.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Old School

    I can agree with the £399 price tag. I'm constantly looking for what older handset I can get for the same/similar price, even accounting for inflation. It's no longer the leading phone. :(

  3. AceRimmer

    Re: Hmmm

    The Oneplus 5t - 64GB variant can be found unlocked for under £400

    The slightly older Oneplus 5 with 128GB storage is about the same price

    Both phones are very highly rated

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Re: Hmmm

    If you are a business user, you can't reclaim the 20% VAT because OnePkys refuse to issue VAT receipts - this makes the Galaxy S8 cheaper.

    The OnePlus 5T is highly rated, but in a few key points it falls short of the S8; waterproofing and wireless charging (both of these can protect your investment against a unplanned submersion or a broken USB socket), screen resolution and brightness (causing the 5T to not receive HDR certification), and camera quality.

    These shortcomings could be cheerfully overlooked when the 5T was significantly cheaper than the S8, but now the S8 is heavily discounted it's a no-brainer: go Korean.

  5. Andy Nugent

    Re: Hmmm

    I also smashed the screen on my OnePlus 3T, which resulted in having to send the phone back to OnePlus, an above £100 bill and no phone for the best part of two weeks.

    I would have been able to get an iPhone or Galaxy fixed in my lunch hour at a local shop for half the price.

    Something I'd consider when buying my next phone.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Hmmm

    In a de facto duopoly between Apple and Samsung, they're going to maximize profit margins (if at least to cover for the immense amount spent on marketing).

    The buyers of their top flagship phones are highly loyal (price inelastic), so if you balk at their prices, you're not part of the demographic.

    Some alternatives for the Cheap Charlies out there:

    1) Buy a mid-range phone (for Samsung, it's the A-series or J-series Galaxy).

    2) Buy a Chinese phone (I recommend Xiaomi).

    3) Buy last year's device (Samsung Galaxy S8).

    4) Buy a refurbished/resale unit.

    5) Buy a phone from an unloved/struggling brand: Sony, HTC, LG. Think of it as charity.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Hmmm

    Twice the price as a. pixel2, no thanks.. both are Samsung OLED displays, both amazing cameras, but the pixel 2 will be better supported and the Google)Intel designed pixel visual core coprocessor is a game changer.

    Even if the S9 and the pixel2 were the same price, I would pick the pixel2 every time.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Hmmm

    I have an S8+, and although it is a technical achievement, I find (after a year of use) it suffers from :

    - function following design : the screen is very good, but also very fragile. The 'wraparound' is basically negated by having to keep the phone in a protective xase

    - neglect. Oreo was finally installed in february, and my latest security update reads February 1st.

    If a manufacturer decides to modify the plain Droid with all manner of embellishment to differentiate from the competition that is upto them, and ultimately the consumer to take their pick.

    What that consumer is not told is that the eye candy ultimately leads to slow upgrades (if any) and lame security.

    Which I find unacceptable.

    Pete

  9. James 51 Silver badge

    You can get the S8 for about £460 on amazon. I think I'd like a Note 8 but not sure how my handwriting would turn out on such a small screen. Perhaps when the Note 9 comes out the Note 8 will drop to a sane price.

  10. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "But I feel this can’t be emphasised enough: with prices creeping up to £1,00"

    £100 for a Samsung S9 is a good deal, whichever OS you're invested in.

  11. Dave 126 Silver badge

    S8 is now around £550

    And yeah, is also waterproof and has Qi charging (I haven't used the latter, but I like the idea that my phone will remain perfectly usable should its USB C socket break). Listening to podcasts in the shower is nice (speaker is just about loud enough, unlike my Nexus 5.

    The S8 is working well for me.

    Minor gripes are:

    - fingerprint sensor location.

    - difficulty in finding a case that really protects the long edges of the display, due to the curved screen.

    - No touchscreen sensitivity adjustment. With a tempered glass screen protector, the phone was initially missing taps. However, and for some reason, turning off 'hard press on navigation bar to return to homescreen' makes the whole screen a bit more sensitive.

    - Not being able to remap my Bixby button to something useful, like Flashlight. I don't want to use a 3rd party app to do so, and in any case such apps use the Bixby framework as a workaround.

    - No Project Treble. This doesn't bother me yet, but the S8 unlike the S9 doesn't support Google's new modular approach to updates, so there's a chance it won't be supported for as long as phones that do.

    Of my gripes, only two are fixed in the S9. Is that, plus better photos (S8 camera is good), several hundred quid? There is of course no one answerer to that!

    That's about it, really. Because Samsung use onscreen navigation buttons, you can easily swap the Back and App Switcher buttons to Android standard positions instead of Samsung's default. It's a lovely looking phone, but then I never have it out of its chunky case. Battery is okay, much better than my Nexus 5, maybe not quite as good as my Z3 Compact (smaller low Res screen helped the Sony there).

    The Samsung Internet app (based on Chrome) has done genuinely useful features. Night mode, and also taking internet video into a pop up window or fullscreen, with download option.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: S8 is now around £550

    Minor gripes are:

    - fingerprint sensor location.

    Same - it irritates me on mine. I've tried to avoid the finger print unlock.

    - difficulty in finding a case that really protects the long edges of the display, due to the curved screen.

    I'm using a Spigen S8 clear case . I've dropped it a few times now and it's survived. Only issue with this case is that it's quite tight so a hardened glass screen protector won't fit as well.

  13. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Re: S8 is now around £550

    I use a Tate glass screen protector, slightly smaller than the screen as it's designed to work with tight cases like my Spigen. Already the screen protector has cracks radiating from an impact on the edge of the screen.

    When I get around to getting another Tate protector, I'll try using some wax to seal the edges of it in the hope of preventing dust ingress.

  14. johnwworth

    Re: S8 is now around £550

    With regard to the Fingerprint sensor position - using such things is so old skool/Apple orientated. Unlike the Fruity company modern Samsung devices have 'Smart Lock' security - it's worth taking a look at. Mine stays unlocked for me if it can 'see' my Gear S3 watch for example - there are other options such as location or on-body.

  15. Solviva

    Does the S9 still come with free keyboard burn-in?

    My partner had an S7 for less than a year, she begged and pleaded for an S8 so I reluctantly splashed £550 for it, on the premise I would replace my ageing but perfectly good S5 with the S7.

    The S5 has been so good, the S7 has sat in a drawer for the best part of a year, coupled with the fact there's a permanent shadow of a keyboard on the screen. I tried leaving one of these OLED un-burn tools alternating the whole screen between red/green/blue/yellow/white running for a week. No change.

    Caught a glimpse of the S8 last week and was stunned to see it also had the keyboard burned in as well as the top status bar... Sigh.

  16. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    I'm onto my second S5 (both second hand), why change from such a fantastic device?

    The screen burn-in sounds like hardware failure that should be covered by the 2-year EU warranty. I've not heard of it from anyone I know with an S7 or S8 but it is known to happen with some OLED screens.

  17. a pressbutton

    Does the S9 still come with free keyboard burn-in?

    If I was you I would not put your phone on a hot keyboard.

  18. Solviva

    "I'm onto my second S5 (both second hand), why change from such a fantastic device?"

    I agree, the only thing I could wish for is more RAM at times.

    "The screen burn-in sounds like hardware failure that should be covered by the 2-year EU warranty. I've not heard of it from anyone I know with an S7 or S8 but it is known to happen with some OLED screens."

    I suspect it's partly a case of user-error (at least for an Iphone that's what it would be), but what can you do if you need to type. As well she gets rather upset when I hint at that :P

  19. Grant 5

    Totally. Replaceable battery and expandable storage, also really good Lineage OS support. Mine does everything I need and runs upto date Nougat 7.2.

    We have reached peak phone for the majority of users, I suspect if you grabbed an S9 case and popped S5 hardware in a vast majority of users wouldn't even notice.

  20. tomban

    screen burn-in

    I've had an S7 for over two years now. Gets plenty of use and absolutely no screen burn. Screen is as good as it was when it was new, which is pretty much perfect.

  21. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Mine does everything I need and runs upto date Nougat 7.2.

    When did you get 7.2? I'm still on 7.1.2 after the April Fool's fuckup.

    Got 8.1 on the old one (single crack on the screen so still totally usable, except as a waterproof navigation device) from one of the unofficial builds. Pretty nice with the write Gapps. Tried building 8.1 myself but gave up after problems with the blobs.

  22. toejam13

    I also love everything about my GS5 Neo, save the lack of voice-over-LTE support. I hate watching my signal strength drop from four bars to one bar when a voice call comes in.

    The Galaxy A8+ 2018 wouldn't be a bad replacement if my GS5 died, but I'd miss the removable battery.

  23. James 51 Silver badge

    I had assumed that if you could turn bixby off on the S9, you could do it on the S8 too. I bought my S6 new about 14 months ago and it has been EOL'ed by Samsung. That is not great support.

  24. Sartori

    I think that's one of the dangers of buying a 'new' phone that has already been out quite a while at the time of purchase. The S6 was released on 10th April 2015, so it's a 3 year old device, even if yours is only 14 months old. On the positive side, you get a phone for (usually) a considerable reduction compared to it just having been released. There is the downside you described as well though......

  25. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    It's not only not great, it's also illegal when it comes to your statutory consumer rights. You can require Samsung either to provide you with the necessary security updates or give you your money back. But you'll need a brass neck.

  26. alain williams Silver badge

    "the after-market support"

    Oh yeh ... in my experience Samsung abandon 'old' handsets pretty soon after a new one is released, no operating system patches - leaving users vulnerable to exploits.

    They should provide lifetime support - where lifetime means as long as they continue to work - which should be 6-10 years.

    That is what I care about - not the number of pixels in the camera.

  27. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Re: "the after-market support"

    The S9, unlike the S8, supports Google's Project Treble. Time will tell if this modularisation of the OS (so nobody's waiting on ODM binary blobs) will result in quicker and easier updates.

    All phones sold with Oreo must support Treble, but some phones are sold with Nougat and promise day one updates to Oreo - beware.

  28. peterm3
    Happy

    no regrets

    I've no regrets moving from my S5 to Honor 9, for about a third the price of the S9.

    Any news on the 256 GB versions coming to continental Europe? Or with Brexit GBP are we limited to only 64GB?

    Why is it called ROM in the table above? Surely you can't save photos onto a Read-Only medium?

  29. Rich 70

    Re: no regrets

    The 256GB S9 and S9+ Versions are aparently going on sale here in Germany on the 23rd of April, along with the titanium grey colour version (but that will only be available in the 256GB version).

  30. AndyMulhearn

    Fingerprint sensor position

    I'm sure there are users for whom the back of the case near the camera position works but for me, the position on the S7 is ideal. On the desk, it's easy accessible and taking it out of a pocket it aligns just as well. I just can't see a contortion where the back of the phone is a useful place to have it. Smacks of "we want to use the finger print sensor but we can't do it through the screen and there's no longer anywhere on the front we can put it due to the infinity screen approach".

    So I will be using my S7 Edge for as long as I safely can and the reluctantly switch to another brand. It is a lovely phone...

  31. Irongut

    Re: Fingerprint sensor position

    When moving from my S6 Edge to an S8+ I found the fingerprint sensor psoition awkward for about a week. After that it was such second nature that I find it difficult to operate my S6 Edge now lol.

  32. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I think the problem with premium handsets like the S9 is they try to be great at every feature but different demographics of customers will only use a subset of the features, kids using the phone will use these animated emojis and snapchat style photo filters but someone buying one for business probably wont and so are paying a premium for stuff they hardly if ever use.

  33. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    A grand for a phone

    No. Manufacturer name doesn't matter - no amount of bells and whistles can justify it's just a phone. Which you have a good chance of losing or dropping down the toilet. Have you seen inside these things there is very little there.

  34. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Re: A grand for a phone

    It's waterproof. If you drop it in the bog it'll be fine as long as you don't flush.

    But then so is its predecessor, for several hundred quid less.

  35. Christopher Rogers

    Re: A grand for a phone

    Except its not. Its my entire filofax, primary media consumption device, occasional document creation device, library (reading device) and go to contactless payment option with loyality cards.

    It also takes all my photos (and stores them in my google account) and lets me phone people when i need to.

    It also lets me communicate through instant messenger apps and is my alarm clock for trying to get out of bed in the morning.

    It lets me tell the time occasionally.

    Its also a great sat nav when either walking or in the car.

    Which you have a good chance of losing or dropping down the toilet. <- if you are clumsy enough with it.

  36. fandom Silver badge

    Re: A grand for a phone

    Yes, it is, when we say 'phone' nowadays we mean all of that.

  37. Christopher Rogers

    Re: A grand for a phone

    The stupid ip phone on my desk in work would suggest otherwise

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: A grand for a phone

    A £500 Pixel2 will do all of that too....

  39. Lee D Silver badge

    S5 Mini here.

    Call me when I can get:

    - tons of internal storage.

    - microSD of any size I like

    - replaceable battery

    - latest Android

    - screen that isn't stupendously fragile, large, odd-shaped or expensive to replace.

    For about £300 or thereabouts, unlocked, brand new.

    Because the only thing I'm really missing at the moment is USB host, OTG etc. (not supported on the Mini), I would lose my IR blaster (not even present on the normal S5), and the internal storage is a bit limited.

    I would literally PAY EXTRA to get things like - no bundled apps forced on me (just pure Android), dual-SIM, headphone socket back again, more USB OTG ports on it so my phone can connect to more stuff, a physical keyboard (like the old Nokia thing that flipped the entire size of the phone out to give a keyboard), a hardware flashlight button.

    I would also happily trade in these to help make the device I want for the price I want - waterproof crap, curved edges, sliver-thin shite, everything beyond basic camera functionality (not even sure I care about two-cameras, to be honest).

    The ruggedised XCovers go some way towards what I want, but not nearly far enough.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Upvote

    Can't upvote enough. I'd still have my S(3? 4? I forget...) except that the phone kept failing to recognize my SIM card (bad solder on a SMT connection sounds like the culprit, I should really try reflowing that little bastard).

    I'd even give up latest Android for "Android with backported security fixes" a la Debian Stable.

    It's a phone... a tool to do a job, not a status symbol to show how much mommy loves me.

  41. M A Walters

    Re: Upvote

    Agreed with the items mentioned (my biggest problem with my S7 is battery life - have to carry 2 battery packs).

    However, do not agree with the status comment. Any product is a status symbol to some extent - clothes, cars, houses (some would say wives/husbands!) and yes, phones also.

  42. Daniel Barnes

    I just got an Honor View 10 from amazon for 370 new.

    6" screen, 6gb ram, 128gb storage, takes an sd card or dual-sim, headphone jack, IR blaster and Oreo. Really powerful CPU too, no physical keyboard though. Might be worth looking at.

  43. Rattus Rattus

    If you're willing to forgo the removeable battery, you can get most of what you're looking for in the Xiaomi Mi A1 for about £180. I just moved from my old S5 to the Xiaomi and am pretty pleased with it.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still might buy one ...

    I bought a sim-free Sony XZ2 from Carphone Whorehouse last week. Normally I only ever buy old models off ebay but I like Sonys and it was on a "pre-order and get a free PSVR or PS4" deal.

    When it arrived, a few days after launch day, I had to go to the link they had supplied (could not be accessed before launch day) and enter the IMEI number. Then I was told that they would verify my purchase and contact me within 21 days. However - CW also sent me a 'hurry, there's a limited stock' text which suggests to me they may have meant "Pre-order an XZ2 and get a chance to win a PSVR or PS4.

    If I don't get one or the other I shall be trying to send the bloody phone back. Free gifts that you might or might not get are one thing when they are worth a purple drinking voucher (£20) but gifts that are 30-40% of the purchase price of an item seem to be another matter ... Anyone got any advice?

  45. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Re: Still might buy one ...

    Hmmm... you have 14 days after the phone arrives to send it back without quibble, yet they're asking you to wait up to 21 days to see if you receive the sweeteners you were expecting.

    If there was no smallprint when you placed the order and you don't get the extras, you can return the phone for a full refund, since they've broken their contract. they can't retroactively amend the contract after you made the order.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Still might buy one ...

    "I bought a sim-free Sony XZ2 from Carphone Whorehouse last week. Normally I only ever buy old models off ebay but I like Sonys and it was on a "pre-order and get a free PSVR or PS4" deal."

    The pre-order PS4/PSVR offer from CPW ended on 5/04/2018. Sony's redemption links only go live post-launch. The availability was (iirc) 500 PS4s and 500 PSVRs. You should have been told this when you made the purchase. If you weren't then take it up with the store you visited or. failing that, Customer Service (0370 111 6565)

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Still might buy one ...

    I'm not sure if there was small print but the offer definitely said "get a PS4 / PSVR"

    I understood there were 500 of each, but there was no indication at the time of purchase whether you qualified, just a vague (telephone) assurance that I was still in time. Then you got a link which, as you said, only went live post launch. (Nothing about that link said you were effectively entering a raffle). But I didn't get my phone on launch day because I was going to be out, I didn't get it on Friday because my son chose that moment to be on the crapper, and the delivery on Saturday went to "you weren't in" without the DPD van coming anywhere near my house. So it wasn't till Monday I got it.

    Why is it going to take so long to verify my gift? It looks like a deliberate attempt to ensure I can't return the phone. It would be pretty easy for them to have only handed out links to the first 1000 people who pre-ordered - it looks like the whole approach was manufactured to suggest you will get a free gift equivalent to a huge discount on the phone, when in fact you only might.

    If it were on contract, I'd have some leverage, but I have bought it outright, sim-free.

    I did use a credit card for the purchase though ... does that give me any options?

    EDIT: The auto-email I got from SONY says: "Thank you for participating in our Sony Mobile Xperia XZ2 pre-order offer with Carphone Warehouse. We have received your claim which will be verified within the next 21 days. We will email you again either letting you know a dispatch date for your gift or alternatively if we require any further information in order to validate your claim." which suggests that they just need to confirm I really did pre-order rather than I could get an answer saying 'better luck next time'

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no

    just no.

  49. Patrician

    I'n afraid that, for me, the Touchwiz skin Samsung insist on putting on their devices is a deal breaker; not only is it not necessary (none of them improve Android in any way at all), but more importantly will make system updates slow to be delivered and the device will be abandoned once the S10 is released.

  50. Dave 126 Silver badge

    It comes with Oreo and Project Treble... this means your previous experience with phone updates is not a good guide as to what to expect in future.

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