“We pit Samsung’s latest flagship, the Galaxy S9 against the S8 to see whether it’s a worthy upgrade”

The Samsung Galaxy S8 was a huge step up from its predecessor, the Galaxy S7 (review), in terms of design as well as the core specifications. However, come 2018, Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S9 looks a lot like its predecessor, which begs the question – should you upgrade from the Galaxy S8 (review) to the Galaxy S9? To answer that, we pit the two smartphones against each other and compare them from head-to-toe. Keep in mind however that this comparison won’t be talking about the Plus variants, the S8 Plus and S9 Plus, even though some of the points will be valid for them as well. So without further ado, here are the key differences between the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9.

Design and Display

Samsung Galaxy S9+ Official

Design-wise, Samsung has gone with the ‘if it ain’t broke’ philosophy and the Galaxy S9 has been made in the mirror image of its predecessor, the Galaxy, S8 with some minor tweaks here and there. For starters, the S9 features slimmer bezels on the top and the bottom of the display. Secondly, after much criticism, Samsung has repositioned the fingerprint sensor on the S9 to below the smartphone’s camera module, which is a more ergonomic position. As far as the materials used for construction are concerned, both the smartphones feature an all-glass design and come with dual curved edges on the front, making them one of the best-looking devices in the market right now. Thankfully, the Galaxy S9 retains the headphone socket, unlike other flagships. The devices also come with IP68 certification, making them immune to dust and water.

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The two smartphones draw parallels in the display department too and both the handsets sport a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED Quad HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. Furthermore, much like last year, the display on the Samsung Galaxy S9 is compliant with the Mobile HDR platform too and therefore, both the smartphones will provide similar experience whilst consuming media.

Performance, software, and storage

Samsung Galaxy S8 featured

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is powered by an Exynos 9810 octa-core processor clocked at 2.9GHz which works in tandem with 4GB of RAM. On the other hand, the Galaxy S8 is backed by an older Exynos 8895 octa-core chip clocked at 2.3GHz which also works alongside 4GB RAM. While the Exynos variant will most likely come to the Indian market, in other regions, the S9 comes equipped with Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is a successor the Snapdragon 835 SoC powering the S8. Unsurprisingly, buyers looking for the best of the best should opt for the Galaxy S9 since the smartphone with will be able to deliver unparalleled performance with its brand-new processor. However, with that said, the Galaxy S8 with its year-old chip is still perfectly capable of handling intensive gaming and can comfortably multitask between multiple applications too.

On the flip side, while the two smartphones should be more or less the same when it comes to day-to-day performance, the Exynos 9810 chip on the Galaxy S9 comes with a dedicated Neural Processing Unit, giving the device an edge over its predecessor when it comes to running AR and VR applications. Moreover, the smartphone also comes with AR Emoji, which works in a similar fashion to Apple’s animoji and maps the user’s face and creates virtual emojis which can be sent as animated messages.

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Software-wise, the Galaxy S9 runs a skin of Experience UX on top of the latest version of Android Oreo. The Galaxy S8, on the other hand, is currently receiving the Oreo update over the air. For storage, both the handsets come with 64GB of built-in memory which can be expanded by means of a microSD card.

Camera, battery, and connectivity

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For optics, the Samsung Galaxy S9 ships with a 12MP dual-pixel AF sensor at the back which is similar to its predecessor, the Galaxy S8. However, unlike last year, the Galaxy S9 comes with a dual-aperture sensor, allowing the smartphone to switch the aperture based on the shooting conditions. The Galaxy S9 can switch to f/1.5 for shooting in low light, and f/2.4 for capturing well-lit scenarios. On the other hand, the 12MP sensor on the Galaxy S8 comes with a fixed aperture of f/1.7. Another differentiating factor between the camera setups of the two smartphones is that the 8MP selfie shooter on the Galaxy S9 gets OIS too. On the contrary, the 8MP front camera on the S8 doesn’t ship with OIS. However, both the smartphones come with autofocus capabilities on the front camera.

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 offers the same 3,000mAh battery as its predecessor. As a result, the battery life of the two smartphones should be comparable, with the Galaxy S9 delivering a few more hours on standby, thanks to the power efficiency of the newer chipsets. Both the smartphones feature the same connectivity options, including the support for Bluetooth v5.0, a USB Type-C port, and 4G VoLTE.

Closing thoughts

So, should you upgrade to the Galaxy S9? Well, if you already own the Galaxy S8, then we’d recommend you to wait another year since the S9 isn’t a radical departure from its predecessor in terms of specs and design. You will get a better camera setup and faster performance out of the S9, however, bear in mind that the S8 is no slouch either when it comes to capturing photos or running intensive applications. If you are still willing to buy, then the S9+ will be a better option, considering it offers dual rear cameras and more RAM. 

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On the other hand, if you are using a flagship which is older than the Galaxy S8, then it makes more sense to upgrade to Samsung’s latest high-end offering. The caveat here is that as soon as the Galaxy S9 drops in India, the Galaxy S8 will definitely get a price cut. Therefore, you’ll have to decide whether the Galaxy S9’s features are worth the extra cost.

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