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Camera: S9 versus S9+

mobile  /   /  By Nafisa Akabor

The Samsung S9 and S9+ is officially available in South Africa today, 16 March. If you’re unsure about which one to get, pay attention. I’ve played with the S9 in Barcelona but I’ve been using the S9+ for just over a week now in South Africa. I am going to focus on one thing for the purpose of this blog post, which is essentially the main reason people make purchasing decisions on a smartphone: the camera.

Samsung has a mobile first on the S9 and S9+ with its variable, dual aperture feature. What this means is, regular smartphones have fixed aperture but both flagships have a dual setup of F1.5  for low-light, and F2.4 for brighter conditions. Additionally, they switch mechanically between the two so you can see the physical switch taking place at the rear of the handset. Samsung also says this improves low-light photography up to 60% when compared to the S8.

You might recall how impressed I was with the low-light on the S8 last year in NYC with this direct comparison on the iPhone 7: http://www.nafisa.co.za/low-light-iphone-7-vs-samsung-s8/ 

Anyway, separately to the dual aperture, the major difference between the S9 and S9+ are the main cameras. The S9 has a single 12MP lens and the S9+ has a dual-camera setup of both a 12MP wide-angle; and a 12MP telephoto lens. Here’s the visual:

While the S9 has optical image stabalisation, 8x digital zoom, and selective focus (background blur), the killer features are all on the S9+ such as: dual OIS, 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom, Live Focus with bokeh effects, and dual capture.

You may remember the awesome Live Focus mode from the Note 8 (I shared on my Instagram last year) and Portrait Mode from the iPhone X? It’s only available on the S9+ which I am absolutely loving, and cannot get enough of. Live Focus lets you adjust the background blur in real-time, before snapping the photo. The results are very close to DSLR-like.

Take a look at the collage of four pics I took which is currently just over 1MB; I had to drop it from 4MB because it wasn’t loading properly. If you right click you can open it in a new window to see a little larger.

I mean, how incredible are these photos? I expected it to struggle a little more on the edges but it seems to have done a great job, especially with Paula’s hair on the left. I did not edit the pics, I mean they don’t need editing. You can opt to have both the pics saved to your camera roll, the standard one and the Live Focus because it uses both cameras.

I think this is the killer feature if you want take professional looking pics from a phone and not buy an expensive DSLR (most people I know, except for professional photogs are ditching DSLRs in favour of smartphone cameras or mirrorless cos bulk!).

Other camera features are the 960 frames per second (fps) on both handsets, great for action shots; you can really get creative with this mode if you have the time. The main camera allows you to swipe the screens to change modes, which are: food, pano, professional, live focus, auto, super slow-mo, AR emoji, and hyperlapse.

Let’s take a quick look at AR Emojis. They are Samsung’s version of Apple’s Animoji but are more like Snapchat’s Bitmojis. You create them by taking a selfie and tweaking it, after choosing a cartoon or realistic version of yourself. Still lacking customisation (I can’t get curly hair) but this is what I look like:

I ran a poll on Instagram a while back on whether it was creepy or cute and the results were mostly neck on neck with final result being 54% creepy and 46% being cute. So that’s settled. I think it’s more of a gimmick and you’re not likely going to use it as often – same as Animoji. I rarely use it, or I’m just not the target market.

The front-facing selfie cam also has the AR Emoji feature, does regular selfies, and then Selfie Focus where it blurs the background, and Wide Angle selfies.. you know, if you have tons of friends! It also has the same stickers you see on the previous versions of the camera, very Snapchat-like, but not sure who still uses it. 

This is my take on the camera without getting very technical. I love the S9+ for its camera. If you were unsure about which one to get, this probably means price isn’t an issue, in which case I recommend the + version over the regular. Oh, it comes in purple now too. 

It’s available everywhere… If you buy the handset, you will get a R500 voucher towards buying a phone cover; and this time around Samsung made loads of different types of covers and accessories. It’s an impressive line-up, with something for everyone. 

Featured image on homepage: Shutterstock

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