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Hands-on review: Is the Samsung S9+ still the king of Android?
Thu, 7th Jun 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Review by Greig Strafford

There have always been two camps, and once there was three.

You're either iOS, Android, or if you were a sucker for pain you could even have had Windows for your mobile OS.

The two Kings have always been Samsung and Apple, having the latest features and being the real flagships of the smartphone world.

I've dabbled with Android, always returning to Apple, with my last being the Note 4, one of Samsung's best devices. For the last few years, I've had the iPhone 6s, and I've owned the entire stack from the watch to the airpods. I'm a massive fan of iMessage and I'm dubious over the amount of information being given to Google.

But Apple is getting stale. The iPhone X is nothing special anymore, iOS is stubborn and updating from the 6s was going to be an expensive exercise for not a lot. So I decided to go on a discovery as to what I was getting for my dollar, as the next purchase will be for a while.

I've tried a few phones, all running Android, yet there always seemed a compromise, but when Samsung offered the S9+ I bit at giving it a go. We've all seen the deals popping up at the moment, making an extremely capable phone into a very appealing offer. Phones aren't cheap anymore and being price conscious, I want, nay need, bang for my buck.

The S9+ ticks the box for every feature (except those notches, you'll have to do without one!).

To me, coming from the iPhone 6S, and my last experience of Android being a Xiaomi, using the Samsung was insane. Running with an octa-core Samsung designed CPU, 6GB RAM and 64GB of storage as standard, I realised this thing was a powerhouse.

When you throw in wireless charging, IP68 water resistance, fast charging as standard, a button-free Super AMOLED front screen that is simply sublime, stereo speakers that rock and a camera that makes me look more than competent, it's difficult to fault Samsung's flagships.

But yes it's still possible.

Bixby is shit. Not being available in New Zealand, means you have to use an alternative accent if you want it to work. And for the life of me, I couldn't. But that's ok, you can quite easily map the Bixby key to another action, so you can forget about Bixby till they remember us.

Samsung also gave facial - iris recognition a go as their response to Apple's FaceID. It works mostly well but in the dark, it's nowhere near as accurate as Apple's version. However, they have been amazing and put the fingerprint reader in EXACTLY the right spot. Together, the system works well and it's probably the sweet spot of where smartphones can go.

Samsung's ecosystem of products pushes the boundaries, with VR Goggles, 360 cameras and a little dock that has been underrepresented out there.

So I had to return the S9+ and it was back to the iPhone. So what was my choice? Should I stick with the Apple ecosystem or with all of the amazing pricing going on, make the jump to Samsung. I couldn't justify the $500 difference between an iPhone X and an S9+, all of the features that the Samsung has, which the Apple didn't have and so I took the decision that I'd use that 500 bucks saved to make a couple of key purchases.

So here I am writing on my own Samsung S9+ and I'm loving it. I don't miss much about the iPhone, iMessage is still great, but it's not as if there's a lack of messaging apps out there!

The thing I wanted to wait for writing this review was using the two investments I made. The first was a smart switch, a cable made available by Samsung that made moving over from the iPhone utterly painless.

The other is really an advert for the power of this phone and its ability to be a workhorse. DeX is a $179 dock that turns the S9 series into a desktop computer.

Yup, plug in up to a 4K monitor, add a keyboard, and then plug your S9 into it and that's it. With the majority of apps being web-based now, the ability of the DeX to turn your Samsung into a road warrior is astounding. Plug into a hotel tv, being a digital nomad is easy. Something Apple never made possible with the iPhone.

The range of software that emulates what I'd do on my laptop is pretty astounding, I've found a range of very cool apps that really get shit done.

So yeah, the S9 gets a recommendation from me. If you are even considering the migration from Apple to Android, now's the Time and the S9 is THE device.

P.S. Mum got the Apple Watch, Dad's getting the iPhone (once I've replaced the screen and battery for the third time!)