Every year Samsung comes out with 2 versions of their flagship smartphone of course, this year was no exception, and every year I end up buying both. Mostly to make videos for the channel, but I also like to make a long term side by side comparison in order to see which device makes the most sense for me in the long run. Now when it comes to the S9 and S9 plus, there’s really about 4 or 5 notable differences that set the devices apart and I’ll go over each of the differences of course and give you guys my thoughts on them, but keep in mind that this comparison is definitely tailored more towards my overall usage with the phones and you guys might disagree with some of things I say here.
The first most obvious different between the two phones is the size, both the physical size of the devices and the screen size you end up getting. The physical size difference between the Samsung phones isn’t nearly as drastic as something like the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, but it’s still apparent and for some people might be reason enough to choose one phone over the other. For me, I guess you can say I’m a bigger guy with bigger hands and I’m used to handling larger devices, so the standard size S9 is very comfortable even when I’m using it with one hand and I hesitate to say that it’s too small, because it’s still a big 5.8 inch device, but I’ve come to appreciate the larger 6.2 inch S9 plus a little more. I can still use it with one hand since the size different isn’t too drastic, it’s mostly just a little bit taller so getting to the notifications requires quite a shift of the hand, but for me it works. For other people, it may be a 2 hand device.
Around back, reaching the finger print sensor on both devices is pretty much the same experience. Samsung put it in the right place, it’s slightly higher than center, and it’s easy to reach on both phones. I know some people probably don’t even use the fringes print sensor, but I just thought I’d at least mention it since it was sort of a controversial thing on last year’s S8.
As far as screen size and overall screen real estate, I’m not sure that you’re really able to utilize that much more on the S9+. The screens themselves are the same resolution, and because of that the pixel density is higher on the smaller S9, but for me that’s not a difference I notice. There also aren’t any different features or software cues. And in some regard, I’m glad that difference is so drastic but at the same time, I’m not sure that screen size is necessarily a deciding factor.
Another big difference between the two devices is in the camera department. The standard S9 ships with a 12mp shooter around back, and by itself it’s still one of the best cameras in the market no doubt. On the other hand, you’ve got that dual camera setup on the S9 which includes an additional 12mp lens that packs a couple of unique features. The first of which is a variable aperture, the first on any smartphone, and with this you can get better shots in low light and also improve portrait mode capabilities. For the hardcore photographer, this is a really interesting feature and something Samsung stresses pretty heavily when they announced the device. The secondary lens is also the telephoto lens, so you get 2x optical zoom in pictures and video. In practice, the dual camera setup with all the extra features on the S9 plus yields some incredible pictures and videos, and I have a really nice camera comparison video that I’ll link on screen if you want to see it in action.
The two devices also have a couple of distinct difference with the internal specs, the first of which is the battery capacity. The standard S9 rocks a 3000mah battery, and the S9+ has a 3500mah battery. So in theory, you might be expecting about 15% better overall battery life on the S9+. And in real world usage, while the S9+’s battery has to power a slightly larger display, I’ve found that the battery life is better, particularly with standby time, and during a full day’s use I’ve gotten an hour more of usage out of the S9+. So it’s nothing amazing, but it’s certainly noticeable overall. The other difference between the two devices’ is the RAM. The S9 gets 4 gigs, and the S9+ gets 6. And in all honesty 6 gigs of ram on a smartphone is sort of overkill for most people. I’m all for having the best specs possible, but a vast majority of smartphone users who just browse social media will not utilize 6GB of ram. But if you’re the kind of person who enjoys heavy multitasking or graphics intensive games, or if you’d like to sort of future-proof your phone and keep it for a few years, 6GB is kind of hard to pass up. In real world usage, it was hard for me to see a noticeable difference in app loading speeds or how the phones handled multitasking, but I think in the long run, as apps gets bigger and android updates continue to roll out, having 6GB of ram will be a noticeable advantage.
The last major difference between the phones of course is the price. Unlocked directly through Samsung, there’s a $120 difference between the 2 phones, and some people might argue that if you’re spending over $700 on a phone, that extra $120 bucks shouldn’t be that big of a deal. But for some people it is, and you sort of have to decide if the bigger sized phone, with the dual cameras, later capacity battery, and more RAM is worth $120 to you. For me, it’s definitely worth it and that’s why I’ll be keeping the S9+ for a while, but for a lot of other people, the regular S9 is more than enough for their needs.