If you think about the biggest single sales day on the mobile phone calendar you might think about Christmas Eve or 30 June or maybe even the beginning of the school year. What about Valentine’s Day? All incorrect. Undoubtedly the biggest single sales day for the year is the first day of sales for the annual iPhone launch day which usually happens around the middle of September. Next on the calendar is the same day for Samsung – which this year happens to be today.

The newest flagship phones from Samsung, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, are available from 8am today. Samsung will be hoping they fly out the door to try to keep matching it with Apple. Although Apple has a knack of creating huge media interest in their latest products, Samsung usually outsells Apple in total sales volume of all phones – mainly due to the larger number of models. Still, individual models from Apple and Samsung take up nine of the top ten worldwide smartphone sales positions (with Oppo the only other brand to be mentioned).

What are customers going to see when they line up at 8am today to pick up their new shiny S9 phone? Well, at first glance, a phone that looks remarkably similar in size and shape to the previous S8 phone. On the outside at least.

On the inside things are a little different. All of the latest phones from the major manufacturers are great at making phone calls and performing some basic functions. The next big battleground will be the camera. And this is an area where Samsung has made a dramatic improvement. The new camera in the S9 has a dual-pixel sensor along with a lens that features a dual aperture. This is to address the eternal smartphone problem of a phone being good in either low light or bright light but not both. The dual aperture allows the camera to adjust depending on how well lit the environment is. It seems an obvious way to address the quality issue but this is the first major phone that has gone down the dual aperture path and is a giant leap forward for Samsung over its major competitors. In addition to this improvement, the video recording on the Samsung also has made a substantial improvement and is now capable of 960 frames per second super slow motion. This matches the Sony XZ as the best on market.

The larger S9+ has now gone for a dual camera to match the dual camera feature on two of the latest Apple phones. This gives you an optical zoom as well as allows you to take photos with the ‘bokeh’ effect.

The battery on the S9 has not changed but the efficiency has. The new processor in the S9 is faster and more efficient and delivers a small improvement in battery life. This is despite the fact that the display has received a 15 per cent improvement in brightness. This additional brightness really makes a difference when you are trying to use your phone outdoors. The sound quality has also received a slight improvement with a second speaker above the screen to deliver stereo sound with enough separation to make it noticeable.

One item that may not seem that significant is the placement of the fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor on the rear of the S8 was beside the camera. The S9 has moved the sensor to a spot below the camera. It only seems small but it was a source of annoyance for S8 users.

To make sure they match every feature that Apple offers – and then some – the phone has facial recognition and iris scanning in addition to the fingerprint scanning to allow ease of access to the phone.

Is it a big enough improvement to keep the Apple wolves at bay? Has it changed enough to encourage S8 users to upgrade? These questions will be answered by consumers who have a myriad of choices at their fingertips. In my opinion, the S9 is technically the best featured phone on the market…at least until the next manufacturer releases their latest product!

Mathew Dickerson

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