Samsung’s newest flagship, the Galaxy S9 Plus was recently released and we just received ours from our friends at AT&T. The unboxing is very elegant and simple. The phone comes in a small box with the device presented front and center. In the box you’ll also find a USB C to USB A charging cable, Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 power brick, USB C to USB A converter (for file transfering), AKG branded headphones, and the usual quickstart guides.
After booting the phone you are greeted to a normal Android boot screen. After setting up your gmail account you are taken to the AT&T device transfer screen. I begin the process of transferring my contacts, call logs, and other information between devices. Doing this over Wifi was taking a long time, so I decided to not transfer over my text messages (as I have about 70,000 texts saved). Shortly after this I am taken to Samsung’s device transfer screen. Using this I decide to transfer over my text messages as the process was much faster using the USB cable to transfer. I’m not sure why AT&T insisted on including its own restore tool over Samsung’s superior transfer tool, however that was the only hiccup in the setup process.
This phone has the basics down pat. The screen is absolutely amazing (even if you only keep it in Full HD+ mode), the design is second to none, the camera is impressive, and the specs are top notch. Bixby isn’t nearly as annoying as I thought it would be and if you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. I am attempting to use it, but I am finding I appreciate Google Assistant far more right now. AREmojis are also fun and interesting (if not a little gimicky).
The phone performs very well in basic tasks as well. Applications open quickly, and multitasking is a breeze with the Snapdragon 845 and 6gb of ram. I did not notice any performance degradation when I moved the screen resolution up which was a pleasant surprise. This is something I will be keeping an eye on as I use this device as my daily driver for the next few days.
One stand out feature I would like to highlight is how Samsung’s interface notifies you of new messages. A small badge will appear on the top of your screen in a small bubble. This badge will give you the name of the person that messaged you and a few characters of what they wrote. I find this to be much better than how stock Android handles notifications of messages where it looks like the notification bar is being slightly pulled down. Samsung’s method is less intrusive and slightly more elegant.
At first glance the phone’s battery is holding up well. With constant use, and setup battery drain isn’t as dramatic as I thought it would be. These are not concrete numbers, however, first impressions are important and setup can put significant drain on the device’s battery. I am also keeping the brightness fairly high on this device and I’m finding that isn’t causing significant battery drain. I will report in my full review how the phone handles typical use, and days where I play a lot of games or stream a lot of video.
Samsung has also made great strives in making sure the S9+ stands out among other flagship phones in 2018. Their dedication to water resistance and the headphone jack are incredibly important. With many companies opting for one feature over the other it is nice that Samsung still includes both features. Samsung also allows the earpiece to be used as a secondary, front facing speaker which is a great addition. Although the main speaker is still facing away from the user it is still nice to have some audio going directly to the user, and a stereo setup.
There are a few aspects of the device I do find minorly aggravating though. The software is bloated and fairly confusing at times. The device does not have an overwhelming amount of AT&T applications but the duplicate applications Samsung installs are bothersome. I have to perform multiple gestures to unlock the phone into a notification, the fingerprint scanner won’t turn the screen on if the phone is already unlocked, and the settings menu is overwhelming as well. These are just a few stand out aspects of the phone I’m not thrilled with but may come to like more over time.
These are simply my first impressions. Overall I am surprisingly happy with how much I am enjoying a carrier branded Samsung device. there isn’t as much bloat as I thought and the device is more refined than I was expecting. Please feel free to ask me questions in the comments as to what you’d like to see from the full review.
We would like to thank Jeff Holmes and our friends at AT&T for supplying us with a Samsung Galaxy S9+ Review Unit