Samsung unveiled its latest smartphone models, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, over the weekend.
The phones were announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on Sunday and will be available on March 16 with advance orders starting this Friday.
Here’s what you need to know:
Robert Marquardt/Getty ImagesAttendees of Mobile World Congress 2018 are seen creating AR Emojis on the new Samsung Galaxy S9 on Feb. 26, 2018 in Barcelona.
New camera capabilites
The Galaxy S9 smartphones have “dual aperture,” which lets the camera take better photos in low light. The aperture can adjust automatically in lighting settings, but it can also be manually adjusted.
Samsung also announced that the phones will have “super slow-mo” and options for a user to set a video to music and make it into a looping GIF.
“This camera is a winner,” said Patrick Moorhead, a tech industry analyst at Moors Insights Strategy, a market research agency. “The super slow-mo is a feature that no other smartphone camera has.”
As an answer to Apple’s iPhone X Animoji feature, which uses facial recognition to animate an emoji with a user’s expressions, Samsung designed AR Emojis, said Moorhead.
“[AR Emojis] go one step beyond of Animoji because it uses your own face and it can be shared on any platform, like Facebook or text message,” said Moorhead.
The software takes a selfie and transforms it into an augmented reality emoji version of the user. It can produce both static and animated versions of the photo.
“It didn’t look like me when I tried it,” Bob O’Donnell, a tech analyst with Technalysis, an industry research firm, said about the AR Emojis. “I love the concept if it was done well.”
The AR emoji is compared to the Bitmoji, an application in which users can design an avatar that looks like them.
“It added a new level of personalization to the smartphone experience and I think it stands out significantly,” said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, a market research firm, about the AR Emojis.
“It’s like Bitmoji but it’s more representative of you,” he added about the AR Emojis.
Richard Drew/APThis Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, photo shows the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, left, and back of a Galaxy S9 mobile phone, during a product preview in New York.
Visual assistant Bixby
Samsung’s virtual assistant, Bixby Vision, has improved with this new model, according to Moorhead.
“Bixby Vision came out with Note 8 phone, but biggest thing it brings to the table is convenience,” he said. “It’s improved.”
Bixby Vision lets a user point the camera at a landmark or object, or pull up an image, to learn more. For example, by pointing the camera to the street, a user could find out what restaurants are nearby, or if a user wanted to learn more about a brand, they could point the camera toward the logo, according to Samsung.
“You can put the camera in front of something you may want to eat and [Bixby Vision] makes an estimation of calories inside,” Moorhead said.
Samsung also welcomes real-time translation with Bixby Vision. By pointing the camera at words in another language, Bixby translates it to the set default language.
“The thing about the translation feature is that you don’t have to open up a separate app,” Moorhead said. “If you speak English, it knows, and you don’t have to know what the source language is.”
Translation varies in speed depending on word count and internet connection, but it is also limited to selected languages.
Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty ImagesA hostess holds two new Samsung Galaxy S9 mobile phones during the Samsung Galaxy S9 Unpacked event on Feb. 25, 2018 in Barcelona.
What stays the same
“They’re about the same as they were last year,” said Bajarin about the S8 and the S9 models. “This one has a higher speed processor.”
These analysts agreed that this model of the Galaxy is an improved version.
“My first impression was that it’s a very strong evolution of the phone,” said Moorhead. “The design, specs, everything is improved.”
The “infinity screen,” Samsung’s edge-to-edge glass display that was introduced to the smartphone market with last year’s Galaxy S8, is unchanged with the newest model.
“[Samsung] continues with the basic design of the S8 and the S8+ with the screen to the edge and the design lines are similar, Bajarin said.
Both Galaxy S9 models feature facial recognition and water-resistance for up to five feet of water for 30 minutes.
“It is an incremental improvement,” said O’Donnell. “It’s very similar to the S8. It really is.”
Some of the features are modified and updated, but essentially the same, Moorhead said.
“[Samsung] put a ridge between the fingerprint sensor and the lens,” he said. “They put them farther apart so you’re less likely to touch the lens.”
“It’s a very competitive model, and I think they will do very well with Android crowd,” said Bajarin.
The Galaxy S9 starts at $719.99 with the S9+ at $839.99 through Samsung directly with a financing option available.
Cellphone carriers have similar offers.
“[Samsung] came in a little less expensive than people thought,” O’Donnell said about the S9’s price tag.
Both models come in three colors — lilac purple, midnight black and coral blue.