Samsung Galaxy S9 vs S9 Plus: What’s the difference?

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs S9 Plus – Which one should you pick?

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus are both now official, and we’ve been putting them through our rigorous review process for the past few weeks. So, which should you buy?

In this versus we’ll take a look at the differences between the two devices so you can determine which phone fits your needs better.

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs S9 Plus specs – Which is faster?

For the second year in a row, Samsung’s smaller device doesn’t come with many performance compromises over its bigger sibling.

Both phones are powered by the same Snapdragon 845 mobile platform – Qualcomm’s latest chip that’s built using the same ultra-efficient 10nm process as the 835. If you’re in Europe, your S9/S9 Plus will be powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 chip, but there really isn’t much difference between the two.

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Screen sizes remains the same as the outgoing S8 and S8 Plus – 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch respectively – alongside the quad-HD+ resolution. There’s support for HDR10 for video and Dolby Atmos sound through the new front-firing speakers.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
Battery 3000mAh 3500mAh
Camera (Rear) 12-megapixel, f/2.4 and f/1.5 aperture 12-megapixel, f/2.4 and f/1.5 aperture). Secondary telephoto camera (12 megapixels)
Display 5.8-inch OLED (1440 x 2560) 6.2-inch OLED (1440 x 2560)
Processor Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810 Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810
Storage 64GB/256GB 64GB/256GB
RAM 4GB 6GB

Related: What is Dolby Atmos?

The Plus model includes an extra 2GB of RAM, from 4GB to 6GB, but both phones come with either 64GB or 256GB of storage. It seems odd for Samsung to restrict the higher amount of RAM to the bigger phone, but during our review we didn’t really notice any issues on the smaller model with the lower amount of RAM.

Arguably, the biggest difference between the two devices is the addition of a secondary camera sensor on the S9 Plus – and, again, it’s a shame it’s been left off the smaller phone.

Samsung Galaxy S9

It works as it does on the Galaxy Note 8, offering up 2x optical zoom without sacrificing picture quality. It also enables some portrait modes for increasing bokeh – that silky blur you often see in professional photos. We wouldn’t recommend you opt for the Plus model for this feature alone, but it’s a good additional bonus.

You’ll be happy to hear that there’s parity between both devices with regards to the rest of the camera. Each has a main 12-megapixel sensor featuring a clever mechanical aperture that moves between f/2.4 and f/1.5, depending on the surrounding environment. In bright sun it will use the f/2.4 aperture; the wider f/1.5 will kick in when the light dims. We’ve seen such software that mimics variable aperture on phones before, but this is the first time there’s a switcher in the camera.

Pictures shot with these two phones are excellent: sharp, colourful and reliable. Although not the best smartphone camera out there – that honour goes to the Google Pixel 2 XL – it isn’t far off. With the f/1.5 aperture in play resulting low-light snaps are bright, although this is at the expense of detail and edges can become smudged as a result.

The camera supports 4K video shot at 60fps, plus there’s a new super slow-motion trick that will shoot a burst at 960fps when it detects fast-moving motion.

Samsung Galaxy S9

Both the S9 and S9 Plus sport 8-megapixel cameras around the front, featuring a wide f/1.7 aperture for capturing those selfies. The front cameras feature AR Emoji, a trick similar to Apple’s Animoji. These emoji far more resemble cartoon characters than typical emoji and will capture your facial expressions. They’re nothing but a gimmick, however – and a cheap one at that.

In a move that will surprise no-one, the Galaxy S9 Plus includes a larger 3500mAh battery than the Galaxy S9 (3000mAh). Even with the increased capacity, you’ll get around a day of battery life from both phones – if you’re lucky. At least the S9 and S9 Plus offer support for Qi wireless charging, along with quick-charge capabilities through the USB-C port when you use the right cables and plugs.

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Samsung Galaxy S9 vs S9 Plus design – Do they look different?

Considering the huge overhaul the S-series received last year, the S9 was unlikely to see a dramatic change. Both phones retain the curvy glass and metal look with minimal bezel, the headphone jack and an IP68 rating for water-resistance.

Thankfully, the fingerprint scanner has been moved to sit beneath the camera sensor. As a result, it’s easier to hit.

The Galaxy S9 Plus tips the scales at 189g, which is marginally heavier than the 163g Galaxy S9. The extra screen real-estate also makes the Plus model taller and more difficult to comfortably grip in one hand.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Both devices will be available in black, blue or purple at launch. Purple is our colour of choice.

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs S9 Plus price – Which is better value?

These are flagship phones and that status is represented in their price. Neither is cheap and there’s been an price increase over the S8 and S8 Plus.

Related: Best Samsung Galaxy S9 deals

The smaller Galaxy S9 will cost £739 for the 64GB model, and the Galaxy S9 Plus will be priced at £869. This puts the phones in similar vicinity to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, but cheaper than the £999 iPhone X.

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs S9 Plus – Verdict

Aside for the additional camera, there isn’t much separating the S9 and S9 Plus – and that’s good to know. The Plus model does include extra RAM and a bigger battery, but in use these didn’t amount to huge bonuses.

So really the decision over which phone you choose will come down to size: do you want a bigger phone with a larger screen or one that’s more compact? Whichever model you opt for, you can be assured that you’ll be getting a great device.

Which Samsung flagship would you pick? Tweet us @trustedreviews