There have been lots of amazing phones launched in 2018, proving that Android is still the place to be if you want a wide range of options from simple functionality to luxe flagship. But after the glitter settles from each new launch, there’s a phone I keep coming back to as the best all-rounder of this year, and it’s the Samsung Galaxy S9.
I’m not saying it’s the right phone for everybody — the whole point of having all those options is so that you can find a phone that focuses on the features you value most. But in terms of having everything, and feeling like there’s absolutely nothing compromised or missed off the spec sheet, the S9 is the one I keep coming back to.
1. It handles rain like a native Brit
It’s insane how much I miss this when I’m using a review phone without water resistance. Knowing you can take it out in a downpour or literally drop it in the bath without wrecking it adds such a welcome layer of reassurance.
I mean, still insure it obviously, but having a dunkable phone is great for us anxiety bods.
2. It takes photos that make you look like you know what you’re doing
Not everyone wants to learn all the ins and outs of proper mobile photography. Yes, I know what white balance is and how to use ISO, but 9 times out of 10, I just want to point my phone at something and have it snap what my eyes are seeing.
That’s a harder task for hardware than it sounds, so I appreciate that the S9+’s fancypants dual-aperture camera delivers the goods, even when it’s dark (although it wouldn’t let me use burst mode during a lightning storm, which I was sad about).
The selfie cam is great too — it strikes that touchy balance between HD realism and not wanting to wear a bag over your head for the rest of your life.
3. It makes binging Netflix feel like a highfalutin cinematic endeavour
Hnrgh, that SCREEN. The S9+ is is quite big for my fairly dainty hands (I often accidentally do things on the edges of the screen just by holding it), but it’s so worth it for how things look on its 6.2-inch curved quad-HD AMOLED display. People often comment on it when I take a photo and show them on my screen, and watching HD content on it is just so gratifying. I love the future.
4. It’s the best for drunk charging
OK, I don’t really drink (rubbish kidneys club, represent) but you know when you’ve flopped in bed at the end of a long day and you just… can’t… find the energy to dig out your cable from wherever the cat left it and plug your phone in to charge?
Well, you’d have to be pretty far gone not to be able to slap the phone down on a wireless charging pad. Yes, it’s slower, as all the phone companies still dragging their heels on wireless constantly remind us — but slower doesn’t really matter when you’re going to be passed out for 8 hours, does it?
(You’ll need a separate wireless charger — get one here).
5. It has better hardware than my work laptop
Sad, but true. Six gig of RAM (on the Plus), an octa-core processor (either Exynos or Qualcomm, depending on which country you’re in) and up to 256GB of storage — that’s going to be at the top end of smartphone performance for a while yet. The dual SIM model has a microSD slot too, so you can add even more storage. You show off.
6. You can turn it into an actual computer
Honestly, I don’t think Samsung has made enough of this feature outside the tech bubble. YOU CAN TURN IT INTO A COMPUTER. There’s a little gadget called DeX (short for ‘desktop experience’) that you plug your S9 into, add a monitor, mouse and keyboard and you’ve got a PC.
It has limitations, of course — especially in terms of what you can run on it — but it’s such a handy option to have, and DeX has been really thoughtfully redesigned since the circular version that came with the S8. There are two USB ports and an HDMI, so you don’t even have to have a wireless keyboard/mouse to use it. When you want to do some work on the big screen and left your laptop at work, it’s a lifesaver.
(DeX is sold separately but it’s not as expensive as you’d think).
7. It has a proper headphone jack *shakes fist at HTC*
I get that the 3.5mm headphone jack is a relic, but the thing is, we still need it. Plugging in your headphones with a stupid and easily-lost dongle is infuriating enough when you’ve just spent £££ on your new phone, but not being able to charge and listen at the same time is criminal.
Plus, for us social media types, the headphone jack is very often used for other peripherals — selfie lights, or in my case, the smartphone mic I use for videos. Won’t someone think of the YouTubers?
8. It can do s-u-p-e-r s-l-o-w m-o
So you can feel like a movie star at 960 frames per second.
9. It’s freakin’ gorgeous
I have a lot of love for purple, the S9’s colour of choice. It’s not the “phones for ladies” shade of pink that everyone was doing a few years back, and it’s not garish like the old Lumias. It’s just appealing, distinctive, and genderless (my good mate GadgetsBoy said at the launch he’d definitely get the purple one, and he’s the coolest guy ever, so no qualms about masculinity here).
However, they missed a trick with the naming: it’s called Lilac Purple, whereas with the dual-aperture camera, they really should have called it Iris. Wink.