Body and display

The Galaxy S9+ is a large phone that manages to be comfortable in the hand and feels secure to hold. It feels appreciably different than flagship offerings from Apple and Google, and in our opinion, sits between the two in terms of premium look and feel with Apple's all-glass form coming out on top and Google's more conservatively styled body coming out on the bottom.

Key takeaways:

  • The screen on the Galaxy S9+ is the best we've seen on a smartphone, offering true HDR viewing with incredibly bright, saturated colors
  • For the most color-accurate results, you'll want to adjust your screen's color settings
  • When viewing your captured images and video, the screen actively adapts brightness and contrast in real time to your viewing conditions
  • The phone sports IP68 sealing, meaning it's completely sealed against dust and can survive up to 30 minutes in up to 1.5 meters of water
  • It still has a standard headphone jack

The smooth, reflective back surface on the S9+ certainly looks premium, at least until it gets covered in fingerprints. The dual-camera setup looks fairly standard, and the fingerprint sensor is in a sensible place. Some staff members were (very) bothered by the small window showing circuitry on the back, but others weren't so concerned about it. And despite the IP68 rating for dust and moisture sealing, the S9+ retains a standard headphone jack.

The AMOLED display allows for incredible saturation, brightness and black levels
for HDR viewing

The big story for mobile photographers is in the display. It's an AMOLED panel that allows for incredible color saturation, overall brightness and black levels for high dynamic range (HDR) viewing, and measures in at 6.2" diagonally. You have an option to select your preferred screen resolution, from 720p all the way up to 2960 x 1440 resolution. That highest resolution gives you an impressive 529 pixels per inch, making text look razor-sharp, though the middle 'Full HD+' setting is nearly as good.

As we showed you on the previous page, the screen on the S9+ will actively adapt the brightness and tone curve of your images depending on your viewing conditions.

Don't worry about the occasional spill - the IP68 rating means the Galaxy S9+ should continue to function just fine.

Like many Android-based phones, color is very inaccurate out-of-the-box. For mobile photographers with a critical eye, you'll want to delve into the display settings and change the default color mode for the screen. The default 'Adaptive Display' mode makes your photos appear more saturated and punchy on the S9+ than what you or others will view when uploaded to the web or shared.

As a consequence, it's best to change the display setting to 'Standard,' which limits the color space to the more common sRGB standard which is used by the camera and across most content on the web. It's worth noting that if you plan to watch Netflix or other streaming services that offer HDR viewing, it's best to switch the display mode to 'AMOLED Cinema' - this forces the display to the P3 color space, and the color fidelity and quality is a real treat.

If you want accurate color without any fuss,
get an iPhone

Samsung officially refers to the screen on the S9+ as an 'Infinity Display,' presumably referencing the curved edges in addition to the color and brightness. Those edges certainly look neat, but we found that they can make it more difficult to carefully frame photographs if you're holding the phone above or below eye level as some elements may curve away from away from you. In the hand, you may find yourself accidentally brushing the edges of the screen and making accidental inputs.

Overall, we're impressed with the build quality of the S9+; while the feel in the hand falls somewhere below the premium Apple iPhone X and above the Google Pixel 2, the screen and viewing experience on the Galaxy tops them both - so long as you're willing to dive into the display settings to make some adjustments.