NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung says its new Galaxy S9 phone features a “reimagined” camera, and it is indeed pretty darned good. But you might not want to shell out $720 or more for one just yet unless your current phone is already close to death.
That’s because other high-end phone cameras — nowadays, one of the major differentiators between phones — are also pretty darned good. If your phone is recent, it probably already has a decent camera. Technology has improved to the point that it’s really hard to tell the difference between them.
In many of our test shots, the S9 outperformed the best of its rivals — Apple’s iPhone X, Google’s Pixel 2 XL and Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 8. Photos had more detail and less distortion. But unless you magnify images for closer inspection, usually there’s little obvious difference beyond color variation, which comes down to personal preference. In a few cases, the S9 performed worse than all three.
The phone comes out March 16 with a U.S. starting price of $720 through Samsung and T-Mobile and nearly $800 through other major U.S. carriers. Here’s a look at what the S9 offers.
SEE THE LIGHT
In a first for a major smartphone, the S9 camera has an adjustable aperture, or lens opening, to let in more or less light. Low-light shots are also improved with software tricks that automatically take 12 shots in quick succession and blend the best of each.
These changes produce small improvements in shots: The evening sky tends to be darker, with less distortion. A statue of Abraham Lincoln doesn’t look as grainy. Many S9 shots also have better contrast between dark and light areas.