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article imageSamsung focuses on AR and the camera with new Galaxy S9

By James Walker     Feb 26, 2018 in Technology
After months of rumours and leaks, Samsung has officially announced its new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ smartphones. The devices feature a revised design and new camera-oriented features, including slow-motion video recording and animated AR emojis.
Announced at Mobile World Congress today, the devices will headline Samsung's smartphone range through the remainder of the year. The two devices are each iterative upgrades of their predecessors, with the S9 sporting a 5.8-inch Quad HD curved display while the S9+ gets a larger 6.2-inch panel.
According to Samsung, the phones are "built for the way we communicate today." In a theme now common amongst top-tier phone makers, the company's shifting the focus from raw specs to what the devices can achieve. The S9 series is built around the camera, which Samsung says is "for more than taking pictures."
Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung Galaxy S9
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The S9 and S9+ each feature 12MP dual lens rear cameras. They're capable of slow-motion recordings at up to 960 frames per second. The camera can start recording automatically when it detects motion in a frame, removing the risk you might miss the action you're capturing. Samsung's also upgraded the phone's low-light capabilities by using dynamic aperture controls to let more light onto the sensor.
The camera enhancements are about more than just photos though. In an attempt to catch up with Apple's iPhone X, Samsung's introducing a set of new augmented reality features. Notably, the company's "AR Emoji" is presented as a direct rival to Apple Animoji, letting you communicate using a virtual avatar that mimics your movements. The S9 lacks Apple's advanced face-scanning tech, so Samsung uses regular photos instead.
AR Emoji
The results have proved to be divisive, with early reviewers describing AR Emoji as "creepy" and "a plane crash right into the depths of the Uncanny Valley." The avatars generated by the app aim to be cartoonish representations of your face, created using machine learning algorithms. Samsung's implementation is markedly less sophisticated than Apple's though, which might limit the appeal of the feature.
Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung will face other issues in selling the S9 too. While more advanced than the outgoing S8 series, the new phones have only minor aesthetic upgrades. The only major change to the handset's front is marginally slimmer top and bottom bezels. The lack of design alterations, combined with the focus on AR and camera gear, could convince existing S8 owners to stick with their current device.
Digital self-expression
According to Samsung, the S9 and S9+ are meant to reflect the way in which consumers now use smartphones. The company said the new AR and camera functions will help people "express themselves," offering new ways to communicate online.
Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung Galaxy S9
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"The way we use our smartphones has changed as communication and self-expression has evolved," said DJ Koh, president and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division, Samsung Electronics.
"With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, we have reimagined the smartphone camera. Not only do the Galaxy S9 and S9+ enable consumers to shoot great photos and videos anywhere, it’s a smartphone that’s designed to help them connect to others and express themselves in a way that’s unique and personal to them."
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will launch on March 16 in select regions around the world. Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Coral Blue and Lilac Purple will be available as initial colour options. Both phones have 10nm octa-core processors, up to 256GB of storage and integration with Bixby, Samsung's digital assistant.
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