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Samsung

If you hold the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9 next to one another you'd be hard-pressed to tell the two apart, and that's by design. The improvements over last year are designed to be subtle, but appreciated refinements, mostly around the camera.

Our take: If you liked the S8, you'll like the S9. Like its predecessor, the S9 is beautiful and powerful, but there may not be enough there to merit upgrading. The same goes for the larger-screen S9+,

What's not new: The S9 maintains much of the outward appearance of last year's Galaxy S8, which is a good thing because it was a beautiful curved screen display

What's new:

  • Super slow-mo - The Galaxy S9 can capture footage at an impressive 960-frames-per-second and stretch the resulting video out to dramatic proportions. Samsung's pitch is that even everyday moments look cool at that speed and they are right. That said, unlike the iPhone's slo-mo, which can be adjusted at will, you have to choose beforehand which moment will be slowed down. As with any super-high-frame-rate video, you need more light.
  • AR emoji - It's not the same as the iPhone X's Animoji, and has some appeal. Both are party tricks, but Apple's is probably the more compelling one. Samsung's approach lets you create emojis of yourself, but the resulting videos aren't nearly as well synchronized as those on the iPhone.
  • Better-positioned fingerprint reader and easier-to-use face recognition - Samsung listened to critics on this one and it pays off. With the Galay S9, it's now more convenient to use both the face recognition and the fingerprint reader, which has been moved to below the rear camera.

Who it's good for: Like its predecessor, the Galaxy S9 is one of the best-looking phones on the market.

Who it's not: Google's Pixel 2 is probably the better bet for those who want pure Android and the fastest updates to whatever is next. If you aren't looking to break the bank, there are plenty of good Android phones to be had for hundreds of dollars less.

Practicalities: Preorders began March 2 and the device will hit shelves on March 16. Samsung is selling the S9 unlocked for $719.99 and the S9+ for $839.99, with a trade-in program offering up to $350 off. Carriers have their own pricing and trade-in offers, so it pays to do some comparison shopping.

Go Deeper: See the Galaxy S9 super slo-mo and AR emoji features in action in this video.

Go deeper

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.