Updated Mar 8, 2018

Axios Review: Galaxy S9 refines last year's model with few new tricks

Ina Fried, author of Login

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

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Autopsies say George Floyd's death was homicide

Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

The latest: An updated official autopsy released by the Hennepin County medical examiner also determined that the manner of Floyd's death was "homicide," ruling it was caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdued, restraint, and neck compression."

The Biden-Trump split screen

Photos via Getty Images: Jim Watson/AFP (L); Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency (R)

The differences between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump are plain as day as the two respond to recent protests.

Why it matters: Americans are seeing firsthand how each presidential nominee responds to a national crisis happening during a global pandemic.

Louisville police chief fired after body cameras found inactive in shooting of black man

Louisville police officers during protests. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fired the city's chief of police Steve Conrad after it was discovered that police officers had not activated their body cameras during the shooting of David McAtee, a local black business owner who was killed during protests early Monday morning.

Why it matters: Mandatory body camera policies have proven to be important in efforts to hold police officers accountable for excessive force against civilians and other misconduct. Those policies are under even greater scrutiny as the nation has erupted in protest over the killing of black people at the hands of police.