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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

Updated 11 mins ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker
41 mins ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.