The Galaxy S9 is here and as the excitement over AR Emoji settles, I ask the questions: Is Samsung’s latest flagship worth it? What can AR Emoji do? Does camera performance justify this new release?
If you’re not so techie, like me, and you’re thinking of getting this new phone, read on. I try out all the key features and answer all those questions (and play with more emoji!) in this article.
Look and feel
The Samsung Galaxy S9 looks almost exactly like the S8 — from the curved Infinity Display to the sleek smooth body, this handset is a Samsung déjà vu.
This is, perhaps, the biggest criticism that the S9 has gotten. But I say: It’s what’s on the inside that counts (more on this later) — and if anything, new colors make up for it looking like its predecessor.
Yes, there’s a purple S9 that matches my hair and it’s looking gorgeous. I mean, we hold phones more than we hold hands — these things might as well be your best accessory.
Having the same look as the S8, it follows; I still love the feel of this phone, it fits my teeny hands well, and its curved display is still an enjoyable experience. It’s all glass, though, so it can be a little slippery.
There’s one noticeable change on the S9. Samsung moved the fingerprint reader below the camera. This should mean less accidental smudges on the shooter.
It must also be pointed out: At a time when most brands are shamelessly copying the notch (which isn’t really a look that’s all that, TBH), Samsung stands firmly behind their design. I believe that’s something they should be applauded for.
Let’s get this out of the way first: My emoji looks nothing like me, even my mother won’t recognize that pink-haired emoji. It’s an absolute shame.
The idea of having this tiny avatar on my phone excited me so much but trying it out was a different experience. For all its cuteness, tracking wasn’t really very good. A lot of times, the AR Emoji couldn’t even catch up with what I was doing. It doesn’t even track my tongue when I stick it out like this 😛 — the emoji just gives me a weird face.
What I did enjoy playing with were the preset AR Emoji GIFs. Creating your emoji produces a whole line of GIFs from that likeness — ones you can send out via different platforms! To make it easier, Samsung has also integrated the GIF sending on the Samsung keyboard. Oh, what fun! Above photo is an account of an actual conversation between me and Chay soon after we discovered this feature.
The S9’s front-facing shooter has a Selfie Focus mode which allows for the bokeh effect. It also has an adjustable beauty mode, which should really be on every phone, if you ask me. Airbrushing doesn’t look too overwhelming but I did wish they didn’t whiten my face as much.
From my tests (that means a lot of selfies), the bokeh cutout is more or less accurate, but it still isn’t perfect. Selfie shots also seem like they’re automatically brightened overall which is good because it makes you fresh; however, this sometimes makes for overexposed backgrounds.
But, what I totally love about the S9’s built-in camera app is a feature you can find on the separate Selfie mode: makeup filters. To test it out, I shot with literally no makeup and this was the effect. I look ready for a night out!
There are a number of preset looks, plus the option to toggle the intensity of each filter. You can even isolate each part of your face — eyebrows, eyelashes, lips, cheeks, contouring, blush, and more — then adjust accordingly.
This photo below, which showcases a more subtle makeup look, was taken five seconds after the photo above. Listen, boys, this is what #nomakeup is, but not what it looks like. 😂
The filters work well even with glasses, on boys, and in groups. Proof:
What’s sorely missing, however, is the bokeh effect on the Selfie mode. If you choose to virtually paint your face, this means no more blurred background as this is only doable through the Selfie Focus mode where makeup isn’t available.
And sure, you can download any beauty app and get similar results with filters or editing, but that’s not the point. Aside from the possibility of great, on fleek looks 24/7 without moving an actual makeup brush, I just honestly love that this feature was built into a flagship phone. Push comes to shove, premium devices will usually have the same level of phone specs. It’s the little features like this that become the tie-breaker for me.
The Galaxy S9 (and S9+) rear cameras are said to be groundbreaking as they house the world’s first dual aperture smartphone cameras. But, I won’t deal with that because of too many technicalities. What you need to know is that this feature, which allows the tiny camera to adjust to allow more or less light come in, is automatically activated when you shoot on Auto.
That being said; on Auto, the camera performs well.
The S9 only has one camera on the back, unlike the S9+. This means there is no Live Focus function on this thing. There is, however, a Selective Focus function which allows you to blur our either the background or the foreground of the photo which results in pictures like this.
There is also a Food Mode built-into the camera app, for all your food flat lay needs.
Samsung shooters are already known to saturate photos. As you can see, this mode does that even more to make yummy food look even more enticing. There’s also a radial blur effect happening, reminiscent of Instagram’s blur option where you pick a certain point to focus on, and the rest of the photo is just blurred out.
As pretty as this mode can make the food look, it still doesn’t change the fact that it will all end up in my tummy.
Word of caution though; the saturation can sometimes be too much and there’s no intensity toggle for this mode. On the off chance that it is too much, I just switch to Auto which brings me back to normal shooting.
This phone can shoot in slow-mo at 960 frames per second — which is all a bunch of numbers to me until I see what that means:
— Isa Rodriguez (@sisasaid) March 8, 2018
I have to be honest: Everything looks better in slow-mo. Even crappy birds look pretty cool.
Here’s another super slow-mo Galaxy S9 sample.
(Yes, I ran after the bird to get this shot 😂) pic.twitter.com/Y2coo6gHrW
— Isa Rodriguez (@sisasaid) March 6, 2018
Me making a mess look almost artsy:
— Isa Rodriguez (@sisasaid) February 25, 2018
And did you notice the background music? These samples were fresh off the S9, no need for editing as the device allows you to cut up video, and even edit music in.
Shooting slow-mo can be tricky, however — I had one too many failed attempts because I kept pressing the slow-mo button too early, or too late. But, once you get used to it and the proper timing, it gets waaaay more fun. Just make sure to do it in a well-lit area, and I mean full on studio lights well-lit or a bright, sunny day well-lit. Otherwise, video comes out grainy.
Considering that this is a flagship, I expected top-of-the-line specs on this device and the S9 delivered in that aspect. Just know that the technology on this handset is on par with most flagships out now and this phone will be able to handle your everyday smartphone needs — from social media, to AR Bitmoji Snaps, to everyday work productivity. But, that was to be expected from any Samsung headliner.
As for the camera, it’s definitely capable, with low-light photography as a big strength. If you’re looking for a phone with a great camera, this should be on your list of choices. But that’s the thing: There are still a number of other great camera phones out there and though the S9 performed, I can’t for sure say it’s the absolute best. At the end of the day, it all boils down to aesthetics and preference.
That being said, what I love about this device are the add-on features which gave this handset enough points for me to consider getting it.
Although I was a little disappointed with AR Emoji, I find that the makeup beauty mode isn’t getting old — in fact, I’ve gone three days without real makeup but my online persona has managed to look on fleek. The slow-mo capabilities are impressive and the fact that it comes in stunning purple just makes me want to rock this phone daily.
With this device, Samsung seems to consider a demographic (*ehem ehem*) that most tech companies ignore when releasing flagships. On top of quality performance, these add-ons are a definite delight for users like me.
Find a phone that gives you both: Fun and functionality are two things that I look for in phones, and more often than not, I’ve had to compromise. If the release of the S9 is any indication, it seems that’s all about to change.
How to wear green: Autumn’s most underrated color
Some tips on how you can subtly incorporate green to your looks this season
Despite everything I see on fashion editorials and on my feed, it’s always this time of the year when I become obsessed with green. When I think of fall, colors of rustic countryside and foliage come to mind. I imagine deep but vibrant hues — earth tones like rust, mustard, a deep red, and the entire brown spectrum.
This is why there’s no more perfect time to add green pieces to your looks than during autumn to winter — it’s not anyone’s go-to. Here are some tips on how you can subtly incorporate green to your looks this season:
Play it safe with olive
If emerald green is too much for you to pull off, start with moss, olive, or army green first. It’s almost like wearing a neutral but it still adds a hint of color to your outfit. A parka in this color is an easy choice that will go well with a lot of casual outfits. For when you want to look a little bit more dressed up, try wearing a mini bag in this shade.
The girl in the green scarf
Adding a splash of color to a neutral outfit with accessories is the easiest trick to pull off on anyone’s styling book. Make a green accessory the focal point of an otherwise ordinary everyday look. If you have a signature styling item, get it in an emerald green color. I’ve been obsessing over silky scarves lately. I wear them with my ponytail, as a headband, or on my purse.
New phone, new color
If you’re due for a smartphone upgrade, get a new color option instead of black. A lot of smartphones this year come in a new shade of green, including the new iPhone 11 Pro. Like a statement necklace, it can be a great focal point for your outfit. When there’s already too much going on with your look and you’re not confident enough to pull off color blocking, it’s best to cover it up with a neutral case that matches your purse and shoes.
Go green, all-green
Here’s yet another tonal dressing suggestion. While I love an all-nude look to stand out in a sea of tans and blacks this season, all-green is my next go-to — and it’s probably my favorite. It’s what started my love affair with tonal dressing to begin with. An all-green outfit is not as feminine as nude, but it’s just sophisticated. It’s not as much of a statement as wearing red from head to toe, but it will stand out just as much in a sea of blacks and tans.
Green was never something I would wear growing up; my teenager self never saw it to be flattering or versatile. Age changed that. It’s still a tricky color to wear — especially the bolder, more vibrant shades — but when styled right, it can be the most polished look you’ve pulled off in a long time.
HOW TO WEAR SERIES
The instax Mini 9 comes with a retro craft bundle for the holiday season
For all your scrapbooking dreams
The holiday season is here!
If you’re still struggling in coming up with a gift idea, Team Instax might have just curated one for you. Fujifilm partnered with Craft Easy to create the instax Mini 9 Craft Kit.
The craft kit comes with a unique, retro tin box that comes in five colors — each with an accompanying message and particular design. Inside you get a Mini 9 camera, a pack of film, as well as crafting materials including wooden clips, washi tapes, and a set of fun stickers. This special bundle could be a great gift for only PhP 4,499 (US$ 89).
instax Mini 9
The instax Mini 9 is an instant camera that lets you take better selfies that you can print thanks to the built-in selfie mirror placed next to its lens. There’s also a close-up lens attachment if you want to photograph your subjects closer. Lighting can easily be adjusted, too, with its brightness adjustment dial. To operate the camera, you only need two AA size alkaline batteries. Happiness is just one click away!
The Mini 9 is available in Flamingo Pink, Ice Blue, Lime Green, Cobalt Blue, and Smoky White. The camera retails for PhP 3,999. It’s available at Fujifilm authorized dealers nationwide.
Huawei Nova 5T: The phone that lets you be independent
What she needs in life are tools that help her just be who she is
The modern woman is preoccupied with a lot of things: work, spending quality time with family and friends, learning new skills, self-care, maybe even finding romance. She has a lot going on, so what she needs in life are tools that help her just be who she is.
When it comes to smartphones, the Huawei Nova 5T is a phone she can rely on. With its super fast fingerprint unlock and 8GB of memory, she won’t need to do any more waiting than she already does in her day to day.
Having 128GB of storage, she can take as many photos and videos as she wants. And the flagship Kirin 980 processor assures her that she can do anything she ought to do and multitask like the career woman that she is. No compromises here.
Who says a girl needs an Instagram boyfriend? The 32MP selfie camera on the Huawei Nova 5T lets her take wide-angle and beautiful selfies and outfit shots all on her own, without having to rely on anyone else. And those cameras at the back give her professional-like photos, too. No more boring photos.
The modern woman hustles and stays connected and the Nova 5T can stay on with her for for as long as she needs it to be. When it runs out of juice, it gets up to 50% in just 30 minutes.
This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.
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