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.
Home appliances that fit your pastel, feminine aesthetic
Nowadays, it’s not that difficult to marry your aesthetic with technology that fits your needs. No, I’m not just talking about phones and personal gadgets here but appliances that make life much easier.
I still remember back in Spring of 2017 when we just moved to Berlin and we were still putting our kitchen together. I wanted some pastel colors in the kitchen. This, to make cooking a fun activity even in my busiest of days and in the dead of winter. It was hard to find anything that matched my palette that also fit our budget.
Looking through this year’s IFA, we were given a glimpse of what’s now available in the market and what’s to come. Let’s just say, you won’t be stuck with just two options. So if you’re looking for appliances that fit your feminine aesthetic without having to sacrifice technological advancement, we got you covered.
SMEG: Retro Chic
A touch of color and retro feels that can make any Instagram feed happy. Their fridge is a classic and the design is something we are definitely familiar with. For functionality, it does tend to be basic but if you’re someone who wants something that is a straight-up fridge with not much frills, then this would be perfect.
You get ample space that can fit a small family’s needs for a week but it’s not a fridge I would recommend if you’re someone who likes to store food much longer than that. And let’s face it, why would you? You’d just forget about it anyway. Might as well get to them at their best state.
The price tag for a SMEG fridge here in Berlin start at about EUR 1,000 (US$ 1,107). If that’s pretty steep for you, the brand offers other items for your kitchen that come in pretty pastels as well. Something you can get for now while you save up for that fridge. From electric kettles, juicers, toasters, blenders and even mixers that can be a serious threat to Kitchenaid looks-wise, SMEG offers products that can still fit your budget despite its premium status.
What’s impressive is their dishwasher that comes in such a gorgeous shade of Cadillac pink. Despite the retro look, it comes with various modes that any modern homemaker will be happy about. Five programs that even cover your crystal plus five quick versions of each. For all those times when you get unexpected guests and you just need your dishes stat.
Bosch: For the Fickle Minded
We’ve all been there — waking up one day and just wanting to redecorate the whole apartment, wanting a fresh look for all the fresh starts we keep having. But if you decided on a bright red two years ago for your fridge, how in the world will it fit your new, much more relaxed, pastel aesthetic?
No worries, Bosch has the Vario fridge. The first fridge that was designed to be re-styled whenever you want and whatever your color your mood dictates. As long as it fits in their 24-color palette which, come to think of it, already feels like more than enough.
Prices in Germany start at EUR 1,279 inclusive of the standard grey fridge with a pair color panels. Extra panels come at EUR 179 for a pair.
Another thing we definitely enjoyed at the Bosch pavilion at IFA was the CookIt. It may not come in pretty pastel colors but it does come in white – which will definitely go with your colored pieces. The food processor and multicooker in one is definitely a game-changer in the kitchen that it got a GadgetMatch Best of IFA Award.
Samsung: Personalized Elegance
The first in their line of customizable appliances, Samsung introduced their BESPOKE refrigerator line. Not only do you get to choose the colors of your fridge, you also get to design how the modular configuration of the fridge can fit into your kitchen.
From the size, material, the number of doors, handle position, and the way it will all fit in your space, everything is decided by the customer. Choosing the configuration and colours for the fridge also come as an experience for the customer. A screen that immediately lets you see how it will look like in your own (or dream) kitchen wasn’t just convenient, it was fun to use as well.
A choice between nine colors also gives you the power to give each fridge door a different color. Another recipient of the Best of IFA award here at GadgetMatch, the Samsung BESPOKE refrigerators are rumored to come out mid-2020 here in Germany and we obviously can’t wait.
How to wear nude: The perfect summer to fall transition
Look chic this transitional season with a color you most probably have in your closet
The combination of cool breeze and sunny skies can only mean one thing: summer isn’t completely over but autumn is almost here. Dressing during this transitional season can be tricky — sweaters and boots can still be too warm during the day, yet the wind can easily blow your favorite summer dress up.
And then there’s color. Summer whites and bright colors have to slowly start taking a back seat to give way to fall’s earthy tones. My go-to during this summer-to-fall transition is a closet staple all of us should already own: nude. All 50 shades of it. Here are some styling tricks you can take note of before heading out this month of September:
Layer with linens
There are very few things more comfortable than linen during the summer. On days when temperatures fluctuate more than usual, wearing layers with a linen piece can be your go-to. Combine it with something warmer like a cotton sweater. You can also throw a blazer on top if the weather permits.
Slip into a slip dress
Who says you need to give your slip dresses a break this season? You can keep wearing those silk pieces as you transition into fall with a warm turtle neck sweater underneath or over it to turn it into a skirt.
Keep calm and carry the mini bag
Mini bags may be the it accessory this summer, but it doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to keep using them. Neutrals like nude will work with your outfit when styled appropriately for the season, even when the item is no longer trendy.
Power dress with an extra long coat
Sweating underneath a powerful outfit is neither attractive nor commanding. Power dressing when it’s hot and humid out is not easy, especially when getting to work involves a lot of walking or subway rides. During this summer-to-fall transition, you can bring that light-colored coat from spring and wear it over your work outfit when needed. Plus points if your smartphone (or its case) doesn’t ruin the look, but actually matches with it.
There are many other ways to survive the summer-to-fall transition as stylishly as possible, but there’s nothing like sticking to pieces you most probably already have in your wardrobe — and styling them for the season — instead of buying more pieces that you won’t be able to wear until next year. There is, for sure, something nude in your closet that’s begging to be worn. It’s a staple that works with almost anything, may it be summer or fall.
HOW TO WEAR SERIES
Elodie unicorn diffuser: Adorable lamp and humidifier for your baby’s nursery
Keep cold and flu viruses at bay with this super cute unicorn humidifier
Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to sickness-causing bacteria that thrive in dry air so it is important for parents to be aware of the humidity level of their homes. This is why a diffuser is an essential item in many moms’ checklists, including mine, to add healthy moisture to every home.
A humidifier, night light, and a cute unicorn accessory all-in-one — the Elodie Unicorn LED Diffuser 2.0 by Smoko makes a perfect addition to your baby’s nursery.
“It can continuously change colors on its own if that’s the magical show that you wish to achieve.”
How it works
Using ultrasonic vibration technology, the machine breaks its water particles into cool mist. The amount of mist that comes out of its golden horn depends on the humidity, temperature, and air flow in your room.
Its full tank capacity of 200ml should last for up to 6-8 hours although it only lasted for 4 hours, in my case.
You can choose to set the duration to one hour, two hours, or to stay on until the machine automatically shuts off when it is out of water. The water tank is pretty big which allows for easy refill.
This unicorn can also light up with 8 different colors: red, violet, blue, light blue, green, yellow, white, pink. It can continuously change colors on its own if that’s the magical show that you wish to achieve.
It’s important to regularly clean any diffuser to prevent the buildup of mold. With Elodie, maintenance is a piece of cake.
Just empty the tank after 5-6 uses and wipe with a clean, soft, and damp cloth. If you choose to use essential oils, you’ll want to clean the tank before using a different one.
When not in use, just keep the tank dry. You wouldn’t want idle water to attract bugs or insects.
Is it any good?
At US$ 65, this isn’t some smart high-tech humidifier, but it does the job of doing exactly what I need it to do: add moisture to the nursery I’m building for my baby, and more.
It also doesn’t make any noise, neither does it leak nor scatter water droplets. It’s simple but with added unicorn cuteness other diffusers don’t have.
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