Her GadgetMatch

Samsung Galaxy S9: An honest review of AR Emoji and more

Find a phone that gives you both

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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.

AR Emoji

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.

And although there are some emoji that look like the people they’re supposed to be, I’m not lucky enough to be one of them. Again, see:

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.

Selfie shooter

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!

I didn’t even have powder on when I shot this

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. 😂

Those virtual eyelashes, though!

The filters work well even with glasses, on boys, and in groups. Proof:

Joshua would make a cute girl

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.

Rear cameras

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.

It was already evening when this photo was taken!

Here are more low-light photo samples taken by Michael Josh (most of my low-light photo samples were taken in Amsterdam; my apologies for not being able to show them as they’re x-rated 😅).

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.

Look at that creamy background blur!

There is also a Food Mode built-into the camera app, for all your food flat lay needs.

Chay’s homemade one pot pasta

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.

Slow-mo

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:

I have to be honest: Everything looks better in slow-mo. Even crappy birds look pretty cool.

Me making a mess look almost artsy:

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.

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S9 Review: Brilliant but underwhelming

Verdict

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.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9: Four fun new features

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ vs Google Pixel 2: Camera Shootout

Apps

5 best makeup filters on Instagram Stories

Nothing like the convenience of virtual makeup!

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Since time immemorial, apps and smartphones’ built-in beauty modes have allowed us to apply airbrushing, contour, lipstick, blush, and eyeshadow without lifting a makeup brush. But there’s nothing like the convenience of the virtual makeup we get through filters on our favorite social media apps.

Here we’ve rounded up the best makeup filters you should save on Instagram Stories. Apologies for the barrage of selfies you’re about to see!

Francesca

If, like me, your go-to everyday look is the winged eyeliner then Francesca is filter you need to save on your Stories. It’s best used when you haven’t drawn anything on your lids yet as it might be difficult to match your wingtip with the filter’s.

Try the Francesca effect here.

Eyelashes

If you’re the type who can’t leave the house without mascara, Eyelashes is the one you need to save. It won’t curl your lashes in real life, but any selfie you post from here on out will look like you made the effort to look nice even when you just got out of bed. There are 3 different styles of lashes because one size does not fit all looks!

Try the Eyelashes effect here.

Natural

Want to look fresh at 5pm even without retouching? As its name suggests, Natural will remove blemishes and blot oil from your face and the resulting selfie will still look as natural as possible. It also adds a little bit of tint to your lips without going overboard.

Try the Natural effect here.

Glitter Lips

Smudged lipstick after a greasy meal is a problem we all deal with. Get that selfie on point even without a trip to the powder room with Glitter Lips. Choose from 7 different glossy shades — there’s nude, pink, even gold!

Try the Glitter Lips effect here.

+2 Vintage*Blush II

This filter adds freckles and blush to your cheeks, and smoothens your skin out. But +2 Vintage*Blush II isn’t just a makeup filter — it also changes the mood of your entire photo to something warmer. You get a total of 4 different looks, with two adding noise to the entire image for more of that vintage feel.

Try the +2 Vintage*Blush II effect here.

We all get by with a little help from friends and technology. As with anything, use makeup filters in moderation and with the best of intentions.

Do you use makeup filters on Instagram Stories? Let us know what your favorite is in the comments below.

SEE ALSO: PSA: Snapchat dysmorphia is real

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Apps

Spotify’s Disney Hub lets you listen to everything Disney

Make music a part of your world

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You’ve got a friend in me — I mean, in Spotify and Disney. Together, they created a dedicated Disney Hub which includes playlists, soundtracks, and podcasts for Disney fans of all ages.

To find Disney Hub, open your Spotify app and search “Disney.” You might encounter a barrage of suggested playlists, but make sure you click Disney as a genre.

Among the curated playlists, you can find Disney Hits which are comprised of top songs from popular Disney and Pixar films across the world. You can also play Disney Favorites, Disney Classics, and Disney Sing-Alongs featuring nostalgic songs we love.

Speaking of love, Disney has a Disney Princess playlist for those currently in love and obsessed with their crushes. It’s complete with love ballads. Action-oriented fans can also treat themselves with Marvel Music and Best of Star Wars.

As we all know, music is one of the key ingredients why we all love Disney. Music makes every film memorable and magical, and now we can bring the experience to a whole new world. Now, let’s see how far we’ll go into the unknown. Let’s make music a part of our world!

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Her GadgetMatch

The future of shopping solves a common fashion mistake

It’s like having your own stylist and personal shopper

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One of the most common shopping mistakes we all make is buying clothes that don’t fit well and don’t look flattering on our bodies. This is nothing new, but it’s easier said than done.

When shopping, you should not just take into account sizing and fit, but also the fabric, cut, and style of a clothing item, as well as your own body type. All these factors affect how something looks like when worn. With the ThinQ Fit, LG hopes to solve these shopping woes, and more.

The ThinQ Fit Collection Zone allows visitors to virtually try clothes on, without having to step into a typical fitting room. It’s an evolution of LG’s original Smart Mirror concept, and uses 3D cameras to get your height, accurate measurements, as well as your body type. It will then suggest styles that would look best on you.

While virtually trying clothes on, you can check the fit map. It’s essentially a heat map that shows you which parts are too tight or too loose. This can also help you check if you should go a size up or down.

With the lookbook mode, you can get a virtual “feel” of the clothes to check the fit and texture. With taps and swipes you can see how a flowy blouse falls on your body. You can also see how an outfit would look like if you tucked it in or rolled its sleeves up.

With tailor mode, you can virtually hem your clothes. Jeans too long for your legs? Just swipe up to see how they look like when altered before even going to the tailor.

It also allows you to virtually style an outfit before buying. When you edit your avatar you can try on different accessories like shoes. This makes it easier to see if your outfit will work with existing items you already own.

The technology is far from final but the idea of having a tool that will help me in my journey of finding my personal style is exciting, to say the least. Seeing what’s flattering for my body type, as well as cuts and textures that look best on me without going to a physical store takes the joy out of retail therapy; but if the future of shopping means saving so much time and being wiser about my purchases, sign me up.

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