Her GadgetMatch

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

Find a phone that gives you both



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.


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


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


Samsung Galaxy S9 tutorial: How to make AR Emoji

A step-by-step guide, with GIFs!



When the technological advances of 2017 brought Animoji to this world, people lapped it up. (For those uninformed in the ways of millennial technology, that name is short for animated emoji — and it’s exactly that.) All of a sudden, Animoji Karaoke was a thing — never mind how silly you look on your phone, the emoji is singing as you!

Since then, no other useless phone feature has rivaled the cute talking heads that are available exclusively on iPhones and iMessage. Until now.

Samsung’s newest flagship, the Galaxy S9, brought with it the gift of AR Emoji. Basically, you yourself are the emoji. 😱

If you’re wondering how in tech heavens this is possible, fret not. This is a step-by-step guide on how to make your own AR Emoji.

Step 1: Get to the Samsung Galaxy S9’s built-in camera app and tap “AR EMOJI” on the top of the screen.

Tap “Create my Emoji” and that will bring you to this screen. You will have to choose the gender of your emoji and the scanning begins from there. The phone will specifically request that you smile, but with your lips closed. Also, take hair and glasses away from your face because that will ruin the scan. Hold still and wait until the blue circle fills up.

Voila! You are an emoji!

Well, it isn’t really you just yet, so time to add some finishing touches…

Step 2: You can choose what face type your emoji will get and there’s a toggle bar for your skin tone.

You also have a myriad of hairstyles to choose from, pick the one that looks the best because even your emoji has to look amazing at all times. 💁🏽💁🏽💁🏽

To my delight and relief, there are different hair color choices, too!

And now, on to the outfits! There are preset looks you can choose from and certain accessories you can add. Unfortunately, you can’t mix and match the attires.

Step 3: Be the emoji!

Now that you have your own AR Emoji, just head on over to the camera, tap “AR EMOJI” and tap the emoji you created.

The phone will track your facial movements and translate them to the emoji — this just means the emoji will do everything you do! Make sure you take photos and videos of mini-you; you can do that by tapping on the shutter buttons at the bottom of the screen.

Of course, you’ll still be looking pretty silly IRL, but that is a chance you have to take. Do it for the AR Emoji!

Step 4: As if personalized emoji weren’t enough, creating your AR Emoji automatically produces a set of GIFs ready for sending. Upon creation, you will be prompted to “Save [my] emoji stickers in gallery” — the answer to that should be a resounding yes. From there, you can access your GIFs from your phone’s gallery.

It will also show up on your keyboard for easier sharing. Tap on the stickers tab and you’ll find your face ready for sharing at the tap of a button. 

And yes, you can send your cute face to anyone, no matter what smartphone they’re using. What better way to share the AR Emoji love around!

Ending this article, as I started it: With my AR Emoji GIF. Happy sending!

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

Continue Reading


Tinder Feed rolls out to users worldwide

Times are changing, and so is Tinder



“Welcome to the world beyond the swipe.

Tinder, as you know it, is about to change.

Last December, the world-famous dating app was testing out a chronological timeline feature. This allows users to swipe around for potential mates with more than just a bunch of photos as basis. On a post, Tinder said: “It’s an exciting new way to see more of what someone is all about by giving you a true glimpse into their world — their passions, their personality, their latest adventure — all leading to better conversations and deeper connections.”

Today, Tinder announced that they’re rolling out the Feed to users worldwide.

For all swipers, expect a different type of soulmate-search experience. More and more, the dating app is moving towards a more social experience through a chronological feed structure similar to what most social media apps used to have. The scrolling list will include user activity and the ability to comment on each of these activities.

Think of it as a Facebook feed solely dedicated to dating. More talk points? Definitely. Will this mean more matches for you? Not necessarily, but you can try!

SEE ALSO: Tinder pro tips for men by women

Continue Reading

Her GadgetMatch

Google introduces ‘Pup View’

Like Street View, but…



It’s Google’s Street View like you’ve never seen before.

Heavily rooted in the culture and reality of Ōdate City, Japan are Akita dogs. The snowy, mountainous area, home to the famous Akita dog Hachiko, has many things to offer. What better way to show this place off than through the point of view of this place’s famous furry friends!

With the help of three cute fur-balls, Google brings you 360-degree views of the picturesque Japanese destination. Adorable Akitas Ako, Asuka, and Puuko bring you: Pup View!

The dogs, with cameras mounted on their backs with doggie-approved harnesses, show us their point of view, all the while showcasing the beauty of Ōdate City. You can check it out HERE.

SEE ALSO: Shelter dogs get their portraits taken for a good cause

Continue Reading