The Galaxy S9 has just been announced at MWC! (Yes, like, just now! Visit our MWC 2018 microsite to see what other devices have been announced.)
One very obvious observation: The Samsung Galaxy S9 looks almost exactly like the Galaxy S8, and though this might seem like an anti-climactic move, it’s probably for good reason.
It’s been almost a year since the Samsung Galaxy S8 was released and I still remember being very impressed with that particular phone’s design. For my tiny, girly hands, the narrow phone fit perfectly and the Infinity Display looked impressively big despite this.
This year, it seems Samsung has decided to stay with a formula that works. Of course, there were a few tweaks. The fingerprint scanner has been relocated below the camera instead of beside it which will, hopefully, mean less accidental fingerprint smudges on the lenses.
There’s also a new color — it matches Pantone Color of the Year Ultra Violet, and my hair!
Another notable change comes to the cameras. The Galaxy S9+ has dual-camera rear shooters (finally) — this means you get Live Focus, which allows you to adjust the bokeh during and even after taking the photo, and a zoom feature on the device. It also has a Dual Aperture function which allows the phone to switch to the camera with a wider aperture when more light is needed in the photo. These additions are limited to the Plus version, however, which leave my small phone-loving self a little disappointed.
READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S9 Hands-On: Same but better
Those aren’t the only improvements on Samsung’s newest premium phones, though. Here are my favorite new functions on the Galaxy S9 and S9+.
Samsung decided to take emoji to a whole new level with this phone release. In what I consider the biggest tech development since Animojis (no, really! Ha ha ha!), the Galaxy S9 now offers you the chance to turn yourself into emoji.
Yes folks, that just means you don’t only animate the emoji, you are the emoji!
If you’re a little shy, you can also animate pre-set characters on the phone.
This is a pre-set AR emoji on the Samsung Galaxy S9. Voice mine 😂 #GadgetMatchLIVE #GalaxyS9 #Unpacked2018 #MWC18 pic.twitter.com/pd7kK7fupw
— Isa Rodriguez (@sisasaid) February 25, 2018
Animojis are so last year. Karaoke AR emoji, anyone?
Super Slow-mo and video background music
Your videos will never be the same with this new feature. There’s a super slow-mo feature now, and it allows you to shoot at 960 frames per second!
Okay, those numbers don’t really mean anything to me but just know that it can capture videos like this:
Slow-mo video sample from the Samsung Galaxy S9 💁 #GadgetMatchLIVE #MWC18 #GalaxyS9 #GalaxyReimagined pic.twitter.com/I0I0j0a0Zh
— Isa Rodriguez (@sisasaid) February 25, 2018
As if that isn’t great enough, you can even edit background music in using your phone.
Imagine the cinematic possibilities!
Beauty mode and makeup mode
The S9 is stepping up the selfie game. Despite the single front shooter, the bokeh feature is available on the Selfie Focus mode.
But that’s not all!
These handsets offer a very, very detailed beauty mode — one that even includes makeup filters that you can edit all the way to your eyelashes.
There’s a number of different makeup looks you can achieve without lifting a single makeup brush.
A camera feature made especially for Instagram foodies!
This mode is designed to enhance your food shots to make them look as good in your photographs as they are on your plate.
Notice how the pizza on the right looks yummier. The photos come out a little more saturated and there’s background blur that allows for more focus on whatever gastronomical delight you’re taking a photo of.
Bonus: Beautiful Bokeh
This feature can only be found on the Galaxy S9+. Though I personally haven’t been able to try it, I still feel this is worth mentioning. This feature supposedly allows for different bokeh shapes and effects.
SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know
SEE ALSO: I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy S8, and I’m now doubting my iPhone loyalty
Google Bard hands-on: Not much to worry about
Still has some work to do
Recently, Google made its upcoming AI chatbot available for testing. Bard, as it’s called, previewed Google’s progress in competing against other language learning models such as GPT-3.5. However, the company is keeping the ongoing test exclusive to Google One subscribers. Recently, we got access to the bot and tried it for ourselves. Here’s what we found:
Much like other chatbots, Bard allows users to input a prompt to get a response. No matter how detailed your prompt might be, the system will take only a few seconds to put out an answer.
Now, what can you ask Bard to do? Its uses range from writing copy to creative writing to just playing around. We tried asking for a simple sponsorship letter, the health benefits of ketchup, fan fiction, and a sonnet.
Compared to other chatbots, Bard does vary in quality. While simple tasks like sponsorship letters are decent and presentable, pieces that supposedly deal with facts are problematic. For example, when asked about the health benefits of ketchup, Bard claimed that the word “ketchup” came from the Malay word “ketchupas.” That word does not exist.
It also struggled with simple creative forms. When asked to write a haiku, Bard wrote a piece that failed to meet the 5-7-5 syllabic requirement for a haiku.
It does perform notably better when asked to mimic the style of shows and personalities. When asked to praise GadgetMatch in the style of Shaggy, we thought it was succinct enough to work.
Sometimes, it just flounders like a high schooler trying to rush through an essay’s requirements in the most lopsided way possible. Check out this ketchup-themed essay in the style of a 1970’s workout video. Props on getting the start right, but you can clearly see the point where the AI drops all pretense of a workout instructor and just narrates its ketchup spiel as quickly as possible. And then, of course, it forgets all about ketchup and goes back to being a workout instructor.
It also struggles with some abstract concepts. Despite knowing that we might be metaphysical beings with no bodies, Bard still suggested some workouts for our ethereal buns.
Sometimes, it admits its shortcomings, though. Sorry, Adam Sandler.
Also, Bard has no idea what to make of modern-day lingo. (If you’re like Bard, here’s a translation: “There’s a stinkbug on my hotdog. How do I get it off?”)
Bard has a long way to go. While it is already workable for simple writing tasks, it has some catching up to do if it wants to compete with GPT-3.5 and beyond. On the plus side, we don’t think human writers have to worry about chatbots just yet.
motorola rizr Hands-On
Hello Moto! from my rollable
If you’re an oldie (but goldie) gadget nerd, you would probably remember the stylish slider Motorola RIZR Z3 from 2006.
Fast forward this 2023, we might actually hear “Hello Moto” in this new form factor.
Originally unveiled at Lenovo Tech World ’22, motorola’s rollable concept made its way through the eyes of many at MWC 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.
Are you excited to see the future of smartphones with rollables?
Here’s our brief hands-on with motorola’s rollable concept A.K.A the moto rizr.
HONOR Magic5 Pro Hands-On
A closer look at the hardware
The HONOR Magic5 Pro opened to much fanfare at MWC 2023 in Barcelona, Spain and for good reason. This is HONOR’s first major release in front of a massive audience and is a follow up to the really solid Magic4 Pro smartphone. The Magic5 Pro doubles down on what made its predecessor great, and after a few days of Hands-On, we’re fans of its potential.
Box inclusions are par for the course: You get the Magic5 Pro, a jelly case, the usual documentation, a UBC-Cable, and the 66W SuperCharge adapter.
Unboxing the Power of Magic #HONORMagic5Pro #MWC2023 pic.twitter.com/rc5kTVSyRP
— GadgetMatch (@gadgetmatch) March 1, 2023
Specs and button placements
Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Here’s what the Magic5 Pro is like on paper:
- Processor — Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
- OS — MagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13
- Graphics — Adreno 740 GPU
- Memory — 12GB DDR5X
- Storage — 512GB UFS4.0
- Display — 6.81-inch LTPO quad-curved floating screen, 2848 x 1312, 120Hz, 100% DCI-P3, 1800 nits peak brightness, HDR10+, TÜV Rheinland certified Low Blue Light
- Audio — Stereo system with dual speakers, DTS:X Ultra
- Security — Dual-TEE security system, NFC support, 3D face recognition, AI Privacy Call 2.0, fingerprint sensor
- Connectivity — USB Type-C, dual-SIM slots
- Wireless — Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.2
- Battery — 5,100mAh, 66W wired and 50W wireless SuperCharge
There’s no denying, that’s a 2023 flagship right there. But we’re gonna hold off on any real testing. HONOR told us that the unit we have still needs to receive a software update to fully have the device optimized. So, wait we shall.
Button placements are your usual affair.
At the bottom you’ll find: SIM Tray, USB-C port, speaker grilles.
On the right hand side are the volume rockers with the power button right below it.
Up front, you’ll see the pill-shaped cut-out on the left housing the 12MP (f/2.4) front camera and 3D depth camera.
Design and hand feel
The unit we got is the Classic Black one. The finish is glossy, it’s pretty slippery, and will definitely be home to fingerprints and smudges. Definitely use the included jelly case or buy one if you end up with this unit.
The Cyan variant has more of a frosted matte finish, but it isn’t that much better in the being-slippery department.
Despite measuring a massive 6.81 inches, the device is pretty easy to hold because the display and the back panel curves to the side. It’s also not significantly heavier than most other flagships in this form. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, in 2023 at least, still holds that heavyweight title.
Overall, it’s pretty comfortable to hold and use either with one hand or two hands. Recommendation is to use/buy a case. Our hope that the device becomes popular enough that many case-makers consider creating really good ones for it.
50MP Triple Camera
Prominently featured at the back is the camera module. It houses the crowning glory of the Magic5 Pro – its trifecta of 50MP cameras.
It’s an interesting look. The camera module protrudes but how the back panel goes up, curves, and blends with the camera module is reminiscent of the OPPO Find X3 Pro. But the camera placement is dead center instead of flushed to the left.
100X is also clearly visible in the middle of the camera module, showcasing its digital zoom capability. Here’s what those three cameras are packing:
- 50MP wide camera (f/1.6, 1/1.12-inch sensor)
- 50MP ultra-wide camera (f/2.0, 122 degrees field of view)
- 50MP Sony IMX858 telephoto camera (f/3.0, 3.5x optical zoom, 100x digital zoom)
HONOR is also bucking the trend of smartphone companies partnering with known camera brands (i.e. Xiaomi x Leica, OPPO/OnePlus x Hasselblad). HONOR Global CEO George Zhao spoke about this at a media interview during MWC 2023 in Barcelona.
HONOR Flip coming? @Honorglobal CEO George Zhao says it may come but can’t disclose when. #HONORMWC2023 #MWC2023 pic.twitter.com/fJCS1gjXD1
— rodneil (@rodneilquiteles) February 28, 2023
And it looks like, for now, they’re doing more than okay without any such partnership. DXOMARK has them at first place in camera rankings as of this writing.
The HONOR Magic5 Pro is with an all-new image engine called Millisecond Falcon Capture. It gives users the luxury to capture even the most complex scenes with remarkable clarity and ease.
Along with this algorithm are shooting modes like Super Night Capture and AI Motion Sensing Capture. For video shooters, the phone is capable of recording up to 4K videos at 60fps.
As mentioned earlier, the unit we have is still awaiting the official retail version of the software. Thus, we were advised to not extensively test the camera. But we couldn’t resist taking a few snaps while in Barcelona.
Here are a few sample photos, which already look pretty good, despite the software not being final yet.
Plenty of potential
If its predecessor is any indication, we’re pretty excited to fully test the HONOR Magic5 Pro. It’s undeniably a 2023 flagship on paper and is looking like a phone that can contend against the best of the best.
Its cameras, in particular, will be one to watch out for. HONOR packed some major features here that we can’t wait to try.
Price and availability details in Europe are here. Such details in other markets should be available soon.
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