If you're not looking closely, it's easy to mistake last year's Galaxy S8 for the brand new Galaxy S9. Design, build materials, screen size, software — it's all virtually identical, save for a few exceptions. But those minor differences can add up.
We made a chart highlighting all of the key differences between the two models, so check it out below to see the differences for yourself. After the jump, I'll go over each of those upgrades to explain how they'll impact real-world usage in case you're on the fence about picking up a new S9 or snagging a discounted S8.
Okay, sure, the Galaxy S8 will eventually get its own build of Android Oreo, so that's not much of a difference maker when you take it at face value. But it does mean the Galaxy S9 will ship with lots of new features, and more importantly, it means the S9 supports Project Treble.
Even when you update the Galaxy S8 to Oreo, it will not support Project Treble. But since the Galaxy S9 ships with Android Oreo out of the box, it's required to support Treble. In addition to being a boon for custom ROM users, this means the S9 should get significantly faster updates than the S8 ever did — for more information on why that's the case, check out the following link.
Samsung kicked off the bezel-less craze with their Edge phones, but then Apple came in with the iPhone X and stole some of their thunder. While the Galaxy S8 already had a larger screen-to-body ratio than the iPhone X, the S9 takes things a bit further. Now, the front of the phone is 84.2% screen — about as bezel-less as it gets.
In the simplest terms, aperture is an opening that allows light to pass through. With cameras, a wider aperture means more light gets through to the camera sensor, leading to better pictures at nighttime and in dark areas.
The Galaxy S9 has wider aperture on both its front and rear cameras when compared to the Galaxy S8, so your selfies should be a bit brighter and all pictures should have a little bokeh effect to them. But since there are some instances when wider aperture isn't necessarily better, the S9 even packs a "Dual Aperture" feature that's a first for any smartphone. This new tech is perhaps the single biggest improvement in the Galaxy S9, and you can read more about it at the following link:
If you're in the US, you'll notice one major improvement to the Galaxy S9: It's packing the all-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC. After the Snapdragon 810 and 820 processors had issues with overheating, the rest of the chip-making world pushed ahead while Qualcomm was forced back to the drawing board to fix their chip design. This resulted in the next Snapdragon iterations being noticeably behind competitors like Apple's A11 or Samsung's own Exynos 8895.
Thankfully, Qualcomm seems to be getting back on track and closing the gap. According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 845 is 25% faster than the 835 that powers the Galaxy S8, all while managing to be 30% more power-efficient. That's not all — there's plenty of new functionality in the 845, and you can read about all of the differences below.
This last one's pretty self-explanatory, but in case you missed it, the Galaxy S9 actually sports stereo speakers. The earpiece speaker up top will double as a loudspeaker in addition to the bottom-firing speaker that you'd find on past Galaxy models. So if you're big into gaming or streaming movies on your phone, this particular upgrade should help quite a bit.
In the end, yes this is an iterative upgrade, but that's just were the mobile industry is headed. We've broken down most major barriers that came along with having a computer in your pocket, and now we just need some refinement. The Galaxy S9 is just that — a more refined version of the Galaxy S8.