Given the issues with the Pixel 3 XL, I’ve been shopping around for a suitable alternative. So why not turn to a recent favorite, the Samsung Galaxy S9+?
Why not, indeed: When I reviewed this phone earlier this year, I did so over three separate articles, which focused on design, hardware, and specs, the camera, and unique software and features, respectively. I don’t normally write that much about a single device, but in examining this handset again, I get it: The Galaxy S9+ was, at the time of its release, the single best smartphone on the market today. And in the wake of the iPhone XS launch, it’s still in the top 2 or 3.
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So. Given my background with this handset, what’s the thinking behind this second go-round?
I did consider the Note 9. I spent a bunch of time researching the newer Note 9—by which I mean an afternoon watching Samsung’s launch event video and various reviews on YouTube—and determined that the Note 9’s bigger size and higher price weren’t advantages. And I would never use the few unique features, like the S Pen anyway.
It’s still modern. When it was released earlier this year, the Galaxy S9+ was the first major handset to utilize the Snapdragon 845. Today, handset makers are still putting this processor in their flagships, so the S9+ is still very much modern. And with 6 GB of RAM in the version I bought, the device should be future-proof.
I would keep the Pixel 2 XL. If I do choose the Galaxy S9+, I would also keep my current phone, the Google Pixel 2 XL, so that I can keep up on Android P (and stock Android) and have a superior camera for international trips.
I would have to switch carriers. I would also need to transfer my main phone number from Project Fi to Consumer Cellular (or some other carrier). I would keep my Project Fi account, but only activate it as needed, as on those trips. (Google lets you “sleep” the account when you’re not using it.)
A new color. I ended up buying the Galaxy S9+ directly from Samsung because that’s the only place you can get the new “Sunrise Gold” color. I kind of regret it, as it looks more copper than gold in real life. But given my experience with the gold iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone XS, I thought it’d be nice. Nope. That’s OK, I am already covering it up with a case.
Configuration. I choose the 128 GB unlocked configuration, for a total price of about $943.39 after taxes and fees. The good news? That includes a free Gear 360 camera, should I choose to keep it. And that price is a savings of $135.68 over the Pixel 3 XL, which cost $1,079.07 after taxes and fees.
Hardware quality. As I noted in part one of my review, this phone is gorgeous and it stands well above the Pixel 3 XL in both build quality and design.
Software. I don’t normally like third-party Android skins, but there’s something special about the Samsung Experience on this device. The bad news? It’s still on Android 8.x, and Samsung is pretty slow about shipping updates. I know there’s a beta version of Android 9 Pie out there for this phone, so hopefully, that will be released soon.
Software bloat. Samsung’s determination to replace as much Google on its phones as possible results in a lot of unnecessary duplication. (There’s even a special Samsung store for its own apps, which is groan-inducing.) I feel like I can deal with this. But it’s certainly jarring.
Camera. I care a lot about the camera. And while the Galaxy S9+’s camera is excellent, I still prefer the Pixel 2 XL (or 3 XL). But if I do keep this, I could live with it, and I would certainly spend timing fidgeting with the camera app’s Pro mode to see if I could get better low-light results. This won’t be that painful, really.
Beyond this, I’m looking forward to seeing the OnePlus 6T, which I think will arrive next week. And then, of course, the iPhone XR, which will likely arrive a week or so after that. Put my initial reaction to this new Galaxy S9+ has been so much more positive than my reaction to the Pixel 3 XL, and that was before I had any issues with it. This thing is just a design masterpiece.
<p>This article reminds me of that old Wendy's commercial, "Where the Beef?" Wasn't it just over a year ago, where he going to be a One Plus guy? I remember he was RAVING about one of their phones. LOL…what happened? I remember how a Thurrott.com reader followed him and bought the same phone. When Thurrott reviews phones, he just reads it off the description and describes the look of the phone. He doesn't really talk about the phone, but just the specs. Does Thurrott actually know how to use Android? Does he even know how to get the Developer features? Does he actually spend time to using the phone? Seriously, who cares about Snapdragon 845? I am currently use a Pixel 2 XL as my daily driver, but I use my Pixel XL as my backup using Project Fi. There is no noticeable performance difference at all between the two phones. </p><p><br></p><p>LOL…why not just use his Pixel 2 XL? WHy spend more money on another expensive phone, when the 2 XL gets the job done? The Pixel 2 XL is still a great phone. The only person in the world who has issues with Pixel phones is Paul Thurrott. He must be doing something really weird with his phone to be having major issue with every Pixel that he has owned, as well as the replacements. My theory is ,…he must be using the Microsoft Launcher, which probably screwed up his phone. I remember when Thurrott one time called the Microsoft Launcher the best launcher on Android (LOL). On a sidenote, I remember when he celebrated on the news that "Cortana can now control the Android Lock Screen." </p><p><br></p><p>LOL…Paul Thurrott with a Galaxy S9? LOL…there is gonna be a hot mess coming! I predict a train wreck! LOL. Not just that, but it's October already. You know what that means, with regard to the Galaxy S9? In a few months, Samsung will release the Galaxy S10. Thurrott will have another conundrum, because he spent about $1k for a phone that will soon be obsolete! This is just too funny. </p><p><br></p><p>I haven't order my Pixel 3 XL yet, but when I do, I am sure an update is gonna fix the known issues that it's having now. Plus, ya gotta know the tech that is on the Pixel 3 XL now, is gonna be copied by Samsung and Apple eventuallty. When that happens, you wait and see….Thurrott is going to change phones again. This guy is sooooooo weird! And he says he's not rich?</p><p><br></p><p>As for Consumer Cellular, isn't that the service favored by retired people who are AARP members? I remember seeing commercials of people (I assume) are over 60 years of age raving about their cel-service and recommending it to their friends.</p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Well, if Thurrott does go to Galaxy S9, have fun with Bixby. </span></p>
<p>There is a huge disconnect here between what Paul says he wants out of a phone and what he says he will endure in order to use a phone. On the one hand, he evidently really desires an Android phone that you can turn on the first time and immediately change the launcher, all the icons, all the fonts, the default apps, screen layout, app drawer, absolutely everything about it, losing every last vestige of the stock experience. Then in the next breath he bemoans Samsung for having duplicate apps, their own app store, the Touch-Wiz modifications, everything Samsung does, which when you get right down to it is exactly what he wants to do to the phone himself. One should not gripe about losing the stock Android experience when that is exactly what you want to have the ability to do yourself. Yes, the iPhone is locked down in the interface department, but for me personally, and I am just one user, I don't mind that one bit since it means the dependability and stability of my phone is MUCH better than any Android device I have ever used, and I have used a lot of them over the years as work phones provided by my employer.</p>