Samsung Galaxy S9 Revealed: AR Emojis, Better Bixby and a $720 Price Tag

The S9 hopes to 'reenvision the camera'

The Samsung Galaxy S9, revealed today at Mobile World Congress, includes an edge-to-edge screen. Samsung
Headshot of Marty Swant

BARCELONA, Spain—At last spring’s Samsung Galaxy S8 event in New York, Samsung unveiled its latest smartphone along with a new campaign for its “Do What You Can’t” theme. The idea behind the tagline was that the phone—despite all of its new features—is less of a magical tool and more of something that empowers people to become more creative in their own lives.

Today, ahead of this week’s Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, the company held a follow-up event to debut its Galaxy S9 and S9+, putting even more focus on what the phone—especially its camera–can actually do for the users. (After all, there are still some photos even the best photographers can’t always capture.)

“We still squeeze a camera into a device meant for talking,” said Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh at a press event in Barcelona Sunday evening. “And while the camera has gotten better, they don’t take pictures in low light. Action shots are still blurry.”

The new phone, available for pre-order March 2 and will be in stores March 16, comes in four colors: blue, black, grey and “lilac purple.” And while the two additions to the Galaxy lineup look very similar to the last, the company is indeed betting heavily on trying to make its camera the best on the market. That could give it more of an edge against the Apple iPhone, which debuted several similar features in its past few models.

Here are a few of the new features Samsung has added for the S9, which retails for $720 and the S9+, with a price tag of $840.

The S9 comes with AR Emoji.
Marty Swant

Augmented reality

With many major tech companies entering the realm of augmented reality, Samsung’s latest devices have additional AR capabilities. For example Samsung has created what it’s calling an AR Emoji to let users create a cartoon version of themselves similar to what’s been popular with Snapchat’s 3D Bitmojis or the avatars within Facebook’s Spaces virtual reality platform. It’s also a more humanoid rendition of the AR animojis that Apple debuted for its iPhone X, which lets users move the head and face around through its front-facing sensors.

A better Bixby

Samsung’s artificial intelligence platform Bixby, which debuted with the S8, is back with additional skills. While it is primarily used as another way to interact with your device, the updates allow for better use cases. In one example, it can translate words in various languages simply by scanning them with a camera—similar in speed and style to Google Translate. It can also help on the health front by counting food calories after looking at a label, or helping with makeup shopping through partnerships with Sephora and CoverGirl.

Slow motion

While slow motion effects have been around for years on social media, Samsung’s new Super Slow-mo feature can capture video at 960 frames per second, which would detail the burst of a bubble or spray of water. It also has action-detection, which will activate Super-Slow-mo once it sees movement on a screen.

To help promote the feature, Samsung recruited YouTube channel creators The Slow Mo Guys to show off how the feature works. It’s also partnered with Buzzfeed and The Dodo to debut slow motion content on media platforms.

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.