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החל ממאי 2017

I’ve been testing Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 and larger, slightly stepped-up Galaxy S9 Plus($839.99 at Amazon.com) for over a week. And while I’m 85 percent certain that these beautiful, powerful phones are two of the best that money can buy, the remaining 15 percent of me is disappointed that the world’s largest Android brand couldn’t do a little better.

samsung-galaxy-s9-2400-6495From a bird’s eye view, I see top-of-the-line specs combined with excellent design, internal speeds and outdoor photography. Samsung’s hardware remains at the top of the market, which makes the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus excellent all-rounders that can handle the usual roster of activities and last a work day on a single charge.

These are all superb reasons to buy a Galaxy S9 if you’re upgrading from an older iPhone 8 Plus LCD screen such as the Galaxy S7, OnePlus 3, iPhone 6 and so on. Skip it if you have a Galaxy S8 ($578.95 at Amazon.com). It’s too close to make the update worthwhile.

It’s when you dive into the details that some nagging problems snap into focus, and these could break the experience for certain people. For example, the industry-first dual aperture lens that Samsung put in both Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus phones absolutely makes photos as bright as promised, but it also often makes them blurry. And the 3D avatars and new face unlock tools meant to match similar features in the iPhone X ($1,199.99 at Amazon Marketplace) are either half-baked or fundamentally flawed.

While it’s easy to overlook or simply avoid its weaker additions, Samsung wants these particular tools to set the Galaxy S9 apart from the competition — and from the Galaxy S8 before it — and they just don’t live up to the claim. These fumbled details cost the Galaxy S9 CNET’s rarely given Editors’ Choice award, but it’s still a terrific phone in the ways that matter.

We’ll continue our deep-dive testing into the S9′s camera quality and durability from all angles, and will revisit the review if Samsung makes major software updates to its headliner features.

You should feel good buying a Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus, and for a lot of people, one of them will be the phone to get. That said, avid mobile photographers will get better low-light photography out of the Google Pixel 2 ($629.99 at Amazon Marketplace) and 2 XL. If you crave cutting-edge security, the iPhone X has tamper-proof face unlock cornered for now, although iris unlock on the Galaxy S8 and newer is still secure. And the OnePlus 5T is a much lower-cost alternative if you’re looking for a better-than-basic Android device for less.

Stick around for a breakdown of what the Galaxy S9 does really well, where it falls short, how much it costs, how it differs from the S9 Plus, a look at the main features and how it compares to other top phones.

Editors’ note: Ratings are tentative until we complete final testing, including ongoing camera and battery tests.

What the Galaxy S9 does really well

samsung-s9-product-images-24Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Bright, 5.8-inch AMOLED screen with a dual-curved display. It feels great.

It looks awesome in lilac purple and coral blue. You can also buy it in midnight black and titanium gray.

Fast Snapdragon 845 processor gets tasks done, handles graphic-intensive games (some models use Samsung’s Exynos 9810).

A full battery should take you from morning to night. Navigation and streaming will drain it faster.

Bright, pretty outdoor photos with the 12-megapixel camera.

Dual-speaker system makes for loud, rich audio.

Good old-fashioned headphone jack!

Improved placement of the fingerprint reader makes mobile payments more convenient.

Wireless charging and water-resistant rating (IP68, and it passed our dunk test) give it an edge over most phones, just like previous Galaxy models.

Where the Galaxy S9 falls short

Dual-aperture camera makes many low-light photos unrealistically bright and blurry. There’s less contrast and texture than other iPhone 8 Plus LCD screen wholesale have.

The 3D avatars you make with AR Emoji track your expressions poorly and need far more customization options.

Intelligent Scan, a new unlock option that uses your face, isn’t secure and doesn’t seem to solve an existing problem.

The camera switches too easily among modes, which is frustrating when you’re not where you want to be.

With super slow-motion video, automatic mode isn’t that useful, and image quality is lower-resolution than regular slow-motion.

Lacks the second rear lens of the step-up S9 Plus. This is by design, so Samsung could give the S9 Plus an advantage.

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