Samsung Galaxy S9 review

Where the S8 was great, the S9 is only fine

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  • Battery life is disappointing
  • Not much change from last year

Samsung Galaxy S9 review

We’re disappointed with the battery life in the Samsung Galaxy S9, as it’s not made the jump forward we expected.

With the same 3,000mAh power pack on board as the Galaxy S8 and the same amount of pixels to drive, but with a more efficient processor, and with Samsung having had a year to refine the software, we were expecting big things from the Samsung Galaxy S9’s battery.

What we got was something that’s a bit more ‘slippery’ than the Galaxy S8. Where we’d have around eight hours of battery life left when the indicator was showing 60% full, now we’re seeing the same numbers at 70%.

The worry with Android phones is always that there’s a nefarious app playing around in the background, causing more power to be drained than necessary, but our constant checking showed that it was usually just the screen – which is brighter this year – drawing more power.

What’s interesting here is that Samsung has clearly optimized things, as when we ran our standard video test (90 minutes of a Full HD video at maximum brightness) the Galaxy S9 only lost 17% of its battery.

Samsung Galaxy S9 review

Battery performance was fine, but a bit too much on the 'slippy' side.

That’s not the best we’ve seen on test (for comparison, the iPhone X lost just 10% using the same screen technology as Samsung), but it’s a marked improvement over the 23% the S8 lost last year… and the S9 has a brighter screen.

The overnight test result was pretty standard – the battery lost 5% in an eight-hour period, which is bang-on average for a modern smartphone. Again, however, we’d have hoped for more from one of the top phones of the moment.

Wireless charging is present once again, and Samsung remains one of the only brands to be compatible with both the Qi and PMA standards; in short, your Galaxy S9 will charge on any wireless pad.

While fast charging is enabled via wireless as well, we didn’t note a particularly fast charge without wires – although that could be due to the fact that the Galaxy S9 took so long to ‘settle down’.

Samsung Galaxy S9 review

We often couldn't see any rogue apps munching loads of battery either.

We’ve been testing phones for a long, long time, and we always make sure to cycle the battery through a few charges before making any assumptions, as often it takes a few days to make sure all apps are optimized and patches downloaded, and for the phone generally just to shake itself out.

This process took a lot longer than expected for the Galaxy S9, and after a week it was only just starting to settle… battery life gradually improved, but we’re still needing to boost the charge at least once to get through to the end of the day.

Perhaps users will find this improves after a few weeks’ use… but based on what we’ve seen, the Galaxy S9 is only just a touch better than the iPhone 8, and weaker than last year’s Galaxy S8.