Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ Launch With New Dual-Aperture Technology

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ Launch With New Dual-Aperture Technology

Samsung debuted its newest smartphones, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona on Sunday. Both phones boast new camera technology that promises to be a game-changer.

Samsung's new flagship phones don't stray far from their predecessors, the Galaxy S8 and S8+. The S9 (5.8") and S9+ (6.2") still retain the same sleek look and feel of the previous models and still feature a headphone jack, microSD slot, and USB-C port. The main upgrade is the camera. 

Both the S9 and the S9+ will feature the same dual-camera system as the Galaxy Note 8, comprised of a telephoto (2x optical zoom) and wide-angle lens, both with optical image stabilization to mitigate camera shake. The feature generating the most hype is the new variable aperture system fitted to the wide-angle lens. Yes you read that right, Samsung has introduced the first ever dual-aperture system in a smartphone. 

In an attempt to mimic what the human eye does naturally, the camera will automatically switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 depending on the amount of light in a scene. F1/.5 is the widest aperture to date in a smartphone, allowing users to capture crisper images with more detail and less noise in low-light situations than previously possible. 

The S9 and S9+ also feature a new slow-motion mode which is capable of shooting an astonishing 960 frames per second, easily outclassing rival phones such as the Apple X and Google Pixel 2, both of which max out at 240 frames per second.

Samsung's tag line for the launch event was "The Camera. Reimagined." Samsung Senior VP Justin told Fast Company, "“The camera has been consistently cited as one of the top three reasons why people purchase phones for the last several years... But really most recently it’s become the number one purchase driver, become the reason why people buy their phones.'”

The release date for both phones is set for March 16 with preorders beginning February 25 in the UK and March 2 in the US. The S9 will start at $719 while the larger S9+ has a starting price point of $839.

Lead Image via Pexels

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12 Comments

Jonathon Rusnak's picture

Just how many more times can the game be changed?

Now that thought is the real "game changer." What ever happened to the good ol "paradigm shift?" This phone deserves a shift, not just a change.

Aneesh Kothari's picture

They did indeed until this release. Will be interesting to see if this leads other manufacturers to mimic this technology into their next gen phones.

Variable aperture on mobile phones is not new. The Nokia N86 had it way back in 2009ish. A bit like the dual camera. I was happily using an Honor 6 for quite some time, and then Apple came along and the world went wild over its innovative new feature!

So, engineers told that they can’t make aperture any wider with these sensor sensitivity and shutter speed and the solution was found. Then marketing people wrapped it into revolutionary technology. Right?

Aneesh Kothari's picture

I think it's a lot more engineering work than pure marketing fluff. It's a mechanical variable aperture system.

At this focal length it is more about marketing, imo. Adding aperture is a technical difficulty itself, but I struggle to find how it helps a photographer or improves/changes photos.

Aneesh Kothari's picture

I agree with you a degree but I certainly see the value in having a large aperture for low light situations and for depth of field creativity as well as a smaller aperture for brighter lighting situations (increased sharpness, depth of field options for macro/landscape, control exposure especially highlights better).

This is a photography site. Surely we understand what it means to stop down from 1.5 to f2.4. To quote Samsung on mimicking human eye that’s weird right, I’m just guessing that stopping down to f2.4 is purely for sharpness, and isn’t the f1.7 phones last year sharp enough? Stopping down from f1.5 with an equivalence of f7 I’m guessing to f2.4 or f11 plus doesn’t seem necessary. Unless the f1.5 is very soft

although I am really excited that finally, someone decided to incorporate a mechanical aperture in a smartphone, I believe still the adapting of this technology to the realm of smartphones is in its infancy stage. this is a great marketing gimmick for Samsung. people who are not involved in photography are excited because this is something new and fresh. people love new and fresh. but, how is it going to add any value to the quality of images taken on these phones? yes, a 1.5 fstop is a great deal, but does it really need to operate within a mechanical aperture system? shouldn't dual lenses with 1.5/2.4 configuration bee enough to do the exact same job without the hassle of needing to add mechanical moving parts?
some would say (the untrained masses) "but this has automatic features to adapt the lens aperture to the surrounding light conditions!". True, but AI & algorithms are so advanced these days -aided with powerful CPUs- that it could do the same exact job without the hassle of needing to add mechanical moving parts. look at night images taken with the NOTE 8 & PIXEL 2XL to know what I'm referring you to.
I would have done it in a different way. I would have made the phone's single lens with a full aperture range control and all the way from 1.5 to 2.4, just like on DSLRs. I would have also improved the image sensor sensitivity to light to make it quick enough to adapt to that lens. and just for the sake of fun, I would have created a shutter that would close down every time I'd take a photo. now that I would definitely call it "THE CAMERA REIMAGINED"

Nathaniel Walters's picture

I got to have a hands-on play with the s9+ at work today and I can't say the Dual-aperture is going to do much for me as it still mostly relies on faking the Depth of field, however, liked the focus peeking that was included, how close it can actually focus is brill. and that you can use the camera to translate signs and text. (made it translate to Korean and looked round stockroom, was like putting on a pair of glasses that translates the world.)

Aneesh Kothari's picture

Very interesting - thanks for sharing!