As an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased, in-depth product testing, Consumer Reports obviously can’t play favorites in today’s crazy crowded and hypercompetitive high-end smartphone arena. But there’s clearly something about Samsung’s flagship Galaxy devices that makes the research association’s reviewers giddy with excitement whenever a new one is released.
After the S8+ took over the title of world’s best all-around smartphone from the S7 Edge last year, holding on to the top spot even as the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X joined the battlefield, it should come as no surprise that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are now ranked first and second in the Consumer Reports pecking order, followed by… the S8 and S8 Plus.
Of course, the differences are marginal, with a measly six points (on a 100 scale) separating the heavyweight champion from the (unnamed) handset ranked 20th right now. CR’s very head of smartphone testing reckons it all “comes down to personal preference when you’re talking about high-end phones these days”, although if you want the best of the best, especially in terms of durability, processing speed and sound quality, the decision is clear-cut.
That’s right, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are praised for their resistance to drops, which is substantially improved over the S8 duo’s durability. Unsurprisingly, the new stereo speakers are also highlighted as a fundamental strong suit, while the cameras could use work in the “oversharpening” department. Named the world’s best smartphone for photography by DxO before the Huawei P20 Pro was unveiled, the S9+ is defeated by the iPhone X, 8 Plus and 8 in Consumer Reports’ testing, while the “regular” GS9 is ranked a disappointing 12th overall, four spots below the S8.
Still, and even as battery life is also criticized, the good “far outweighs” the bad, with Samsung once again raising the standard for “overall performance” in addition to improving a few major S8 weaknesses.