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Samsung Pitches Imaging Crowd With New Galaxy S9 & S9+

Introduces own version of AR-powered emojis

After a bit of self-propelled prelaunch hype, Samsung officially took the wraps off its latest flagship smartphones: the Galaxy S9 and S9+.

The company heavily touted the phone’s imaging capabilities, which include a new dual aperture lens for low-light shooting; Super Slow-mo video capabilities; a Motion Detection feature that detects movement in a frame and automatically begins to record when users have set up the shot; and a new Super Speed Dual Pixel sensor that can combine up to 12 images into one.

It also debuted its own version of Apple’s augmented-reality-powered Animojis, known as AR Emoji. The technology analyzes a 2D image of the user and maps out over 100 facial features to create a shareable 3D GIF that imitates expressions, said Samsung.

For those on the ground in Barcelona, initial hands-on impressions were mixed, albeit generally positive. Tech Radar’s Abbas Jaffar Ali and Matt Swider called it “the best of what Samsung has to offer at a really big size,” while Engadget’s Cherlynn Lowe praised its imaging features but ultimately described it as an “interim update.”

See: Motorola Is Staging A Smartphone Intervention

Other specs for the new phones include AKG-tuned speakers, Dolby Atmos-supported surround sound and wireless charging. The 64GB devices can support expandable memory of up to 400GB, and feature iris, fingerprint and facial recognition.

In a first for Samsung (and for smartphones in general), the latest Galaxys will also come with the company’s SmartThings app built in, furthering Samsung’s intention to grow its smart-home ecosystem. They also include the Bixby IoT platform.

As with the Galaxy S8, the new flagships feature edge-to-edge Super AMOLED Infinity displays — 5.8-inch for the S9 and 6.2-inch for the S9+.

Three colors will be offered: Lilac Purple, Midnight Black and Coral Blue. Preorders begin March 2, with store availability on March 16. The unlocked S9 is $719 from Samsung, while the unlocked S9+ is $839.

Samsung captured 15.7 percent of global smartphone wholesale revenue share in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to Strategy Analytics, up from 14.5 percent in Q4 2016. It was bested by Apple, which took 51 percent of the $120 billion global revenue during the period, a record that accounted for more than the rest of the industry combined, the research firm said. Strategy Analytics attributed Apple’s No. 1 position to demand for the iPhone X.

Linda Sui, Strategy Analytics director, said the popularity of the Note 8 and Galaxy S8 drove Samsung’s growth, as did fewer low-end sales in its core Asia markets.

Huawei took the No. 3 spot, with 7 percent of revenue share for Q4, while all other companies combined for 26.2 percent.

It’s a similar story here in the United States. Samsung was No. 2 seller of smartphones in terms of unit sales for 2017, falling to Apple, according to The NPD Group.