The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus were two of the very best flagship phones of 2017, so all eyes have been on Samsung to see what it would offer as a follow-up. Today at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona we found out, with the launch of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

As expected, a lot of the focus at Samsung's press event was on the rear-facing camera fitted inside these devices. The Galaxy S9 has just a single 12-MP rear camera, but Samsung has added a number of upgrades, including dual-aperture technology that can intelligently adjust the amount of light allowed into the lens based on the scene you're shooting, switching between F1.5 and F2.4.

The F1.5 aperture that the S9 phones are capable of is a new record for a smartphone, capable of letting in some 28 percent more light than last year's models, according to Samsung. The slow-motion video recording has been upgraded too, so you can capture up to 960 frames-per-second at 720p, whereas competitors like the iPhone X and Pixel 2 shoot slow-motion at a maximum 240 fps.

When it comes to the Galaxy S9 Plus, there's an extra 12-MP lens for some extra optical zoom, focus, and wide angle effects, and the same dual-aperture technology and slow-motion video capture rate is available here too.

Samsung hasn't forgotten about its digital assistant Bixby either. Some of the new features rolling out for the app include a live translation feature, so you can point the S9 and S9 Plus cameras at a sign or document in a foreign language, and get the text translated in real time through the camera (something Google Translate has done for a while, by the way).

The Samsung Galaxy S9 brings with it a 5.8-inch, 1,440 x 2,960 pixel display, with even thinner bezels than last year's model. As expected, the phone will come with an Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845 processor, plus 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of expandable storage.

For the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, that screen space gets extended to 6.2 inches. The internal CPU choice is the same, but the RAM gets upgraded to 6 GB, while the internal storage gets another bump to 128 GB. As with the smaller phone, the bezel size is reduced further from the 2017 models, while the 18.5:9 aspect ratio remains the same.

As well as the rear fingerprint scanner – now in a more sensible position, thankfully – you can also unlock the S9 phones with a combination of face recognition and iris scanning. As well as resisting the temptation to follow Apple and go all-in with face unlocking, Samsung has also kept the 3.5 mm headphone jack on these phones.

And, as like last year's models, the S9 and S9 Plus are both water- and dust-resistant, as well as supporting wireless charging. Aside from the camera improvements and processor speed bump, these aren't huge upgrades from the S8 and the S8 Plus – but considering how good those phones were, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Finally, prices. Both phones will cost you more than last year's models, with the Samsung Galaxy S9 priced at US$719.99 unlocked, and the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus setting you back $839.99 unlocked. Pre-orders are open now, with the phones officially going on sale on March 16, and you've got four colors to pick from: Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Coral Blue and a new Lilac Purple.

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