[Samsung responds] Galaxy S9 camera and display seemingly have major issues
Update (April 21):
Here’s what an affected user recently got to hear from the company
Okay Ssamsung told me :
Sorry for your inconvenience. Samsung is aware of this symptom which may appear on some S9+ devices and we are scheduled to release a new Software update at earliest possible. Therefore please check regularly for updates to your device SW via the Smart Switch PC or FOTA. Samsung always encourages users to keep your software and apps updated to latest version
Update (April 16):
Samsung has given an official statement on the matter saying
At Samsung, customer satisfaction is core to our business and we aim to deliver the best possible experience. We are aware of a limited number of reports of Galaxy S9/S9+ displaying dark colors differently than intended in certain instances. We encourage any customer with questions to contact us directly at 1-800-SAMSUNG.
Update (March 30): Even more reports on black crush (color blending) problem.
Update (March 23): At-least one affected user has confirmed (see comments here) that Samsung is aware of the ‘dark Super Slow mo videos’ problem and will be fixing the issue in a future software update.
Mine is doing this as well. I have the unlocked s9plus and I called Samsung and they said that it is in need of an update and that they are working on getting the issue resolved via update through their tech department.
Update (March 22): More reports on the black color display (or black crush) issue – see here. This is turning out to be a Galaxy S9+ issue, as a number of users are reporting they can’t reproduce the same on their regular S9. Even AnandTech’s mobile editor Andrei (@andreif7) confirms this problem on their Galaxy S9+ unit:
@andreif7 would you mind mentioning the black crush issue in your review? Seems to only affect the panels on the S9+ (regular S9 panels are fine). A lot of people are really unhappy about it and samsung don't seem to listen: https://t.co/TyB7Wjf5a0
— Tobias Vuorelma (@Toss3) March 21, 2018
Confirmed I have it on the S9+ at some brightness levels. I'll explain more later.
— Andrei F. (@andreif7) March 21, 2018
Original story follows:
We recently highlighted a couple of Galaxy S9-related issues, and Samsung acted quickly to resolve them. However, looks like it’s not going to be a smooth ride for the South Korean company’s latest flagship, as we managed to dig out a number of new major problems that users are reporting.
Let’s take up the concerns one by one.
Video quality issues with Super Slow mo mode
Super Slow mo mode, one of the key highlights of Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+, “slows down time, making everyday moments epic”. That’s how the company explains the feature on their official website. But apparently, the feature isn’t working as expected in non-daylight (but well lit) conditions. Going by reports from users, the functionality is delivering dark/black and very poor video quality output in such environments.
A quick look at the following user-shared videos clearly confirms the seriousness of the matter:
Now, before you argue that Super Slow mo requires real good lightings, these users also shared proofs showing their surroundings were reasonably well lit.
Oh, and it’s not that all units exhibit this buggy behavior in non-daylight conditions. Here’s a clip of Disney World fireworks which confirms this.
Here’s another one:
And if there’s still any lighting-related doubt left, here’s the ultimate proof the problem exists.
Even before you start capturing the video in Super Slow mo, the issue shows up. Yes, right after switching to the mode, you’ll observe the footage the device’s camera shows is very dark. Here’s what users say:
For all the people saying this isn’t an issue, slow motion videos need a lot of light — you’re not getting it. There is a clear production defect on apparently a large number of Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ phones regarding the Super Slow Motion feature. In well-lit conditions, when we switch to Super Slow Mo, the screen goes abnormally dark. Imagine putting a thin black t-shirt over your eyes and looking through it – it’s that dark. This isn’t a poor lighting conditions thing. There is no way this is not a defect.
The image gets darker just from switching modes, not even when filming, and I don’t think that’s right.
And here’s the video confirming this:
For comparison, we dug out an official Samsung video, one from the Galaxy S9 unpacked event where the feature was being showcased in indoor (or non-daylight) conditions.
Did you see the quality of Super Slow mo video produced – it was awesome. We completely understand that the lighting at the unpacked event are in no way comparable to what people have at their homes. But it’s reasonable to say the conditions in which users tested the feature were also ‘well lit’, and the output produced wasn’t in accordance with that.
Display color issues
In addition, some Galaxy S9+ users are also reporting that their device fails to display certain colors properly in videos. Specifically talking about the black color or dark areas, they say the Galaxy S9 is trying too hard to blend the color, and in an effort to improve clarity and highlight objects, it ends up ruining the viewing experience.
Some of those affected say there isn’t “enough colour depth”, and they can see “bad colour banding”, along with “black crushing”.
Following are some images shared by a complainant (comparing S9+ and S8), followed by how they word the difference:
Top image is S9+ bottom S8. Apart from the fact that the S8 image is much more natural with colour reproduction, notice the significant loss of detail on the hand and fingers in the S9+ display. The entire thing is covered with a greyish smudge. I don’t know if this is the black crush other members refer to but there is definitely a problem with my unit and how shadows are displayed in general.
It seems that the S9 is actually trying to resolve more detail from a dark scene than the S8 and that results in black crush and colour banding showing things that are not meant to be seen. Notice especially the wardrobe on the right side of the scene. The S8 covers the shadow details effectively and hides the furniture while the S9+ is trying to resolve them and makes everything visible.
The following comparison shows the intensity of the issue.
Galaxy S9+ (top) – S8 (bottom)
Here’s how the user who shared these last set of comparison images explains the problem:
As for what to look for, pay close attention to the eggs in the photos and notice how they loose most colour detail on the S9+ screen compared to S8. I think it’s pretty apparent.
Enough proof to say that S9’s display is somehow ruining the video playback by trying to enhance the black/dark areas.
There’s a related discussion thread going on over at XDA as well. More screenshots showing the problem have been shared by the user on that forum as well. So you can head here, if you wish to take a look.
Issue with HDR videos
Moving on, over at the company’s official European help forum, Galaxy S9+ users with Exynos versions are complaining that their phone doesn’t actually play videos in HDR, despite showing the setting is enabled.
The complainants have shared some images comparing HDR video playback on S8 with S9+. The quality of playback clearly indicates that the HDR feature is actually not enabled on Galaxy S9+.
Galaxy S8 (top) – Galaxy S9+ (bottom)
The actual complainant also shared that Samsung Support told them their case has been escalated. So, apparently, the company is aware of the glitch.
I have chased Samsung and they called me back today (14/03/2018). They have escalated to their Product Support team as their Chat Team was unable to help and their other frontline support. They mentioned that they don’t know when that team will get back to me as it’s the first time anyone has raised it. I guess many people can’t tell the difference and think HDR is working or it’s actually working for them out of the box.
Did reviews by major tech publications got it all wrong about Galaxy S9’s display?
And lastly, recently, publications like MacRumors and EverythingApplePro, as well as YouTubers Jonathan Morrison and iPhonedo compared Galaxy S9’s camera with iPhone X’s. If you take a look at their video comparisons, you’ll see the Galaxy S9’s video recording comes out to be quite reddish.
So it’s fair to assume that the reviews were done keeping in mind that this is the actual footage from the phone. However, turns out that’s not the case.
YouTuber Vtudio did some investigation, and found that the reddish tint came after the video was transferred on to a PC (he claims all these reviews were done on Apple iMac Pro). He clearly shows that the footage on Galaxy S9 doesn’t have any reddishness (01:36 onwrds)
He confirms in the video, as well in comments under the video, the reddish tint wasn’t there when the video was played on Windows, as well a though online services like Google Photos.
So this could be an issue with how Apple iMac Pro is handling Galaxy S9 videos (and possibly videos from other Galaxy/Android products). But, one thing that at least seems clear is that the comparisons done by these reputed publications/YouTubers aren’t representing the real case.
The list of issues plaguing Galaxy S9 and S9+ is seemingly growing with every passing day. Loose QA process or a rushed release, whatever the case is, we just hope Samsung addresses all these concerns before the pending orders get delivered and users start reporting the same globally.
Stay connected with us on Twitter (@PiunikaWeb) to hear about all related developments as and when they occur