With the camera covered, I feel like there's nothing more I can tell you about the Galaxy S9. It has a more rectangular design than last year and feels wider than the S8 Plus. But it's still a mighty compact smartphone when you consider the large screen size. Other than that, this is just the same design as the Galaxy S8 Plus, at least on first glance.
Samsung used Gorilla Glass 5 for the body this time and the S9 Plus is heavier than both the S8 Plus and Note 8. The extra weight is possibly a result of a heavier aluminium chassis on this device. It's just enough to be reassuring, but not enough for the phone to feel unwieldy.
Samsung is following the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy here, and it's hard to argue against. Yet, the enthusiast in me says I want newer designs on smartphones every year. It's funny how fast a "new" design gets old.
And just like the design, the Galaxy S9 Plus' display is a repeat of 2017 too. You get a 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display that impresses no matter what you use it for. It feels premium, colours pop and refresh rate is high. There's really nothing to complain about. It can take on any of the top-end flagships today, and barring the iPhone X, there's nothing out there that could compete against the S9 Plus.
The performance difference between 2017 and 2018 Exynos chipsets is essentially the same as that between Qualcomm's offerings during this time. The Exynos 9810 that runs on the Galaxy S9 Plus is as capable as any flagship-class chipset should be.
I turned off all animations on the phone, just to see apps opening as fast as they could. At least in these initial days, the Galaxy S9 Plus is smooth and lag-free. It is sure to slow down over time, just like any Android phone will, including the Pixel 2 XL.
Speaking from experience though, Samsung has improved its software over the years and its phones don't start lagging as fast as they did. I've used the Galaxy Note 8 for over six months before this, and though it's slower now, I only realised that after using a fresh out of the box Pixel.