CENT These are the Galaxy S9's five worst features - CNET

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Four months into using the Galaxy S9, it's still one of the best phones Samsung has ever made. But no device is perfect, and my personal issues with it are nice and ripe.

That doesn't mean I don't love the Galaxy S9. I do. It means that when the cost of the phone comes out to almost 200 Starbucks lattes, Samsung needs to think long and hard about how it can justify the staggering cost, especially with continual pressure from great phones that cost a lot less, like the OnePlus 6.

With the Galaxy Note 9 almost certainly looming as the big reveal at Samsung's Aug. 9 press conference and the presumed Galaxy S10 on deck for early 2019, fixing some or all of the following issues would go a long way towards making those phones must-haves.



21 hidden Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus features

5. Galaxy S9's native apps aren't good enough

Samsung excels at making hardware, but the native apps for, say, the built-in keyboard, browser and messaging apps aren't as good as Google's Gboard keyboard, Chrome and Android Messages app, which will now will let you read and reply to text messages on your desktop as well as your phone.

Google's apps tie into Google services. That gives them a clear advantage, like syncing your browsing history across the phone and desktop. There's no way to do that with Samsung's apps. Google's apps are also better laid out, faster to use, have cuter emojis and more accurate autocorrection.

4. Samsung's alarm clock needs a wake-up call

You may think taking umbrage with an alarm clock is downright petty. But get this: Even if you set your alarm time and select your alarm tone, if you do nothing else, you're in for a terrible surprise. gs9-bixby-briefing

Any time you set a new alarm on the Galaxy S9, Bixby takes over by default.Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The first time I used the Galaxy S9 as an alarm, I selected gentle, musical Space Funk and fell into sweet slumber, only to be woken by the overly aggressive, talking-at-me-like-a-Cylon Bixby News Briefing. Turns out, you have to specifically opt out of this recitation of morning headlines if you want to hear the alarm tone you actually picked.

And if you set a new alarm, say an additional wake-up time for the weekends, the Galaxy S9 won't carry over your preferences. Adding a new alarm turns the Bixby News Briefing on and your alarm tone off. 

Samsung, usually a master of customization, could easily have you opt in to the Bixby Briefing -- an option that would avoid royally pissing off the sleep-deprived.

3. Zombie screen

Galaxy S9 dead zones -- are they a myth? Are they reality?samsung-galaxy-s9-gold-3463


The Galaxy S9's rounded edges are beautiful, but seem less responsive to screen taps.James Martin/CNET

Samsung has released statements acknowledging that there are parts of some Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus screens that don't respond to touch. I'm not comforted by this. I had wished it was just me and my clumsy hands.

But I've noticed that there are places on the screen I tend to tap repeatedly for anything to happen, especially when I'm trying to place my cursor on the left edge where the screen curves. I'm not sure if this is a reported dead zone or an issue with the curve registering my fingerprint, but it happens enough to make things annoying.

Samsung says, "We encourage any customer with questions to contact us directly at 1-800-SAMSUNG."

2. AR Emoji really is that bad

I've said it before and I will say it again for as long as it takes Samsung to fix it: The animated emoji maker for the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, called AR Emoji, really is that bad.

Apple's iPhone X and future 2018 iPhones are already on track to make better Animoji magic with Memoji, Apple's take on 3D emojis. Unlike AR Emoji, Memojis aren't made from scans of your face. You fashion them one step at a time, picking features as you go. That also makes them more personalized. Even in beta, Memoji already looks like it's trouncing AR Emoji. 

The Galaxy S9's AR Emoji are creepy and super limited and... just watch this video, and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Now Playing: Watch this: Galaxy S9's AR emoji: How good are they?


1. You can't customize the Galaxy S9's Bixby Voice button

The dedicated button on the Galaxy S9's left side opens the Bixby Voice app, Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri sidekick and Amazon's Alexa. But that button won't open any other app.

You can turn off Bixby Voice, but you can't replace it with any other app you'd rather use instead, which makes that button totally useless. I find it wasteful and hostile that Samsung would rather give you a dead button than let you open the app of your choice.

Now Playing: Watch this: Siri vs. Google Assistant vs. Bixby


Samsung is expected to double down on Bixby Voice for phones and other electronics in its family of devices (think refrigerators and TVs), and while that might be good for the business, it's heavy-handed for people who actually use the devices. Samsung can brute-force Bixby all it wants (see No. 4 in this list), but that doesn't mean I'll use it.

Are you a Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus user with an axe to grind? Respond in the comments below. Or, for a dose of positivity, here are the six best things about the Galaxy S9.

Read now: Galaxy Note 9 Aug. 9 launch and rumors

Read next: How to buy a new phone in 2018

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