Samsung's new Galaxy S9 is the first phone with a dynamic camera feature that changes based on your environment -- here's how it works

Edoardo Maggio/Business Insider
  • Samsung announced its new Galaxy S9 smartphones on Sunday, which come with big improvements to an already excellent camera.
  • The new camera has the widest aperture on any smartphone camera.
  • The Galaxy S9 also has a mechanical aperture that switches between two different aperture modes to adjust how much light enters the camera.
  • Adjusting the camera aperture is important for different lighting situations, like day or night.

Samsung announced its new Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ phones on Sunday, which both include big improvements and new tech for the camera.

One of the standout specs is the incredibly wide aperture that measures in at f/1.5, which is the widest aperture on any smartphone to date. It means the Galaxy S9’s camera can take in more light than other smartphones, which is great for low-light environments.

Just in case you weren’t sure what an aperture is: It’s like a shield behind the lens that lets you adjust how much light you want to let in.

To compare, the Galaxy S8 had a slightly narrower f/1.7 aperture (the higher the number, the narrower the aperture, and the less light it lets in), and it was the best low-light photography performer by miles.

GS9 1Edoardo Maggio/Business InsiderThe Galaxy S9 and S9+.

But while a wider aperture is great for low-light situations, it’s not ideal for brighter settings, like a sunny – or even cloudy – day. It could allow too much light to hit the camera sensor, which can lead to overly bright parts of a photo that are void of detail.

So, Samsung gave the Galaxy S9 a second aperture mode, which is a first for smartphones.

The second aperture mode measures in at a narrower f/2.4, which lets in less light and is much better suited for brighter environments. And the way the S9 switches aperture modes is pretty amazing for a smartphone.

The S9 can mechanically adjust the size of its aperture, which is usually something a full-size camera can do, and it’s also a first for smartphones. Marques Brownlee showed off the mechanical aperture in his hands-on video of the Galaxy S9:

The Galaxy S9 will automatically choose which aperture mode to use depending on the lighting, but users can choose which mode to use in the camera app’s pro mode.

We have yet to test the Galaxy S9’s camera and its dual-aperture, and we’ll report back with our findings.

You can check out Marques Brownlee’s full hands-on below:

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