Samsung Galaxy S9 Review: Call Quality


The Galaxy S9/S9+ is the first high-end model of the Android camp in 2018. The China Mainland version S9 is equipped with Qualcomm annual high-end mobile processor Snapdragon 845, and the high-level color and brightness performance of the duel-edge AMOELD screen also left us with a deep impression. So how does this flagship phone perform in voice applications such as calls and WeChat?

The processor uses an improved 10nm+ process to bring an 8-core 64-bit Kyro385 CPU architecture with speed up to 2.8GHz. Integrated baseband model X20, 4G LTE download peak up to 1.2Gbps [4x4 MIMO multi-mode], native support dual 4G standby, but different regions and operators will be limited, China domestic S9 models only support a single 4G in LTE standby, the secondary card supports 2G-3G [according to the user¡¯s operator]. Galaxy S9 also supports 802.11ac high-speed wireless local area network and Bluetooth 5.0, aptX authentication protocol. NFC and SAMSUNG Pay also support bus card systems and mobile support functions in some cities.

In addition, the S9 sold in Korea, Asia Pacific, and Europe uses the Samsung Exynos 9810 processor. The baseband chips are also different. Therefore, this voice call evaluation and use experience only applies to the China mainland verison Galaxy S9. The S9 runs an Android 8.0 system and integrates a Samsung Bixby smart assistant to replace Google's native Google Assistant for image, speech recognition, and intelligent peripheral device management. In addition to the call function, the stereo sound quality of Dolby Atmos certification and AKG tuning is also worth looking forward to. By convention, voice calls are still completed through China Mobile 4G and China Unicom's GSM network.

Earpiece Speaker Test

We place this cell phone indoor with normal signal, and set the call voice volume to maximum, then call 10010 [GSM], which is China Unicom customer service hotline. Then use professional sound card and microphone for recording and analysis.

Galaxy S9's earpiece has a higher volume than the former Galaxy S8 and Note 8 series. It sounds full and resonant. The high volume gain function only improves 0.1 dB higher, while it is also able to create the sound more accurate and clearer, which could easily be seen on the frequency response curve. S9's earpiece volume meets general consumers' needs.

Testing Item Galaxy S9 iPhone X Huawei Mate 10 Galaxy Note 8 iPhone 8 Plus
Output Level of Earpiece,dB -8.58 -8.36 -8.86/-9.13 -9.4/-9.23 -8.8

The earpiece output of iPhone X is just as excellent as iPhone 8 Plus with full voice, and a little bit higher level.

Loud Speaker Test

Speaker test was undertaken indoors with ambient noise level at 40dB or less, we turn up the ringtone volume to its maximum, and then use a sound level meter to measure sound level at the distance of one meter from the phone.

Testing Item Galaxy S9 iPhone X Huawei Mate 10 Galaxy Note 8 iPhone 8 Plus
Face Up,dB 74.3 78.5 79.6 76.0 78.4
Face Down,dB 75.4 78.6 79.7 77.1 78.2
In Camera Bag,dB 69.4 72.2 73.2 72.5 72.6

S9's louder sound volume is more general, and the sound style is softer than that of the iPhone's mids. It has improved sound styles relative to previous generations' product. Even if Dolby Atoms sounds are not activated in online video, music, and gaming applications, it will have a satisfying sense of hearing. However, due to the bottom of the bottom hole in the bottom, compared to the real two-channel models or a little bit of a gap.

Noise Reduction Test

We place this phone indoors with ambient noise level at 32db or less, in the middle of the room, we use a human-like structure "handholding" the phone to send voice signal, and put surround speakers in a certain distance playing 5 kinds of simulating ambient noise at 6db SNR. Then we standardize the recording from this end, and run a specific program comparing this recording with raw speech recording and noise-speech mixed recording to get noise reduction level, SNR improvement and SNRI-to-NPLR difference quantitative result.

Testing Item[Hand Holding] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 36.9 33.6 39.0 44.1 26.3
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 26.4 23.1 23.5 30.4 21.6
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -0.5 -2.1 -0.6 -2.6 3.0
Testing Item[VoIP] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 45.1 40.1 47.7 47.7 35.8
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 29.0 23.3 36.6 35.6 20.6
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -4.4 -0.5 -4.1 -5.2 0.8
Testing Item[GSM Hand-Holding] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 33.3 26.8 41.2 43.7 18.9
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 22.8 12.0 33.5 26.7 10.8
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -1.5 0.8 -5.4 -2.7 1.6
  • Total Noise Level Reduction, TNLR: Total Noise Level Reduction illustrates the reduction of ambient noise level. The average level is above 5dB. Theoretically, higher TNLR would be better, but an over high result may be caused by severe attenuation of voice signal, or interruption caused by poor phone signal or noise reduction algorithm flaw.
    Signal-to-Noise Ratio Improvement, SNRI: capability of an NS method to enhance the speech component of a noisy speech signal from an additive background noise. SNR improves after noise reduction by comparing noise-reduced and raw voice signal. Generally, the improvement is over 4dB.
    SNRI-to-NPLR difference, DSN: the signal level difference between raw and noise-reduced. Noise reduction process would attenuate voice signal level, cell phones would gain signal to ensure the call quality. Theoretically, it would be best that signal level remain the same before and after noise reduction. A standard signal level peak is -2.5dB. If the signal was gained too high, overflow would happen, and that means frequent crackle, too low, voice signal strength would not be enough, and that means the sound would be too low, and the other end would not hear clearly.
    The result is just a test reference under similiar circumstances or conditions, third-party websites or official technical data cannot be used for comparison.

The Galaxy S9's handheld phone performance is similar to that of the S8+, and the noise reduction capability of the environment is slightly lower than that of the Note8. However, the Note8 handheld noise reduction algorithm will have some negative effects on the clarity and coherence of the voice information, and S9 solved this problem. In VoIP applications such as WeChat, due to the high sampling accuracy (usually above 16kHz-24kHz, much higher than the 8kHz peak of GSM), with the maturity and popularity of deep learning, voice recognition and other technologies, VoIP can be more accurate through the server with better performance of cloud noise reduction processing, the vast majority of mobile phone VoIP applications are close to limits.

The hands-free noise reduction performance of the S9 is much better than that of the S8/S8+, with better noise reduction performance and more stable speech intelligibility. This improvement is also well-matched to the current smartphone users after the popularity of the call function demand. It is also understandable that the loud speaker should sacrifice a maximum volume in order to pursue better sound quality, and the user can also change the loudness of the sound through the sound quality of Dolby Atmos. Overall speaking, the S9's call performance is excellent, with a high handset output level and a stable level of noise reduction, and the hands-free call performance is also steadily improving. Conforms to the positioning of high-end flagship mobile phones. However, it should be emphasized that this review is only aimed at the China mainland¡¯s Qualcomm processor version Galaxy S9 [domestic model SM-G9600/DS], which does not apply to the Exynos9810 version of S9 with completely different baseband and processor.

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