Samsung’s Galaxy S9 hits stores: Here’s what to know

The latest edition of Samsung’s flagship “Galaxy” smartphone, the S9 and S9 Plus, hits stores on Friday, as the South Korean tech giant looks to lure customers in what has been a sagging smartphone marketplace.

Formally unveiled in late February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Galaxy S9 touts several improvements over previous models. Top features include an enhanced camera with a “dual aperture lens” that automatically adjusts to lighting conditions in real time, an improved audio system that provides a surround sound-like effect, a faster processor, wireless charging capabilities and, unlike rival Apple’s iPhone, a headphone jack.

Pricing for the standard Samsung Galaxy S9 starts at $719, but varies based on service provider. For example, T-Mobile customers can purchase the phone for $720, while Verizon customers will have to fork over $799.99 for the new model. The S9 Plus, which features a larger screen and stronger battery, starts at $839.99, with the price tag rising to as high as $929.99 for some providers.

Both versions of Samsung’s newest smartphone are significantly cheaper than their Apple counterparts. Apple’s iPhone X starts at $999 for the 64GB model and $1,149 for the 256GB version.

Samsung and its competitors are seeking new ways to attract buyers amid an industrywide sales slowdown. Smartphone shipments fell 9% to 400.2 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to data from Strategy Analytics.

Apple sold 77.3 million iPhones during its first fiscal quarter of 2018 and brought in a company record $88.3 billion in revenue in the process. However, iPhone sales actually dropped 1% compared to the same period one year earlier.