Samsung has unveiled its latest handsets, the S9 and S9+, which offer custom emojis powered by augmented reality (AR).

The announcement was made at the Mobile Word Congress in Barcelona on Sunday.

The S9's new emoji feature creates a custom character which is based on a user's selfie and their choice of additional 3D accessories, hair styles and clothing.

The option maps more than 100 facial features from a single photo and creates a cartoon-like 3D avatar which can mimics the user’s facial expressions and speech in real time.

The feature goes toe-to-toe with Apple’s Animoji, announced last year as part of the iPhone X handset.

Apple's feature offered similar augmented reality facial-recognition but without the same level of customisation.

Samsung has also announced that the S9 will include an enhanced camera which works better in low-light, stereo speakers with technology from Dolby and better biometric authentication with facial recognition and rear fingerprint scanner.

The manufacturer says the newly announced handset feature hardware and software designed to help us communicate in new ways.

"Both devices offer a smartphone experience that's personalised in ways that enhance users' connected lives," the company says on its website, "to reimagine the way that we communicate, share and experience the world around us."