Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review
Samsung has a habit of refining the drawings at least once before moving on to something entirely new. This was the case for the Galaxy S4 and S5, Galaxy S6 and S7, S8 and S9, and now the Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy Note 9. Most of these revisions have been sensitive updates. Samsung has the habit of listening carefully to consumers and tweaking things slightly so that these updates remain useful.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is one of the most sensible revisions I’ve seen so far and offers a lot of value to the consumer who wants everything. This is our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Aesthetically, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is extremely similar to Note 8. An untrained eye probably did not notice much difference, but small changes allow Note 9 to work and feel much better than Note 8 on a daily basis.
The sides of the note 9 are much flatter than those of the note 8, which facilitates its maintenance without a case. I’ve never been a big fan of the rounded edges of the Galaxy range, so it’s a welcome change for me. A slight chamfer where the metal meets the rounded glass accompanies the flatter edges and gives the phone a much more aggressive feel. I felt much more comfortable presenting this device without a case than Note 8, although it had two decent sized bumps in the metal after the camera fell while I was taking pictures (it was pressed on the table and buzzed). Regardless of durability, be careful if you use the phone without protection.
The device has slightly smaller edges than those of Note 8, which increases the size of the display from 6.3 inches to 6.4 inches. This means that some applications need to be resized to fill the entire display area, but you actually only add about 0.1 inches of real estate. At the back of the phone, you will notice three distinct changes: a smaller camera visor, a secondary double-aperture lens, and a fingerprint reader moved under the camera’s visor.
The fingerprint reader looks and feels a lot better this year. The positioning of the fingerprint reader in Note 8 forced users to accidentally place their finger on the camera lens because it was just to the right of the visor. Moving it under the camera screen and rotating it 90 degrees allows users to unlock their phone much more easily, and my index finger lands directly where it should when holding the phone in my hand. However, I would have liked the sensor to be a bit bigger – it was recording a lot of false negatives because it only read part of your finger.
On the right side of the device, you’ll find the power button, but it’s a bit too high, in my opinion. I would have liked to see this button more centered on the side of the device because I have to move my hand to be able to press on it. This placement should not be a problem if the fingerprint sensor is enabled, but it can be frustrating to lock the device when you are done using it.
The left side of the phone houses the volume rockers and just below it, you will find a dedicated Bixby button. I really would really like this button to be applicable to Google Assistant, but anyway, its positioning is more of a hindrance. I accidentally pressed it several times trying to take a screenshot, but I guess I do not know where they would have put it otherwise. This is essentially the same place as the Google Assistant button, the LG G7 (review), and placing it lower may interfere with your other fingers.
The lower part of the device includes a headphone jack, a speaker grille, and an S-Pen, which again proves that “we had no room for a headphone jack” is an unfounded assertion on the part other manufacturers. The bottom frame of the Galaxy Note 9 is always smaller than most other flagship products on the market, and the S-Pen is almost three-quarters of the height of the device. If Samsung manages to occupy so much space with “useless accessories”, other manufacturers can return to the past.
Frankly speaking, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has the best screen of all Android phones. It’s not just my opinion, there are numbers and graphics to support these things.
Just recently, the DisplayMate screen calibration company has done a number of tests on the Galaxy Note 9, ranking it as the best display of all mobile devices in history. DisplayMate not only broke records in terms of brightness and contrast but also described the color profile of Note 9 as “visually indistinguishable from perfect”.
This landmark is not really surprising. Samsung has been a market leader in the AMOLED market for years and receives a record-breaking score from DisplayMate each year. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see that the company first uses the best materials in its phones, instead of just selling them to Apple.
This screen is apparently so good that YouTube has called it a “YouTube signature device,” a new certification from the streaming giant, awarded to devices such as the Galaxy S9 and the LG G7. Curiously, it was also given to the Pixel 2 XL. It seems that the technical capabilities of the devices are more important than the actual quality of the screen because the Pixel 2 XL has a terrible display.
The Galaxy Note 9 offers four different display color modes: Basic, AMOLED Photo, AMOLED Cinema, and Adaptive Display. Adaptive switches between modes depending on the application you are using and is probably the best solution for most users. You can also use different resolutions on this unit. By default, the phone works in 1080p, but you can change it to 1440p and even 720p if you really want to save the battery.
This 6.4-inch screen has an aspect ratio of 18:5:9 and a pixel density of 516ppi – it is large, bright and sharp. Looking more closely, I could literally not see a pixel, leaving the “indiscernible perfection” point I mentioned.
This skin is a scourge for me since I use Samsung smartphones, but I must say that Samsung Experience 9.5 is better than ever. Almost all skin manufacturers on the market are moving towards a more subtle, stock-like user experience, and Samsung Experience is not excluded from this list.
Samsung has created a proprietary application for almost all Google applications, which makes sense given that its ultimate goal is to make Tizen a true competitor for Android. Fortunately, most of these applications are all stored in the Samsung folder of the application drawer. So you do not have to interact with them if you do not want to.
Unfortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comes with the preinstalled Facebook application and you can not actually uninstall it, but only disable it. I have always considered this kind of thing unacceptable, especially since Android’s goal is to totally control your experience. The Facebook application has not been installed on my phone for years and it is frustrating to see that it takes up a lot of storage space, even if I do not use it.
Samsung Experience 9.5 still has the same “Apps Edge” and “People Edge” features as the Galaxy S6 Edge, which was introduced for the first time. It’s also easy to swipe in Samsung Pay. In addition to these basic experience changes, much of the new software experience relies almost entirely on Bixby 2.o, which – the spoilers – has not been up to the task.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has been upgraded internally in almost every department, but the two big updates that everyone seems to be talking about are storage capacity and battery capacity. The Galaxy Note 9 base is offered in a variant of 128 GB, but the next step for this phone is 512 GB. This phone also supports the microSD extension, which allows you to get a Galaxy Note 9 with up to 1 TB of storage. Most users can not even use the 128GB of storage offered in the base model, but the Galaxy Note series has always been designed for hardcore audiences.
If you want to store your entire media library on this phone, it is probably possible, provided you do not have more than one terabyte of movies, music, and other files. Also, the new stereo speakers of the unit are also worth mentioning. They are tuned by AKG and sound really clean, even at maximum volume. These are certainly not the loudest speakers we’ve seen on the phone, but they sound pretty good for general listening and multimedia consumption.
The Galaxy Note 9 also includes optional SoC and RAM upgrades. Equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 in the United States and an Exynos 9810 in the international variant, this thing stands out as well as most of the other flagship products on the market. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 base model will provide you with 6GB of RAM, while the improved 512GB storage variant will give you an extra 2GB.
Of course, it would not be a flagship product of Samsung without a water resistance and high-end wireless charging. The phone is rated IP68 for its resistance to water and dust, so you can use it in the rain or even in the shower. Samsung’s fast wireless charging technology continues to overload your battery faster than most other wireless charging options. These are the little things that make the flagship products worthy of the “flagship” term, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has … all the little things.
Of course, we can not examine a Galaxy Note device without talking about the S-Pen. This retractable stylus has been the most obvious differentiator between the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S series since the beginning, and Samsung is striving to increase the value and convenience of the stylus year after year. The biggest addition to the S-Pen this year comes in the form of low-power Bluetooth features. The pen now works as a remote shutter for the phone’s camera, a song remote for apps like Spotify and Google Play Music, and even as a remote control for slides in Powerpoint presentations.
This feature is very subtle and relatively niche, but it’s small, incremental updates like this that buy the note. Developers will also be able to define their own stylus actions, and apps like Snapchat already have S-Pen functionality at launch. I did not plan to use the remote shutter as often, but it’s nice to be able to take a group shot without clumsily trying to press the volume down button or the virtual shutter button on the screen.
The S-Pen also lets you write memos and lock on-screen messages on your phone. The color of the ink is exclusive to that of the pen you use. Curiously, Samsung has decided to include a yellow S-Pen with the blue 0cean color of this phone, which is purely a marketing gesture. Including slight changes in insignificant items such as color is a great way to sell more devices, especially when these colors are not uniform.
You can also buy S pens separately, in case you want to mix and match the color tones. A friend of mine likes the combination of black and yellow. He wants to get a black camera and a yellow pen S-Pen to complete his style. The new Bluetooth S-Pen is also available in Midnight Black, Purple Lavender, and Metallic Copper.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 offers one of the most fluid Android experiences you’ll find today, but it does not reach the level of tactile latency that the Pixel 2 charmed us when it was launched. Most of this speed is almost certainly due to its impressive specs, although I think Samsung Experience could be a little less inflated.
We place the Galaxy Note 9 in the Geekbench 4, AnTuTu and 3DMark reference tests. Geekbench 4 awarded the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 a single-core score of 2,311. In comparison, the OnePlus 6 scored 2,454 points, compared to 2,144 for the Galaxy S9. Note 9 achieved a multi-core score of 7,642, while OnePlus 6 scored 8,967 and Galaxy S9 8,116.
AnTuTu rated score 9 as 272,168, compared with 262,614 for OnePlus 6 and 266,559 for S9. Finally, Note 9 scored 4,294 in 3D Mark, while OnePlus 6 and Galaxy S9 scored 4,680 and 4,672, respectively.
The other big change to this device comes in the form of a well-upgraded 4000 mAh battery. This is a pretty important upgrade, especially considering that the note 8 had a reduced battery size after the bursting of the fiasco of the note 7. This battery lasted me all a day, then a little less than seven hours of the screen. If you wonder how I managed to use my screen for seven hours in a single day, I would not blame you. My only defense is that it’s my daily job.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 uses the same set of dual 12MP sensors from the Galaxy S9 Plus, including the dual-aperture secondary lens that debuted in this device. For this reason, the images are almost identical to those of the Galaxy S9 Plus, although Samsung has added some software tips to give the Galaxy Note 9 the top.
The main change to the camera software is the addition of a new scene recognition mode on the Galaxy Note 9. This mode allows you to determine whether you are taking pictures of plants, food, pets, etc., and automatically adjust the colors of the scene accordingly. produce a more pleasant image. Although object recognition worked quite well in my tests, I was not very happy with the changes the software decided to make. The new image was just a hint more saturated when taking pictures of food, but otherwise, you will not really notice any difference.
The other software tip used in the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a new “fault detection” feature. The phone will display a small pop-up message if it thinks someone in your picture is flashing, I can only trigger the warning several times while trying to get screenshots.
Both features are optimized by classification-based machine learning. Therefore, if Samsung keeps all this data, you can expect them to improve over time. Although I would like to see more advanced computer photography features built into Samsung’s devices in the future, I am pleased to see that the company is finally moving into AI-based imaging.
In terms of overall picture quality, these cameras exceeded my expectations. Samsung’s 12MP lenses keep images crisp without much contrast, and colors are relatively accurate unless you use scene recognition modes to accentuate certain tones. The 8-megapixel front camera is a little flexible in most cases, but it worked very well in low light conditions. I really want to emphasize how incredible the video quality is on the Galaxy Note 9.
The two rear lenses are optically stabilized, combined with the electronic image stabilization to produce sharp and stable sequences. You can even record 4k videos at 60 frames per second – an option only available in a number of high-end cameras. Just note that shooting in this format will disable software stabilization.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 9|
Front: 8MP AF sensor, f/1.7 aperture
|IP rating||IP68 dust/waterproof (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)|
|Software||Android 8.0 Oreo, planned upgrade to Android 9.0 (P)|
|Dimensions and weight||
|Colors||Lavender purple, Ocean blue, Midnight black, Metallic copper|
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review – Final Words
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is actually a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus … More. It has almost exactly the same internal components with some bumps in the top model, and the famous S-Pen helps complete the separation between the S and Note series. You’ll find a few extra software features, a slightly better screen and body, and a screen of over a tenth of an inch. Other than that, think of this as the big brother of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus.
If you are an experienced user who wants lots of storage, the best screen in the market and the S-Pen, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 might interest you.
If you are an experienced user who wants lots of storage, the best screen in the market and the S-Pen, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 might interest you
- Big, beautiful display
- Great battery life
- Improved S-Pen functionality
- Large storage options
- Bixby button can't be disabled