Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is somewhat larger, a bit more vibrant, and a bit more powerful than most prior Note phones, but be warned: it is a bit more expensive, also.

It is the largest Android phone that can grab your attention in 2018, with a large 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display, a substantial 4,000mAh battery for all-day performance, as well as 512GB of internal storage and 8GB of RAM.

Slot at a 512GB microSD card (that Samsung will happily sell you), and also you may get the first mainstream 1TB phone on your hands. That's larger than lots of laptops.

Good news -- the Note 9 does not really feel any larger than the 6.3-inch Note 8, and it features a lot of features from the 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S9 Plus, such as camera specs. It takes the best photos on a Samsung phone, just outpaced by the more recent Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL within our evaluations.

The camera is clearly better than the Note 8, using a double 12MP rear installation that has dual-aperture technology, and will capture Super Slow Mo videos. There are stereo speakers, as well as the less-than-impressive AR Emoji mode is back with some finer avatar customizations. Rest assured, AR Emoji will nevertheless look like you.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

Exclusive to the Note 9 camera have been automatic spectacle optimizer and defect detection features that enhance photos (however, Samsung has a tradition of rolling these features out to elderly phones in the foreseeable future, so hang tight in case you experience an S9 or S9 Plus).

The S Pen remains a useful tool for jotting down notes, but it currently has Bluetooth for remote-controlled shortcuts that are customizable (like the bothersome Bixby button that you can not turn off anymore). Wish to pose for a photo 30 ft off? This S Pen is able to help you accomplish that and more. It works fantastic, but you can have difficulty finding a place to break your prized and pricey Note 9 for full-body snapshots. We ended up with a great deal of shots at lousy camera angles, so it is a good idea on paper, but does not necessarily work out like we first envisioned.

Bad news -- the cost feels much larger. Get ready to cover iPhone XS-level costs for the entry-level 128GB and 6GB model. Ouch. It is intended for power users, based on Samsung -- the bodily dimensions, storage size, cost, and battery capability tell us that. It sees Note 9 buyers because people who invest a great deal of time in their phone and need the very best of the best -- they purchase the best AV receiver, the very best TV, etc.

The Note 9 is your top smartphone recommendation -- that is, even if you would like to get a giant, feature-filled phone using a stylus and despise saving money. Ongoing Samsung Galaxy Note 8 deals would be the largest threat for this update that, ironically, is about going large in a number of little ways.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 release date and price

  • Release date was August 24, with an iPhone XS-like starting price
  • $1,000 (£899 / AU$1,499 / AED 3,699) for 128GB/6GB
  • $1,250 (£1,099 / AU$1,799 / AED 4,599) for 512GB/8GB
  • Prices have now dropped slightly

United States and UK a year ago (September 22 at Australia and Middle East).

Why the ancient Note 9 release date? The theory is that Samsung desired to hurry it out to conquer the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max that Apple announced on September 12.

Discussing of Samsung's main competitors, the Note 9 cost today rivals that of Apple's flagship handsets, rather than undercutting it since we had expected from a Android phone.

The Note 9 cost at launch has been $1,000 (£899 / / AU$1,499 / AED 3,699) with 128GB of internal storage and 6GB of RAM, and $1,250 (£1,099 / $AU1,799 / AED 4,599) to get 512GB and 8GB of RAM.

Yesthat entry-level 128GB setup does double the iPhone X's 64GB of storage to the identical cost, and is therefore a better value. However, it's also a rise of $70 (£30) within the Note 8 launching cost and $150 (£30, AU$150) more than the launch cost of the Galaxy S9 Plus, an extremely similar smartphone. Therefore it is dependent upon how you look at it, and in which you live.

Of course, that is only launch costs we are talking. We have seen the Galaxy Note 9 from approximately $800 / £680 / AU$1,250. That's still a whole lot, but a little more manageable.

In the Usa, Samsung will market the phone unlocked and through carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular.

In Australia you could also select up the Note 9 in the nation's most important telcos, together with Vodafone, Telstra and Optus each offering lots of data-heavy programs.

Note 9 colours in the usa are Ocean Blue with a yellowish S Pen (it also writes in crimson to the greatest colour comparison ) and Lavender Purple with a purple pencil (which composes in purple electronic ink). In the UK it is offered in these 2 colors and Midnight Black, although the colours for Australia are validated as Ocean Blue and Midnight Black. Other areas can get a Copper shade, we had been advised by Samsung -- colours are region-dependent.

New S Pen magic tricks

  • Bluetooth stylus has custom shortcuts
  • Great for remotely taking photos, works up to 30 feet away
  • Charges quickly while embedded in the phone
  • Normal note-taking works even when uncharged

The newest S Pen is the year's big suggestion for the Note, and it is capable of doing Bluetooth-connected magic tricks from around 30 feet off. Samsung's engineers were able to squeeze a little supercapacitor and miniature Bluetooth Low-Energy antenna to the otherwise silent stylus so that it could perform different distant functions. It is the kind of habit we ended up enjoying -- occasionally.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

What can you do precisely? The best feature is having the ability to instantly start the camera app using a very long press of the S Pen button, flip the camera into selfie mode using one brief press, and also snap a group photo with two presses.

It is easier than setting the camera timer, and that Samsung concealed from the camera settings menu this past year, and less awkward than waving your hands in front of the lens to automatically activate the gesture-initiated camera timer.

Samsung is creating S Pen shortcuts . Here are the tips cited:

  • Camera: Flip the camera / take a photo
  • Camera: Flip the camera / record a video
  • Music Player: Play and pause music / skip to the next track 
  • Photo Gallery: Advance to the next photo / cycle back to a previous photo
  • PowerPoint: back and forth through presentation slides

Samsung place a software development kit (SDK) out there for non-core third-party apps to take advantage of the shortcut instrument, which means you are going to see more customization so long as app programmers support the functionality.

The S Pen does have to be billed, but it takes just 40 minutes of charge time for 30 minutes of standby battery lifetime or 200 button clicks, based on our testing.

There's also a beneficial S Pen battery indicator in the notification color near the top of the display, which means you will not be kept guessing as to just how much power you've left. And we found that maintaining the S Pen topped up was considerably simpler than charging the iPad's Apple Pencil.

Simply embedding the S Pen inside the phone fees it, and once it is not in use that's where you typically use it. The Apple Pencil has nowhere to hide, and walking around with it at the Lighting port is rather dangerous. Samsung's years of stylus-making experience are evident here.

The Ocean Blue Note 9 gets the more lively yellowish S Pen to get a wonderful contrast. It writes in yellowish electronic ink, although the Lavender Purple phone includes a purple pencil and purple electronic ink.

All colours support the exact same Air Controller functionality. You are able to draw, jot down notes, annotate screenshots, interpret foreign text, and ship Live Messages (a year's S Pen ), also you can perform these actions whether the S Pen is billed.

Samsung claims the Bluetooth functionality allows for the growth of the S Pen, but we can not help wondering whether all of this development is strictly required in this phone.

Shortcuts for example snapping selfies liberally can'unlock a completely different degree of photography', according to Samsung, and while that sounds useful for striking selfies (the example given is placing tired on the sofa and carrying a hands on photo), the business-class Note 9 might not be the ideal audience for that.

It is fun to have the ability to get both hands at a photo and strike a full-body pose. But we found it difficult to break the phone and snap a selfie when in front of legendary New York City landmarks. Then we thought back to Samsung's examples. They used a tripod to get a group shot, and mimed placing on the sofa with a stunning two-handed pose, without really taking a photo -- something that could be hard without a tripod, also.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

Enterprise users will locate 1 use case for the brand new S Pen: running a PowerPoint presentation without needing to bring and pair a Bluetooth remote. These items are one-trick ponies, therefore in case an S Pen can replace this to you, that alone could be worthwhile.

Everybody can gain in the Galaxy Note 9 screen-off memo feature. It isn't a Bluetooth functionality or new (it appeared on the unfortunate Note 7), but it warrants a mention. Pop the S Pen out of the Note 9 if the screen is off and it is going to automatically establish a note-taking interface from a black background.

Screen-off memo permits you to jot down notes without the need to unlock the Note 9 and start a more specific app. It makes imagining taking considerably quicker and simpler, and while it might be a very simple offering we have used it regularly.

We are grateful that screen-off memos rescue automatically, however we found that a bug (or at least a supervision ) using the yellow ink exclusive to the Blue Ocean phone: our notes look nice against the black lock screen background, however rescue to Outlook Notes, that uses a white background when you start the app and recover your notes, along with the text is difficult to make out -- shameful are a whole lot clearer .

Storage and Battery

Your first 1TB-ready smartphone

  • 512GB of internal storage with 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB of internal storage with 6GB of RAM
  • Additional 512GB microSD card can up storage to 1TB
  • Laptop-sized storage ideal if you're suspicious of 'the cloud'

It is no real surprise that, one of the top producers, Samsung is the first to produce a 1TB-ready smartphone, a power that rivals the finest laptops people purchase today. It is Samsung that produces both the inner 512GB flash drive for both phones and a number of 512GB microSD memory cards.

The Note 9 is charged as the phone that won't ever run out of storage area. Uninstalling games and deleting pictures you have downloaded is not something you will want to be concerned about here take all of the photos you need at full resolution, and also each of the 4K video you need, no more compromise required.

8GB of RAM is going to work best for Samsung's Dex desktop virtualization mode in case you are intending to make use of second-screen workflows. Putting an HDMI screen to some PC-like experience driven by your Note 9 is taxing. However we found Dex to be completely better on the Note 9 than on the Note 8. The latter exposed one to employing a bodily Dex dock accessory; now all you will need is a very simple HDMI dongle.

Of course, that 512GB storage and 8GB RAM deliver the Note 9 price skyrocketing; the entry-level 128GB and 6GB of RAM setup is'more affordable' by $250. And bear in mind that storage configurations on the box are not all they seem: 19GB of distance is gobbled if you boot up the phone around for the first time.

It is worth noting that the 128GB Note 9 also supports microSD cards up to 512GB in proportion, giving you lots of storage range with this model too.

At these costs, the questions that you need to ask yourself are: Do I actually need a 1TB phone? Am I going to also invest money on a 512 GB microSD card? And will cloud storage create all of this immaterial from the future? Anyone who would like to withstand rescuing to 'the cloud' might have a use for these features.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

The 4,000mAh battery

  • Much larger battery at 4,000mAh
  • Galaxy S9 has 3,000mAh and S9 Plus has 3,500mAh
  • Fast Charging and Fast Wireless Charging supported

The Note 9 battery capability was unshackled, hitting the 4,000mAh ceiling. This is the finest Samsung phone you can buy when it comes to battery life.

Samsung is now comfortable enough to provide us a bigger battery after the Note 7 recall. It's skimped on the battery capacity ever since, also promises that its eight-point security check will signify no duplicate of the flames we saw a couple of years ago.

Battery life is touted as all-day, but that's for Note users. After a few days of testing we really saw more than a day of battery life together with moderate use. That is good news because the Note 8 battery life started out as all-day with a little bit of conservative use, the battery well being obviously depleted over time.

The 4,000mAh capability gave us more buffer space between nightly fees, and we did not need to use Samsung's smart battery-saving tricks to get through the day. Our typical battery evaluation, which involves playing a 90-minute looped HD video -- showed the Note 9 battery dropped from 100% to 88%, which will be 1% greater than the S9 Plus. And remember that the Note has a larger battery, therefore that 88% is more purposeful here.

When there are just two Note 9 storage settings, the battery dimensions, thankfully, is the exact same regardless of which version you purchase. In addition you get Fast Charging and Fast Wireless Charging abilities. Just as we appreciate wireless charging, Quick Charging using the added USB-C cable is obviously quicker, with the subsequent rates in our evaluations.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

We must put those numbers into context a little. It is fast, but it is not the fastest-charging phone one of the top flagship handsets. That name goes back to Huawei and OnePlus in the moment. It is about time Samsung updates its charging rates to QuickCharge 4.0.

Furthermore, if those speeds seem slow, don't forget the Note 9 includes a larger battery than many mainstream phones (leading phones in China that not arrive west, also battery-focused versions, such as 5,000mAh phones from Asus and others). It costs a lot quickly, even though Samsung no longer gets the quickest charging tech out there.

Design and display

  • Expansive, bright 6.4-inch display with minor dimension changes
  • Includes fingerprint sensor, microSD slot and headphone jack
  • Better-aligned rear fingerprint sensor could be bigger and the Bixby button should be smaller (read: eliminated)

Samsung's Super AMOLED display does not have to alter much to look very terrific. It is always the best smartphone screen in the world until the following Samsung phone starts -- annually.

The 6.4-inch Note 9 screen has increased by a tenth of an inch across the 6.3-inch Note 8 display, though it's an alteration few will detect without breaking out the measuring tape (that we used in our testing).

The almost bezel-less Infinity Display is bright and punchy, and verified to be 27% more intelligent and with 32% more contrast ratio compared to the Note 8. Andif the tall 18:9 aspect ratio (or in this instance 18.5:9) is about just about every single flagship phone in 2018, Samsung's curved borders are unmatched.

The dimensions of the Note 9 has shifted in the Note 8, also, but not how you believe. It is marginally wider, and slightly shorter, compared to the Note 8, with all measurements of 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm (the Note 8 has been 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm).

The Note 9 matches in the pockets of routine jeans shorts just nice. Caution, sexy pants : shallow rear pockets smaller than this 162.5mm-tall phone left it sticking out once we wore particular shorts. Cases make it larger still, and it weighs a little more compared to the Note 8: 201g vs 195g. This is not a small or mild phone, but it is more comfortable to hold than the S9 Plus in certain respects because of its boxy, less rounded-off design.

Here are just two features Samsung provides you that you do not get on the equally priced iPhone X: headphone jack and a microSD card slot for expandable storage.

The Note 9 is IP68 waterproof and dust-proof, and that immunity rating remains the same whether or not the S Pen is inserted. New to the Note 9 within the Note 8 have been stereo speakers (like around the S9 and S9 Plus).

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

Here is something else that you will not get out of Apple's top phone: a fingerprint sensor that serves as an alternate to Samsung's iris scanner and Face Unlock. When combined, these two detectors do not function along with Apple's Face ID, so the fingerprint detector staying place is extra important for Samsung.

The fingerprint reader is on the rear of the Note 9, also located this moment. The Note 8 needed a detector on back, also, but it had been off-center, and contributed to plenty of camera smudges. We hated it.

The good news is the fingerprint scanner on the Note 9 is a lot easier to find, and also our forefinger landed onto it well. However, Samsung can perform. The landing place is too little, and too near the camera array (using a Note 9 instance helps here also ). We'd have preferred a bigger target area, such as the Google Pixel 3 offers.

Specs and performance

  • Same chipset as the S9 Plus, but an upgrade for Note 8 users
  • Doesn't offer the top clock speed among smartphones

The Note 9 specs also incorporate a chipset that's an update within the Note 8, providing us what is in the core of the S9 and S9 Plus: either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (US and China) or Samsung Exynos 9810 (everywhere else). It is country-dependent, exactly like the colours, which means you've got no choice .

Fortunately, we found the chip fast for 3D games such as Fortnite on Android and for muti-tasking. Geekbench software gave us a multi-core score of 8,875, whereas a year's phone clocked in at 6,524 -- these numbers are to the Qualcomm chip.

There's a larger performance leap in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, because of the Exynos 9810 chip. We got a typical multi-core score of 9,051 and single-core score of 3,698. We have not seen any performance lag in the usa, though.

That said, the OnePlus 6 gave us a multi-core score of 9,100, and also the OnePlus 6T simply came out to replace it. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro scored 9,792, although the iPhone X and iPhone XS reigns supreme, hitting 10,000 in all of these evaluations.

Samsung does not have the fastest processor, and its competitions are grabbing up. Nonetheless, it's a lot fast, and remember that we've got the 6GB of RAM Note 9 -- there might be somewhat more to the 8GB version.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review


  • Inherits the S9 Plus camera's dual-aperture features
  • Wide-angle and telephoto lenses on back
  • AI-backed scene optimizer enhancements show promise

Samsung is carrying more than its own camera prowess from the Galaxy S9 Plus into the Note 9, using low-end beating and telephoto-zooming camera lenses around the trunk. This is only one of the finest camera phones you are going to have the ability to purchase in 2018.

The S9 Plus provides you a good notion of the photo quality you can count on from the Note 9, although Samsung has tweaked its own software to improve on that quality. It automatically makes little, but significant differences into the white balance of pictures by recognizing what you are shooting.

The double 12MP rear camera uses variable-aperture technology to switch between an f/1.5 aperture to get low-light photography along with also an f/2.4 aperture to get ordinary light conditions. The S9 Plus gave us favorable results even at the darkest settings, according to the exact same technology.

The secondary back camera allows to get a 2x optical zoom, providing you with sharp telephoto snapshots for if you are standing too far off. The aperture is always place at f/2.4, and such as the main lens it's optical image stabilization (OIS) to compensate to your shaky hands. Noise-filled night-time shots onto the telephoto lens were only issue -- what else outside of non remains crisp.

The Note 9's front-facing camera will not selfies in 8MP and contains autofocus, a first for a Note phone. Samsung matches its own camera app with an unlimited number of mode options, also: AR decals, broad group selfies, and Super Slow Motion video in 960 frames per second in a 720p resolution. It is one of the strongest camera apps inside the business, yet simple to use.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera identifies and adjusts to several topics with a brand new scene-optimizer feature. It adjusts the white balance and colour based on 20 topics as diverse as sunsets, flowers, birds, food, text etc. Compared to the six-month-old S9 Plus, we watched the Note 9 camera catch a little more detail, but you are going to need to squint to see the gaps.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

The camera knows what it is looking at (more correctly compared to the AI camera at the LG G7), and it uses the exact same technology that will assist you adjust defects, such as eye blinking, picture blurring, lens smudges, and backlight. A pop-up warning message advised us to clean our dirty camera lensand advised us blinked in pictures.

Here is our main gripe camera-wise: while competing Android handsets can capture 4K HDR video with 64 times the colour data compared to present 4K video. The Note 9 can not. The Snapdragon 845 chip supports HDR video recording, but Samsung's very own (faster) Exynos 9810 chip does not, so the feature is switched off worldwide. We are going to need to wait till the Galaxy S10 for exceptional, color-rich video that actually pops.

The camera has been topped with the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL camera, that includes two front-facing camera, and you might be impressed with all the triple-lens back camera array onto the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Of course, more cameras is not always better. The LG V40 ThinQ, which we recently reviewed, is an excellent example of that.

Android, interface and apps

  • Comes with Android Oreo, just misses Android Pie
  • Fortnite was exclusive (for a very limited time period)
  • Samsung Pay, Bixby AI, and AR Emoji are present

Samsung only overlooked the Android 9 Pie launching, meaning the Galaxy Note 9 includes Android Oreo, although an upgrade to Pie is promised and actually has started rolling out into some nations as of January 2019. Not that you will notice its lack in the meantime, as Samsung sets its spin on Android.

And that's no longer a poor thing. The Samsung Experience software is nicely elegant in 2018, together with useful cues about the best way best to navigate a profound and complicated operating system. It is far better than the bloated Samsung TouchWiz firmware on its own previous Android phones, and everybody who hates about the software today probably has not touched a Samsung phone in years.

Samsung devices (Galaxy S7 and upwards ) were the first with access to the free-to-play hit game Fortnite: Battle Royale. The brief, 48-hour exclusive has been designed to offer other Android users phone jealousy, and even now, following the Samsung exclusivity has expired, they nevertheless need to sideload the app -- it is not downloadable from the Google Play Store. Beyond that, the Note 9 and Tab S4 possess a distinctive Fortnite skin that lasts indefinitely.

Samsung Pay would be the other app worth noting. It has been our favourite way to make contactless payments, only because you may pay for items at card machines that don't generally accept Apple Pay and Android Pay. Why nobody else has hopped with this MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) technology is beyond us.

The Bixby AI assistant is here, therefore is Google Assistant. Google's AI is smarter and knows us whereas Bixby often picks up our words like we mentioned them with marbles in our mouth. Samsung states that this can be pre-release software, therefore we'll return and update this portion of the review on August 24.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

The good thing is that Bixby can browse the UI better, going up to to download apps out of the Google Play Store (other AI will only direct you to the app page and sit there once you request to download anything ). If that Samsung Galaxy Home speaker is going to start any time soon, the company should improve Bixby first, and we all expect it will get rid of the insufferable Bixby button that we often mistake for quantity down. It is basically this season's version of the offset fingerprint detector we chastised Samsung for on the Note 8.

We needed to ask about AR Emoji to get information about the avatar refinements. They're here. We analyzed them. Bixby and AR Emoji aren't showstoppers for the Note 9, although Samsung could not stop mentioning them 12 weeks ago.

General assessment

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the ideal smartphone that money can purchase. Regrettably, it is going to require all of your money to purchase it (or at least more than you are probably budgeting to get a smartphone buy this season ).

The iPhone X drove costs to this amount, and we whined then, also. When Samsung told me that the perfect user to the Note is somebody who would like to have the very best AV receiver, Greatest TV, etc, they might have left out the ideal airplane, the ideal yacht, and also the finest sports car.

Samsung is giving you more'large' to your money, and it is the very best in many categories. The main selling point for upgraders is the battery life -- its own 4,000mAh capacity is 21% bigger than the Note 8 battery and its considerably brighter, slightly larger 6.4-inch curved screen, which will wow you, even in direct sun.

The Bluetooth S Pen includes fresh remote-controlled tricks that are interesting, the utmost 1TB storage dimensions is unbeatable, as well as the AI-enhanced camera somewhat improves picture quality within the Galaxy S9 Plus. The Note 9 offers a whole lot to enjoy -- and a price increase to completely dislike.


Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

The screen size and performance differences are minimal, so the primary benefits of the Note 9 would be the S Pen stylus and longer battery life. You will also get more storage capability, Dex mode without having a dock accessory, and also a slightly better camera. While these seem like a lot of small updates, true power users will appreciate the Note 9's 14% increase in battery capacity and the Bluetooth S Pen.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review

Google Pixel 3 XL

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

The Google Pixel 3 XL is slightly smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, at 6.3 inches, but it is still a very major phone.

Additionally, it has a much greater camera and Android 9 Pie out of the box, together with the promise of quick upgrades to prospective Android versions. We do not adore the huge notch, however. The Note 9 remains the phone to select if you are about the screen, however, the Pixel 3 XL is the top pick for photographers.

Read more: Google Pixel 3 XL review

iPhone XS Max

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

At 6.5 inches the iPhone XS Max is much larger than the Galaxy Note 9. It is the largest and arguably greatest iPhone you can get, due to some camera that is strong, a top screen and plenty of electricity.

Of course, the main reason to opt for this - or maybe not - is that it runs iOS rather than Android. Take note though that if you really do need it you are going to need to be prepared to cover a whole lot, since it is much more costly than the Note 9.

Read more: iPhone XS Max review