Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review

Like clockwork, Samsung has launched the Galaxy Note 9, the big-screen, stylus-toting cousin of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. It looks a lot like the Note 8.

While headline changes are the yellow S-Pen with Bluetooth and improved cameras, the general look, feel and performance of the Note 9 suggest this could well be Samsung’s most refined phone to date.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was officially unveiled in New York on Thursday. The newest member of the Galaxy Note series packs a massive 4,000mAh battery and the series’ biggest display yet. The Galaxy Note 9 launch comes at a time when Samsung desperately needs a hit. By the company’s own admissions, sales of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ have been less than flattering, and all eyes will now be on how the Galaxy Note 9 is received by fans.

While the “reasonable price” promise that was made by the company just days before the launch event wasn’t fulfilled when the US price of the smartphone was revealed on Thursday, the Galaxy Note 9 price in India is good news. The smartphone will launch in India at a starting price of Rs. 67,900, which is the same as its predecessor at launch, as Samsung looks to reclaim some of the market share it has lost in the country’s premium smartphone segment.

GALAXY NOTE 9: DESIGN AND BUILD

Key points:

  • New colours
  • No notch
  • Keeps headphone jack
  • Heavier
  • New fingerprint scanner placement

The Note 9 is a stunner right out the box. Yes, it’s a big phone, but you should expect that by now with the Note range. By slimming the bezel ever so slightly Samsung has stretched the screen up from 6.3in to 6.4in, but the dimensions of the phone are practically the same as the Note 8.

The Note 9 comes in Midnight Black or Lavender Purple with matching S Pen, and Ocean Blue with a yellow S Pen. There’s also a Metallic Copper option in some countries.

You’re going to want the blue one with the yellow pen, but we also really like the purple, which is a light metallic hue and looks great. Samsung continues to use Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back. The back of the blue and purple models shimmer beautifully, while the black version remains duller.

We were hoping for an in-screen fingerprint scanner as phones like the Vivo Nex already have this tech. It seems we’ll have to wait for the Galaxy S10 to get it from Samsung, though.

The Note 9 still has all those familiar Samsung curves with the so-called Infinity Display, but it has put on weight. It’s 205 gm and we generally don’t like it when a phone feels like carrying a brick, but there’s a good reason for it here, and the phone is slight enough to feel oddly manageable.

GALAXY NOTE 9: SPECS AND FEATURES

Key points:

  • Better S Pen
  • New processor
  • More RAM
  • Up to 512GB storage

Although the Note 9 might look pretty similar to the Note 8, it comes with a number of upgrades and new features.

The screen is bigger at 6.4in but that’s only marginally different to the 6.3in size used before. The level of detail, brightness and clarity is stunning.

The familiar Infinity Display means curved edges with a Quad HD+ resolution and the best brightness in direct sunlight of any phone on the market.

It’s top-notch specs without the actual notch, and Samsung has gone one further by improving the already excellent S-Pen. By adding Bluetooth Low Energy, you can now use the stylus as a remote to take photos and selfies, click through presentations and more.

The new model also gets a specs boost in the engine room. Samsung has stuck with a split strategy for processors in different markets, so many countries will get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 while the UK and others will get Samsung’s own Exynos 8910.

We’ll be fully reviewing and benchmarking the latter version at Tech Advisor, so hopefully there won’t be any compromises compared to the Qualcomm silicon.

The phone will also go up to a whopping 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, matching the OnePlus 6 for RAM. The standard model comes with 6/128GB, and will by no means be a slouch in comparison.

We used the Note 9 extensively and it was faultless for performance and finally feels as fast as a Pixel 2 – but it was fresh out the box, of course and without any apps loaded.

Software:

The Note 9 ships with Android 8.1 Oreo and we hope it will get an upgrade to Pie at some point. But Samsung tends to drag its heels somewhat with software updates and the Note 8 will probably get Android P after OnePlus and even Sony phones.

SHOULD YOU BUY SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 9?

After a brief stint with the Note 9 we are more impressed than expected to be. For a phone that looks a lot like the Note 8, the build quality is surprisingly improved with a less smudge-prone finish on the blue and purple models and a grippier edge.

The screen is even larger as thankfully is the battery, while the display looks like it’s still the best you can ask for on a phone. And obviously we love the yellow S-Pen.

It’ll be too niche, big or expensive for some people, but the Galaxy Note 9 is looking to be one of the best phones of 2018 stuffed with every feature imaginable. So go for it.

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