- Bigger and Better Battery
- Impressive Camera
- Improved S Pen
- Amazing Battery
- Good Performance
- 128GB Note9 Cheaper than the Note8
- Could be a bit pricey for some
When Samsung made its debut with their new Samsung Galaxy Note8, I was completely blown away on how much a game changer it was, and I bought one for myself. It was the one phone that stuck in my pocket for a long while. But it had one hiccup, the battery life. After it’s Note7 fiasco, they had to play safe and the battery life took a huge hit. In fact, it was an enormous one. So much so, bringing one battery pack in my bag was like a part of my life. This year, Samsung announced the all-new Samsung Galaxy Note9. To be honest, it looks identical to the predecessor, but it has a lot of changes on the inside that is incremental but a much needed one. It’s time to find out what I have to say in this Samsung Galaxy Note9 Review.
Design & Build Quality
From afar, the Samsung Galaxy Note9 is pretty much identical on the front with the Samsung Galaxy Note8. It has this same design language. The rectangular design that looks like a pocket notepad and a lot less curvy edges, gives the phone a bit of a bold look. The moment you flip it over to the back, now that’s where you’ll realize that the phone has a slight design change. The fingerprint sensor is no longer on the side but instead has been moved to the bottom of the camera module. This makes it a lot easier to reach for both left or right handed users.
If you notice it well, the camera module has this slight bump on it. Other than that, the phone still rocks this gorgeous design and I still love it. On the side, the metal rail has been redesigned. The Galaxy Note8 had a glossy finish that chips off over time. The Note9 has completely redesigned with this metallic finish with the chamfered rails all around – giving it this smooth and sexy look.
As for the build quality, the Note9 is still crafted with the best in class material. It has Corning Gorilla Glass both on the front and back with the metal rails in the middle. It’s more of a sandwiched design. The rails still have this lip around the display to make sure that it sits in well. The glasses on the device is a lot finer and nice to hold.
One of the other thing that I personally liked about the Note9 is how it has a heft to it making it not too heavy but when you hold it in your hands, you’ll know it’s a solid device. The buttons are a lot more clicky than the previous generation and has this tactile feel to it. If you use the Note8, you cannot tell anything different with the Note9 right away as it feels pretty much the same. I liked the Note8’s quality and precision. It applies for the Note9 as well.
The Note9 has a 6.4” inch Quad HD+ Display in the 18:9 aspect ratio. Comparing with the Note8, the Note9 gained a .1” inch higher. But when you look at it in person, it looks the same to the eye. Just like any of their flagship series, the Super AMOLED Display has the best in class color production, hands down. The display is calibrated to a colder tone by default. You can change it in the settings.
Not just that, there isn’t a single-color distortion or fading when moving the device around. The blacks are true blacks. The glass and the display are curved on the edges and it feels pretty much normal. The palm rejection is good and there’s no complaints with that. The bezel is a bit thinner compared to the Note8 but once again, it’s a very minimal difference to pick up.
It has some features like Always on Display to make it interesting – where it only lights up selected pixels on a phone.
One of the key feature of the Note9 is the S Pen and the way it works on the display is pretty the same. It has 1024 pressure points and it works like a charm. This part works almost the same as the Note8, which I am a huge fan. Now, they did add something to the Pen – to spice things up. Now, it has a battery and has Bluetooth capability. Let’s breakdown the S Pen.
How it Works?
Near the tip of the pen, it has a Super Capacitor that powers the S Pen and this component charges the pen via induction. Below the S Pen button is where the Bluetooth Module and antenna is located. It takes roughly about 40 seconds to deliver a usage time of 30 minutes. The connection can last up to 10-meter radius – which is a nice touch. It uses Bluetooth Low-energy connectivity, if you are wondering.
Now that it has a Bluetooth capability, the S Pen offers functions – they call it Customized Clicks. For starters, you can use your S Pen as a remote to capture selfie and pictures from afar. It can be used for presentation and finally, you can control your entertainment without moving a single bit. The customizable clicks allow you to program what kind of function you want the phone to do when you press once, twice or thrice. I enjoyed using it as a remote for the camera and launching Netflix when I press and hold the button.
Specification and Benchmark
As we are in Malaysia, the Samsung Galaxy Note9 comes with their in-house processor – the Samsung Exynos 9810, which is an octa core processor that’s clocked in at 2.7GHz. It has an Adreno As for the RAM and storage, it is available in two different configurations – 6GB RAM with 128GB and 8GB RAM with 512GB. We received the 6GB Variant.
Below here, you’ll find the benchmark scores that was taken with the 6GB Variant. We tested on Antutu, Geekbench and the usual CPU-Z to verify the hardware inside the phones. Take note that the benchmark scores only show the maximum performance a phone could give under maximum load. Other than that, do not expect the scores to reflect exactly to your day-to-day usage – as it varies.
The Note9 is a top tier Flagship device with tons of capability. The phone is silky smooth, and I have nothing much to say. I played PUBG, Asphalt 9 and Republique to see how the phone handles. It did well. In fact, a wonderful job. I personally use my Note8 for on the go editing on Photoshop and so on, so I still get the same (if not, better) fluidity.
The multitasking on the Note9 is a breeze and you won’t notice a single hiccup. If it was a Note9 with 8GB RAM, I doubt you’re going to notice ANY lag of sorts – that is if you don’t install suspicious applications. The phone handled the temperature well – as it has a Water Carbon Cooling system allows the device to run cool throughout heavy gaming sessions.
In short, the Performance on the Note9 is splendid.
Battery & Charging
One thing that completely disappointed me last year with the Note8 was the battery. If you are wondering, the Note8 had a 3300 mAh battery and that’s 200 mAh less than the S8+ which came out in the same year (2017). This year, The Samsung Galaxy Note9 has a whopping 4000 mAh battery, making it the biggest compared with any Samsung phones starting from the S8 series. Was it good? It was amazing. I used the Samsung Galaxy Note9 moderate and with that said, their claim on having the all-day battery life was pretty much legit. During my first test where I had an active use for 10 hours. I was able to get 6 hours of Screen on Time which is a dream come true. That’s like 48% of the battery usage. In the second battery test, where I had to use the camera for an extensive period, I had an active use of 7 hours and 14 minutes and a SoT of 4 hours and 19 minutes.
Honestly, I think the phone handles the battery well. It is better than the Note8 that’s in my bag connected to a battery bank. Good job Samsung. As for charging, the phone is Quick Charge enabled and supports fast Qi Wireless Charging capability. It takes roughly about 2 hours+ for me to get it charged from 10% to 100% on a Quick Charge 2.0 adapter.
One thing I also love about the Note9 is the standby time. The phone has a good standby time. I unplugged the phone at 80 percent and went to bed. The next day, I had about 72% – which is decent enough.
Front Facing Camera
On the front, the Samsung Galaxy Note9 has an 8MP Camera with Auto Focus Capability. It has an aperture of f/1.7. The details from the Front camera is pretty good and the colors are accurate. Thanks to the Bluetooth Capability of the S Pen, I was able to take some shots with the front facing camera and use it as a remote. A nifty tool indeed.
Rear Facing Camera
On the back, Samsung still has the same Dual 12MP Camera setup going on. The primary sensor did get a minor upgrade – it now has a dual variable aperture where it has the capability to switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4. The secondary sensor is a Telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.4. Good thing is both the camera on the phone has OIS – making it easier to shoot a picture, handheld.
The colors that we see with the rear facing camera is rich, has a very nice HDR capability. There isn’t any color distortion and the details captured are impressive. Every single detail is on point. Low light shots are amazing with the primary sensor whereas the secondary sensor does alright. Overall, it’s a camera that does splendid. Honestly, I couldn’t tell any difference comparing side by side with my Galaxy Note8.
The Samsung Galaxy Note9 joins the #TeamDualSpeaker. We still have the speaker located at the bottom of the phone and the earpiece acts as the second speaker – giving a stereo effect. During my time, I was able to differentiate and it sure was an upgrade over my Note8. The phone splits the mids, highs and lows and assigns which speakers should handle what. To top it off, it has Dolby Atmos support. Toggling this on will allow you to choose various sound profile for the contents you watch.
It doesn’t break nor have any distorted sound quality to it. Overall, it was a good one.
UI & OS
The Samsung Galaxy Note9 runs Android 8.1 Oreo on top of their custom UI – The Samsung Experience. It is a huge leap from the TouchWiz UI which we saw years back and this time it’s a lot more fluidic and smooth. You won’t be disappointed with the whole experience. The app drawer is a lot cleaner. The home screen is neat and if you are a simpleton, you’d like it.
As it is a Samsung UI, you’d also get some added features like Secure Folders to store your personal files. Samsung Pass, for storing your password and not to forget, one of my favorite – Samsung Pay – an app that allows you to register your card and use it as your wallet instead. Other than that, one other thing to note is the fact that this phone supports Project Treble, which means any update that you’ll receive in the future will be more of an incremental rather than downloading a gig worth of data.
They have also made a feature which required a dock – that sold separately, to be used without it this time. That’s Samsung DeX. All you need is a USB-C Dongle to HDMI and you will be able to use your phone as a full fledge desktop. They have teamed up with Microsoft to include Office Suite – thus making productivity easier. Only thing that I personally didn’t like is how inaccurate or unresponsive using the Display as the TouchPad was. I’d highly recommend you get a Bluetooth keyboard and a mouse combo to make the experience smoother.
The moment I received the email from Samsung about the Note9 Pre-order right after the Unpacked, the price for their base version blew me away. The Samsung Galaxy Note8 that I purchased was priced at RM3999. This time, the Note9 is RM300 cheaper – but offers more. Samsung has upgraded the Specification, made the storage huge, improved the S Pen and not to forget the battery, big.
The Samsung Galaxy Note9 is what the last year Note8 should have been. With that said, coming from a Samsung Galaxy Note8 – I personally think that it is worth the upgrade. It may look like an incremental update but it’s a much-needed update. Kudos Samsung – we are looking forward to the next phone you folks are about to make.