When you review devices all the time, it gets to a point where smartphone releases no longer excite you because they all start to look the same– rectangular devices with specs and hardware slightly better than last year’s release. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t expecting anything great from Apple this year, but I was actually looking forward to getting a hold of the Galaxy Note 9 after seeing first impressions videos on YouTube.
It’s been about a couple of weeks now and I just have admit that Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a great phone. Yes, it’s a phone very close to perfection but there are still certain things you wish Samsung Mobile could’ve done better.
At this point in mobile technology, I’m not really sure it’s necessary still talking about the display on Samsung phones since everyone already knows they’re the do it better than the rest. Year after year, Samsung Mobile improves its Super AMOLED panel on its flagship devices and it’s no different this year. The Galaxy Note 9 packs a beautiful 6.4-inch display.
This is a little step-up from last year’s 6.3-inch display on the Galaxy Note 8. The resolution remains the same and you can still tweak this from the menu. If you’re really after battery life, you might choose the lowest which is 1480×720. I think the sweet spot is actually 2220×1080 which is the default. Besides, I’m not spending about a thousand dollars on this phone to use a 720p display.
The display is extra bright at 710 nits which is 27% brighter than what we had on the Galaxy Note 8. This peaks to 1050 nits.
Every time I get a Samsung phone, I do go to the display settings to switch from Adaptive display to Basic. This reduces the saturation which always look a bit too much for me and it also tones down the blue light. I still had to do it on the Galaxy Note 9. You can still tweak the colors the way you want as you have total control on how exactly you want the display to turn out.
It’s also refreshing to know Samsung is not trying to be like these other manufacturers embracing the notch approach like it’s a good good thing. I strongly believe a lot of users like me actually prefer the little bezels at the top and bottom of the screen to a notch.
This phone doesn’t look much different from last year’s Galaxy Note 9. The shape is generally the same. However, Samsung listened to complaints about the fingerprint sensor positioning and placed it right under the camera where it’s more accessible.
Unlike the S9/S9+, the shape is rather boxy and the curves are gentle. Just like other devices supporting wireless charging, the glass back cover attracts fingerprint. If you’re eventually putting this phone in a case, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Perhaps its due to the weight or the glass material around the back, this phone feels less slippery than I thought it would be. As a matter of fact, it actually feels sold in hand.
The left side holds the volume rocker and Bixby button. This time around, Samsung doesn’t let you disable this button and it can’t be remapped for some other function. It’s one of the little gripes I have with this device. I sometimes accidentally launch Bixby trying to adjust volume.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comes with stereo speakers. One is placed at the bottom and the other is integrated with the earpiece just like it is on the Galaxy S9+. At the bottom, you still have the 3.5mm audio port, a rare sight these days on flagship devices.
The top is where the SIM/microSD car tray is located. Since I’m using the Qualcomm Snapdragon version made for the US, I’m only able to use a single SIM and an SD card.
This phone has the same design from last year which some consider boring already. However, I find no problem with this. It’s hard to fault.
Although the phone might be considered slightly big for people with small hands, you still have to give props to Samsung for fitting a 4,000mAh battery, a water cooling system, the S Pen and many more
Performance & storage
The base storage this year for Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is 128GB. This is the one I got and it’s more than sufficient. Of course, you still have the option to use an SD card if you need more storage.
Even though I was supposed to go for the Exynos 9810 variant which is meant for Africa and some other regions, I decided to go for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 variant made for the US.
Being one of the fastest processors on high-end smartphones at the moment, performance is buttery smooth. 6GBs of RAM lets you multitask all you want. And as always, you can expect great benchmark scores that match real-life performance. For the version with 512GB storage, you get a
Gaming on the Galaxy Note 9 is fun. I tried pushing it to the limit to see how the liquid cooling system comes to play. Playing PUBG Mobile at maximum graphics settings with HDR turned on, frame rate set to ultra, and anti-aliasing turned on, the framerate didn’t drop and the game didn’t become choppy after a while. The phone was really hot and that’s expected, but I guess the liquid-cooled heat sink was taking the heat away from the processor to prevent thermal throttling and keep the game running smoothly.
The general misconception is that this water cooling system keeps your phone temperature cool. It doesn’t keep the phone’s general temperature from rising during intensive gaming, it only just tries to keep the processor cool and prevent thermal throttling. I think it does a pretty good job at this.
I am one of those weird people who
The Settings app puts a lot of controls in our hands as the user. Sometimes, it feels a bit too much and you might
And you still have Samsung Dex which I don’t see myself using at all. It’s fun being able to turn your phone to a desktop computer even though it’s a feature a lot of people would try just once just for the adventure. However, it’s nice knowing it’s there.
There are also lots of features an average person doesn’t care about. But I know I’m a big fan of Samsung Experience and it appears Samsung is trying to make it better with timely updates. It has only been a couple of weeks and I’ve already received two software updates.
Bixby is still very much alive, but I’m still not letting her assist me. Samsung wants to get people to use Bixby by all means because you can’t even disable the dedicated button any longer. I don’t want to use to assistants on a phone, I like Google Assistant as it is.
And there’s one reason I can’t use Bixby. It needs the Internet all the time. You can’t set an alarm without internet, you can’t set reminders without internet. Just like Siri.
But Google Assistant takes these basic commands and executes them without an Internet connection. So, for me, that dedicated button is just a waste of space.
The redesigned S Pen lets you do a lot of new things thanks to the new Bluetooth capability. Now you can use it as a remote control for music, videos
These extra features sound really great, but I see myself using it just to navigate the phone when I’m too lazy to swipe my fingers across the screen, taking notes, and perhaps sending live messages once in a while.
Holding back due to the Galaxy Note 7’s explosive battery fiasco, Samsung put a measly 3,300mAh battery on last year’s Galaxy Note 8. This year, the Galaxy Note 9 comes with a 4,000mAh battery which is the biggest we’ve seen on a Galaxy Note.
It gets you easily through the day and you still have some juice left. You still have fast charge through USB Type-C charge and wireless induction. The battery is actually one of best things about this device.
Most recent Samsung phones give you more than one way to secure your phone and the Galaxy Note 9 is no different. The fingerprint sensor around the back has been repositioned for better accessibility. You also have iris unlock and face unlock.
It appears Samsung wants people to use Intelligent Scan. This offers more security as it uses both face unlock and iris recognition. I feel it’s a bit slow though. Most of the time, I’ve already unlocked the phone with my right index finger before even bringing it close to my face for Intelligent Scan.
The camera on the Galaxy Note 9 is now the same as that on the Galaxy S9+– one telephoto lens and another wide angle lens with
The pictures are just what you would expect from a Samsung flagship like the Galaxy Note 9. The camera produces great images with lots of detail, you also have amazing low light performance thanks to the wide aperture at f/1.5. Noise reduction is impressive, but images can come out over-processed at times. Of course, images are still colorful and Samsung-like.
There’s a new scene detection mode that optimizes the settings based on what you’re trying to shoot. If you prefer to make your edits and color correction yourself instead of letting AI take over, you might want to turn this off.
You still have
This phone has its little shortcomings like the Bixby button you can’t disable, the rather slow intelligent scan, and the back cover that’s a fingerprint magnet. However, all these are negligible and totally acceptable since no phone is perfect anyway.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 offers a great screen with no notch, awesome cameras, an impressive battery life, lots of storage that’s even expandable, IP68 water resistance, a nice multifunctional stylus and lots more. If you still care about it, the 3.5mm audio port is still retained just for you.
The Galaxy Note 9 delivers your money’s worth and it really lives up to the hype. If you ever plan to spend a thousand dollars on a phone this year, this is probably your best option.