The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is an incremental upgrade over Galaxy Note 8 but, it still packs in a huge punch. Features like a Bluetooth enabled S-Pen, a repositioned fingerprint scanner really help in making the user experience even better. Here's our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and how well has it been able to hold itself after all these months.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Specifications
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2960x1440 pixels. It is powered by the Exynos 9810 octa-core chipset paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB onboard storage in the base model. The device runs Google's Android 9.0 Pie based One UI. All of this is backed by a 4,000mAh battery, which supports Samsung's Adaptive Fast Charge technology.
Price: Rs. 67,900
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Design
Samsung has been using a glass sandwich design with curved display edges for a few years now. With the experience gained over the years, Samsung has managed to make the Galaxy Note 9 look and feel way better than its predecessors. The glass back makes the phone a fingerprint magnet and slippery. However, it also makes the phone look extremely premium.
While its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 8 also came with an Infinity display, Galaxy Note 9 makes it even better, by shrinking down the bezels a little bit more. Also, it is one of the very few flagships that does not come with a notched display.
The device sports a power button on the right, a volume rocker and a Bixby button on the left. The top edge houses a SIM card tray, which accepts two SIM cards or a SIM card and a microSD card. The bottom edge is where the USB Type C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, speaker grille and the S-Pen are located.
The back consists of the dual-camera setup with an LED flash and a heart rate sensor. Just below the cameras sits the fingerprint scanner, which is easy to reach even when using the phone single-handedly.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Display
Galaxy Note 9 sports one of the best displays on any smartphone right now. The Super AMOLED panel that has been used on the device is amazing to watch HDR content on, due to its support for HDR10 content. The brightness levels can be cranked all the way up to 1,000 nits making it quite easy to use even under direct sunlight.
The device comes with an always on display feature, which is quite useful as it constantly displays the time without the user needing to touch their phone. Do keep in mind that Samsung sets the display resolution to full HD+ by default in order to save battery. However, you can head into Settings > Display > Screen Resolution and set it to WQHD+ to unlock the phone's full potential.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Software
The software section is where Samsung has not received much love in the past few years. However, this has changed since they introduced its Experience UI and now One UI. Samsung has already started pushing out Android 9.0 Pie based One UI update to the device. While users have previously complained about slow updates, during my time with the device I noticed that it was one of the first phones to receive the January 2019 Security patch update globally.
With One UI, Samsung has made single-handed usage much easier. It also comes with features like Night Mode, which help in saving battery. The new UI feels way faster and responsive than its predecessor.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Performance
Galaxy Note 9 is one of Samsung's flagship smartphones, which means it is one of the best performing smartphones the company has to offer. Samsung usually releases two variants of its flagship devices - one with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and the other with an Exynos processor, we got the Exynos 9810 variant to review, which is an octa-core chipset with four cores clocked at 2.70GHz and four at 1.79GHz.
When it comes to real life performance, the phone performs reasonably well. After our unit received the One UI update, the whole user experience got a lot smoother. The app launch times reduced and the animations got much quicker making the phone feel a lot faster.
In terms of gaming, the Galaxy Note 9 was able to run any game thrown at it without any hiccups. However, during long gaming sessions, the device does tend to get a bit warm.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Cameras
In terms of the technical specifications, the Galaxy Note 9 comes with a dual 12-megapixel camera setup at the back. The primary sensor has an f/1.5 aperture with variable aperture support and the second one has an f/2.4 lens. Both the sensors feature Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), making it the first smartphone to do so. Up front, there is an 8-megapixel selfie shooter with f/1.7 aperture.
Though the sensors are similar to the Samsung Galaxy S9+, the South Korean giant has made significant improvements under the hood, making this one a better option. It does perform slightly better than the Galaxy S9+ in this segment.
During my review period, I went out for a trip to Dubai and the Galaxy Note 9 convinced me not to take out my DSLR. It managed to take some amazing low-light shots and even the portrait photos came out very well with good edge detection. Whether it be good or bad lighting, the photos I took from the Galaxy Note 9 never disappointed.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Battery
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comes with a 4,000mAh battery, which is one of the largest capacity batteries Samsung has to offer in a flagship smartphone. It is also a huge upgrade over the Galaxy Note 8's 3,300mAh battery.
With the Super AMOLED screen clocked at 1080p and the new One UI Dark Mode, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 can easily last through a full working day. However, if you crank up the display resolution all the way up to 1440p, you will lose a few hours of screen-on-time. Whenever one does need to juice it up, it comes with an Adaptive fast charger in the box, which can charge the phone back up in around 90 minutes.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Verdict
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a feature-rich smartphone with almost no compromises. It is one of the very few flagship smartphones to not sport a notch and manage to retain the expandable microSD card slot.
It does bring a larger 4,000mAh battery without compromising on the 3.5mm headphone jack. The new Bluetooth enabled S-Pen does make sense as taking photos will become easier for its users. In addition to all of this, it also has one of the best displays in the market.
In a nutshell, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is currently one of the best flagship smartphones out there. It surely is quite expensive when compared to something like the OnePlus 6T. However, unlike the Apple iPhone XS, it packs in enough useful features to justify that hefty price tag.