Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review
What is it?
Samsung’s most powerful smartphone of 2018 that’s aimed at the power user. It has got a big screen, a big battery and the trademark S-Pen, which is more than just a gimmick if used properly.
Design & Construction
- The Galaxy Note 9 is built upon the same design language that debuted on the Galaxy S8/ S8+ back in early 2017. Therefore, it’s a familiar looking phone if you are used to Samsung’s current wave of flagships.
- There’s a big 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen up front with slim bezels on top and bottom. Thanks to a tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio and curved black glass, the device is easy to hold in one hand.
- The fingerprint scanner is located below the rear cameras, making it more convenient to use than the one on the Note 8.
- The screen on the Galaxy Note 9 is typically what you’d expect from a top-end Samsung phone. It produces punchy and saturated colours making it great for media consumption. Sunlight legibility is pretty good too.
- By default, the resolution is set to FHD+, but you can amp it up to QHD+ if required. However, there isn’t much visible difference in the two modes when used on a daily basis.
- The screen is curved at both ends, which enables different features/ shortcuts on the device using the edge panel. However, the curved screen still works the best at enhancing the aesthetic value of the phone and making the UI transitions a bit more dramatic.
User Interface & Performance
- The Note 9 is powered by Samsung’s 10 nm Exynos 9810 SoC that’s mated to Mali-G72 MP18 GPU and 6/8GB of RAM. Our test phone has 6GB RAM and 128GB ROM.
- Since Samsung isn’t known to be super quick with updates, the Note 9 still runs on Android 8.1 Oreo as of November 2018 with Samsung’s custom skin on top. With Samsung’s new One UI announced, the Android Pie update will come alongside the new UI on this phone in early 2019.
- The day to day performance on the phone is pretty quick. Sure, it cannot outpace stock Android or lighter skins like OnePlus’ Oxygen OS, but still, most users will be happy with the phone’s fluidity.
- Those looking to make the UI snappier can turn all the animations off through developer settings, which historically has always helped in minimising lags on Samsung phones.
- Gaming performance is flawless for the most part on the device. Heavy duty titles like Asphalt 9 and PUBG mobile run well with hardly any frame drop or stutter.
- The Galaxy Note 9 has a primary 12MP camera with a variable f/1.5-2.4 aperture that’s accompanied by a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens. The shots taken by these dual rear cameras are some of the best in the business.
- Stills from the primary camera have good dynamic range. Photos come out extremely vibrant in both naturally and artificially lit scenarios. The telephoto module, while not as high quality as the main sensor, still produces likeable results, but it sometimes struggles to focus. Then, there’s the 8MP selfie camera that produces social media worthy photos.
- The Note 9 is also the first Samsung device to feature the much-hyped AI scene recognition that can detect around 20 different scenes and then automatically adjust the camera settings to produce best results. The thing is, the colours are always over saturated and not very true to life, which a lot of people complain about.
- The usual portrait mode gimmick is also very much here, and it continues to be a hit or miss. The variable aperture rear camera does help with photography in extremely dim scenarios, but the results aren’t as improved as you may expect.
- The phone can shoot videos in 2160p @ 60 fps, 1080p @ 240 fps and 720p @ 960 fps (super slow-mo). There’s OIS onboard which produces decently stabilised videos.
Camera samples of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 can be seen below:
- The Galaxy Note 9 is the first Samsung flagship phone with a 4,000mAh, which easily takes you through a whole day with medium to heavy usage.
- The great battery life is also one of the main reasons to pick the Note 9 over the almost similar Galaxy S9+, who’s battery is smaller by 500mAh.
- The S-Pen on the Note 9 isn’t just for doodling or taking notes. It can be a powerful companion that can be used to scroll web pages & slides, remotely click pictures and control media playback. Once you get used to the S-Pen, it’s a real boon.
- With rumours surrounding the Galaxy S10 dropping the headphone jack, the Note 9 might be the last Samsung flagship to hold on to this precious little port (sigh!).
- You can afford to be a little adventurous with this phone since it has IP68 water and dust resistance. There’s also a snug silicone case that comes free inside the retail box.
- The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is one of the most accomplished Android flagships you can buy in end 2018. Sure, the current Samsung UI is half a step behind lighter Android skins in terms of fluidity, but other than that, it’s hard to find a major flaw with this phone.
- With flagship phones already exceeding the Rs 1 lakh price point, the Note 9, at Rs 67,900 for the base variant, sounds like a decent value for money deal too!
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 key specs:
|Display||6.4-inch QHD+ AMOLED|
|Chipset||Exynos 9810 Octa-core|
12MP (f/1.5-2.4) Primary + 12MP (f/2.4) Telephoto
|Front Camera||8MP (f/1.7)|