Samsung’s latest Note, the Galaxy Note 9, is all set to go on sale in most parts of the world from next week. While the Note 9 might seem an iterative upgrade over the Note 8 and shares the same internals as the Galaxy S9+, Samsung has made a few key improvements that make it an interesting device to own.
Among other things, the Galaxy Note 9 comes with a massive 4,000mAh battery and a big, beautiful display that sets a new benchmark for smartphone displays. With the Note 9 release date just over a week away, the first batch of reviews of the handset from major publications have started making their way to the internet. Let’s have a look at what they have to say about Samsung’s latest note.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review Roundup
The publication puts it very aptly: the new Note 9 gives the most of any Note from Samsung and it also has a price tag to match. It crowns the Note 9 as the best phone Samsung has ever made and the best Android phone one can buy right now, though it is not for everyone.
The Note 9 is definitely on the bigger side but its all-day battery life justifies that size.
That translates into true, all-day battery life, even for the heaviest of users that stare at their phones all day long. I’m one of those users and the Note 9 has been able to give me between six and seven hours of on-screen time with my typical workflow, which is considerably more than I get with other contemporary devices. In the week or so I’ve been using the Note as my primary phone, there hasn’t been a single day where the battery didn’t last from the very moment I woke up to the point I went to bed at night. If there’s a single reason to justify the Note 9’s price and size, battery life is it.
Bixby continues to be pointless. Samsung should pour its resources into other areas instead of Bixby.
And there’s Bixby, Samsung’s oft-maligned voice assistant. The Note 9 has a revamped version of Bixby, with an adjusted user interface and deeper integration with third-party services. But like DeX, these improvements are merely skin-deep and Bixby has all of the same problems it’s always had: it’s slow, stupid, and generally not as good as Google Assistant, which is conveniently also on the phone. For example, I asked Bixby to “give me directions to JFK”, and it routed me to a fried chicken joint with “JFK” in the name instead of the international airport. I like fried chicken as much as anyone, but those weren’t the wings I was looking for.
Got $1,000 to spare and are looking for the best Android phone around? Buy the Note 9.
The Note 9 rightfully represents the pinnacle of Samsung’s smartphone line. It’s the best of everything, from display, to battery life, to performance and so on. It will likely be at the top of many best smartphone lists this year.
The publication’s review of the Note 9 is primarily positive and only points a few issues here and there. The device has a big and beautiful display, great build quality, a handy S Pen which appeals to a certain niche of people, and a dual-camera setup at the rear that is capable of capturing some great photos.
The AI mode in Galaxy Note 9’s camera does a pretty good job, though in certain scenarios solutions from Huawei’s AI system were better.
It’s nice that the AI isn’t very obtrusive, but it’s hardly a game changer — the Note 9 already takes pretty great pictures without the AI’s help. It delivers rich colors and crisp details, although it still lags the Pixel 2 on color accuracy. I also still prefer the Huawei P20 Pro for things like food and portraits. Its larger aperture of f/1.8 (compared to the Note 9’s default f/2.4) makes focusing on closeup subjects easier.
Like the Galaxy S9, the Note 9 is capable of recording super slow-mo videos at 960fps for 0.4secs which translates into 12 seconds of real-time playback. The implementation is similar to that of the S9 which means the camera will start recording slow-mo video when it detects motion in a specified box which might not be liked by all.
With 6GB RAM and a Snapdragon 845 chipset inside, the Note 9 is an absolute beast in terms of performance.
It’s great at simultaneously managing taxing apps — like playing a YouTube video while running Fortnite in the background. Plus, little things like having my Instagram feed fully loaded the second I opened the app or seeing my friends’ Stories the instant I tapped on their pictures meant the Note 9 fed my desire for instant gratification more than most phones. The bottleneck here is going to be your data provider — not the CPU.
The 4,000mAh battery is also good enough to ensure the device lasts more than a day on full charge, though in Engadget’s video rundown battery life test, the Note 9 lasted just a wee bit longer than the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
The Note 9 is far from perfect though. Apart from running an outdated version of Android, the Intelligent Scan feature is also pretty unreliable. And then there’s Bixby which is still a mess.
Finally, Bixby is still kind of a mess: The features Samsung showed off at its keynote, like integrating third-party app results without having to first install the apps, didn’t work well. The assistant would randomly pull up completely unrelated apps, like FlightStats when I asked for directions to the office. When I told it, “Text Chris Velazco,” Bixby tried to send one of the five Chrises on my phone the message “Velazco.” Sigh.
Another positive review which praises the Note 9’s performance, display, and camera performance. In fact, in camera performance, Gizmodo makes it clear that the Note 9’s camera goes head-to-head with that of the Pixel 2, with no phone winning all the rounds.
However, to all those people who continue to swear up and down about how the Pixel 2 is clearly the best smartphone camera, just stop it, it’s not. Between the iPhone X, the Pixel 2, the Huawei P20 Pro and the Galaxy Note 9, there isn’t a single smartphone that beats out its competition 100 percent of the time, or depending on the match up, even 75 percent of the time. I will say, that with Google’s advanced HDR+ processing, the Pixel 2 tends to has a slight advantage over Note 9 in bright, daytime situations. However, in low light, I ran into multiple situations where the Note 9 out shot a Pixel 2 XL.
The Note 9 is a true battery life champion thanks to its 4,000mAh battery.
Ok, so this is all fun and great, but what about the Note 9’s battery life? I admit, I may have sandbagged a bit, but I wanted to save the best part for last, because the Note 9’s battery life is incredible. With a time of 14 hours and 11 minutes on our rundown test, the Note 9 is the second longest-lasting phone we’ve ever tested, behind only the Asus Zenfone 4 Max— which was a handset designed with only one goal in mind: longevity. Last year, Samsung went with a battery on the Note 8 that was actually 200 mAh smaller than what you got on an S8+. But for 2018, Samsung increased the size of the Note 9’s battery by almost 15 percent when compared to the S9+, and it’s made quite a difference.
The only real disappointment with the Note 9 is that it continues to run on Android 8.1 Oreo despite Google now officially releasing Android 9 Pie. The latest release of Android comes with a number of new features like App Actions, new volume controls, Adaptive Battery which would have greatly benefited the Note 9. Knowing Samsung, it will take at least a few months before the Pie update makes its way to the device as well.
Overall, the Note 9 is easily the best Android smartphone around, though some may struggle to justify its $1,000 price tag.
The Note 9 is perhaps the only Android phone worth $1,000 as per the publication’s review.
Galaxy Notes have always represented the pinnacle of Samsung’s smartphone capabilities, but up until this point have for some reason been saddled with a couple shortcomings that didn’t make them automatic recommendations over the latest Galaxy S. With the Note 9, that has changed — it now has the largest battery of the set, plus more storage across the board and the option for more memory as well. All while packing an even larger, and higher quality, display — and being built on the same spec and feature platform throughout the rest of the phone.
What do you think about the Galaxy Note 9? Do you plan on picking one up when it launches next week?