Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Samsung has maintained its annual end of summer appointment and presented the new Galaxy Note 9. The new phablet with nib improves the previous model (find here our comparison between Note 8 and Note 9), already almost perfect, and it is confirmed to be the best smartphone for the premium sector and continues to give a nod to business users.
Packaging, content, and unboxing
What’s in the Galaxy Note 9 box? The format of the Note 9 package remains unchanged from what we are used to seeing, but this year Samsung decided to highlight the new nib. Once you have completed the unboxing of Note 9 you find yourself making a complete endowment: 9V / 1.67A power supply compatible with the quick charge (you will complete a charge in about 2 hours), a USB / USB-C cable, a small adapter from micro USB to USB-C, an adapter for the use of USB-C to USB-C, some spare tips for the S Pen and a pair of excellent in-ear AKG headphones. In the box there is not a cover but we have already made a deepening where we recommend the best covers for Galaxy Note 9.
Design and construction
Samsung has decided not to distort the design of Note 9; the lines remain therefore almost identical to last year’s model. The materials remain the perfect combination of glass (Gorilla Glass 5) and opaque aluminum, regarding positioning of the components only minor changes have been made compared to the previous model. The side keys still provide the presence of the Bixby key: useless in our market, but that could be convenient if you were given the opportunity to remap it according to your needs. The fingerprint sensor has been repositioned: now it is more central and more easily accessible, although perhaps still a bit ‘too high. The dimensions remain important; we are talking about 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm, and a weight of 201 grams, features that do not make it the most ergonomic of the devices. Note 9 is not easy to use with just one hand, but changes to the design allow to avoid the soap effect and to be able to hold it firmly using one hand. It should be said that Samsung has done everything possible to make the smartphone as comfortable as possible to use and has proficiently improved the ergonomics thanks to the small step created along the edges, detail that allows you to have a firmer grip. The smartphone remains IP68, therefore resistant to water and dust, and the same certification is also valid for the S Pen. The nib remains on the bottom right and can be extracted from the slot by pressing the button and then pulling the new S Pen; this mechanism allows you to effectively avoid accidental releases.
The design and lines of Note 9 make it a really nice device to see and touch. The new Note is available in different colors. Among the different colors stands out that we tested that combines blue body and yellow nib, very beautiful.
Samsung did not want to miss anything in Galaxy Note 9. The Korean phablet is definitely the Android smartphone with the complete hardware equipment on the market. The Samsung Exynos 9810 processor is the same 2.7 GHz octa-core seen on Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and is flanked by a Mali G72 GPU and 6 or 8 GB of LPDDR4X RAM. The internal memory is available in versions 128 and 512 GB and is UFS 2.1. The memory is expandable up to a further 512 GB through the use of microSD and therefore allows you to get to 1 TB total memory, in this regard we have made a deepening with the selection of the best microSD for Galaxy Note 9.
The real news of the hardware sector is the presence of a liquid heat pipe, that is a liquid cooling system, which allows more efficient heat dissipation and better performance in times of greater stress.
Alongside the excellent combined CPU – GPU we find a complete series of sensors that includes: accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer, cardio sensor, fingerprint reader, iris scanner. In no smartphone marketed in 2018 has been seen a complete endowment. There are also the notification LED, the pressure sensor, and the headphone jack.
Samsung has distorted the internal design of Note 9 compared to previous models. Under the body are the new liquid cooling system and a greater presence of carbon, technical details that allow you to maintain lower temperatures and to gain space to accommodate a larger battery than that of Note 8.
The performance of Galaxy Note 9 is practically perfect; the smartphone is always snappy and fluid even in use under stress, prolonged sessions, and gaming.
The connectivity department is equipped with an LTE module of Cat. 18, which allows you to reach speeds up to 1.2 Gbps, flanked by the presence of GPS (A-GPS, Glonass, BDS), WiFi ac, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC.
Charging and connection to other devices can be made using the USB Type-C 3.1 which is compatible with the standard display port and allows you to connect Note 9 directly to a screen and to use Dex without having to resort to other accessories.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is available in Dual Sim with double stand by and allows you to use two nano-SIM. Going to sacrifice one of the two slots you can use a SIM slot for microSD memory. The reception and the audio quality, both in capsule and hands-free, are excellent and the presence of the two SIMs does not negatively affect the autonomy. We did not encounter any problems when using GPS and WiFi; everything works perfectly.
S Pen in 2018 version
A lot of news also came for the Galaxy Note 9 S-Pen. The version we tested has a yellow S Pen and remains very sensitive and precise thanks to the 4096 levels of pressure that it is able to recognize. The S Pen, however, has been equipped with Bluetooth LE that allows you to remotely use Note 9 and take advantage of some features. In order to power up the Bluetooth module, a small battery has been inserted inside the small nib which allows 40 minutes of autonomy with 2000 key presses in the face of a charge that is completed in just 40 seconds.
What can you do with the S Pen remote control? You can use the stylus to take a picture, start or lock videos and music and scroll through slides in a presentation, all at a distance of up to 10 meters.
The Note 9 screen is the best ever seen on a smartphone. The dimensions of the display are slightly increased compared to those of Note 8, so we arrive at a 6.4-inch diagonal with an 18: 9 ratio. The resolution remains QHD + from 1440 x 2960 pixels and is scalable and is ideal for exploiting the smartphone as a virtual reality viewer. The panel is always based on SuperAMOLED technology, compatible with the HDR10 standard, and there is an always-on mode that allows you to read notifications on the screen locked. The colors and brightness (above 1000 nits) of the display are practically perfect and make Note 9 the smartphone with the best screen of 2018.
The Edge screen keeps the curvature on the long sides, the latter is not very accentuated and is comfortable and useful. The curvature also becomes a valuable element of design and gives the Note 9 an elegant and refined appearance.
Galaxy Note 9 brings the Samsung Experience to its version 9.5 with an operating system based on Android Oreo 8.1. The new version of the operating system customized by Samsung brings with it all the additions and features seen in previous versions of the phones of the Korean manufacturer and adds many new ones. The Note 9 software is definitely the complete version of Android on the market and implements many noteworthy features, but remains a software heavy enough to run but fortunately, the excellent hardware is able to put a piece to this problem. List all the features of Note 9 would be exhausting work, I mention those that have most convinced us: S Health that allows you to use Note 9 for fitness and workouts, the curvature of the Edge panel with all its functions and the ability to view notifications, window app management, one-handed mode, game launcher mode dedicated to gaming, Samsung Pay for contactless payments, and many others. They are then worthy of a dedicated speech S Pen, of which I spoke above, and DeX.
Samsung DeX: what it is and how it works on Galaxy Note 9
Samsung DeX is the software platform that allows you to use Note 9 as if it were a normal PC. By connecting the smartphone to a screen via HDMI, you can use an interface very similar to that of a Windows PC. From here you can use all the software, applications and data inside the phone, although there are naturally some limitations due to the adaptation of the interface from mobile to desktop. Thanks to the use of an adapter, or via Bluetooth, it is then possible to connect an external mouse, keyboard, and hard disk and then use Note 9 as a normal PC. While using DeX, you can continue to use your smartphone normally in full capacity, all without slowing down.
On Galaxy Note 9 Samsung has decided to mount the same pair of lenses already seen on Galaxy S9 Plus. The dual rear camera consists of a 12-megapixel main optic with variable aperture ƒ / 1.5-2.4, the secondary is 12 megapixel with a focal aperture ƒ / 2.4. Both optics are optically stabilized, and a powerful LED flash is also available. The first lens works as main and, thanks to the variable focal aperture, allows you to have more clarity on photos with strong lighting and more light in photos made with poor lighting. The second optic works instead as 2x optical zoom and allows you to have a greater level of detail.
The quality of the photos is among the best views in 2018. In every light condition Galaxy Note 9 can take excellent pictures. The daytime images are crisp and perfectly balanced in color. The photos taken at night are always precise and bright, and the noise level is really low. An aid to photographic quality is also given by the artificial intelligence introduced by Samsung. The AI is able to independently recognize 20 types of different scenes and manages to improve the detail of the colors and contrasts. Also, excellent videos can be recorded with 4k resolution at 60 fps, all achieving excellent results thanks to electronic stabilization.
The camera software is excellent and includes a great range of features including manual mode, selective focus, super slow motion, the classic overview, and hyperlapse.
Good also the 8-megapixel front camera with ƒ / 1.7 that allows you to make good quality selfies, to take advantage of the bokeh effect and video recording with the definition in 4k.
Battery and autonomy
The hardware modifications have allowed Samsung to insert a 4000 mAh battery in Galaxy Note 9. Autonomy improves compared to other Samsung smartphones but does not make a miracle scream. With intense use Galaxy Note 9 gets to make 5 hours of screen on and confirms the high energy expenditure of Samsung smartphones, both in operation and during standby. With intense use, you can get to the right day just right, with average use you will not have any difficulty finishing the day with a good residual charge. DeX and gaming naturally affect battery life, and if used for a long time they could prevent you from reaching the end of the day.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is sold at an official price of € 1029 in the version with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal memory; it goes up to € 1279 for the version 8/512. Prices are high but are in line with what is offered. The price-quality ratio is sufficient and waiting a few months before the purchase; perhaps in view of Christmas, you can save a few hundred euros. Our advice is to follow the trend of the box below that is updated with the best price available:
Conclusions and final judgment on Galaxy Note 9
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the best smartphone of 2018. The screen is beautiful, the cameras almost perfect, the software has improved further, the S Pen has evolved, and the battery is good. Nothing is missing, but Note 9 makes its quality pay dearly.