Galaxy Note 9 with wireless charger

Best answer: Samsung finally has a Note with battery life to match its size and capabilities. The Note 9 can go all day with a good amount of battery to spare, even if you make no attempt to change its behavior in the name of battery life. The Note 9 also charges 0-100% as quickly as the Galaxy S9+ despite its larger battery capacity.

Amazon: Galaxy Note 9 ($999)

All-day battery life

Galaxy Note 9 with wireless charger

If you followed any of my coverage of the Galaxy S8+, Note 8 or even S9+, you'll know I wasn't always happy with the battery life. With the Note 8 in particular it just came up short too often for how large it is and how much it was focused on power users. Now with over 20% more capacity and a new slate of more efficient components, the Note 9 is a full-day phone for me without any question.

It was easy to expect ending each day with 20-30% battery left, even with no attempt to conserve.

I have ended most days with about 20-30% battery remaining, which is a healthy buffer zone that can absorb any abnormally heavy usage that may come from time to time. I reach that mark after 15-16 hours off the charger, typically with about 3 hours of "screen on" time. I make no overt attempts to conserve battery life on my Note 9 — I use automatic brightness, leave all of my accounts syncing, have many notifications turn on, leave Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all day, and use Bluetooth audio multiple hours a day. Samsung's battery information screen gives you an accurate representation of how long your phone will last based on your past week of use, and my Note 9 consistently offers me 22-24 hours of estimated time 100-0% — which is a little on the high side compared to what I actually end up getting, but it's not far off.

Samsung's screen is very efficient, but how long it's turned on is still a big determination of battery drain, as it's still the top battery consumer on any given day. The Always On Display, too, is a consistent drainer, making up about 5% of my battery usage daily. Streaming media or even playing casual games really doesn't hit battery life that hard — the only thing that's a truly heavy drain on the Note 9 in my experience is running Google Maps navigation in the Android Auto app, which has the screen on at high brightness while using GPS and LTE constantly.

The screen is still a sizable part of battery drain, as is Always On Display.

Samsung phones always take a few days to "settle in" to optimal battery performance in my experience, as it takes a little bit of usage for the battery optimization features to take hold. The system goes through and automatically optimizes lesser-used apps from waking up and syncing unnecessarily in the background, which in my experience works seamlessly with no consequences. You can of course go in and whitelist apps to do whatever they wish, but I haven't needed to do this in Samsung's latest software. I've had a "just use it and see what happens" philosophy with the Note 9, as shown with my usage patterns above, and it's worked out just fine — that's the kind of confidence that's important to have in a big phone like this.

This isn't a multi-day phone, at least without seriously changing how you use it.

What the Note 9 won't be able to offer is full multi-day usage — that is, unless you severely limit what the phone is doing and what you use it for. Even with extremely basic usage, I easily dip under the 50% mark in any given day, meaning there's no way I could let it sit overnight and then get a whole day out of it again. Overnight standby battery life alone is going to take a little chunk out of that, using up 0.5-1% per hour while on Wi-Fi, even with Always On Display turned off. The battery is good enough to get you through a full day, night and the next morning — but you'll have to hit a charger at some point before noon to keep going for the rest of the day.

But with this capacity, more is always possible if you're willing to dramatically change the way you use your phone. Turn off Always On Display for starters, limit the number of apps providing push notifications, turn off unused radios, limit screen brightness and use Power Saving Mode regularly, and sure you could get through two full days if you really need to. But Samsung wasn't designing for this use case — it wanted to give enough capacity to get even hardcore users through a full day, not try and be a true two-day phone without limiting its usefulness.

Good enough charging speeds

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

I've been one of many people consistently chastising Samsung for its decision to stick with the same charger its been using since the Galaxy S6, a basic USB-A plug that operates on Quick Charge 2.0 technology. The argument for faster charging came back to the surface with the Note 9's larger battery, which would presumably take longer to charge than the Galaxy S9+'s. Thankfully, that isn't actually the case.

Despite using the same charger, the Note 9 charges to full in the same amount of time as a GS9+.

For whatever reason — likely a handful of purposeful tweaks in the system — the Galaxy Note 9 charges at a higher wattage from this standard Samsung charger than both the Galaxy S9+ and Note 8 do. Plugging in to this 15W charger the Note 9 draws roughly 14.5W, whereas the Note 8 draws between 13.5-14.5W and the Galaxy S9+ draws between 13-14W. The Note 9 also doesn't seem to drop charging speed when the screen is on, which is something I've observed in both previous phones.

That increase in (and sustained) wattage makes sure the Note 9 charges 0-100% in the same amount of time as the Galaxy S9+, despite its 14% larger battery. Charging time is roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes, depending on how much the phone is doing during that period, which is pretty good. Better yet the Note 9 also supports the same charging speed from a 15W+ USB-C PD charger, like the Google Pixel 2's, so you don't have to stick with a Quick Charge plug to get the fastest speeds.

Knowing you can have this larger capacity and strong battery life without giving up on overall charging speed compared to the rest of the recent big Galaxy phones is reassuring. But I still wish Samsung would've found a way to get Quick Charge 3.0 or even 4.0 in here. Not necessarily for fast 0-100% charging, which we almost never need in the real world, but for quicker 0-30% or 15-45% charges, which is the most critical time where every minute matters.

Great battery life

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

This phone is a real battery champion.

When battery life is critical, you want a phone to have a battery as big as the Galaxy Note 9's. With a 4000mAh capacity and lots of efficient internal components, the Galaxy Note 9 can make it through a full day with capacity to spare. That's the case whether you hit it hard or take it easy — and if you go light on the phone, it can make it through the night and into the next day if you need it to. Not only does it have better battery life than Samsung's previous flagships, but it also beats most of the flagship competition as well.

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