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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Welcome to the one comma club

Samsung's smartphone philosophy follows one clear path: give customers everything they want, and apply all of the best processes, components and engineering you have in order to do it, no matter the cost. There's no better expression of this philosophy than the Galaxy Note line of phones, which has regularly pushed the envelope of what's "normal" for a smartphone since the original launched in 2011. After a couple generations that didn't set the world alight, Samsung is back at it again with an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach in the Galaxy Note 9.

Given its relatively predictable and methodical step-by-step refresh cycle between the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note phones each year, it's easy to fall into thinking that the Galaxy Note 9 is "just another boring Samsung phone." But to look at Samsung's previous phones doesn't give the Note 9 enough credit for all that it does in a single package — albeit an extremely expensive one. On top of being based on the up-to-this-point best phone Samsung has ever made, the Note 9 added a larger and better display, a bigger battery, a bump up in storage and new S Pen features that continue to be a true differentiator. Here's how it all comes together to make such an excellent phone.

Pros:

  • Best screen available today
  • Strong battery life
  • Beautiful hardware
  • Top-notch camera
  • Base 128GB storage is great
  • Headphone jack

Cons:

  • Quick Charge 2.0 isn't fast enough
  • That price tag
  • Speakers should be better considering size
  • Bixby is primarily a punchline

About this review

I've been using a U.S. unlocked Galaxy Note 9 for 8 days, with time split between New York City and Seattle on the Verizon network. The software was version M1AJQ.N960U1UEU1ARG6, with the July 1 security patch, and was not updated during the course of the review. The phone was provided to Android Central by Samsung for review.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The look and feel

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Hardware, specs and battery life

At its core, the Galaxy Note 9 is a Galaxy S9+. In terms of basic specs, features, connectivity, capabilities, buttons and ports, the phones are indistinguishable. The Note 9 has the same Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM and supporting radios for LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It has the same stereo speakers, headphone jack, microSD card slot, USB-C port, buttons and fingerprint sensor. The cameras are entirely identical in terms of hardware. It charges at the same max speed, both wired and wireless. It's water and dust resistant to the same IP68 specification.

This isn't particularly surprising or even upsetting; the Galaxy S9+ is a wonderful phone with all of the features and power you'd need — and a phone I've been happily using for months — so building the Note 9 from that foundation is great. But it can't be entirely identical, right? Correct, there are some improvements — and they're in areas that will make Note fans swoon.

SpecGalaxy Note 9
Operating systemAndroid 8.1 Oreo
Samsung Experience 9.5
Display6.4-inch Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 (18.5:9)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
Storage128/512GB
ExpandableMicroSD up to 2TB
RAM6/8GB
Primary rear camera12MP Super Speed Dual Pixel, OIS, f/1.5 or f/2.4
Secondary rear camera12MP, OIS, f/2.4, telephoto lens
Front camera8MP, f/1.7, auto focus
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO, 1.2Gbps (Cat-18) LTE, Bluetooth 5.0 LE
ANT+, NFC, GPS, Glonass
AudioStereo speakers
Dolby Atmos
3.5mm headphone
Battery4000mAh
Non-removable
ChargingQuick Charge 2.0
USB-C PD
Fast Wireless Charging (15W)
Water resistanceIP68
SecurityOne-touch fingerprint sensor
Iris scanner
Samsung KNOX
Dimensions161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm
201g
ColorsOcean Blue, Lavender Purple (U.S.)
Midnight Black, Metallic Copper (intl)

Samsung has finally given the Note a much-needed battery bump — all the way up to 4000mAh, 14% larger than the Galaxy S9+ and 21% larger than the Galaxy Note 8. It always felt a bit odd that the power user-focused Notes have had relatively small batteries, and Samsung has addressed it.

The extra battery capacity has translated directly to battery life that's above-average for the flagship segment and enough for a complete worry-free day of use. Unlike the Note 8, I've been able to end an average day with the Note 9 with roughly 20-25% battery remaining. During my week-long review period I didn't kill its battery before bedtime once, which I certainly couldn't say about the Note 8 or even the Galaxy S9+. That extra 15-20% buffer does wonders for confidence, and it enabled me to use the Note 9 longer in heavier use-case scenarios without worrying that I'd be hitting Power Saving Mode in the early evening.

Samsung isn't making any claim of faster charging speeds, either wireless or wired, despite the increase in battery capacity. It still ships the same Quick Charge 2.0-capable "Adaptive Fast Charging" USB-A wall plug we've seen since the Galaxy S6. But there's more to this story. Thankfully, in my testing the Note 9 pulls a bit more power from this plug than either the Note 8 or Galaxy S9+ — the Note 9 draws about 14.5W from the charger, whereas the Note 8 fluctuates around 13.5-14.5W and the GS9+ fluctuates around 13-14W. The Note 9 also doesn't drop charging wattage when the screen is on, which is something easily observable on the other two phones — perhaps a benefit of its increased heat dissipation technology.

The Note 9's larger battery charges in the same amount of time as the Galaxy S9+.

The result isn't big, but it's notable: the Note 9 charges its larger battery 0-100% in roughly the same amount time (1 hr 40 min) as the Galaxy S9+, give or take a handful of minutes to compensate for heat and phone usage. It's also worth noting that the Note 9 charging at effectively the same rate (0-100%, 1 hr 40 min) from any 15W+ USB-C Power Delivery charger, such as the Google Pixel 2's. Both data points are a relief after being told not to expect a charging speed increase.

I'm still not going to give Samsung a pass for shipping a 4000mAh battery with the maximum capability of Quick Charge 2.0, though. A battery this large in a phone designed for the heaviest users deserves more. Not necessarily in 0-100% charging performance, but in particular with Quick Charge 3.0 and 4.0's ability to rapidly get a battery from 0-30%, which is the most critical charging time for most people.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 with charger

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 SD card

Love storage? The Note 9 has you covered. The base storage for the phone has been doubled to 128GB, which is impressive and a welcomed addition — even for someone like me who rarely pushes the limits of a 64GB phone. With over 100 apps installed, multiple accounts syncing and Pocket Casts downloading several gigabytes of audio, I have 97.5GB free on my 128GB Note 9 without using an SD card — that's plenty.

Most people will be more than happy with 128GB — think twice about that $249 upgrade.

But of course Samsung didn't stop there — you can pay $250 more for a whopping 512GB. And this isn't just some special edition model for certain markets — it's available globally, including from U.S. carriers (except for Sprint, sorry). The 512GB model also makes a bump to 8GB of RAM, which is of dubious value right now (just as it is in the OnePlus 6) but gives you some future-proofing potential, on top of bragging rights. The microSD card slot supports cards of that size (and larger), so with currently available tech you can throw an extra 512GB in the phone for over 1TB of total storage. Even if you want to keep things reasonable (and under $100) and get a 256GB microSD card, that's 768GB of storage ... in your phone. I find it hard to believe anyone needs more than that right now.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The hardware isn't unique, but it's near-perfect in materials and execution.

Samsung doesn't have much of a story to tell in terms of materials or design this time around. It's no secret that things haven't changed demonstrably since the Galaxy S7, and the Note 9 only makes incredibly subtle changes from the Note 8 and Galaxy S9+. The metal frame has gone back to being a bit more ... metal feeling, with a lightly textured finish and a nicely chamfered edge that makes it stand out and grip a bit easier. But it's still sculpted to flow gently into the curved glass on both sides of the phone. It's big and feels amazing, but it doesn't provide anything new or exciting on the hardware front. That is, unless you count moving the fingerprint sensor to a usable position on the back as "exciting" — I'm glad it moved, but I still can't believe it was anywhere else on the Note 8.

The Note 9 has the best smartphone display ever made.

When you set a Note 9 next to a Note 8 face-up, you can't tell them apart. The Note 9 is imperceptibly wider and thicker, which is a necessity due to the also imperceptibly larger display — now up to 6.4-inches from 6.3, and it's the same 2960x1440 (18.5:9) resolution. The panel itself has received ample improvement across a variety of metrics, though, even though the Note 8 already had the best screen available up to this point. DisplayMate's testing of the Note 9 yielded record-setting scores in several categories and an overall "A+" rating, with absolutely fantastic marks for color accuracy, peak brigthness, color gamut, contrast ratio, screen reflectance, viewing angles and color variation.

The numbers will get the nerds excited, but the Note 9's display really passes the eye test. This screen is fantastic in every situation, and I absolutely love looking at it. DisplayMate used the phrase "visually indistinguishable from perfect" and I can't disagree. Samsung not only bested its own high water mark, but simply furthered its lead ahead of the rest of the industry in display technology.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

An unfortunate accident

As Happy Gilmore once said, "I didn't break it, I was just testing its durability."

I did have the extremely unfortunate circumstances to test the durability of this metal-and-glass build during my review period. Yes, I dropped my Galaxy Note 9. It slipped out of my hand from about four feet, grazing a concrete wall before landing back-down on the rough concrete floor of my parking garage. Expletives flew as I reached down to pick it up ... and to my surprise, things weren't anywhere near as bad as I expected given the constant commentary about how fragile these glass-backed Samsung phones are.

I feared the worst, but the Note 9 held up to a drop far better than I ever expected.

Two portions of the metal frame have small scuffs where the annodization has worn off — no big deal. Both the top-left and bottom-right corners of the glass have two one-inch cracks. But here's the interesting part: you can't actually feel the cracks with a finger or even the pressure of a fingernail, as they're cracks only on the underside of the glass, not all the way through. They spider out from clear impact points where the glass was pressed to the metal frame, but spread back toward the edges rather than through the middle of the glass. This has undoubtedly compromised the glass to the point where the next major impact will crack the rest of the pane, but I was shocked to see the phone hold up this well to an incredibly gruesome drop onto concrete. Not only did the glass not shatter, you can't even feel the cracks that did form — and the display and all other functions of the phone are in perfect working order.

Best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Cases

That's not to say that the Note 9 is rugged or robust on the same level as an all-metal device that can take more of a beating — but if you're bold enough to run this thing without a case, it should be able to handle more abuse than you'd think to administer to it. I would never abuse a phone like this on purpose, but given the state of the phones I see around in the wild, many people have done the same as I did this week — I hope their Note 9 survives like mine did.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

How it works

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Software, camera and S Pen

The Note 9's settings show a bump up to Android 8.1 Oreo and Samsung Experience 9.5, though you wouldn't know any changes had been made unless you really got into the nitty gritty details with its predecessor beside it. Interface-wise, this is typical Samsung: familiar and powerful to all Samsung owners, and initially frustrating for everyone else. You can argue with Samsung's focus on quantity over quality when it comes to the software, but you can't find fault in the fact that so many people love it and give Samsung little reason to change.

The story is the same on the performance front. It feels odd to praise a $1000 phone for having fluid, consistent performance when that is 100% expected from this level of device, but here we are. The Note 9 is incredibly quick to do everything I ask of it, just like the Galaxy S9+ has continued to over six months of use. I couldn't find anything to make the Note 9 skip a beat, and everything was exactly as fast as I would hope to see from a top-end phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

An improved S Pen

This is the extra-capable S Pen the Note line deserves, offering far more than just writing and drawing.

The S Pen is the same size and shape as the Note 8's. But it now has a small supercapacitor (effectively a high capacity, low voltage battery) to provide power for a short period so it can connect to the phone over Bluetooth. It provides 30 minutes of connectivity, and up to 250 clicks before it needs to be recharged. But that's nothing to worry about, as it goes from 0 to 100% in just 40 seconds while in the phone — and it remains at 100% so long as it's inside. Even if the S Pen's battery dies, it still works as a writing implement on the screen exactly as it does on previous Notes — with the fantastic pressure sensitivity and tracking so many people love.

I'm a noted S Pen skeptic, coming from the point of view that I simply don't prefer to write instead of type and I'm not at all artistically inclined when it comes to drawing. The Note 9's new Bluetooth-enabled S Pen aims to make this writing implement useful for more than just those areas. And for the limited set of new features it aims to execute, it succeeds.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The depth of the interaction is that you can use the S Pen's button to perform specific button-related actions on the phone. A long-press on the button can launch any app, and then depending on the app you can perform additional actions using single- and double-clicks of the button. Samsung has configured several of its built-in apps to work with the S Pen — including PowerPoint, Gallery, Camera, Voice Recorder, media playback and more — and each one offers configurability of 1-4 different actions for both single- and double-click actions. For example in the camera, by default a single click captures a photo while a double-click switches between the front and rear cameras — but you can choose instead to have a single click to capture a photo and a double click to start a video.

I've used the Note 9's S Pen more than any previous Note.

What may end up being its most-used feature is as a media controller. The S Pen's button functions just like a play/pause button does on a pair of Bluetooth headphones, meaning you can easily use it to play, pause and skip tracks in any audio app.

I find it most useful as a camera shutter button when taking either low-light photos (eliminating camera shake by using a tripod or propping up the phone) or selfies (avoiding the "gorilla arm" looking angle). And yes, when I have media playing on my phone while I'm using the S Pen, I like to be able to quickly just hit the button and play/pause the media regardless of what else I'm doing. Then there's the random times here and there when I want to annotate a photo or sign a document — and knowing the S Pen is there for those features is great, saving me from opening a computer.

The S Pen still remains something that you're immediately drawn to, or will never pick up.

But I have to be honest, I'm not doing many PowerPoint presentations nowadays. Nor am I hooking up my phone to a monitor to run photo slideshows. So when you take out just two or three of the available features, you realize this wireless S Pen function didn't add a ton. When you combine a handful of niche use-cases, you don't get a game-changing feature addition ... you get a slightly larger niche.

With this new wireless connection, I used the S Pen more on my Note 9 than I had used on any previous Note just by virtue of having more I could do than just write or draw. That's huge for the Note line's ability to appeal to a wider audience — but this remains something you are either immediately drawn to before buying the Note 9, or you don't get and will never pick up no matter how long you have the phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The same (great) cameras

Samsung is talking a big game about the Note 9's cameras, but let's cut through the marketing from the start: they're identical to the Galaxy S9+. The sensors, lenses and hardware support are all the same. Just like the specs discussion above, this isn't a bad thing, but it's worth noting that Samsung hasn't made any hardware upgrades. The only thing that's changed is the software: there are merely two new "AI" camera features called "scene optimizer" and "flaw detection."

Let's cut through the marketing message: the cameras are identical to the Galaxy S9+.

Scene optimizer is a great way for Samsung to put a brand on something it's already doing, cramming in mentions of "artificial intelligence" and "neural networks" for good measure. It runs algorithms that detect features and objects in scenes, and automatically changes camera settings to get you the best possible photo of that scene. It can detect 20 scenes in total, including all of the usual suspects like snow, street scenes, night time, animals, indoors, beach, text, landscape, people, mixed lighting, food, plants, flowers and animals. Scene optimizer is turned on by default and works in the standard auto mode of the camera, and the only indication it's working is a small icon in the interface showing when it recognizes something.

It's difficult to discern the differences between a photo taken with and without scene optimizer.

It's difficult to discern the differences between a photo taken with and without scene optimizer, as Samsung's Auto mode is already fantastic at detecting scenes and choosing the right settings to get the best possible photo. This feature purports to go even further in that customization based on the actual elements of the scene, but I couldn't tell a difference between photos taken with and without it on — nor did I see any difference in quality between the Galaxy S9+ and Note 9 for that matter. This is the type of "smart" camera tech we see in every high end smartphone, and is so often happening behind the scenes anyway — and giving it a brand feels just as forced here as it does on the LG G7 and Huawei P20 Pro.

Flaw detection is legitimately useful with no strings attached. The camera software is trained to detect when it thinks there are major flaws in a photo you just took, including someone blinking, a blurry shot, a smudge on the lens, or poor backlighting. Immediately after taking the photo, you'll get a tooltip telling you that the photo is likely flawed and you should fix the problem and shoot again. This is useful for those quick shots where things aren't thought through perfectly ... and could save you from frustration later when you go to review the messy photo.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera sample

Putting aside the questionable scene optimization, because it doesn't particularly add to the experience, there's tons of praise to be heaped upon the Note 9's cameras. Samsung's biggest strength in photography is that the quality floor is very high — i.e. every photo you take is pretty good no matter the condition or skill level of the photographer. At the same time, it also has a very high ceiling — so if you spend time to compose, tap to focus, or even use Pro mode, you can get amazing photos.

Questionable 'AI' aside, the Note 9's camera is legitimately great for novices and avid photographers.

Samsung has dialed in its colors and dynamic range to the point where you don't really think about whether you need to use HDR, mess with exposure or play with the coloring in post-processing. The shots just look great right out of the camera in Auto mode. And the fine details have been refined to such an amazing extent that you don't see jagged edges or softness even with zooming in for some pixel-peeping.

The low light performance you get out of this primary camera when it switches to f/1.5 aperture is phenomenal, with the same great propensity to have good colors and crisp details even in dim scenes. I do acknowledge that some people don't like the almost over-sharpened look of the photos, and prefer something a bit more "natural" looking with some texture to it, but I don't fault Samsung for taking the approach that offers nighttime photos that look similar to its daylight shots. The secondary camera continues to be useless in low-light shots, where the software chooses to use a 2X digital zoom on the main sensor instead — something you actually see in daylight sometimes as well — but with photos this good from the main camera, even when cropped, it's hard to complain.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The bottom line

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 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.

This is the complete package — you just have to swallow that $1000+ price tag.

The Galaxy Note 9 truly does everything better than the Galaxy S9+ does — except, of course, the point of affordability. There's no question that if you want the best phone Samsung makes, you get a Galaxy Note 9 without any hesitation. The only real consideration is whether you see the relatively marginal improvements over the Galaxy S9+ as worth the extra money. The extra battery is a truly useful addition; the extra storage, memory and screen real estate may not be such game-changers for your uses. The S Pen could push you over the top, as it remains unique in the entire smartphone space.

That I'm discussing whether you should by a Galaxy Note 9 or Galaxy S9+ should show you how highly I rate the Note 9 on its core principles to start with. The hardware is gorgeous and surprisingly robust. The spec sheet is bursting at the seams with everything you could ask for. The fundamental Galaxy features throughout the hardware and software are as appealing as they've always been. This is the complete package.

4.5 out of 5

It feels odd to unequivocally say a phone that costs at a minimum $1000 is "worth it" when there are so many other phones out there for a fraction of that. But if any Android phone is worth this one-comma price tag, it's the Galaxy Note 9.

See at Samsung

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

121 Comments
  • First, I am so happy to be first :). Life is complete
  • So if I reply and sit this comment right under yours, do i get the red ribbon for 2nd place?
  • I'll take a participation trophy for a late third, because I've never even gotten one of those :-(
  • Nobody ever remembers second place
  • I get Honorable Mention
  • That's not saying much....we expect more from you.
  • I am surprised that it survived that drop. I am so scared about glass phone nowadays, Idc if it's gorilla glass 10! Still will rock a case. Finally glad this note stand out from the S line. Only issues for me is speakers and price. I already got use to Bixby and use it. Can't wait to get mine
  • What's wrong with the speakers? Edit: Other hands-on reviews said the speakers were very good, definitely better than Pixel2/XL and iPhone X.
    This is even more silly because all Galaxy flagships since the S8 support USB-PD like Pixel and Pixel 2.
  • Sorry, USB-PD comment was for my other post.
  • Oh no don't get me wrong, speakers are great, especially that now they're dual. I just think that at $999 they could be a bit better? But I think they're good and could live with them.
  • How would you make them better?
  • More clear for high volumes
  • Speakers on a phone don't matter much unless you use them.....lol
  • I'd definitely use a thin case as well. Unfortunately we typically get phones before there are lots of case options available! And yes, I was very surprised about how it handled such a drop. The speakers work fine. They're loud enough. They just aren't particularly great considering the size of this thing and how big the screen is.
  • I wouldn't call an inch long crack in each corner surviving the drop. It's a very expensive repair and would probably compromise the waterproofing if not repaired.
  • I skimmed the article and missed the cracking part the first time through. Cracked front and back are not what I would call surviving either. My U11 has been dropped 14 times with zero damage, but it's only been onto hardwood or landed on a steel furniture base... not bare concrete. Carpeted concrete, yes, but not bare!
  • I use Bixby as well...it's not perfect, but neither is Google.
  • I wouldn't call two inch-long cracks in the glass as 'surviving' a drop. Cracked screen after very first drop. I call that a very FRAGILE and SLIPPERY piece of tech. Definitely needs a case.
  • Just a useless info about gorilla glass, they make the glass harder and harder, making them more and more resistant to scratch. Physically harder materials tend to break that easily (for e.g. hardest natural material i.e. the diamond, is also very brittle) Corning and other manufacturers are trying to make glass shatter-proof, but we are still far form an unbreakable glass screen. Maybe the olephobic coating which Samsung has patented recently might change the game in future. I hate to use a case, but there is no way the phone will survive without one
  • It'll be interesting to see how it performs after a few months of use. Having owned all notes from 1to 4, one of the issues that bothered me the most, was how slow they became over time. Currently on xperia xz premium, which has been flawless on that sense. Maybe this will be my way back to Samsung?.
  • Both my S8+ and Note8 are working as flawlessly as the day they were new. Absolutely no slowdowns in over a year. I think you can put past experiences to rest.
  • Exactly my thoughts
  • Add my experience to that. Samsung phones lagging after a few months or a year are a thing of the past. I have zero qualms about recommending this phone if that's your concern. Weather it's more optimization, more ram thrown at it, or a combination of the two (my suspicion), It promises to be s beast for some time.
  • Same here. I pre-orderd my Note 8, got it early, and it is still as smooth and fast as when I got it.
  • Same here with my note 5
  • My note 5 is finally slowing down a little after nearly 3 years. It's been an awesome phone. I wanted to wait to see the Pixel 3, but I have much more confidence that the Note 9 will be great. Just ordered the Note 9 with a $500 trade-in credit on T-Mobile.
  • Nah, I'm about to hard reset my GS8 to hopefully ward off performance, heat and battery issues
  • The Note 4 became laggy after several months, but ever since the Note 5 the performance has been flawless. Then I upgraded to the Note 8 and I can now confirm it was not just a one off.
  • Ya that's true I had the note 4 it became laggy after a couple of days not months. Upgraded right away to the note 5 and I'm still using until now.
  • My note 8 is behaving the same snip snappy way it did from purchase. Only change is the chip of paint from the aluminum from a few drops a year in which my alcantara case kept it safe from. Definitely better performing than my old note4 that my partner inherited.
  • Strange, I've also owned Note 2,3,4 and 5. My Note 4 was the best Note, it never slowed down. The only frustration was it being ignored in terms updates early in it's life cycle and then ending up with some of the best monthly updates schedule until I sold it 3 years later.
  • My Note8 that I got several days before launch is still plenty fast has actually been the first phone I've owned that didn't have me chomping at the bit for the newest processor. It's a beast, if the Note9 is even better than the 8, it must be fantastic.
  • At either 6 or 8GB RAM, lol, slowing down.... If it actually happened, would make it still perform as good as just about everything else on the market... LOL, slowing rumours... Fake news. PS My Note 8 has not slowed... Lol
  • What do you like in Sony phones compared to Samsung phones, and vice versa? I've always been a fan of Xperia phones and am eyeing up the XZ2P or the XZ3.
  • My S7 Edge got slow. I don't even use it anymore.
  • My S7 Edge has become ridiculously slow and I can't figure out why. I've done multiple things to clean it up and everything is stored on the SD card. It's good to hear that the newer Notes don't have this problem over time. I'm looking to upgrade to the Note 9. I miss the functionality of my Note 4.
  • Was slow charging speed a con in the Pixel 2XL review? Since the Note 9 charges a 4000mah battery full the same amount of time Pixel 2XL requires to charge a 3520mah battery?
    Every Samsung flagship since last year also supports USB-PD like iPhone X and Pixel/Pixel 2.
  • Yup, I know they support USB-C PD, and wrote that in the review. Having that option is good for charger compatibility, but PD doesn't charge this thing any faster than the in-box QC 2.o charger does. The point here is that for a $1000+ phone that has every other spec imaginable, being stuck with QC 2.0 is a bit of a drag.
  • You know as well as anyone else that all smartphones (really all tech) are the product of compromises. This phone just makes fewer than almost anyone else.
  • Couldn't have said it better.
  • So that means he shouldn't point out the compromises? That is ridiculous, especially on a thousand dollar phone.
  • It charges it faster than the Pixel 2XL, which requires about 2 hours to charge from 0-100%.
  • Mine doesn't take that long
  • Why wasn't this phone updated to the latest version of fast charging or quick charging or whatever they call it?
  • To give the battery a longer life span since it's expensive to replace. The battery lasts the whole day anyway and supports fast wireless charging if topping up is needed.
  • Samsung's adaptive fast charging tops up the battery quicker than wireless fast charging.
  • I am so excited to get my hands on this phone. Even though it's very similar to my note8 there is something about this bad boy. I got the blue, unlocked, 512 gigs, with 8 gigs ram.
  • You went for the whole shebangybang. Excited for you!
  • Nice choice. I'll hold on my Note 8, the 9 is just a little bit expensive for me. Personally I loved the Copper colored model, then I heard it was not going to be available in the US, only the Blue (still stunning) and Purple variants.
    I can't believe the black one is not going to be available here either. It doesn't make sense because it's the safest bet for most.
  • Andrew, could you clarify your issue(s) with the speakers? I didn’t see any further reference to them other than in the bullet points at the top of the review stating they should be better. Are the speakers not as loud as those on the S9 Plus?
  • The review was already extremely long, so I can't always touch on every point in detail unfortunately. My issue with the speakers is that they're just not that great. They're just ... average. They get loud enough, most of the time, for what I want. But they aren't true stereo as the sound is still a tad one-sided to the downfiring speaker, and they don't provide any higher-quality sound than the Galaxy S9. Just doesn't seem befitting of the size and price of this phone with its massive and very immersive display.
  • Unbox therapy compared them to the Note 8 and found them to be louder with more bass response. Probably same speakers as S9+. Is there a phone with better speakers? How do they compare to iPhone 7+?
  • They are definitely better than the Note 8. They're the same as the GS9+. Like I said they're pretty good. They could stand to be a bit deeper and better balanced between the two speakers.
  • I heard a rumor that enabling Dolby Atmos increases the speaker volume considerably. Did you have it enabled? Maybe it also enhances sound quality?
  • Thanks for the reply with a more detailed insight. As long as they're comparable to the S9 Plus, I would be fine with them.
  • The Note 9 is the only device that can justify the high price tag. No other phone can compare to the amount of tech you get in it. I'm gladly buying the 512GB option and don't care about the price. You have others (Apple) (Google) raising prices and taking away hardware features or ruining the display with giant notches.
  • People aren't buying those phones for the hardware.
  • Apple still has one of the best silicon inside if you are talking hardware and no one buys Pixel or Apple for features/hardware. It's about great software, quick security and platform updates, ecosystem. They also have their place and audience just like Samsung has with all the great features, hardware.
    All said I can't wait my Note 9 to be delivered, this pre-order wait is hard as usual.
  • They buy Apple and Google for the status just like when people bought blackberry phones
  • I am pretty sure that is the reason most will buy the Note
  • Exactly......though some will tell you it's because they are power users.....lol
  • Opinion noted .... it's not always about what you like
  • I'm glad to see these top of the line phones getting 6-8 gbs of ram. Maybe 3gbs will finally become the baseline for the budget segment. Well that and decently performing processors like the Sd 450. Also I really like that purple color. It's not a feminine color at all. Sorta gender neutral.
  • 3 GB for the Super cheap phones? I'm already seeing 4 GB slowly taking place in the $200 price point with phones like the Huawei Mate SE.
  • I think it's the same wall charger as the Note 4 even, which came before the S6. Samsung really needs to update their charging tech with the S10.
  • You're right. When I had the Note 4 it came with that same wall charger. I remember how fast it would top its battery compared to most phones back then
  • The fact it's still 2.0 is kinda weird. Should be at least 3.0 by this point.
  • OPPO/OnePlus VOOC is a better charging technology for long battery life as most work is done on the charger's circuit. The other faster charging increases the temperature on the phone which is bad for your battery in the long term. This might be why Samsung is resisting going higher on charging.
  • Maybe QC 3.0 or 4.0 caused issues with the batteries?
  • 🤔 That is something to think about it....
  • They really didn't have to change a lot from the Note 8, except the FP sensor. The BT stylus is a nice touch, and I can think of situations where it would be useful. They need to fix charging. QC version TWO? Perhaps it's to keep closer parity with wireless charging which is also slow. QC 3 is healthier for the battery than QC 2, and keeps the battery cooler. Bixby button again? At least it's not a gimmick for the 9 people who use it regularly. The Scene Optimizer I would call a gimmick. Having difficulty telling the difference when it's on or off is key. Can't the camera just get the colors right, period? By the way, that heat spreader? It helps a little, but is kinda puny compared to the one's HTC has used in the past.
  • I've had the note 8 for about a year now, and while I still think it's a good phone, I'm so over the infinity display. It causes more problems than not, especially when using the S pen. And this aspect ratio, bah, give me 16:9 back.
  • Yes. I would prefer 16:9 but with the smaller bezels.
  • Nice job! I pre-ordered one, and can’t wait.
  • Which one did you get?
  • I ordered the 128GB one in blue. Direct form Samsung (VZW model)
  • Should have gotten the bigger one
  • Took me a sec to realize what AC meant by "one comma club" in the subheading. But - haven't the Note and S+ series phones been hovering around $1,000 for years already?! I remember when the general public was abuzz after it was announced that Apple's new iPhone costs $1,000...friends or family would say "that's crazy to spend that on a phone" and I was like "um, nothing new to me...that's about what mine usually cost."
    So, why is every tech site making it a point to underline its price, in a way like it's something crazy/weird, ie way out there. It's pretty normal and has been for a flagship device+brand.
  • The top Note 9 is a 1600 dollar phone in Canada...Crazy
  • One request of AC, please? When you take sample photos (in any phone review), please include a lot more night/dark shots. I always used to look though them in every review but stopped short or gave up, because the most important ones just aren't there. This review is a perfect example.
    Almost any phone takes great pics in decent daylight. Darks scenes, however, are the hardest for phone cameras, and pics can be wildly different between phone models.
    Take pics in a dimly lit bar, or out on a quiet city street at 10pm...or even at home with nothing but a TV or a nightlight/candle on.
    Take a look at the Note 9 review on phonearena.com and you'll see the difference w/ their sample shots... Just as one example. It would just be really helpful for us readers trying to decide on a phone, and we can't replicate those scenarios using a floor model in a store.
    Thanks!
  • Thanks Andrew. Great review. I was excited and interested to see this: "It's also worth noting that the Note 9 charging at effectively the same rate (0-100%, 1 hr 40 min) from any 15W+ USB-C Power Delivery charger, such as the Google Pixel 2's" So I guess I can pretty much keep my Pixel 2 XL chargers where they are now and still experience the fastest charging for the Note 9? Does it still say Fast Charging when using PD chargers?
  • Yes and yes.
  • Awesome, thanks. You guys do a fantastic job with these reviews.
  • Hey Andrew, what was your experience like running the unlocked version on Verizon? Any missing features? How are the LTE speeds (any missing bands)? Thanks for the great and thorough review. Can't wait for mine to arrive.
  • Everything's been fine on Verizon, like other phones. You have all the bands, speeds are good, there's VoLTE calling.
  • Thanks for the response. Good information to have. I guess the only thing missing will be wifi calling then.
  • An excellent and thorough review as always, Android Central (Andrew!). I'm amazed at the thoroughness. I read another review on another site today (The Verge) and your review was so much more complete. You actually used the device and all of its capabilities. The Verge hardly touched on anything about the device and everything it can do. Kudos!
  • Maybe I'll pick one of these up next year when the Note 10 launches. Right now, it's too expensive in Canada.
  • Okay so BIXBY.. I wish internet would just stop automatically and mindlessly bashing it.
    Yes, it can't compete with Google assistant in the tasks the assistant is capable of doing..but no one is noticing or acknowledging the fact that it is the only voice assistant capable of FULL HANDS FREE CONTROL OF A PHONE. It makes a world of difference for the impaired, or in all those situations when people have busy/gloved hands.
    And that's why a dedicated Bixby hardware button is a great and practical feature. Bottom line, it is just neither fair, neither objective, neither professional not to even mention that.
    Bashing Bixby simply means you never really tried it.
  • Or perhaps Bixby just isn't very good. Mr Mobile tried it (around the 1:55 mark), and had all kinds of problems with it. Instead of saying that it's obvious no one used Bixby, perhaps a better way to make your point is that Bixby still isn't very good but it does have certain advantages. https://youtu.be/kqdTsgOD3ZI
  • Bixby is pretty decent, it has advantages and disadvantages vs. other AI's, but it's not bad. This applies to all of them. Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant... They all have good points and bad points. It's too easy to make judgements. All of these are in constant development, right now. We haven't reached "end-game" yet; or even come close to it. Mr. Mobile's opinion doesn't define the benchmark for everyone. These people are nothing more than opinion peddlers. It's their opinion, not a fact; so don't quote it as such.
  • "It's their opinion, not a fact; so don't quote it as such." ?? The poster I responded to said anyone who doesn't like Bixby never tried it. I posted that to show: He tried Bixby, it was bad, and he didn't like it. Oy ..
  • Exactly
  • What about those that did try it and don't like it?
  • Software updates are a huge issue for me and why I'll never buy a Samsung. I also don't like Al of the customization they do and the change for the sake of change it's really annoying that even settings have settings it's a bot much.
  • Being able to apply a black theme is great. I can't stand Google's ugly bright white settings and everything else look. Security updates have been pretty consistent, usually a few weeks to a month delay. But it's next to impossible to get a virus or malware on your phone unless you are just plain stupid about what you download or what networks you connect to. As far as having the latest Android version, I never noticed a wow factor that had me wishing I had it sooner cause Samsung's software is always years ahead of Google's anyway. I get the new version of Android I never notice a difference. Usually it messes up something I'm already used to.
  • Absolutely. I'm so tired of these cultists repeating the "stock, pure android" mantra as if they think it makes them look knowledgeable.. bashing Samsung and its "bloated" software along the way is also a must, just for an extra touch of self indulgence for good measure.
    The worst thing is, they are almost always actually clueless. I'd pick Samsung's Oreo over Googles Pie any day of the week.
    The most offending omission of stock Android is the lack of one handed mode. I used every day on a Note 8. Not being able to use a phone as big as the Pixel XL or OnePlus 6 with one hand is just ridiculously bad software in comparison.
    Next in line, all that excessive AND mandatory white color on an OLED screen?? GTFOH!
  • Live and let live....buy what you like
  • Have you tried turning on doldy atmos. I am sure it will change your experience with the speakers.
  • Went to see it at Best Buy... On one hand, it's amazing. On the other hand... I am simply shocked at how awful Samsung is at crafting a UX. Amazing: - Build is great. It actually feels like a small phone in-hand despite it's size.
    - Fast Camera. HEVC Toggle. RAW Toggle (Pro Mode Only). Records H.264 Video that plays back on anything, unlike the iPhone which uses an Apple-specific H.264 variant which requires QuickTime (Unsupported, Abandoned) to play back in many Windows applications.
    - The general UI felt fluid. I am not sure how that would hold up. Samsung Phones I've had in the past all degraded over time, and became frustrating after a year or so.
    - S Pen. Not a fan of the yellow color, but it is what it is and it functions like a normal S Pen even if you don't charge it.
    - Fingerprint Scanner placement is much better.
    - Better speakers.
    - No notch. I don't mind a notch, but some vendors take it too far. What the Pixel 3 XL is looking to have, is one of those notches that I simply cannot take (plus the front is completely non-symetrical, which would make me hate looking at the device). As a result, I prefer no notch to avoid the possibility that it would be an awful notch. Mindboggling: - Normal Slow Motion Mode Turned off by default, in favor of the practically unusable Super Slow Motion. I would use this more than the Photo Mode, as an athlete who uses my phone constantly to film during training. Turning this off by default is absolutely stupid. Some people may look at the phone in-store and assume that it isn't even there, due to how awful the menus/settings on this phone are.
    - There are "too many camera modes" considering this camera is supposed to be "Intelligent." Modes dedicated to things that the camera should be able to easily detect don't need to exist (i.e. Food Mode).
    - The camera seems to default to putting Slow Motion Ramps in 1080p 240FPS video (like the iPhone) when playing back. I am unsure if it exports off the phone in this way, but this is how it works with the iPhone; rendering the feature completely unusable (so I use 60FPS 1080p and just deal with the limited speed control I have in Editing or Dartfish).
    - The UI has far too much white in it. It's absolutely blinding. Even the Gallery App is full of white. I didn't dig through the settings, but does it have a Dark Mode - at least for common media apps? I'm not really one for themes. I'd rather keep the normal theme, and be able to toggle between Light and Dark Mode. I haven't seen a 3rd party icon pack or theme that I liked and I tend to buy based on the default UX because I honestly am at the point in my life where that is not something I'd want to waste any amount of time tweaking. Either I like it, or it's a no-buy, period.
    - I actually think the S Pen features make the UX feel cluttered and overbearing. I think they should have gone for something less in your face. The Air Command menu, for example.. I've never liked it since the Galaxy Note 3 (when it was introduced), personally. Showstoppers: - Edged Screen. Touches are still registered on the edges, and it still looks awful in the real world (i.e. outside of marketing renders) due to the glare and color shirt that comes off of them. Unusable for me.
    - The settings are a mess; an absolute maze of nestedness.
    - Carriers will have preloaded software on the device, and will delay updates to make sure their preloads work.
    - Laughable Update Rollouts/Timeline for non-Pixel Android devices. Borderline: - Screen Aspect Ratio. The phone literally feels like a Hershey Bar when held, and even looks like one in shape. I don't like having to crop video to view full screen on my devices; or deal with black bars and an even tinier picture.
  • That you don't want to waste your time finding a nice dark theme even while too much white is such a problem to you, and while writing a freaking essay in this comment section about the mere hands on impression is not a waste of time to you..wow.
    So much BS
  • It’s not something I should have to fine. These displays are bright even in the dark and do you expect me to constantly change themes day and night and in different environments just to work around this? Devices exist to make life easier, not introduce more work for us. Don’t like it? STFU and move on. No one is forcing you to read my essay. Ease of use is a thing. I don’t have time to waste flipping through a ******* theme store. I need a Dark Mode Toggle.
  • Agree, this shouldn't be an adventure.
  • "Constantly change themes day and night"
    ..WTH?? I use the Android Material Dark theme since the first day of getting the Note 8.
    Finding and installing it took less than 2 minutes. And it does the job perfectly, so I never felt the need to "change" themes. You make no sense whatsoever.
  • I'm glad "you" found something "you" like and "you" feel this way. Emphasis mine. I make perfect sense, for me. Unless you're going to buy the phone for me, STFU and move on. Have fun with your opinion.
  • You've obviously never used a Note. You sir are full of hot air. Take a seat!
  • Nice thorough reporting. Thanks for the info/opinions. Mine comes tomorrow so I'll see how much I agree with but I appreciate the thoroughness. I do have to say none of your listed "showstoppers" are such for me (obviously or I wouldn't have ordered the phone :-) . I also like the Air command and it's menu. Thanks again.
  • Too much $$. These manufacturers are just adding premium pricing without adding equivalent premium features. It's their job to get it if people are willing to pay it, but it's our job to hold em in check if we think the prices are out of line.
  • Question for Note fans: Do the curved edges impact on your ability to jot notes down comfortably and effectively with the pen? To me it looks so impractical. Supposed to be a business-orientated device, the Note series should have flat screens for maximum usable surface area. Also, how does Samsung do with security and platform updates? Not sure I could tolerate a frequency of less than bi-monthly having been spoiled by the Pixel 2.
  • The S Pen falls off the phone when you hit the edged portion, and it doesn't seem to have very good sensitivity near/on the edges (not that this matters, in the grand scheme of things). Edge still very susceptible to touches/long press activations/etc. when holding/handling the device. It's completely impractical on a Note Device, and annoying to write on the screen with those curved edges. The screen is effectively too narrow to be taken seriously for note-taking. Honestly, I'd never pay a premium for this phone, when you could pay much less for an S9 and just get a Surface Go or cheaper iPad and add a Stylus to those. They are much better for writing than the Note phones ever have been and ever will be, Spec-wise, this is barely an upgrade over the S9+. Save the money. I don't think Samsung has ever marketed the Note series as a "business-oriented device." They are way too damn expensive. Most businesses will buy them Galaxy S - and often an older/cheaper model. Security Updates are fine enough. Android System updates are not. I think the Galaxy S9 is the best feeling device they have. I really miss having a small phone. It's too bad it has an edged screen and apparently bad battery life on top of the software homogeneity issues.
  • You're obviously NOT a Note 8 user, so why the hell you keep on trolling on here?!?
  • Why are you writing on the edge? Do you do all your writing on the margins of your paper notepad too?
  • I have no "narrow screen" issues with the Note 8.
    The usable(flat) area is actually BIGGER than on any flat Note model before.
    It's just a matter of little re-adjusting - keep away from the edges and you still have plenty of space left.
  • The cadillac of smartphones 😎👌🏽. It's unfortunate that they couldn't implement an under display fingerprint sensor this generation. The battery increase is the best addition. No faster charging doesn't make any sense...it's safe at best.
  • Can I buy an unlocked Note 9 in the US when i visit to use in Nigeria? Will there be any issues as I've never done that? I really want the lavender purple, I don't like the black or copper thingy.
  • 0/10 too much glass.
  • This is an awesome phone to use. But we expect more from samsung
  • I have been using this phone for two months now. No complaints.
  • Got one on AT&T... no voicemail icon in the phone app.. .What the hell?
    I've received several voicemails now, and I have to dial in every time to receive them. Anyone else have this happening? Is there a solution other than to set up a forwarding to Google voice (which isn't working either, btw)
  • If you bought a "unlocked" phone that isnt branded with AT&T your going to have to check VM manually like you are doing, if you got it from the carrier directly and its doing that stop by a store and show them.
  • I have a new 512GB Note 9, T-Mobile in Orlando, FL. The phone used to prompt me to upload/share my pictures to Google whenever i would take a photo inside a business/restaurant etc.. recently it stopped doing that, when i go into Google Maps, Notifications everything is turned on, i even tried signing out and signing in, but it doesnt prompt me to upload my photos to Google anymore like it used to. Any ideas?