The Galaxy S10+ is the latest top-end model from Samsung, but it shouldn't make us forget that the Note 9 was the hottest thing just a few months prior. Here's what you need to keep in mind when choosing between the two.
What's new in the Galaxy S10+
The Galaxy S10+ doesn't have one notable leg up on the Note 9, but rather a bunch of little upgrades that add up when you see them in aggregate. The display is the same size as the Note 9's but is miraculously even more bright and vivid. There's a new ultra-wide-angle camera that opens up new shooting possibilities. It keeps the other two cameras from the Note 9, so you don't lose anything in the transition. There's faster wireless charging, nearly on par with a wall plug.
The Galaxy S10+ does everything the Note 9 does, plus a handful of new and interesting features.
But the most notable difference, on top of all of those improvements, is the improved ergonomics of the Galaxy S10+. Though it has the same screen size, it's smaller in every dimension than the Note 9 — narrower, thinner, shorter. It's also 13% lighter than the Note 9, which is immediately noticeable when it's in your hand. Plus, with a new fingerprint sensor integrated into the display, you don't have that somewhat-awkward reach up to the back of the Note 9.
|Galaxy S10+||Galaxy Note 9|
|Operating system||Android 10||Android 10|
|6.4-inch Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 (18.5:9)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
|Rear Camera||12MP Dual Pixel, f/1.5-2.4
|12MP Dual Pixel, f/1.5-2.4
|Rear Camera 2||12MP 45° FOV, f/2.4
|Rear Camera 3||16MP 123° FOV, f/2.2
|Front Camera||10MP Dual Pixel, f/1.9
|Front Camera 2||8MP, f/2.2
Fast Wireless charging 2.0
Fast Wireless charging
|Security||In-screen fingerprint sensor||Capacitive fingerprint sensor
|Dimensions||157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm
|161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm
For the super spec nerds and power users out there, yes the Galaxy S10+ offers a new level of internal specs — provided you're willing to pay for it. You can load up the Galaxy S10+ with 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, considerably more than the Note 9, but honestly, for all but the most obsessed, you'll be just as happy with the base model of 8GB and 128GB, which matches the Note 9's offering.
Where the Galaxy S10+ and the Note 9 are the same
Though there are subtle differences at play, you can think of the Galaxy S10+ as a contemporary of the Note 9 rather than a replacement or an upgrade. The Galaxy S10+ may have improved on the Note 9 in a few key areas, but that shouldn't take away from what the Note 9 offers. In reality, the differences between the models are slight in many cases.
Can you really tell the difference between these phones in daily use? It's a marginal change.
For example, the processors: sure the Snapdragon 855 is more powerful, more capable and more efficient than the 845 — but the Note 9 is mighty as it is, and runs the new Android 9 Pie software without issue. The Galaxy S10+ has a slightly larger battery, too, but the real-world implications of such a tiny increase aren't necessarily going to be felt every day — particularly if you have to pay extra for it.
And then you get to the rest of the daily experience, which is basically shared whole cloth. The Galaxy Note 9 has IP68 resistance, an SD card slot, a headphone jack, stereo speakers, wireless charging, fast charging, and the exact same software. These little improvements on the Galaxy S10+ are notable, but not necessarily game-changers when it comes to how we typically use our phones.
Which should you buy?
Step one in this comparison is deciding how much money you're willing to spend on a new phone. Now that the Note 9 has been out for nearly a year, it's dropped over $300 from its MSRP; which means it's also over $100 cheaper than the newer Galaxy S10+.
Stylus fans, or those who want to save, should consider getting a Note 9 — or waiting for the Note 10.
But if money isn't a factor, the decision of which one to buy comes down to just a few points. Do you need the S Pen stylus? If so, the Note 9 is your only option; and the S Pen is a really neat feature to have. (But remember the Galaxy Note 10 is almost here.) If instead you value having a more compact, lighter phone then you'll prefer the Galaxy S10+ — and in turn, you'll get a new ultra-wide rear camera, portrait mode selfies, slightly improved performance in the long run with more RAM and a better processor, and enhanced ergonomics. (Plus, for a little while, you'll have the hot new phone everyone's lusting after.)
Everything else between these phones is either identical or marginally different. Stick to the decision based on the price, S Pen, size, and a few key features, and you'll make the right choice.
A step above
If money is no object, there's no replacement
The Galaxy S10+ builds on the Note 9 with the same core competencies, plus marginal improvements in specs, a new screen, a new camera, and a handful of features. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but a bunch of small improvements makes it clearly better than the Note 9.
For stylus fans
The only choice if you need an S Pen
When you're price-conscious, but still desire the best Samsung can offer, it's worth looking at the Note 9 for about $100 less than the GS10+. Not only do you get the exclusive S Pen experience, but you also get effectively the same day-to-day features and quality.
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