Best answer: The Note 9 is still a capable and modern phone in 2020, over a year after its release. Most of what makes its successor, the Note 10, great can be found in the Note 9 with the latest software update. that being said, unless the Note 9 is on sale — as it is often, but not constantly — you're better off getting a Note 10. if you don't need an S Pen, you can save by buying a Galaxy S10+ instead.
The Galaxy Note 9 is still good, and pricey
Galaxy Notes seem to hold their value over time better than the Galaxy S models. Sure the Note 9's gone on sale more often since the next-gen Note 10 was released, but not nearly as often as the mass-market Galaxy S10 series. With a higher starting price, its discounts don't feel so dramatic either. Now over a year after it first went on sale, the Note 9 is regularly still $1,000 unless one-off deals bring it down anywhere between $600 and $800.
The Note 9 still feels modern from top to bottom — improvements in the Note 10 are marginal.
Obviously, at $1,000, it's not a good buy when the new Note 10 is available for basically the same price, but is it a good buy when it's on sale for anywhere under $800? I think it is — and that probably why it's still relatively expensive. The Note 10 and 10+ offer a slightly improved design, better (and bigger) screens, new S Pen gestures, and of course, spec bumps. All of the improvements are marginal, though, and now that the Note 9 has been updated to the latest software to match the Note 10, there's even less differentiating it.
When you compare the Note 9's hardware, screen, specs, and capabilities to the rest of the market at this price, there aren't many places where it falls behind. It doesn't offer a wide-angle rear camera, which is a popular addition nowadays, but its general, performance and battery life will be right on par. Plus, it still has a headphone jack, which is a modern rarity.
But question whether you need the S Pen
The Note 9 is still a good buy, even in 2020, but you should only buy one (no matter the price) if you know one thing for certain: you need to have an S Pen. The S Pen is unique and useful, but several generations of Notes have shown us it's only for a small set of people — that maybe you, or it may not.
If you don't need an S Pen, you're better off buying a Galaxy S10+ instead.
If you don't need an S Pen, you can get a Galaxy S10+ for around $850, and often less because it's going to go on sale as well with the Galaxy S20 series available. The S10+ is otherwise comparable to what the Note 9 offers; you don't get quite as big of a screen or battery, but that's a worthwhile trade-off to save some money and get a newer phone. The whole point of looking at a Note 9 in the first place was to save a little dough.
Back on the S Pen side of things, you can spend somewhere between the same money and $200-300 more to get a new Galaxy Note 10 instead, bringing you up to the latest and greatest Samsung has to offer. That's when the Note 10 is available at its regular retail price — many discounts have regularly dropped the Note 10 by $100, making it a little more reachable from the Note 9's price. Keeping to a budget is good, but when you have an opportunity to upgrade a whole generation for not much more money, you should consider it.
Good on sale
A big S Pen-toting phone at a notable discount
The Note 9 is still a good phone, and it offers most of what the Note 10 does — plus a headphone jack. If it's on sale, it's still a good buy.
Get newer specs for less, but lose the S Pen
If you're not tied to the S Pen, you can get more value for your money by getting a Galaxy S10+. It's the same size with newer specs.
When the Note 9 isn't on sale, the newer Note 10 is a better buy.
The Galaxy Note 10 replaces the Note 9, and for what is often a small price you can get this latest generation S Pen-packing flagship.
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