Why you should embrace Bixby and buy the Galaxy Note 9

Best answer: Bixby may not be everyone's favorite AI assistant, but Bixby is worth getting to know on the Note 9. It can help you control your phone hands-free in ways Google Assistant cannot.

Amazon: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 ($1000)

Bixby has a bad rap, but it's not a bad assistant

Samsung's Bixby assistant and dedicated Bixby button have been mainstays on Samsung's flagship phones for the last two years, and while many bemoan the inability to remap the button to another app, most people who have written off Bixby are people who haven't touched it since the first weeks of its release, but Bixby has improved a lot since then.

Let's start with the physical feature: the Bixby button. This dedicated button allows you to summon Bixby quickly when you need it and its latest update keeps it from activating when you really meant to turn down the volume. Using a dedicated button, Bixby can be summoned and used quicker, especially when it's too loud to be heard or too quiet for you to speak.

It's also easier to use a keyboard for inputting silent commands on Bixby, as using the keyboard for commands on Bixby full-screen acts like an autocompleting search bar, summoning possible commands between the input bar and the keyboard for you to scroll through or select.

The devil in the details: how deep Bixby can go with its commands

Google Assistant can control some basic settings on your Note 9, but Bixby can go far, far more in-depth in controlling your phone and your apps, especially Samsung apps like the Samsung camera app, Gallery, and Settings. Here is a small sampling of more helpful commands available with Bixby:

  • Read me the notification from Gmail
  • Set the most recent picture as my Home screen wallpaper
  • Open Gmail and open last email from Ian
  • Don't notify me when apps are draining my battery in Device maintenance
  • Turn on Block unknown callers
  • Clean my phone's memory
  • Turn on Medium power saving mode in Device maintenance
  • Show the battery percentage in the status bar
  • Select 10 seconds for Timer and take a picture
  • Open YouTube and show me my subscriptions
  • Open Whatsapp and send my location to Dad
  • Open Google Play Music and turn on Downloaded only
  • Delete all of my meetings for today

Bixby's compound actions and Quick commands abilities allow it to control your Note 9 in far more granular ways than other assistants, and while it takes a little while to figure out just what all Bixby can and can't do, you'll be amazed at what it can do once you learn how to command it.

The Note 9 has a lot to like beyond Bixby: spectacular cameras and camera software, a new wirelessly charged S Pen that can be used as a remote trigger for the camera, slideshow clicker, and of course as a pressure-sensitive stylus for the creation of amazing art and dainty doodles. Samsung displays are known for their rich colors and brilliant viewing — even in harsh sunlight — and the 6.4-inch display on the Note 9 is no exception.

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.