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We Reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Note 9: “Noteworthy” or “No Thanks”?

There’s more to it than meets the eye.

After long-awaited anticipation, Samsung finally unveils the Galaxy Note 9, officially joining the powerful and popular line of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series.

Those who follow news on the phone’s details pre-released will know that there are several key upgrades built into the newer Note 9 compared to the Note 8. These include a Bluetooth-functioned S pen, stereo speakers, 4,000 mAh battery life and many more.

Featuring such a collection of goodies, it’s very tempting to go ahead and get a Note 9. But wait, is it really worth getting one? Here’s what we think.

Hardware: Sturdy body

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 boasts a beautiful body that comes in several metallic colours. Smooth to touch, the glass back, as expected, invites finger smudges easily. With a 6.4-inch display and a depth at 0.34-inch, it can be a little hard to hold comfortably for small hands. The size is, of course, a very preferential matter.

You’ll find the fingerprint scanner placed just below the dual cameras at the back. One may find it tricky as there’s the risk of touching the camera lens instead. The good news is that the scanner is definitely easier to reach as compared to the Note 8.

Outdoor thrill-seekers, rejoice! The Note 9 is also rated at IP68, making it dust-and-waterproof with full submersion of up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.

Aside from its stereo speakers below the phone (also found built into the earpiece), is the USB C port, 3.5mm headphones jack and the S Pen’s hideout.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9



Processor Qualcomm SDM845 Snapdragon 845
Memory (RAM) 8GB / 6GB
Storage 512GB / 128GB
MicroSD Storage Up to 512GB (Uses SIM 2 slot)
Rear Camera (Dual) - 12 MP, f/1.5-2.4, 26mm (wide), dual pixel PDAF, OIS

- 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto), AF, OIS, 2x optical zoom

- Video 2160p@60fps, 1080p@240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR, dual-video rec.

Front Camera (Single)

- 8 MP, f/1.7, 25mm (wide), AF

- Video 1440p@30fps

Screen Size 6.4 inches
Resolution 1440 x 2960 pixels

- USB 3.1 Gen 1, Type-C

- Earjack 3.5mm Stereo

- Bluetooth v5.0

- Wi-Fi



Battery 4,000 mAh battery
Size 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm
Weight 201g
Operating System Android 8.1 Oreo

Display: Hello there, beautiful!

You’d be insane to not notice the rich colour display on the Note 9.

Protected with Corning Gorilla 5, the Note 9’s touchscreen is a super AMOLED capacitive screen, with resolution at 1440 x 2960 pixels. Just like most Samsung phones, one may find the colours a little over-saturated. But, we really like the rich colour display. In fact, it’s hard to dislike at all!

An enjoyable entertainment hub, watching videos on the Note 9 is a breeze. Photos are admirable and game visuals are pretty immersive as well. In short, you’ll enjoy watching and using your Note 9 before realizing that it’s past your bedtime.

Battery: Level 4,000

Having long-lasting battery is probably on everyone’s list of must-have phone feature. Worry not, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 exceeds expectations.

While not considered the best, the Note 9 on a single full charge will do exceptionally well to last you a day or more depending on your usage. One will hardly need a power bank thanks to the huge 4,000 mAh battery tank (unless you use the Note 9 very heavily).

Standby mode is also quite impressive, with an average of less than 10% battery drainage when not in use for every 24 hours.

Performance: Catch me if you can

We hardly experienced any software issues with the Note 9. Users can enjoy this speedy beast that is embedded with a Snapdragon 845 chipset, octa-core CPU and 6GB of RAM for the 128GB storage version (8GB RAM on the 512GB storage version).

We did find very, very small signs of lag (wear) despite having only used the phone for about two weeks. This could be due to running a couple of demanding apps at once, and not optimizing user preferences to realistic, normal user settings.

Camera: Photographer-approved

Samsung Note 9’s beast of a camera certainly brings a smile to our faces.

Equipped with 12 megapixels dual cameras, you can take stunning portraiture shots with bokeh (blur background). Coming with artificial intelligence (AI), it can detect an array of scenes and shoot it at the best settings be it plants, food, sports and many more (20 scenes in total).

The dual apertures on the cameras open up from f/1.5 to f/2.4. With this, the Note 9 is able to capture superb low-light photography with little noise present (which will be even better if you go fully Manual mode). Its Scene Optimizer gives a boost of contrast and saturation to your photos, making them quite rich in colour.

Not forgetting to mention, its Flaw Detection feature accurately notifies if there are any flaws (blur or blinked eyes) in photos, and will suggest a reshoot. This is a great feature that not many AI phones out there have.

Ironically, a flaw that we found is the Note 9’s AI tendency to make subjects look slightly flatter than it really is due to the shallower tones of shading. We also found fewer details present in portraiture mode due to blurring.

S Pen: Huge intelligence in a tiny body

Here’s the star of the show! Aside from the phone itself, of course.

The S Pen is not just your regular stylus. In fact, it’s a mighty tool and the rightful partner for your Samsung Galaxy Note 9. We find that it somehow psychologically boosts productivity when using the phone.

Aside from the several types of note-taking features such as Live Message and Screen-Off Memos, you can also switch in between your favourite apps. It also acts as a remote for taking photos from a distance.

Taking a group photo? No problem. The Bluetooth S Pen is responsive to your device at up to a whopping 30-feet in distance! Also, for every 40 seconds of recharge time that the S Pen needs from your phone, you get to use it for up to 30 minutes.


What we like and didn’t

Aside from the sleek build of this powerhouse, we like the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 best for its ability to multitask and work on. The S Pen is also an added feature that any user will welcome for a boost in productivity. Not forgetting, the camera deserves a mention, especially for its ability to capture clear low-light shots, something that many other flagship models struggle with.

However, if one is to think it through, many of the Note 9’s features (including the S Pen) are not really a necessity. It can feel a little forced to utilize the S Pen just so one will get the most out of what they paid for. With that being said, most of the hardware upgrades from the Note 9 to the Note 8 are actually, just okay.

Who is it for

If your current smartphone is facing software issues and you are looking to upgrade, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is worth considering. Should you have the money to spend, and you’re liking the extra features (very flexible camera + S Pen), then by all means, go ahead and get one!

Disclaimer: The pricing shown is just a good indication of how much these products are worth. The prices could change based on the e-commerce promotions that are going on. If some of the products are not available, do email us at [email protected]. Thank you!

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