Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: What’s New?

Samsung has announced its brand new Galaxy Note 9 smartphone a month ago. Judging by the looks on the outside, you may assume that not much has changed from last year, but Samsung did make some pretty big changes on the inside of the phone.

On the outside, it looks pretty similar to what Samsung released last year with the Galaxy Note 8. In fact, it’s so similar that the only thing I can see at first glance that’s obvious is that the fingerprint reader has moved away from being placed right next to the flash, and they’ve moved it underneath the camera module.

That, in and of itself, is a welcome feature as far as I’m concerned.

Now, the good things you liked about the hardware last year like the fact that it has a headphone jack, that still remains, and the confusing things about last year like the fact that it has a dedicated button to bring up Bixby, that remains as well.

I want to talk to you about the features make the Galaxy Note 9 something you might want to consider.

The Galaxy Note 9 takes advantage of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, with cutting-edge LTE, wifi, and Bluetooth features. That includes 2nd gen gigabit LTE which supports peak download speeds of 1.2 gigabits per second.

It’s also got Qualcomm’s aptX audio which allows the Galaxy Not high-quality sound over Bluetooth, to supported wireless headsets and speakers.

Now, compared to the Galaxy Note 8, the Galaxy Note 9 has a 53% faster CPU and a 23% faster GPU. Now, again, that’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 and that should give you an idea of the amount of power that Samsung has packed into this device.

So knowing how impressive those specs are, let’s jump into the top five features of the Galaxy Note 9.

Galaxy Note 9 Camera

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features a dual camera system similar to what you’d find on the Galaxy S9 Plus. It sports a dual aperture wide lens, which can switch between F2.4 and F1.5, and it’s also got a telephoto lens as well.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Camera

Both cameras will shoot the same scene when zoomed in, allowing you to save the view from both cameras.

The cameras also have dual optical image stabilization and the Live Focus feature, which we’ve seen on previous devices as well. That’s the feature that allows you to change the amount of blur behind your subject, both before and after the photo is taken.

Now, the Qualcomm Snapdragon does show its chops here in the camera, specifically as it allows for a few specific features.

First of all, that super slow-mo feature that we saw on the S9, is carried over to the Note 9. That allows you to shoot at 960 FPS.

Speaking of high frame rates, the Galaxy Note 9 can also shoot 4K at 60 FPS thanks to the Snapdragon 845 as well, and that same processor also allows for the great low-light photography, and the near-instant autofocus that you’ll find when using the camera.

One other interesting feature is the scene optimizer. It utilizes Qualcomm’s AI engine to identify the elements of a photo to categorize it into one of 20 different types and instantly optimizes the photo based on the category.

For example, you may be taking a photo in the sunset, or you may be taking a photo of food, or an animal, it’ll automatically apply changes to brightness, contrast, saturation, and white balance before you take the photo, to ensure the best possible end result.

Also, a new flaw detection feature that will let you know if a shot was blurry, if someone blinked, or if an image was too back-lit or blown out, so as you can see, the camera is pretty impressive here on the Note 9.

Battery Life

This one isn’t apparent when looking at the phone, but it is very apparent when you’re using the phone, and that is the battery life.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Battery

The battery life on the Galaxy Note 9 is stellar due to the 4000 milliamp-hour battery. That’s right, on the inside is a 4000 milliamp-hour battery which is the largest battery that’s ever been included in a Samsung Galaxy Note phone.

It’s also larger than almost every other Android flagship’s battery that you’ll find today.

Now, in addition to running the Note 9 battery through its own multi-point safety check, Samsung says they’ve also done extensive, third-party verification as well.

Specifically, Samsung says they’ve had the phone validated and certified by outside companies UL and Exponent.

Now, the reason for that, if you weren’t around back then and weren’t paying attention back then, the Galaxy Note 7 failed spectacularly due to battery problems, the phone was actually exploding, blowing up.

Samsung recalled it, re-engineered the phone, re-released it, and it started blowing up again, and they had to pull the phone and cancel it completely.

Last year with the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung was a bit more hesitant to put a huge battery in that phone.

That was actually a disappointment from a lot of people, the fact that the Note 8 didn’t have that large battery.

It’ll take you a long long time before you run out of juice. Basically, what you’ve got there is all-day battery life.

Storage Capacity

I need to give a big shout-out to Samsung for starting the Note 9 at 128GB. That is the entry level storage amount.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Storage

Just a couple of years ago, I was complaining about companies releasing phones with 8 GB or even 16 GB of storage at the bare minimum, which was just too small an amount for this day and age.

Samsung’s been shipping phones with 64 gigabytes of storage at the base level, for a few years now, but I was surprised to see that this year with the Note 9, they’re starting at 128 gigabytes, bare minimum, with 6 GB of RAM built in.

Now, that entry-level phone will cost you $999, basically a thousand bucks, but they didn’t stop there.

They also have a second model which you can buy which packs in 512 GB of storage, right in, built right into the phone.

Now, if you opt for 512 GB are also going to get, instead of 6 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage, 8 GB of RAM, that model will sell for $1,249, so basically, $1250.

But Samsung didn’t stop there. Whether you get the 128 or the 512-gigabyte version, it also still has the built-in SD card slot.

The built-in SD card slot is in the SIM tray, and that SD card slot supports up to 512 gigabytes when using a micro SD card.

So in other words, if you buy a 512 gigabyte Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and then you get a 512 gigabyte external micro SD card, you put that in the phone, and you have a phone that has 1 terabyte of storage space.

I think that’s pretty much unmatched in current generation smartphones. One terabyte of storage, right here in your hand, pretty impressive.

Now, the phone is pretty big, and we have seen one terabyte SSDs out there, but those SSDs are pretty expensive, so being able to pack in the same amount of storage as you would get on a dedicated external SSD, right into your Galaxy Note 9, super impressive.

Improved S Pen

This time around, Samsung is upgrading the S Pen in a big way. It’s adding Bluetooth low energy, turning the stylus from a mere note-taking accessory into a full-fledged remote control for your phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Spen

The additional Bluetooth adds a few cool features to the S Pen. For example, now it functions as a remote camera shutter letting you take pictures from up to 30 feet away.

There’s also a presentation mode that lets you control a slideshow remotely when using Samsung’s DeX feature.

The S Pen will also let you play and pause music and video as well.

Pressing and holding the button opens the camera by default but you can change that shortcut to launch any app of your choosing.

Samsung says it’s gonna be opening up the S Pen’s new Bluetooth features to developers later this year.

Now, you may hear Bluetooth features and think, okay, so the S Pen is now using way more energy than it used to, and that is true, it does take power to run the S Pen now, but the beauty of it is that it charges right here in the S Pen storage slot.

If the S Pen runs out of battery, you put it in that slot and it will charge to full in under one minute.

However, if you were in the middle of writing and you don’t have a minute to spare, you’ll be happy to know that the S Pen still functions as a stylus and writing tool, even when the battery is completely dead.

Gorgeous Display

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s super AMOLED Quad HD plus display looks amazing. That’s thanks in part to the 516 pixels per inch, giving it 2960 by 1440 resolution.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Display

The display is large enough to play games on, which, by the way, is interesting, because Samsung did announce Fortnite coming to the Samsung Galaxy line of phones.

The display is also optimized for YouTube. YouTube did give this its stamp of approval, cause the phone does support multiple resolutions and can decode YouTube’s VP9 codec.

In addition, you can also watch movies in HDR as well. That’s High Dynamic Range, giving you even more colors and better contrast than on screens that don’t include that feature.

On the outside, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 looks similar to last year, but on the inside, thanks to that Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, we’re getting a new and refreshed Galaxy Note experience.

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