Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Overview and Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Overview and Review
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What is the Samsung Galaxy Note 9? Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is unashamedly huge, seriously expensive, and jams pretty much every high-end feature into a surprisingly svelte package. It’s closest competitor is the Huawei Honor Magic 2. At first sight it may appear that not much has changed from the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (or even the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus), but this is a much better phone that might just be worth that £899/$999.99 price tag.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Design

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 design

Samsung has kept the overall design similar – and that isn’t entirely a bad thing. Even though it’s been around for a year, the curved front and sandwiched metal rim continues to feel distinctly modern. Many phones have adopted a similar look, but none feel as highly engineered and finished to perfection.

The biggest design difference is that the fingerprint sensor now sits below the camera, not next to it. This small change makes a big difference: I no longer end up smearing the camera sensor every time I unlock the phone.

Sticking with a glass back enables wireless charging – a Galaxy staple – while other much-loved features such as a IP68 water-resistance rating, headphone jack and expandable storage also remain. Thankfully, the Note 9 foregoes a notch – that annoying cut-out that features in the display of so many 2018 smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Display

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 display

The displays Samsung produces for its own handsets (alongside those of other phones, such as the iPhone XS) are the best for a number of reasons. The Note 9 uses an OLED panel. Compared to LCD, OLEDs use less power and only power on the required pixels, therefore displaying perfect blacks. This means that when you’re watching content with plenty of dark scenes, they’ll actually look black rather than slightly washed out.

In the default mode everything looks vibrant and punchy, without sacrificing too much colour accuracy. There might be slightly more punch to reds than you’d see in real life, but I think that’s more pleasing to the eye here.

In their infancy OLEDs on phones suffered with poor brightness and as a result had difficulty with poor outdoor visibility. That’s not the case here: the panel is ridiculously bright and I tended to not even feel the need to push it past 45-50%. The brightness will also boost in super-bright environments making it easy to read.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – S Pen

The S Pen remains the Note’s biggest selling point. The Wacom-powered stylus is something the competition can’t match. The S Pen is now Bluetooth enabled, and comes in a few different colours. For example, the Ocean Blue Note 9 comes with a yellow S Pen, while the black and lavender handsets sport colour-matched S Pens.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Performance

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Performance

My review unit packs the Exynos 9810, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. This is the European model, so if you’re in the US then your unit will be powered by the more common Snapdragon 845. Since I haven’t used that particular version (or the 512GB model with 8GB RAM), all my comments regarding performance are based on my experience with the Exynos variant.

Even though the Note 9 isn’t the first handset to be released with these specs, they’re still pretty much up there with the best you’ll find in any device currently on the market.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Camera

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Camera

On the back of the Note 9 is a new camera system. Well, it’s new for the Note series. The 12-megapixel camera with a variable aperture (f/1.5 + f/2.4) has been plucked straight from the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. Next to it is a second 12-megapixel camera, this time with a longer focal length for 2x zooming.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Battery life

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Battery life

Inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 you’ll find a 4000mAh battery, a cell so large there are few other flagships devices housing a similarly sized unit – at least in Europe. It matches the battery size of the Huawei P20 Pro, and comfortably exceeds the Note 8 (3400mAh) and Galaxy S9 Plus (3500mAh).

The Note 9 won’t be for everyone, though; but that’s always been the way with the Note series. It’s super-expensive at £899/$999 and, for many, it will simply be too big. I also think the overall design of the Galaxy S9 Plus is slightly better. However, if you’ll make use of the S Pen, all that storage and the gorgeous display, then the Note 9 will be worth it. 


The best big phone you can buy, even with the iPhone XS Max on shelves.


  • Battery lasts the day, comfortably
  • Fantastic, huge display with no notch
  • S Pen remains unique
  • Samsung’s software has a number of handy features


  • The overall design of the S9 Plus is better
  • Bixby button is an annoyance

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