On an early Tuesday morning, a package deal value S$1,729 arrived at my doorstep. In all my years of reviewing units on this website, this was the only costliest piece of tech I’ve ever had. (It isn’t, nevertheless, the costliest piece of tech this web site has reviewed; that title goes to the S$four,999 Nikon D850.)
Wanting on the worth and specs – a 2.7GHz CPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB flash storage – you’d assume I had simply acquired a laptop computer, however that is the model new Galaxy Note9 from Samsung. To place issues in perspective, the 2013 MacBook Professional that I’m scripting this assessment on has half the storage, the identical quantity of RAM, and price about simply as a lot once I first purchased it.
However as ridiculous as this may increasingly appear, cramming one of the best internals attainable right into a smartphone has been the objective of the Observe lineup since its inception, and the current development of over-thousand-dollar telephones has given Samsung the go-ahead to push this imaginative and prescient to its restrict.
Is the Galaxy Note9 actually nearly as good because it seems to be on paper? And extra importantly, is it well worth the worth?
- 6.four” 1440 x 2960, 18.5:9 Tremendous AMOLED
- Gorilla Glass 5
- 161.9 x 76.four x eight.eight mm
- 6/128GB or eight/512GB
- Exynos 9810 Octa (four×2.7 GHz Mongoose M3 & four×1.eight GHz Cortex-A55)
- Android eight.1 Oreo with Samsung Expertise pores and skin
- Rear Cameras
12 MP, f/1.5-2.four, 26mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, twin pixel PDAF, OIS
12 MP, f/2.four, 52mm, 1/three.four″, 1µm, AF, OIS, 2x optical zoom
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- Entrance Digital camera
eight MP, f/1.7, 25mm, 1/three.6″, 1.22µm, AF
- Bluetooth 5.zero, aptX
- three.5mm headphone jack, stereo audio system
- 4000mAh non-removable battery
- microSD storage enlargement/ 2nd SIM slot
What’s In The Field
I don’t often do that part, however the Note9 does include some unconventional issues within the field. There’s a USB OTG connector, microUSB to Sort C adaptor, top quality AKG earphones, and a TPU case. There’s no HDMI cable for utilizing Samsung DEX sadly, so I wasn’t capable of check out this function.
The AKG earphones are definitely a superb pair of earphones. They’re nothing loopy, however are in-ear and undoubtedly present richer sound that the standard pair that you simply get in most smartphone packing containers.
Design and Construct
The Note9 is a solidly-built gadget. It’s the standard glass-sandwich design we’ve come to anticipate from flagships since 2016, and together with it comes the standard benefits (wi-fi charging, “premium” really feel) and drawbacks (fingerprints, fragility, slipperiness). It’s a design which is rising stale, and I do want extra OEMs would innovate extra with their supplies and builds, however that’s a subject for an additional article.
Buttons are splendidly tactile. The Bixby button is… nonetheless right here, and this time it may well’t be disabled (sure, actually). Extra on Bixby later.
Shifting on, there’s stereo audio system now, because the earpiece additionally doubles as a speaker along with the standard bottom-firing one. That is a particularly welcome addition, because it makes the audio more durable to dam, and sound is splendidly crisp even at loud volumes. This, coupled with the superb display, makes for a pleasant multimedia expertise.
The fingerprint reader has been shifted down ever so barely to a (marginally) extra handy location. The scanner continues to be too excessive for consolation and requires a little bit of a stretch to succeed in. I often resort to utilizing the telephone’s face unlock function, which works shortly even in difficult lighting circumstances. Whereas a swipe down on the fingerprint scanner brings down the notification shade, in apply, performing this gesture is as troublesome as swiping down from the highest of the ultra-tall display.
The telephone is heavy. It weighs 201g, in comparison with the 195g Note8, 189g S9+ and 163g S9. The added weight is noticeable; typically I discovered my palms being drained after extended web-browsing or YouTube-watching periods on the system. It takes away from the in any other case splendid multimedia expertise.
The added weight does include a very good purpose although: at four,000mAh, the battery contained in the Note9 is 21.2% bigger than its predecessor’s. It looks like Samsung has lastly regained its confidence after the Note7 fiasco.
Since we’re on the subject of the battery, we’d as nicely get the battery life out of the best way. The battery comfortably lasts all day, even with fixed music streaming by way of bluetooth and a big quantity of net shopping, social media use, and informal gaming. I always obtained round four hours of display on time, which doesn’t sound like quite a bit, however do observe that that is with the always-on show enabled and a continuing bluetooth connection to my Pebble Time, with loads of music streaming by way of bluetooth.
I confidently depart my charger at house when going to the workplace, and discover myself with round 30% battery left within the night. When you shouldn’t anticipate the Note9 to ship two-day battery life, you’ll be able to definitely rely on it to final the complete day on a single cost, and that’s ok for me.
The charging itself although is fairly sluggish, taking slightly below 2 hours for a full cost. For some purpose Samsung had opted for a QuickCharge 2.zero answer when the remainder of the competitors (such because the LG G7+ ThinQ which I just lately reviewed) is already on four.zero. In a check that I did, the telephone took an hour to go from 30% to 90%, which is actually twice so long as say, the OnePlus 6. Sure, the Note9 does have a bigger battery, however even when taking that under consideration, the charging velocity of the Note9 is disproportionately slower.
Maintaining that battery cool and non-flammable is a brand new water-cooling system, which is somewhat novel and doubtless one of the best cooling you will get in a smartphone in need of including followers (potential future Razer Telephone prototype…?). Nothing however the most effective for the official Fortnite telephone.
Feeding off the battery is Samsung’s in-house 10nm octa-core Exynos 9810 (four x 2.7GHz + four x 1.8GHz), which is about on par with Qualcomm’s newest Snapdragon 845. The unit I’ve received has 8GB RAM and 512GB inner storage. No clue why anybody would wish 512GB in a telephone however I assume you’ve principally obtained your self an exterior onerous disk for storing all of your 4K HDR movies. There’s even expandable storage, so in the event you actually needed to go loopy you can pop in a 512GB microSD card into the factor and have your self 1TB in your pocket always.
The show is an enormous curved 6.four” 1440 x 2960 18.5:9 Tremendous AMOLED panel. That being stated, it’s simply zero.1” bigger than the Note8’s and zero.2” bigger than the S9+’s.
The panel itself is completely beautiful. Some have even referred to as it the perfect show on a smartphone so far, and to be trustworthy, they’re in all probability proper. Not solely is the show large, sharp, and splendidly vibrant and visual outside, it’s HDR10 compliant, and is even listed on the prime of YouTube’s Signature Units record. That’s proper, it’s licensed by Google itself as the most effective units to observe YouTube on.
One of many gripes that some individuals have with AMOLED shows is the wrong, oversaturated color profile. This isn’t the case on the Note9. You will get extraordinarily colour-accurate profiles within the sRGB, AdobeRGB and DCI-P3 color areas straight from the settings menu by choosing “Primary”, “AMOLED photograph” and “AMOLED cinema” respectively. That is definitely one thing which I enormously respect.
My one challenge with the display is that it’s a curved show. I undoubtedly would have most popular a flat display on the Note9. The curved display seems cool, however actually serves no sensible function and brings about a few disadvantages. The primary is how mild tends to cling to the curve of the display, which may result in a really distracting expertise whereas watching a video or shopping the online. It definitely takes away from the in any other case stellar multimedia expertise that the display supplies. The second concern is that the curved display truly mockingly makes it lots more durable to make use of the S Pen. It’s the sensation you get whenever you’ve acquired paper on a small desk and also you’re pressured to write down on the bit that curves over the sting of the desk. It’s completely horrible making an attempt to pick or write on something that falls on the curved fringe of the display with the S Pen.
It’s a minor grievance, and doubtless isn’t a problem for many individuals, however I did discover that my expertise in utilizing the show was soured by the curved edges.
Samsung Expertise (formally TouchWiz) is identical as what we’ve been getting because the Galaxy S8. There’s a theming engine which modifications issues like the color of menus and the look of inventory icons, and I naturally opted for a darkish theme to utilize the true blacks offered by the AMOLED show. You’ll have to create a Samsung account first to make use of this function.
The inventory launcher is respectable. Swipe up (or down, for some purpose) on the house display to get into your app drawer, swipe left to enter the Bixby panel. I switched to Nova Launcher Prime throughout my evaluate interval merely for the power to open the notification shade by swiping down on the house display, as a result of accessing my notifications can be close to inconceivable in any other case on the 18.5:9 show.
Samsung nonetheless insists on putting in a Samsung app for each Google app current, so that you’ll be getting issues like Samsung Well being, Samsung Web, Samsung Members, Samsung Notes, Samsung Move, Samsung Pay, Samsung Themes, Samsung Mail, Samsung Calendar, Galaxy Apps, Galaxy Wearable, and naturally, Bixby. A few of these could be uninstalled, if desired.
Bixby’s been up to date to the all-new non-disable-ble Bixby 2.zero. Whereas I personally don’t use digital assistants in any respect, as a reviewer I did really feel obligated to check out the brand new Bixby, so I performed round together with her slightly.
I discovered that Bixby’s understanding simply isn’t nearly as good as Google Assistant’s. When asking Google to “replace me on the Premier League” it gave me related playing cards concerning the upcoming matches and former matches’ scores. Bixby, then again, replied, “I couldn’t perceive that. Listed here are some providers you possibly can attempt”. Hilariously, one of many strategies was to make use of Samsung Web to open samsung.com.
In one other instance, once I requested Google to play Probability The Rapper on Spotify, it began enjoying the playlist “This Is Probability The Rapper” on Spotify, whereas Bixby couldn’t catch the phrase “Probability The Rapper” regardless of what number of occasions I attempted. She does nevertheless, perceive the command “launch Spotify”.
Clearly Bixby has room for enchancment, and requires extra integration with non-Samsung apps. One constructive factor that I can say about Bixby is I do truly like how the button is carried out. Press and maintain to talk to Bixby, launch for her to course of your command. It feels pure, like talking right into a walkie-talkie. Sadly, Samsung has determined to lock down the button as an alternative of permitting you to map it to the digital assistant of your selection, or another app for that matter. They’ve even eliminated the choice to disable the button, so unintentional presses are an on a regular basis prevalence, particularly once you’re making an attempt to take a screenshot or regulate the quantity.
The S Pen was surprisingly helpful. Sensible choose is the function which I exploit probably the most typically. It permits you to choose a specific space on the display, and from there, save the picture, use OCR to repeat no matter textual content is within the picture, and even report a GIF. Different options which I discovered useful included the translate function which additionally makes use of OCR to translate any phrase to your language of selection.
I used the S Pen probably the most when studying Spanish on Duolingo. Finishing practices felt extra pure with the stylus, and the translate function got here in useful once I forgot sure Spanish phrases. The screenshot under might be the epitome of what the Note9 can do: in it, I’m finishing a Spanish apply on Duolingo with OneNote in cut up display on the underside for me to jot down the meanings of latest phrases.
Whereas the S Pen is a type of belongings you’d be glad to have whenever you realise that you simply want it, it definitely isn’t a necessity. Nonetheless, I can definitely see the usefulness of it, and I’m usually a fan.
With this yr’s Notice, the S Pen has one other trick up its sleeve: it makes use of bluetooth to hook up with your Note9 so as to do issues like management your music, powerpoint shows, and set off a distant shutter when utilizing the digital camera. You don’t should activate bluetooth in your telephone, and no pairing is required, it looks like the pen is completely related to your telephone proper out of the field. There’s a capacitor within the pen to energy it. It fees whereas holstered within the Note9, and takes lower than a minute to succeed in a full cost. The cost lasts for about half an hour, however do word that you simply’ll be capable of use regular S Pen options even after the cost dies; you simply gained’t be capable of do all the brand new distant tips.
Display-off memo continues to be right here, and is probably the perfect function the S Pen has to supply. Pull out the S Pen when your telephone is locked and you may instantly jot down a word. Re-insert the pen and your observe will routinely save to Samsung Notes. The cool factor about that is that this too presents character recognition, so in the event you rapidly jot down somebody’s quantity, the Note9 will truly have the ability to recognise the quantity (in case your handwriting isn’t too dangerous), and from there you possibly can instantly choose to name the quantity or reserve it to your contacts. Neat! The identical goes for web site and e-mail addresses.
The Note9 has a twin 12MP set-up on its rear. The primary shooter has the identical variable aperture (f/1.5 or f/2.four) because the one discovered on the s9/s9+. The secondary telephoto lens is at f/2.four. Each cameras are optically stabilised. Picture high quality is superb. Photographs are sharp with loads of element, and hues aren’t oversaturated. HDR additionally works properly to convey out particulars within the shadows.
In low mild, each cameras additionally carry out admirably, with good sharpness and minimal noise.
Video high quality is sweet as properly, going as much as 4K @ 60fps. Slomo modes at [email protected] and [email protected] can be found, they usually mechanically detect when an object is shifting within the body and seize a number of seconds of slomo video.
One surprsingly helpful function of the digital camera is that the software program will inform you if it thinks that somebody has blinked within the earlier photograph, and immediate you to take one other photograph. That is in all probability the primary sensible implementation of AI I’ve seen on a smartphone. Properly accomplished, Samsung.
Pricing and Conclusion
The Galaxy Note9 is definitely probably the most feature-packed smartphone you can purchase proper now, and its worth displays this: S$1,389 for the 6/128GB choice and S$1,729 for the eight/512GB choice, off-contract.
Personally, I wouldn’t buy any telephone with a $1000 price ticket; it’s simply diminishing returns at that time. However for those who’re after the perfect of one of the best and have a thousand bucks to drop on a telephone, this may be the one I’d advocate. Particularly, I’d advocate the 6/128GB model. 128GB is greater than sufficient for everybody, and it’s nonetheless expandable by way of microSD for the zero.1% of you who require extra. 6GB of RAM is greater than sufficient, and also you gained’t discover any distinction between 6 and 8GB RAM for a few years to return.
Should you can look previous the Bixby button and the Note9’s weight, this is among the greatest Android telephones you will get.