It’s as though Samsung was aware of how far behind it was falling in the smartphone race. The S9 and S9+ both proved that spending just one release cycle to iterate and finely hone their devices is too long for people to gracefully accept, and many cited the S9 models as merely being faster variants of the S8 releases. The Note 8, of course, remains a wild success; however, leaving out the in-glass fingerprint scanner was considered a sure sign of failure earlier in the year. The Korean tech giant has proven that there’s more to the picture than biometrics and a chip bump as a Bluetooth-powered S-Pen, 4,000mAh battery, 8 GB of RAM and terabyte storage are here to show that some numbers still hold meaning to the masses.
The Galaxy Note 9 is rumored to be the final phone in the Note series although if true, it doesn’t mean that your beloved S-Pen is going anywhere; we might actually see the Note and S lines merge with the S10 instead. Still, that's just a rumor! For now, let’s dive into the technical bits of the newest superphone on the market and embrace Samsung's comeback.
Processing and Storage
As the years pass, improvements to smartphone processing power have failed to impress like they once did. Long gone are the days of getting excited about dual-core or quad-core computing in your pocket; octa-core CPUs are the mainstay now with 6-8 GB of RAM forming the base. The one area that manufacturers have always skimped on, however, is the storage. It’s cheap, especially in the hands of a worldwide producer such as Samsung, so it’s never made sense that Samsung waited this long to grace their handset with 512 GB of UFS 2.1. Take note — ha, see what we did there — that the cheaper 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage model of the Note 8 is also an option if you don’t need so much space.
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- CPU: 64-bit octa-core 2.6GHz Kryo 385, 10nm
- RAM: 6 or 8 GB LPDDR4
- GPU: Adreno 630
- Inbuilt Storage: 128 or 512 GB
- MicroSD Support: Yes, up to 2 TB
Of all the features that Samsung worked to improve upon, the camera has remained mostly the same from the S9, which wasn’t all that much of a bump from the Note 8 to begin with. The resolutions are the same from last year’s stylus-laden phablet, but you now have 4K video capture at a wholesome 60 fps and a variable aperture to boot. It’s not the strongest camera on the smartphone market, but you’ll find that it’s a top-five pick for superb photo and video reproduction.
- Photo Resolution: 12 MP back, 8 MP front
- Video Resolution: Up to 4K@60 fps (rear), 2K (front)
- Aperture: F1.5-F2.4 variable
- Pixel Size: 1.4 μm
- Camera Features: Exposure compensation, HDR (high dynamic range), panorama, RAW image capture
It’s almost pointless to discuss the display anymore on Samsung flagships when it’s universally recognized as the best on the market. That’s a good thing! The newest talk says that the Note 9’s panel is “indistinguishable from perfection” to the bare human eye although we’d like to argue that’s already been the case since the Galaxy S8’s Infinity Display made its debut. With that said, our number one concern here is whether this display will burn in as easily as the Note 8’s did.
- Screen Size: 6.4 inches
- Resolution: 1,440 x 2,960 QHD+
- Pixel Density: 516 ppi
- Screen-to-Body Ratio: 83.51%
- Display Technology: Super AMOLED
- Protection: Gorilla Glass 5
Here’s one of the Note 9’s golden points: the sheer size of the battery. Now, it’s not like 4,000mAh is revolutionary in the smartphone world when 5,000mAh juicers have been a thing in the past, but it never seems like the popular flagship brands ever make it past the 3,000 range. Don’t get us wrong: The Note 8 has ridiculously awesome battery life for most folks, but there’s no sense in that if you’re not going to complement it with a massive battery on top.
- Capacity: 4,000 mAh
- Removable: No
- Technology: Li-ion
- USB: 3.1, Type-C (reversible)
- Features: Fast Charging, Qi wireless charging
- Design and Features.
Let’s be honest: You probably couldn’t tell the Note 8 apart from the Note 9 at a glance, and most folks probably couldn’t see one even if you set the two side by side on a table. The materials have also remained the same. What do we think? This is perfectly fine with us seeing as the minimized bezels leave little for design at this point. The Note line is designed for functionality and power-minded users, and we’d prefer that Samsung stick to that as a priority for now. It’s not exactly a lightweight or thin device, but at the end of the day, it’s a rugged phablet; it’s not going to be small.
- OS: Android 8.1 Oreo
- Material: Glass body, aluminum accents
- Dimensions: 6.37 x 3.01 x 0.35 inches (161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm)
- Weight: 7.09 oz (201 g)
- Ruggedness: IP68 water- and dust-resistance
- Features: Bluetooth S-Pen for conducting functions from a distance in addition to writing notes and producing digital art; also includes back-mounted fingerprint scanner
- Colors: Blue, Purple, Brown and Black
The price tags on both versions of this handset aren’t light, especially the 8 GB RAM and 512 GB storage option. We think that for a power user who needs the S-Pen and is overdue for an upgrade, the more powerful option is worthwhile just on the variant differences alone. The base model that brings 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage is reasonable at its own price point, which is more in line with previous Note entries. Whichever way you go, there’s definitely a market that’s being targeted here, and if you’re not keen on the S-Pen, you might consider the far-cheaper OnePlus 6 to fill in the basics. However, we think that if you waited for the cost to dip, you’ll love what Samsung is offering here.