Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Review, Price, and Where to Buy

What’s an enormous smartphone speculated to be within the period of plus-sized, elongated telephones with 18.5:9 show facet ratios? Haven’t loads of cellphone makers found out the right way to squeeze a considerable quantity of display screen right into a cellphone measurement that doesn’t provide you with hand cramps?

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These are the questions Samsung has to reply because it launches the brand new Galaxy Note 9 smartphone. Sure, the Note line of smartphones has developed proper together with the remainder of the business. But it’s nonetheless an enormous cellphone, and its bigness needs to be justified.

In the case of the Note 9, that justification comes within the type of an abundance of tech we’re already conversant in, slightly than brand-new tech we’ve by no means seen earlier than. The function that may most likely have essentially the most affect on on a regular basis life is the battery: Samsung is transport the cellphone with the largest-ever battery in a Galaxy flagship smartphone. Yes I do know, this is similar line of smartphones that shipped with fiery batteries two years in the past. I’d be mendacity if I stated that didn’t cross my thoughts after I flew throughout the nation with a brand new Note 9 cellphone final week. But Samsung has instituted a multi-step battery test for its telephones since then. So far, so good.

The Note 9 has different attracts, too: It’s tremendous quick, comes with extra storage than even obsessive photograph takers or sport gamers may know what to do with, and its S Pen stylus now doubles as a distant management. Samsung has by some means discovered methods to distinguish this cellphone from the Galaxy S9, it’s different flagship cellphone. It has justified the bigness.

Phuc Pham

It’s additionally charging for it. The base mannequin of the Note 9, which is able to ship with 128 gigabytes of inner storage, prices $1,000. Bump that as much as 512 gigabytes of inner storage and eight gigabytes of RAM, and also you’re $1,250. Samsung says its Note clients continuously report that they love their telephones. That’s some loopy in love.

The Build

At first look, the Note 9 doesn’t look completely different from final yr’s Galaxy Note 8—however there are some small adjustments. It nonetheless has an aluminum body with Gorilla Glass on the back and front, however the body across the edge-to-edge show is barely tapered. The Note 9 weighs only a few grams greater than the Note 8. The new cellphone can also be a hair wider than final yr’s mannequin.

The Note 9’s show measurement is the largest bodily distinction. Last yr’s Note Eight had a 6.3-inch show; the Note 9 has a 6.4-inch show. Considering the 2 telephones are nearly the very same measurement, this implies Samsung has upped the screen-to-phone ratio, an effort to maintain up with broader smartphone tendencies. The show itself is vibrant, luminous, eye-grabbing. At a time when techies are switching to grayscale to try to treatment their smartphone addictions, Samsung is luring all the children again into the sweet retailer.

Like this yr’s Galaxy S9, the Note 9 has a plethora of choices for authenticating on the system: There’s a fingerprint scanner, an iris scanner, a facial recognition function, a mix of iris and face scanning… we’re mere steps away from unlocking our notes with the distinctive ideas of our noses. Like final yr’s Note 8, the Note 9 expenses by way of USB-C or Qi wi-fi charging. And just like the many years of gadgets that got here earlier than it, the Note 9 has an ordinary 3.5mm headphone jack. Amen.

The Note 9 is working Android 8.1 Oreo out of the field, which isn’t the newest Google software program. Samsung received’t say when it expects Android 9 Pie to return to the Note 9.

The cellphone’s interface is straightforward sufficient to navigate—however that’s largely compared to what it was once, again when Samsung’s software program “pores and skin” made issues really feel dense and disorganized. It’s cleaner now, although there are nonetheless aspect app panels and aspect “individuals” panels (for fast entry to contacts) and split-screen views and snapping home windows. A giant-screened cellphone is meant to permit for all of this. At the identical time, it calls for a heck of lots of interplay.

The Speed

You know if you’re about to take off on a highway journey or flight or lengthy commute and also you notice you forgot to obtain all of the stuff you needed to obtain earlier than you left and there’s no method you’re going to have the ability to do it now, when you’re already in transit? The Note 9 almost eliminates that drawback.

Downloading and putting in new apps typically took me lower than 30 seconds; prolonged podcasts had been downloaded in a fraction of that. I downloaded Epic Games’ Fortnite, which is out there as an Android app completely on Samsung gadgets for an undetermined window of time, from the parking zone of a Starbucks. It’s a 1.82-gigabyte obtain, and it was able to go in a couple of minutes. Much of this, after all, can also be depending on community speeds. But whereas Samsung has constructed a high-end LTE modem into the cellphone, it doesn’t have assist for 5G, which doesn’t futureproof the Note 9 very nicely.

It’s working on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, and the bottom mannequin comes with 6 gigabytes of RAM. This matches the processing specs on the Galaxy S9, which got here out earlier this yr. (For what it’s price, early benchmark checks have proven that Apple’s iPhone X remains to be a quicker cellphone.) What’s completely different in regards to the Note 9 is that it features a water-carbon cooling system and a warmth sink that’s thrice larger than the one in final yr’s cellphone.

That’s lots of mechanical engineering communicate for what mainly signifies that the cellphone’s processing energy has been coupled with instruments that assist dissipate warmth. So the cellphone has been designed to not overheat if you’re taxing it (and never decelerate tremendously, both). I’m not an enormous gamer, however I did (lastly, lastly) play Fortnite on the Note 9. The cellphone began to really feel heat after simply 5 minutes of gameplay, the perimeters of the cellphone particularly. It cooled down quick, although. And after I watched movies on it, there was no uncommon stuttering or overheating.

The Battery

If you’re as Slack-and-social-media-attached as I’m, you then’re going to understand the Note 9’s battery—a 4000 milliampere hour battery, in comparison with the Note 8’s 3300mAh battery. This ought to get you a day after which some, which is Samsung’s promise. That was my expertise: In one take a look at, I took the fully-charged Note 9 off its charger noon and by noon the next day the cellphone nonetheless had 15 % battery left. This was with my on a regular basis utilization: Slack, Twitter, Google Maps, electronic mail, shopping, Instagram, YouTube, and extra. But this was additionally with the Note 9’s built-in battery saving perform turned on, and I used to be stunned I wasn’t getting nearer to a day and a half, given the quantity of battery-boasting Samsung execs did on the cellphone’s launch occasion.

Samsung can also be releasing a wi-fi charging dock that prices $120. Such descriptions could be deceptive; the dock itself nonetheless must plug in, however you may merely plop as much as two Samsung gadgets on the inductive charging pads and so they’ll fast-charge. The comfort of this sort of accent can’t be overstated. However, my loaner unit is probably a dud, since one of many charging pads expenses issues rapidly and the opposite doesn’t.

The Camera

We’ve come to anticipate issues like dual-lens cameras, portrait modes (“faux-keh”), and improved low-light efficiency in high-end smartphones. What issues increasingly more is what smartphone makers are doing on the software program finish to enhance cameras. And that’s the tack that Samsung has taken with the Note 9: Its digital camera {hardware} is just about the identical because the digital camera on the Galaxy S9, however the Note 9 is differentiated by its synthetic intelligence.

This contains an optimizer within the digital camera app that reads the scene if you’re capturing a photograph in Auto mode, and inside a second or so, provides the not-yet-captured imagery a lift. There’s additionally a function that permits you to know if a photograph you’ve simply snapped is blurry, or if somebody’s eyes are closed; though the notification is so fleeting and the textual content so tiny that it’s straightforward to overlook this in case you’re not gazing your Note after taking the photograph.

iPhone X (left) versus the Galaxy Note 9.

In sure environments, the AI-powered optimizer was a welcome addition. It makes colours pop, and ever-so-slightly adjusts the publicity when wanted. But in different environments, the optimizer boosted colours unnaturally, taking Samsung’s saturation ranges to an entire new degree; or it added noise. It additionally created a halo-like impact in sure photographs, like the perimeters of the yellow bowl included right here. If you don’t find it irresistible, the optimizer could be turned off in settings.

Galaxy Note 9 (left) versus the Pixel 2 XL.

The Note 9’s digital camera is mostly wow-worthy. I snapped a sequence of images with the Note 9, the iPhone X, and the Pixel 2 XL, and in some cases, the Note 9’s photograph was brighter and extra crisp than the others. But it additionally relies on your private preferences for smartphone images. I want images to be extra true to life, each in shade and composition; Samsung’s cameras someday soften issues to the purpose of stripping away element, as you may see within the side-by-side images of my colleague Kayla.

About That S Pen

Last week, after I realized that the Note 9’s S Pen was not only a stylus however now additionally a Bluetooth remote-control stick for the cellphone, I stated that this was a horrible gimmick. I used to be unsuitable. The S Pen as a Bluetooth remote-control stick has delighted the individuals round me as we’ve used it to take selfies over the previous few days. (I’ve even punked individuals by handing the brand new cellphone over to them after which, as they’re inspecting it, launching the digital camera app with the S Pen in my hand.) It’s extremely helpful as a instrument for unlocking the cellphone when it’s resting a number of ft away from you at your desk and also you don’t really feel like selecting it up and utilizing your face or finger to open it. Selfie stick S Pen, I salute you.

Should You Buy It?

Samsung markets the Note as one thing past a smartphone; one thing extra akin to a superphone. It comes near being that, however the Note 9 additionally lacks the whiz-bang of what a next-generation smartphone ought to actually have (together with 5G assist and 3D front-facing cameras).

There’s additionally the query of how large is too large, which is one thing I’ve personally all the time grappled with with the Note line. Even when it’s aligned with a Google Pixel 2 XL and an iPhone 8 Plus—each massive telephones—the Note 9 stands out for its measurement. It’s not straightforward to carry and management with one hand. One evening earlier this week, I contemplated going for a run, then realized I had completely no need to hold the Note 9 with me on my run. That’s one thing I wouldn’t get used to with time.

For the individuals who Samsung insists love the Note line, they’re going to like this one, too. They’ve already resigned themselves to an enormous, costly cellphone, and are getting the efficiency, storage and battery goodness that ought to include that. For these individuals, the Note’s place in a market full of huge smartphones has by no means been a query. For the remainder of the $1,000 smartphone inhabitants, different flagship telephones will nearly actually do the trick—and may even have extra superior tech in case you wait a number of months longer.

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