The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is finally here and it’s Samsung’s most fully-featured smartphone yet.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 announcement was never a surprise. We’ve known that Samsung was working on releasing another phablet in its Note line of devices this year and, lo and behold, here it is.
Following the success of the Note 8, whose sales weren’t knocked by the Note 7’s explosive past, the South Korean firm’s ninth plus-sized phone has a lot to live up to. Thankfully the Samsung Galaxy S9 was a mighty evolution on the Galaxy S8, so it’s more than likely that Samsung has done the same again with the Note 9.
We’re yet to get the chance to go hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 but, now the Note is finally out in the wild, we’ve gathered together all the essential bits and bobs you need to know about Samsung’s latest phablet.
Samsung’s Galaxy S9 flagships made their debut at MWC earlier this year, leaving the Note 9 to mop up the end-of-year window usually swallowed up by the next iPhone device (be it the iPhone 9 or iPhone 11). Following Samsung’s annual “Unpacked” event held in New York, we now know you’ll be able to get your hands on a Note 9 from 24 August.
As with all of Samsung’s “Note” devices, the Note 9 is the top-end of it’s phablet-sized Android phones. As always it comes equipped with Samsung’s S-Pen stylus and host of features that’ll bleed into next year’s Galaxy S devices too.
In terms of core specs, the Note 9 is equipped with an edge-to-edge 6.4in Super AMOLED screen with a 2,960 x 1,440-pixel resolution. It may be the same resolution as last year’s Note 8, but this time around its screen is just a shade larger and Samsung’s panel supports HDR 10 to really make images crisp and vibrant.
On the inside you’ll find either Qualcomm’s latest flagship processor, the 2.8GHz Snapdragon 845 or Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 if you live outside of the US. Both chips are particularly speedy, and will offer a sizeable boost in performance over both builds of the Note 8.
Rumours suggested that the Note 9 would hold up to a massive 2TB of storage space but in reality we’re looking at 128GB at base with an option to upgrade to 512GB of storage if you want to. There’s also expansion via microSD if you run out of space. Samsung has also equipped the Note 9 with a beefy 4,000mAh battery to help give this powerful phone enough juice to last a day.
In the camera department you’ll get a dual-camera setup on the rear that’s a similar setup to the Note 8’s. One is a wide-angle 12-megapixel f/1.5 camera with the second offering up an f/2.4 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom. Both come with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) to ensure all your shots remain stable.
The new f/1.5 aperture on the wide-angle lens allows more light in than on last year’s Note 8 meaning your shots should look far brighter and crisper than before. Just like on the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, the Note 9’s wide-angle snapper automatically widens its aperture to f/1.5 from its standard f/2.4 when lighting conditions call for it to do so. This means you’ll get a great shot without having to fiddle with menus before taking a photo.
In fact, the only real disappointing thing about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s specs is that it’ll launch with Android 8.1 Oreo instead of Google’s latest mobile OS, Android 9 Pie.
6.3in 1,440 x 2,960 Super AMOLED with HDR 10
Octa-core 2.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 / Samsung Exynos 9810
Wide-angle 12-megapixel f/1.5 and telephoto 12-megapixel f/2.4 rear camera – 8-megapixel front camera
Android 8.1 Oreo
162 x 76.4 x 9mm
While many may have hoped that the Galaxy Note 9 would be a more exciting phone design-wise, perhaps one that adopted the fancy folding technology Samsung has been working on for years now, the Note 9 is rather similar to its predecessor. Its Plus-sized screen wraps around the sides of the device – now a Samsung design staple – and leaves slim bezels above and below the display instead of opting for an iPhone X-style notch.
On the back you’ll find a horizontal dual-camera array with a rectangular fingerprint reader situated underneath. There’s still a 3.5mm headphone jack here – partly because Samsung won’t ever let that opportunity to best Apple disappear – and the dedicated Bixby button remains alongside the volume rocker on the left-side of the device. You’ll also find a solo speaker grille and USB Type-C charging port on the bottom.
The newly revamped S-Pen slots into a hole on the bottom of the phone and should feature even more levels of pressure than its predecessor. It now comes equipped with Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) support; this means you can take group pictures and selfies, rattle off slides for a presentation and play video – all with just a click.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is, obviously, a welcome addition to the smartphone market but it’s hard to not be ever so slightly disappointed in Samsung playing it safe with its latest device.
It’s clear that, like with the Note 8, Samsung’s latest phone will be the best device released this year. However, you do always have to wonder if all that extra horsepower is worth the money when most other phones of this year, and last, already do the job pretty well.
However, until we can go hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 ahead of launch, we can’t definitively say if it’s going to be the best handset around come its 24 August launch.