Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Pen Wielding Android Powerhouse

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: A Fully Loaded Android Flagship

If we were to characterize a Samsung Galaxy Note user in a single word it would have to be "enthusiast." Specifically, we're talking about an Android smartphone enthusiast but regardless, among the vast general populous of smartphone consumers, if you're packing a device like any of the previous Samsung Galaxy Notes, you likely want the most powerful, feature-rich, large format device you can get your hands on.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in hand

And when it came to the 9th incarnation of the Galaxy Note, the
Galaxy Note 9, Samsung spared no expense once again, not only in its design and feature set, but even the venue it chose to launch from last week at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Brooklyn Nets play here, as well as the New York Islanders. And yes, now Samsung Vice Chairman and CEO Dong-Jin Koh, or DJ for short, has played there too. 

DJ Koh on stage at unpacked
Samsung's DJ Koh On Stage At Unpacked 2018 - Barclays Center, New York

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is here. It's big, bold, powerful, pricey, wields an S Pen and makes no apologies for its curvaceous and bodacious exterior. Is it a worthy successor in one of Samsung's most successful flagship product lines? We'll try to answer that question here, but as it turns out, the new Note 9 is more about evolutionary refinement, than it is revolutionary new features. And that, as you'll see, is likely just fine for most Android phone enthusiasts.

First, take a quick guided tour with Aaron from Samsung here at their suite in New York, then we'll dig in deep on all the specifics, user experience, and performance metrics.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Specifications & Features
Display 6.4-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED, 2960x1440 (516ppi)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Storage 128/512GB
Expandable MicroSD up to 2TB
Primary Rear Camera 12MP Super Speed Dual Pixel, OIS, f/1.5 or f/2.4
Secondary Rear Camera 12MP, OIS, f/2.4, telephoto lens
Front Camera 8MP, f/1.7, auto focus
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac, 1.2Gbps (Cat-18) LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, ANT+, NFC, GPS, Glonass
Audio Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos, 3.5mm headphone jack
Battery 4000mAh (Non-removable)
Charging Quick Charge 2.0 with Fast Wireless Charging (15W)
Water / Dust Resistance IP68
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor, Iris scanner, face detection/unlock, Samsung KNOX
Operating System Android 8.1 Oreo, Samsung Experience 9.5
Dimensions 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm
Weight 201g
Colors Ocean Blue, Lavender Purple, Midnight Black, Metallic Copper (not all available in the US)

If you're into comparing specs, you can think of Samsung's new Galaxy Note 9 as similar to a Galaxy S9+, but with a larger 6.4-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED display, a larger, honkin 4000 mAh battery, along with options for up to 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, though we'll be looking at the 128GB storage/6GB RAM variant here for this review. Otherwise, on board is the same powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC (some international versions will have Samsung's Exynos processor), and even the same excellent dual rear camera array. The Note 9 sports dual 12MP shooters, both with OIS, one of which has a dual F1.5/F2.4 aperture lens, while the other is a wide-angle shooter with F2.4 aperture. You do also, however, get Samsung's S Pen integration with the Note 9, in addition to its bigger, better general feature set.

Galaxy Note 9 kit
S Pen
You get a fair amount of gear in Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 bundle as well, from the requisite USB-C sync/charge cable and AC adapter, to a nice set of AKC ear buds that sound pretty solid for bundled buds, to a USB-C to USB-A converter, SIM key tool, an S Pen tip extractor and of course the S Pen itself. However, curiously we were missing extra S Pen tips, as is typical with Samsung's Note setups. Regardless, the new S Pen has learned new tricks as well, with Bluetooth BLE connectivity, allowing it to work as a remote control, which we'll cover for you shortly. 

galaxy note 9 edge purple

And then there's the Galaxy Note 9 itself. We think few would argue that Samsung has really done a nice job of refining the design of the Galaxy Note 9. It's a gorgeous phone to behold and it exudes a premium build and experience from any angle. There's no notch here, only the thinnest of bezels, aluminum and glass finishing, and a bangin' OLED display that DisplayMate says is the best ever, period.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's drop in for an even closer look at the hardware, next...

Related content