Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review: Pen Wielding Android Powerhouse
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Battery Life And The Verdict
Since the introduction of Android 7 Nougat, and even more so with Android 8 Oreo now, our battery life testing at HotHardware has become a real challenge. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, Google's mobile operating system is getting more aggressive at killing tasks that are consuming significant power and haven't had any user interaction. As a result, the PCMark Android battery tests fails on some of our test group of devices, though the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was able to make the cut, but our test group isn't as big as we'd like as a result.
We also have our usual worst-case, heavy load AnTuTu Battery test that still seems to run fine across all devices and gives us a relative gauge with respect to comparable battery life performance in high-workload use cases. This test sets the display brightness to high and cranks up workloads for the processor, graphics core, and memory, and runs through many real-world, scripted workloads, including web browsing, gaming and video playback. Unfortunately, we're still running the Note 9 through this worst-case test and will report our findings here shortly in an update. In the meantime, PCMark for Android is a bit more real-world anyway...
Samsung's Galaxy Note 9, In Ocean Blue
Some have faulted Samsung for not bringing a complete reinvention of the Galaxy Note 9, or some other major platform upgrade. We don't share that same view, as timing of the Note 9 was such that Samsung took what they had to work with (namely Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform) and seemingly worked hard to bring key enhancements to it and their Note platform as a whole, to make the Note 9 something special. Like the cliche' or not, this is indeed the best Samsung Galaxy Note yet. Most major subsystems of the phone are upgraded. Let's run down the list.
First, Samsung upgraded the cooling on the device, such that the new Galaxy Note 9 throttles very little under extended heavy-duty use cases and gaming. Samsung then beefed up the battery of the Note, bringing it to 4000 mAh and extending battery life dramatically. They increased the size of its display slightly to 6.4-inches and that display has been lauded by us here and others for being the best in any smartphone currently. Though the Note 9's camera assembly is basically a transplant of the Galaxy S9+, Samsung enabled it with a new software engine that should optimize shot quality of the dual aperture lens system and minimize human errors with shot flaw detection features. Can it put down the impressive Google Pixel 2 XL in terms of shot quality? Not always, but sometimes it's darn close and when it comes to portrait mode, or what Samsung calls Live Focus, it's no contest. The bokeh goes to Samsung.
However, if you're the type of smartphone power user that likes larger, ultra-premium phones and has a penchant for pulling out a stylus and making your mark, the Galaxy Note 9 is definitely one of the most impressive Android flagship devices we've seen this year. Sorry, we'll have to say it again. It's the best Galaxy Note yet and we're giving it an Editor's Choice to back that up.