1. It is bigger, but is it better?
The Note phones are all bigger than their Samsung Galaxy counterparts, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see that the Note 9 is slightly larger than the S9. It’s also more squared off on the edges, which gives it a blockier look that might or might not appeal to different users.
The phone is heavy. At around 200 grammes, whether you’re trying to game, watch a video or just carrying it, you’ll definitely feel its weight.
2. The sensors have moved
One big difference from the Note 8 is the location of the fingerprint sensor. Samsung must have taken note about the fingerprint sensor not being the most accessible – seeing as it’s on the side, but on the Note 9, it has been moved to the centre of the phone.
The heart rate and oxygen saturation sensors are still to one side of the cameras, and it would be easy to forget that they’re even there. Most people – myself included – will be very happy to note that Samsung has kept the 3.5mm headphones socket. There are times when it makes sense to reject trends (cough, wireless earphones), and this is one of them.
3. It’s waterproof
The Galaxy Note 9 still has an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance – which means you can drop your phone into water that’s up to 30 metres deep for up to half an hour. So have no fear, we can still watch Netflix while in the shower.
4. The S Pen and its functionality
The S Pen is a staple when it comes to the Galaxy Note phones. The stylus is meant to help position the phone as one that helps you get your work done, but the utility has changed as apps like Snapchat and Instagram stories encourage users to use it for more aesthetic purposes – like drawing pizza on faces to send to your friends.
However, it has been given a huge function reinvention, and now features Bluetooth LE connectivity, which turns it into a remote control for the phone. There’s only one button, but the most useful application of this is that you can now you can now turn it into a remote camera shutter. Want to prop up your phone and take a photo from far away? Want to take a selfie without struggling to reach for the camera button? No problem.
With the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung is turning it into a style statement as well. The Ocean Blue variant, which we’re testing, has a bright yellow S Pen with a gold end cap, for no reason other than to draw attention. The other colour options for this phone have matching S Pens.The release for the S Pen on the Note 9 is not the most instinctual – you’ve got to press in with your nail, or press pretty hard with your finger.
Just a note: The S Pen does need to be charged, but it requires only 40 seconds of charge time for 30 minutes of standby battery life. So don’t expect this to work 100 per cent as a remote when you’re streaming the new Avengers film somewhere, because you’ll definitely need to charge it part of the way through.
5. Useability and Screen
The App & People Edge – functional? Yes. But if you enjoy mobile app gaming, it gets annoying and in the way.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features a 6.4-inch QHD+ SuperAMOLED display which beats the one on the Note 8. It’s more colour-accurate (in the Basic Screen Mode) and is a lot brighter as well. This also means that the content is more legible in direct sunlight.
The camera is better than the Note 8, with a dual 12MP rear setup that has dual-aperture technology, and can record Super Slow Mo videos. There are stereo speakers, and AR Emoji is back with some finer avatar customisations, but rest assured, it’ll still look nothing like you.
However, while portrait mode does takes clear shots in broad daylight or outdoors, that’s not the case indoors. In dimmer light, the images captured lack details. In dimmer lighting scenarios, clicking a regular photo in Auto mode would probably be a better option.
Of all the options on the market, the Galaxy Note 9, is one of the best camera smartphones when it comes to photos and videos.
All in all, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is a fantastic new addition to the smartphone market, and is definitely a strong competitor to the iPhone X and its variants.
Video by Bridgette Hall.