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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: code name “Workhorse”

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The Galaxy Note 9 (Check on is the best phablet on the market! The design, hardware, software, user interface, and all the other features (S-Pen, DeX) are second to none.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Package

We find a fast-charging power adapter (fast but not lightning-fast), a USB/USB-C cable, a pair of excellent AKG in-ear stereo headphones, spare tips for the S Pen, a micro USB to USB-C adapter and an OTG USB to USB-C adapter.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Design

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is one of the best-built smartphones of its generation, with quality materials and great attention to detail. The front panel is covered almost in its entirety by the display. As with all high-end Samsungs both the front and rear panels are curved, although in a less accentuated way than the Galaxy S family.

At the bottom, we find the main speaker (the Note 9 has stereo audio since the ear capsule also acts as a secondary speaker), the USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The SIM tray sits on top next to the microphone. On the right side, we have the power button while on the left there is the volume rocker and the Bixby button. Unfortunately, given Bixby’s position, it often happens to interact with it accidentally which can be frustrating after a while. Thankfully this button can be disabled.

Moving to the rear we find the dual camera with LED flash and just below it the fingerprint sensor, perhaps too far high up for the average person.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Hardware

The Galaxy Note doesn’t compromise. We find an Exynos 9810 (octa-core 2.7GHz) processor with a Mali G72 MP18 GPU, 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128 or 512GB of internal memory, expandable via microSD (which allows you to get to 1TB of storage). Connectivity-wise we have NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 (with dual audio), USB-C 3.1 with video output, dual SIM support (giving up on the expandable memory) and GPS assisted by GLONASS-Galileo. Also present the notification LED, the heart rate sensor (but does anyone really use it?), the barometer and a sensor for scanning the iris.

The real novelty is the liquid heat pipe that dissipates heat better and faster and that leads to better energy consumption and improved performance. What’s missing? The FM radio and an infrared port.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 sports the same cameras as the Galaxy S9 Plus:


  • 12MP f/1.5-2.4 + OIS
  • 12MP f/ 2.4 + 2x optical zoom + OIS


  • 8MP f/1.7

I appreciate the suggestions provided by the artificial intelligence, that can notify me if a photo is shaken, whether the glass covering the sensors is dirty or if the subject had his eyes closed, and I like the scene recognition that automatically sets my parameters in order to get the best possible result.

The colors are bright (sometimes too much), the contrast is balanced and, in general, the scenes are interpreted correctly. The brightness is sometimes too high but you can correct it manually. You will miss some detail at night (but this is to be expected). The bokeh effect is really good with well-outlined contours and the final result is more than satisfying most of the time.

The same applies to videos, which can be recorded up to 4K@60fps and are stable and well balanced. The focus is fast and punctual, and the slow motion@960fps function produces short clips of great impact.

The Note 9 is still among the best camera phones in circulation and although the competition has become more vicious with the arrival on the market of next-gen smartphones like the Galaxy S10 (Check on, Pixel 3 (Check on, Huawei P30 Pro (Check on and Nokia 9 PureView (Check on, if you opt for a Galaxy Note 9 anyway, you won’t regret it.

Read more:


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Display

This is still one of the best Super AMOLED panels ever made. Beyond the A+ rating received by DisplayMate, I prefer to dwell on my personal experience without delving into purely technical details: in everyday use, the brightness, contrast and color accuracy are truly top of the range, making browsing the web and viewing multimedia content enjoyable in any environment, even under direct sunlight. In addition, Samsung offers the possibility to customize different parameters, from adaptive brightness to the Blue Light filter, from night mode (the dark interface is simply stunning) to the resolution (HD+, FHD+, and WQHD+) and screen mode (Adaptive, AMOLED Cinema, AMOLED Photo, Basic). Therefore this screen gives you maximum freedom in order to fine-tune it to best meet your needs.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Software

Since it was launched the Galaxy Note 9 has undergone a substantial evolution: Android 8.1 Oreo has been replaced with Pie, while Samsung Experience 9.5 has transformed into the One UI which is far more elegant, simple and minimal. What I appreciate most is the Night mode, which I keep always on since I prefer the “elegant” touch of a dark interface.

There are two key features that deserve a separate analysis: DeX and the S Pen.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 DeX

The desktop interface is even better now: you just need a USB Type-C to HDMI cable or adapter and you can use your Note 9 with an external screen. I also find Samsung’s solution far better than Huawei’s EMUI Desktop mode: for example, I find it extremely convenient that I can continue using the smartphone even with DeX active, and I appreciate the many adjustments available, including the 1440p output resolution.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 S PEN

This is the reason most people buy the Note: I was lucky enough to test the Mate 20 X (Check on and its M Pen, so I can talk about their differences. Huawei’s implementation works well, there’s nothing to say about it, but Samsung’s S Pen ecosystem remains the absolute best; just think of the many features you can access by simply bringing the stylus close to the screen. It also feels great: the S Pen has a rubber tip that makes for a softer stroke (the M Pen is made of metal).

Now that the S Pen can also be used as a remote control thanks to the integrated Bluetooth module this ecosystem is further expanded: with the new stylus you can take photos, pause/play video, browse the gallery and manage your presentations remotely.

And let’s not forget about the possibility of taking notes with the display turned off.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has the most complete software ever seen on a smartphone and one that is targeted towards productivity but can please everyone, even gamers.


The Note 9 comes equipped with a 4000mAh unit. This is the most capacious battery ever installed on a Galaxy Note, 700mAh more than the one in the Note 8. And unlike previous models, battery optimization has improved considerably. Don’t get me wrong this is a power-hungry device but with normal use, it will get you to the end of the day, and that’s a win.


The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 costs (Check on Which is in line with other Samsung products and justified by the higher than normal storage capacity.

Final verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a balanced phablet, with an improved user interface that gives access to a number of unique features thanks to the S Pen.

In the last 10 months, this smartphone underwent a small revolution with the arrival of Android Pie and One UI: the new interface is very pleasant, speed and performance are still top-notch, battery life is solid, and photos are great, but… yeah, there is a but. After the recent tsunami of folding devices, hole punch notches, and penta cameras, I must admit that this smartphone looks and feels old. New smartphones dare more since they have to try and shake up a semi-dormant market. Just think of what the Galaxy S10+ (Check on brings to the table and you will understand what I’m talking about.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10+ review: the definition of top-of-the-range

Today the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 sells (Check on, and for this figure, I think it is a great purchase. You will not be disappointed by its photos or videos, and you will have fun with the stylus and a great time watching a movie on its bright display. This is still a top of the range, only CLASSIC!

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