Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 was an inevitability. Following the Note 8’s glowing successes last year, the Korean firm’s ninth plus-sized phone was always going to make a stylish appearance sometime in 2018, and this new phablet is already tipped to build on the Galaxy S9’s award-winning prowess.
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The Note 9, rather disappointingly, didn’t receive the surprise announcement Samsung was hoping for, though. It was widely reported that the Note 9’s launch was imminent and Samsung struggled to keep all its details under wraps, meaning very little was left to the imagination when Samsung finally pulled back the curtains.
Now that the Note is finally out in the wild, however, I’ve spent some time with Samsung’s flashy new phone and gathered all the essential bits of information you need to know. Read on, and you’ll be able to show off to your fellow tech-loving friends your vast well-researched Note 9 knowledge before the phone shows up in shops. It’s always good to be ahead of the curve, isn’t it?
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: UK release date and price
With Samsung’s pair of Galaxy S9 flagships making their debut at MWC earlier this year, the eagerly-awaited Galaxy Note 9 has now also shown its face for the very first time. Following Samsung’s annual “Unpacked” conference in New York on 9 August, where the phone was unveiled, we now know when you can buy one, and how much it’ll cost you.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 launches on 24 August and you can preorder ahead of the phone’s release date from 9 August.
Like last year, this late launch makes a lot of sense for Samsung, because it gives the Galaxy S9 – and its larger S9 Plus sibling – plenty of breathing room before Samsung’s latest eye-grabbing product goes on sale. Mark my words, the Note 9 will be the hot flagship come Christmas.
We were all taken aback by how much the Note 8 cost last year. £869 was a sizeable shock to the wallet, but the Note 9, sadly, continues this pricey trend. When the Note 9 launches, you’ll be able to pick one up for £899 with 128GB of onboard storage and a whopping £1,099 with a massive 512GB of storage.
That’s a lot of money, but if Apple can try to justify a four-figured sum for its own flagship, I suppose there’s little reason why Samsung can’t pull off the same wallet-damaging trick.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Specifications
Much like last year’s Galaxy Note 8, the Note 9 is a top-end, plus-sized Android phablet, which comes equipped with Samsung’s own S-Pen stylus for on-the-go note taking. It may look largely similar to last year’s phone, but it’s the core specifications that are particularly intriguing.
For starters, the Note 9 is fitted with an edge-to-edge 6.4in Super AMOLED screen, at a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440. This is particularly special, and while the display resolution is the same as last year’s phone, the screen is ever-so-slightly larger and it’s just as lovely – especially with HDR 10 support.
Powering the phone is Qualcomm’s latest-generation flagship processor, the 2.8GHz Snapdragon 845, or Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 equivalent if you live outside of the US. Both are particularly speedy mobile chips, and if recent tests with similarly-equipped phones are anything to go by, they’ll offer a sizeable performance jump over their predecessors.
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Elsewhere, you’ll find 6GB of RAM inside the 128GB model (just like last year) and 8GB of RAM with the 512GB model. Both variants support microSD expansion which means, effectively, your Note 9 can be fitted with up to 1TB of storage. Also, thanks to a slightly larger, non-removable 4,000mAh battery, the Note 9’s stamina is expected to be much improved.
The Note 9 runs Android 8.1 Oreo. This isn’t the latest version of Google’s ever-popular mobile operating system, but an update to Android 9 Pie is expected in the very near future.
The phone’s camera specifications haven’t changed too much, either. The Note 9, like last year, features another dual-camera setup on the rear; one is a wide-angle 12-megapixel f/1.5 camera, while the other has an f/2.4 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom. Both are equipped with optical image stabilisation (OIS) for seriously stable shots.
What is new is a f/1.5 aperture that’s significantly wider than last year’s camera. This allows much more light in – brightening up shots and capturing crisper details. And you don’t need to do anything to reap the benefits: the camera automatically widens the aperture once the lighting conditions drop below 100 lux, and narrows to f/2.4 for brighter scenes – just as the Galaxy S9’s snapper does.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 specs in full:
- 6.38in 1,440 x 2,960 Super AMOLED display with HDR 10 support
- Octa-core 2.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 processor
- 6GB of RAM
- 12-megapixel f/1.5 and 12-megapixel f/2.4 rear cameras
- 8-megapixel f/1.7 front camera
- 128GB or 512GB of storage, expandable up to 512GB via microSD
- Android 8.1 Oreo
- 4,000mAh battery
- Weight: 205g
- Dimensions: 162 x 76 x 9mm
- UK Price: £899, £1,099
- UK release date: 24 August, preorders 9 August
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Design and features
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, rather unsurprisingly, looks remarkably similar to its predecessor, which is a little underwhelming if you were hoping for a sizeable upgrade. The plus-sized screen again wraps around the sides of the device – now a Samsung design staple – with slim bezels bordering the top and bottom of the display.
A horizontal dual-camera arrangement is fitted on the back, complete with a slightly-curved, rectangular, fingerprint reader underneath. On the right side of the phone you’ll find a solitary power button, with the volume rocker and dedicated Bixby button on the left. The 3.5mm headphone jack returns at the bottom of the handset, complete with a solitary speaker grille and USB-C charging port.
It’s a tad disappointing that the Korean giant has shed plans for a Vivo Nex S-like in-screen fingerprint reader, and I had high hopes for a fancy foldable device, too. The latter may be little more than the climax of a futurist’s wet dreams, but it’s abundantly clear that smartphone design is becoming rather stale.
Meanwhile, a new S-Pen stylus slots into the bottom right of the phone. Now with Bluetooth functionality, pressing the button on the side of the pen can be assigned to certain actions, such as taking selfies, pausing and playing video and presenting slideshow presentations.
It’s worth mentioning a final thing before we end. One of the Note 9’s biggest draws isn’t the stylus, the massive bezel-less display, nor is it the updated internals. Oh no – the main reason you’ll want a Galaxy Note 9 is to play Fortnite on the go.
Let me explain. Fortnite, the popular looter shooter that’s taken the world by storm, played a big part in Samsung Galaxy Note 9 announcement. Sure, the game can already be downloaded on iOS devices and existing games consoles, but the Galaxy Note 9 is – according to Samsung at least – the best place to play Fortnite if Android is your mobile operating system of choice. You also get an exclusive in-game skin for free if you play the game on your Note 9, or Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. Neat.
I’m sure you’d agree that this is a rather bizarre focus for a phone that’s targeting the high-end business user’s wallet. Although, perhaps the boardroom does, in fact, have a place for the odd game of Fortnite between quarterly fiscal results meetings. We’ll have to wait and see.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Early verdict
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 reaffirms the notion that, sadly, smartphone design is plateauing. Even with the introduction of fancy bezel-less 18:9 screens, phones in 2018 are mundane, and neither minor camera improvements nor processor upgrades offer enough to successfully divert our disappointments.
And that’s a real shame, because the Note 9 is an impressive smartphone in its own right. Equipped with all the flagship bells and whistles you’d come to expect from a pricey, top-end smartphone, the Note 9 is undeniably top of its class and it does many things rather well as a result. It’s just at this early stage, I see little reason to upgrade.
|Processor||Octa-core 2.9GHz Samsung Exynos 9810|
|RAM||6GB or 8GB|
|Screen resolution||2,960 x 1,440|
|Screen type||Super AMOLED|
|Rear camera||Dual 12-megapixel|
|Storage (free)||128GB or 512GB|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||microSD|
|Dimensions||162 x 76 x 9mm|
|Operating system||Android 8.1|