Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

As most of us do, I brought
along a smartphone for a vacation this summer. But I decided to
try something different in selecting my electronic traveling
companion and took the oversized Galaxy Note 9.

The Galaxy Note 9 is large and relatively heavy, which goes
against the mantra of packing light tech for trips. I can easily
understand why a smaller smartphone like the Pixel 2 would seem
like a better choice, as it can do almost everything the Galaxy
Note 9 can do in a smaller, lighter package.

Yet, I found that the big, heavy Galaxy Note 9 was actually a
fantastic device to bring along for trip with long flights,
hiking, and for generally being a tourist.

Check out all the reasons why the Galaxy Note 9 was
better than a smaller, lighter phone for traveling:

The Galaxy Note 9’s large screen was enough to replace the iPad Mini I’d usually use to watch videos during a flight.

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Just in case a long flight doesn’t have free movies and TV shows,
I usually download a bunch of Netflix videos onto my iPad Mini 2.

Butt as mini as the iPad Mini is, it’s still an extra item that I
have to pull out of my bag and manage in a cramped flight. So for
my most recent long-haul flight, I decided to try the Galaxy Note
9, which would be easily accessible in my pocket.

The Galaxy Note 9’s 6.4-inch screen is only slightly smaller than
the iPad Mini’s 7.9-inch display when you take into consideration
the actual video and not the black bars that surround it on the
iPad. Plus, it was nice to keep the iPad Mini in my bag and not
have to worry about it during the flight.

Its giant screen was also helpful for researching and planning activities, which I’d usually feel more comfortable doing on a laptop.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

I usually prefer researching activities on a nice, large laptop
screen that gives me plenty of room for multiple tabs, apps, and
windows. But this time, I left my comfort zone and just used the
Galaxy Note 9, mostly because it was always right there with me,
whereas my laptop was still stowed away in my backpack.

You’ll never get the same experience of a laptop on a smartphone,
but the Galaxy Note 9’s large display made it easier to read and
look at images than with smaller smartphones. I would always
prefer a laptop’s display, but the convenience of the smartphone
that’s always by my side is hard to beat.

The Galaxy Note 9’s stylus also was a big help when I need to do more complex things on the screen

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The Galaxy Note 9’s S Pen stylus made the biggest difference for
researching on the Galaxy Note 9. Fingers are fine, but there
were far fewer accidental taps and frustrations with the S Pen,
and the task of doing more complex things on a smartphone was
less daunting. I felt comfortable reaching for the Galaxy Note 9
instead of my laptop or iPad that were still packed in my

And it was great to have such a large screen for checking the map while out and about.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Again, the Galaxy Note 9’s large display was overall beneficial
while traveling. It made it easier to read Google Maps compared
to what it’s like with smaller smartphones.

With the power-saving options, the Galaxy Note 9’s huge battery comfortably lasted an entire day.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The Galaxy Note 9 has a large 4,000mAh battery, which is bigger
than most smartphones out there. It actually didn’t make much of
a difference in normal day-to-day use at home, but when I turned
on the battery saving features on the Galaxy Note 9 for
traveling, I rarely worried about the battery life.

When I turn on the power saving modes, the screen resolution and
performance is toned down, and the phone doesn’t actively search
for incoming messages or emails or other notifications. For
traveling, I can absolutely sacrifice all those things.

It also helped that the Galaxy Note 9 I was using was an unlocked model, so I knew I’d be able to swap in a foreign SIM card.

Roman Soto / Flickr, CC

This isn’t specific to the Galaxy Note 9. Many unlocked phones
that you buy directly from the smartphone maker, rather than from
your carrier, will work with SIM cards abroad.

Whether they’re locked or unlocked, phones bought from your
carrier might have some issues. If you do anticipate traveling
abroad, it’s usually a better idea to buy an unlocked smartphone
directly from the smartphone maker to avoid any confusion or
complications with carrier compatibility abroad.

I brought a great, medium-sized camera for the trip, but the Galaxy Note 9’s camera was good enough that I never took the camera out of my luggage.

The photo above may seem blurrier that it actually is due to compression.
Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

There’s no doubt that the Sony A6000 camera I brought for the
trip would have taken better photos, but it’s a whole extra
device to carry around.

It took some convincing, but my wife finally relented and
accepted the Galaxy Note 9 as the photo-taking device for our
trip, and it performed just fine.

I say “just fine” because I know another phone, the Pixel 2,
would have taken better photos, but the Galaxy Note 9 has a great
camera nonetheless and I’m happy with the memories it captured.

One thing that the Galaxy Note 9 has and the Pixel 2 doesn’t is a
dedicated 2x zoom lens, which was nice to have on several

The Galaxy Note 9’s large display isn’t great for quick, one-handed use, but the benefits of a large display easily made up for it.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The Galaxy Note 9 is a decidedly two-handed device. I have
decently large hands and can’t reach the top of the screen with
my thumb when holding the phone with one hand. There is a
one-handed mode in the Galaxy Note 9, but it defeats the point of
having a large display.

The biggest drawback is the Galaxy Note 9’s price. If you break it or it gets stolen abroad, there goes $1,000.

Tony Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The one thing that could dissuade anyone from bringing along the
Galaxy Note 9 is its $1,000 price tag. While abroad, you’re
essentially a walking $1,000 bill to thieves who target tourists
and happen to spot you using a nice, large, fancy device like the
Galaxy Note 9.

As for breaking it, you can easily prevent screen cracks or worse
with a good case. I used the
Incipio DualPro
case for the Galaxy Note 9, which isn’t too
bulky. I’ve also built up some pretty decent trust towards this
particular line of case, as I once
accidentally ran over a Galaxy S9
with the Incipio DualPro,
and the Galaxy S9 came out unscathed.

In the end, I brought with me an iPad and a laptop that I hardly ever used during my trip because I did pretty much everything on the Galaxy Note 9.

I tend to overpack when it comes to tech, but I think I’ll be
able to break free of the habit thanks to the Galaxy Note line of

A smaller smartphone would have been fine, but I never felt like
the Galaxy Note 9 was weighing me down or taking more room than a
smaller smartphone in my pocket. With that experience and
knowledge, I’ll always aim to bring a larger smartphone with me
on trips.

But you don’t necessarily need the Galaxy Note 9 or a similarly
large device like the Galaxy S9 or Pixel 2 XL. Apart from the
larger display, the key tool that helped tremendously was the S
Pen stylus. With that in mind, you could easily bring the smaller
smartphone you already own and buy a cheap smartphone stylus with
a rubber tip for better tapping accuracy for complex things.



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