Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

The Note 9 is all about going big with a lot of minor upgrades

Our Early Verdict

Bigger than previous Note phones in every way, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a larger screen, heftier battery and a massive 1TB of storage option. The camera is poised to be better and the Bluetooth-connected S Pen can activate customizable shortcuts remotely. But its price matches (and even tops) what you’ll pay for an iPhone X.

Update: New ongoing Note 9 review impressions are here and being added every day. So far we’ve tested the camera and S Pen camera remote functionality as well as a variety of other features.

  • See all Samsung Galaxy Note 9 deals
Everything that happened at Samsung Unpacked

– Samsung Galaxy Watch hands on review
– What you need to know about the new Samsung Galaxy Watch
– Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9 Plus
– Everything to know about the new Samsung Galaxy Home speaker
– Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy Note 8
– Galaxy Note 9 vs iPhone X

It’s the biggest Android phone that will grab your attention in 2018, with a sizeable 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display, a huge 4,000mAh battery for all-day performance, and up to 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM.

Slot in a 512GB microSD card (which Samsung will gladly sell you), and you can have the first mainstream 1TB phone in your hands. You won’t get to use all of that as the system data and existing apps will take up some of that space, but it’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed with the amount of storage on your phone.

Good news – the Note 9 doesn’t actually feel any bigger than last year’s 6.3-inch Note 8, and it inherits a bunch of this year’s 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 and 6.8-inch Galaxy S9 Plus features.

The camera is better, with a dual 12MP rear setup that has dual-aperture technology, and can record Super Slow Mo videos. AR Emoji is back with some finer avatar customizations, but rest assured, your avi will still look nothing like you, according to our early tests.

Exclusive to the Note 9 camera are automatic scene optimizer and flaw detection features that enhance photos (Samsung has a habit of rolling these features out to older phones later on).

The S Pen now has Bluetooth for remote-controlled shortcuts that, unlike the Bixby button, are customizable. Want to pose for a photo 30 feet away? This S Pen can help you do that and more.

Bad news – the price feels much bigger. Get ready to pay iPhone X-level prices for the entry-level 128GB and 6GB model. Ouch. The Note 9 is meant for power users, according to Samsung – the physical size, storage size, price, and battery capacity all tell us that.

The company sees Note 9 buyers as people who spend a lot of time on their phone and want the best of the best – they buy the best AV receiver, the best TV, and so forth.

We’re continuing to test the Note 9, but we can already tell that it’s a contender to unseat the Galaxy S9 Plus as our top smartphone recommendation – that is, if you want to own a giant, feature-filled phone with a stylus and hate saving money.

Ongoing Samsung Galaxy Note 8 deals are the biggest threat to this upgrade that, ironically, is all about going big in a variety of small ways.

  • Release date is August 24, with an iPhone X-like price
  • $1,000 (£899 / AU$1,499 / AED 3,699) for 128GB/6GB
  • $1,250 (£1,099 / AU$1,799 / AED 4,599) for 512GB/8GB

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 release date is on August 24, sooner than anyone had expected a year ago. The Note 8 came out on September 15 in the US and UK last year (September 22 in Australia and Middle East).

The theory is that Samsung wants to rush out the Note 9 to beat the iPhone 11 and iPhone 9 announcement expected for early September.

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