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Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

The best phone that money can buy

TechRadar Verdict

Bigger than previous Note phones in every way, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a larger 6.4-inch screen, heftier 4,000mAh battery, and a massive 1TB of storage option. The already good camera is slightly better, the stereo speakers are a first for the Note, and the Bluetooth-connected S Pen can activate fun customizable shortcuts remotely.


  • +

    Beautiful 6.4-inch Infinity Display

  • +

    Superb camera, even in low light

  • +

    Battery and storage last and last

  • +

    Bluetooth S Pen shortcuts are fun


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    A lot of small upgrades

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    No HDR video recording

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    We hate the Bixby button

While many would says it's not new, the Galaxy Note 9 defies the fact in every department if not design. It's quite evidently an incremental upgrade over last year's Note 8 with a bigger display, better display, more power and enhanced cameras. But all that comes with an expensive price tag as well. 

It's the biggest Android phone that's turning heads in 2018, with a sizeable 6.4-inch AMOLED panel, a massive 4000mAh battery and up to 512GB internal storage with 8GB of RAM. If that's not enough, Samsung provides additional support for microSD card of up to 1TB.

While the display size is increased over Note 8's 6.3-inch, the good news is that it doesn't feel any bigger in hand. Which gets even better with all the new features from their siblings— Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. 

The camera, very clearly, 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.

In addition to the existing camera features, the Note 9 camera has some exclusives including an automatic scene optimizer and flaw detection features to enhance pictures. From what we've seen, Samsung has a record of rolling out the exclusive features to older devices later on. 

Samsung Galaxy Note's most supreme attraction has always been its S Pen. This time as well, the stylus gets an upgrade with a low-frequency Bluetooth for customisable remote-controlled shortcuts. So, if you wish to click a shot of yourself from 30 meters away, this S Pen can help you do that. Taking full body snapshots have become quite effortless, given you find a neat and safe place to place your precious and expensive Note 9. 

Of course, you need to envision the frame in advance to get a better shot as we failed to find the right angles to get the best results using the S Pen. 

Check out our hands-on video below to see the Galaxy Note 9 in action:

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 release date and price

  • Release date is August 22, up on sale
  • Rs 67,900 for 128GB/6GB
  • Rs 84,900 for 512GB/8GB

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 released on Friday, August 22, sooner than anyone had expected a year ago. The Note 8 came out on September 15 in India last year. 

Talking of Samsung's chief competition, the Note 9 price rivals that of Apple’s flagship handset iPhone X. While the phone is priced high in UK and the US, in India, the Note 9 undercuts the iPhone X by approximately Rs 20,000 and has double the storage. 

The Galaxy Note 9 colors in the India are Ocean Blue with a yellow S Pen (it also writes in yellow for the ultimate color contrast), Metallic Copper and and Midnight Black. 

New S Pen tricks

  • Bluetooth stylus has custom shortcuts
  • Great for remotely taking photos, works up to 30 feet away
  • Charges quickly while embedded in the phone
  • Normal note-taking works even when uncharged

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has always sold their S Pen as the key feature of the lineup, and this time it's no different. The new S Pen arrives in yellow colour in the blue variant and it's capable of doing much more than just sketching or writing.

Samsung's engineers managed to squeeze a small supercapacitor and tiny Bluetooth Low-Energy antenna into the otherwise unchanged stylus so that it can perform various remote functions. It’s the type of gimmick we ended up liking – sometimes. 

So what's exactly new here? The most useful and interesting feature this time is the remote control feature, which enable users to remotely launch the camera app with a long press of the button in the centre, flip the camera to selfies mode with a single short press, and snap a group photo with two presses. 

It's easier than any other alternative that's seen on a smartphone camera. It's easier to use than the timer or the palm gesture.

Samsung is making S Pen shortcuts customizable. Here are the ideas mentioned:

  • Camera: Flip the camera / take a photo
  • Camera: Flip the camera / record a video
  • Music Player: Play and pause music / skip to the next track 
  • Photo Gallery: Advance to the next photo / cycle back to a previous photo
  • PowerPoint: back and forth through presentation slides

Samsung put a software development kit (SDK) out there for non-core third-party apps to take advantage of this shortcut tool, so you'll see more customization as long as app developers support the functionality. 

The S Pen does need to be charged, but it requires only 40 seconds of charge time for 30 minutes of standby battery life or 200 button clicks, according to our testing.

There's also a helpful S Pen battery indicator in the notification shade at the top of the display, so you won't be kept guessing as to how much power you have left. And we found that keeping the S Pen topped up was much easier than charging the iPad's Apple Pencil. 

Simply embedding the S Pen inside the phone charges it, and when it’s not in use that’s where you typically put it. The Apple Pencil has nowhere to hide, and walking around with it in the Lighting port is rather dangerous. Samsung’s years of stylus-making experience are obvious here.

The Ocean Blue Note 9 has the more dynamic yellow S Pen for a nice contrast. It writes in yellow digital ink. All the of them support the same Air Commands and do everything that the S Pen on the Note 8 can do. 

If we look at the core target customers for the Note 9, they are the enterprise users. For them, the S Pen does come handy while running a PowerPoint presentation and using the S Pen as the clicker. Of course, the off screen memo feature is something that benefits everyone. It makes noting taking much quicker and easier, and while it may be a simple offering we've used it frequently. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 S Pen hands-on gallery

Sudhanshu Singh have been working in tech journalism as a reporter, writer, editor, and reviewer for over 5 years. He has reviewed hundreds of products ranging across categories and have also written opinions, guides, feature articles, news, and analysis. Ditching the norm of armchair journalism in tech media, Sudhanshu dug deep into how emerging products and services affect actual users, and what marks they leave on our cultural landscape.
His areas of expertise along with writing and editing include content strategy, daily operations, product and team management.