Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

Still a solid, speedy, big-screened phone with a stylus

Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Image credit: TechRadar

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.


The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a top smartphone, and while there are better options now available from Samsung (S10 Plus and Note 10, for example), for those on a slightly more restricted budget this is a fine option.

Samsung gives you a lot for your money. The chief selling point for upgraders is the battery life – its 4,000mAh capacity is 21% larger than the Note 8 battery – and its much brighter, slightly bigger 6.4-inch curved screen, which will wow you, even in direct sunlight.

The Bluetooth S Pen has new remote-controlled tricks that are fun, the maximum 1TB storage size is unbeatable, and the AI-enhanced camera marginally improves image quality over the Galaxy S9 Plus. The Note 9 offers a lot to like – and a price hike to utterly dislike. 

Who’s it for?

Devout S Pen users need apply. This is the best (and only) option for people clinging to their stylus when using a smartphone and can't afford the new Galaxy Note 10.

We loved getting creative with the S Pen on the Note 8, and that idea has been expanded with the new Bluetooth remote-controlled functionality. Staples like screen-off memo are productivity tools some people will miss if they don't upgrade to a Note.

It's also a laptop replacement for some mobile warriors who want to take advantage of the Dex software and push the limits of the 1TB expanded storage. This is indeed the Android phone for people who want 'the best'.

Camera enthusiasts may be drawn to the Google Pixel 3 or Google Pixel 3 XL, but neither phones have a screen that can compared to the Note 9.

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 9?

Yes, unless you're wanting the biggest and best from Samsung, in which case take a look at the newer Galaxy S10 Plus and Galaxy Note 10. 

At it's now discounted price, the Note 9 can still offer you a flagship experience (with stylus) for a much more reasonable outlay.


Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

The screen size and performance differences are minimal, so the chief advantages of the Note 9 are the S Pen stylus and longer battery life. You'll also get more storage capacity, Dex mode without needing a dock accessory, and a slightly better camera. While these seem like a lot of little upgrades, true power users will appreciate the Note 9's 14% increase in battery capacity and the Bluetooth S Pen.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review

Google Pixel 3 XL

The Google Pixel 3 XL is marginally smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, at 6.3 inches, but it's still a very big phone.

It also has an even better camera and Android 9 Pie out of the box, along with the promise of speedy updates to future Android versions. We don't love the massive notch, though. The Note 9 is still the phone to choose if you're all about the screen, but the Pixel 3 XL is the top choice for photographers.

Read our full Google Pixel 3 XL review

iPhone XS Max

At 6.5 inches the iPhone XS Max is even bigger than the Galaxy Note 9. It's the biggest and arguably best iPhone you can get, thanks to a strong camera, a top screen and loads of power.

Of course, the main reason to choose this - or not - is that it runs iOS rather than Android. Be aware though that if you do want it you'll have to be prepared to pay a lot, as this is even more expensive than the Note 9.

Read our full iPhone XS Max review

Matt Swider