Samsung Galaxy Note 9 first impressions: A more powerful phone, an S Pen more capable
Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New York | Updated: August 10, 2018 8:28:58 am
Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 9 review, Note 9 full review, Samsung Note 9 price in India, Note 9 price in India, Galaxy Note 9 specifications, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features, Galaxy Note 9 price Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has officially been unveiled for a starting price of 9, and it will go on sale from August 24 in the US.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is here. The years of evolution have resulted in a phone that looks more or less like its predecessor, but with some serious improvements in the one feature that makes this phone unique: the S Pen stylus. This is also the largest Samsung Galaxy Note phone ever, with the largest screen size and battery too.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 design

The design of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is very similar to the earlier Note series smartphones. There is one minor change though. Samsung has placed the fingerprint scanner below the horizontal dual-rear camera, instead of next to it. Samsung thinks this is a more natural place for your finger to find it.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 9 review, Note 9 full review, Samsung Note 9 price in India, Note 9 price in India, Galaxy Note 9 specifications, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features, Galaxy Note 9 price Samsung has made design adjustments to the edges of the chassis, through what it calls a ‘diamond cut’, to make the phone look and feel sleeker.

The Note 9 packs the largest battery ever in a Samsung phone at 4000 mAh. This should have made Note 9 thicker and heavier than any of its predecessors. In fact, it is thicker and heavier.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 launched with S Pen as hero, again

But Samsung has done some smart design adjustments in the edges of the chassis, with what it calls a ‘diamond cut’, to make the phone look and feel sleeker. This sleight of hand, or should we say illusion, works really well. The phone weighs 201 grams and is IP68 certified, making it dust and waterproof.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 9 review, Note 9 full review, Samsung Note 9 price in India, Note 9 price in India, Galaxy Note 9 specifications, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features, Galaxy Note 9 price Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is very similar in design to the earlier Note series phones, and comes in four colour options.

The phone is available in four colours: midnight black, metallic copper, lavender purple and ocean blue, the last being the marquee colour this time. So with the ocean blue version, Samsung is packing in a yellow S Pen. On the off-screen, this even writes in yellow.

There are a lot of small features like this that add real value to this new phone. The 6.4-inch display itself is quad Super AMOLED (2960x1440p) at 516ppi. It is stunningly sharp as you have come to expect from Samsung. The speakers are tuned by AKG.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 9 review, Note 9 full review, Samsung Note 9 price in India, Note 9 price in India, Galaxy Note 9 specifications, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features, Galaxy Note 9 price Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has made the S Pen autonomous, and gives the stylus its own Bluetooth capabilities.

The best feature of Note 9 is undoubtedly its S Pen stylus. The S Pen stylus has been there for many years now. But with the Note 9, the S Pen goes autonomous. A 40-second charge inside the phone lets its low-power Bluetooth stay alive for upto 30 minutes before coming back into the phone. This opens up endless possibilities.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 launch HIGHLIGHTS

The S Pen can now be a clicker when you are presenting something on the large screen off the Note 9. It can trigger your front or back camera whatever be the situation — a selfie or a group shot — making it look more natural and less forced. And it can even work as a remote when you are watching YouTube or any other streaming video service.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 9 review, Note 9 full review, Samsung Note 9 price in India, Note 9 price in India, Galaxy Note 9 specifications, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features, Galaxy Note 9 price The S Pen can now be a clicker when you are presenting something on the large screen off the Note 9.

Even as the look and feel of the S Pen hasn’t changed, Samsung has added access to colours in the off screen notes feature, which it claims is the most used with the stylus. Also, there are new apps that let you do fun stuff with the S Pen like stenciling on top of photos.

The S Pen can also be used to add text to AR emojis. In fact, this is just the beginning, as Samsung is opening up the SDK for developers to create whatever they want for the Samsung stylus.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 9: A look at the detailed features and specifications

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera

The camera on the Note 9 is a combination of a 12MP telephoto and a 12MP wide lens. The f1.5/f2.4 combination on the wide lens makes it great for low-light photography. In the Samsung demo, we could see a robot inside a dark box through the camera, but not the naked eye. My fear with such cameras is that they do tend to throw up some unnaturally bright images at times, of which I am not a big fan.

The other interesting feature is how Samsung is using artificial intelligence to detect the kind of scene you are trying to shoot. I used this for a few minutes and the camera switched seamlessly from food to flowers and people. The scene detection also gave the images a different feel that went well with the situation it was in.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 9 review, Note 9 full review, Samsung Note 9 price in India, Note 9 price in India, Galaxy Note 9 specifications, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features, Galaxy Note 9 price Samsung is using artificial intelligence to help users get the best out of every image, and every scene.

There is also a flaw detection mode, where the camera will tell you if the subject has blinked her eye, of if there is a blurry image, bad backlight or even a lens smudge. The 8MP front camera is among the best we have seen in a while, even in low-light.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 9 review, Note 9 full review, Samsung Note 9 price in India, Note 9 price in India, Galaxy Note 9 specifications, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features, Galaxy Note 9 price Galaxy Note 9 comes with a dual 12MP+12MP camera.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 performance

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will sell in most of the world with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. In India, as is the tradition, Samsung will ship with an octa-core equivalent of its own Exynos processor. Still, the Note 9 will be a very powerful phone, given that it will offer a minimum of 6GB RAM, and will have a water cooling system inside along with a carbon fiber interface for faster cooling.

Moreover, Samsung is packing an AI-based performance adjuster that keeps tab on heat and performance. All this indicates, that given its screen quality and size Samsung hopes this phone will be preferred by hardcore games.

But there is another reason: Samsung Dex. The Note 9 can switch to Dex mode and power a full monitor offering desktop computing even without a dock now. For a lot of users, this would mean less money spent on a desktop computer at work, and thus make the Note 9 a more valuable proposition. The Note 9 is also compatible with a whole bunch of accessories that adds value to this mode.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 9 review, Note 9 full review, Samsung Note 9 price in India, Note 9 price in India, Galaxy Note 9 specifications, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features, Galaxy Note 9 price The Note 9 can switch to Dex mode and power a full monitor offering desktop computing even without a dock now.

Also, the Note 9 is Giga LTE (Cat 18) compatible. The means it can achieve download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps, or a full HD movie download in a second. However, we are not sure this will come to Indian networks.

Plus, the Note 9 is technically the first 1TB-ready smartphone. While there is a version with 128GB internal storage and 6GB RAM, the top end model will be capable of storing 512GB internally and also have a 512GB memory card slot. This version will have 8GB RAM. Samsung is, in fact, making its first 512GB memory cards just to achieve the expandable storage configuration.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 early verdict

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 undoubtedly carries forward the legacy of the Note series and makes the S Pen evolve beyond being a mere doodling tool. But it wouldn’t be wrong to say even Note 9 loyalists would not have disapproved a design change. The Note 9 is clearly a strong phone that ticks all the boxes, refines all its features and adds some unique elements with the S Pen. But will it be enough to get a new bunch of users to consider a large phone with a stylus?

Disclaimer: The author is in New York, attending the Galaxy Note 9 launch on the invite of Samsung India

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