The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the latest high-end flagship smartphone that is set to take the Korean tech giant to greater heights. Its predecessor — the Galaxy Note 8 — was lauded as the smartphone of the year. And over the years, Samsung has definitely come a long way to become one of the major key players in the industry.

While the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 doesn’t offer much of an upgrade, it does have plenty of other useful features that are aimed at making your life a lot easier and convenient. Being out in the market for a little over two weeks now, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is essentially the Samsung Galaxy S9+ with a few added treats thrown in.

Design

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features a similar streamlined design like its predecessor.

There’s nothing obviously new when it comes to the design of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It looks identical to its predecessor as well as the Galaxy S9+. While some will speculate and assume that Samsung is playing it safe, one must consider the fact that the Galaxy Note 8 was a brilliantly designed smartphone to begin with. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is merely an extension to the solid impression made since the introduction of its predecessor. However, a big design change that many will appreciate appears at the back of the device.

The previous iteration saw its fingerprint sensor right next to its rear camera, which made for many missed attempts at unlocking the device. Samsung has finally resolved that by placing it below the cameras of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. This should keep many of its fanatics happy for now.

Back to the front, Samsung keeps up with its tradition of using its Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Standing at 6.4-inches, it is ever-so-slightly taller than its forerunner by a full 0.1-inch. It also retains the headphone jack at the bottom of the device, something that is becoming increasingly rare in today’s breed of smartphones. All in all, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 feels like an over-glorified Galaxy S9+ with an S-Pen.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 stands at 6.4-inches with its Super AMOLED Infinity Display screen.

As mentioned earlier, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 houses a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display. For the uninitiated, AMOLED stands for active-matrix organic light-emitting diode. The main difference between an AMOLED and an OLED display is the active-matrix, which allows it to quickly activate each pixel on the panel a lot quicker.

The Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a beauty to behold. From everyday usage to video streaming and basic social media use, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is with you every step of the way. Pictures are sharp and crystal clear; colours are vibrant and vivid; videos are smooth and free of any stuttering or lag. Its Infinity Display improves the quality of streaming videos through Netflix or YouTube.

As Netflix’s content is HDR10 compliant, it works perfectly well with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. From Stranger Things to the many Marvel-related Netflix Original Series, The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is made for ardent Netflix bingers. However, YouTube is another tale entirely; the video-sharing site has dubbed the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 as the first signature device when it comes to delivering the best-in-class YouTube experience. This is prevalent throughout the entire duration we had the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Whether it is travel or food vlogs, nature documentaries, or just your favourite YouTuber going crazy on camera, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is capable of handling any video you throw at it.

User Experience

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in action.

The age-old question of whether it’s worth getting an Android smartphone over an iOS is prevalent until today. While iOS users can argue that the Apple iPhone X is the best smartphone, Android fans will say otherwise. When it boils down to the bare essentials, it falls on a personal preference and how you want the smartphone to be catered around your wants and needs. That is where the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 excels, by being the best companion one can have.

If you’re a long-time Samsung user, picking up the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will be a walk in the park. For a general Android user, it will also be fairly straightforward as Samsung has made the Android experience even easier while allowing for more personalisation to make you feel right at home.

Unfortunately, the only downside to the latest Samsung devices is its incessant need for shoving Bixby into our faces. Bixby is Samsung’s very own virtual assistant, which quite frankly, still doesn’t match up to the likes of Google Assistant and Siri, Apple’s own virtual assistant. Despite the revamp, there are still plenty of kinks Samsung will have to smoothen out with Bixby.

Aside from that, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is fast, intelligent, and gets you everything you need at your fingertips. Even it’s facial recognition software is quick and snappy, allowing you to unlock it by just looking at the screen.

On a day-to-day basis, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 thrives in the most heavy-duty situations and still come out on top. With most smartphones needing a powerbank to get through the day, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 laughs at the thought. This is all thanks to its 4,000mAh battery pack that comes with more than enough juice to last you the entire day and night.

Another thing to note is that the smartphone comes with AKG-tuned stereo speakers. This makes music and movies all the more enticing to watch as it is one of the best speaker systems to ever reside within a smartphone.

The new S-Pen

The all-new S-Pen now comes with Bluetooth technology.

One of the biggest advantages the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has is with its S-Pen. Being side-by-side since the very beginning, the S-Pen has received many upgrades over the years with 2018 being no different. Its latest inclusion is the Bluetooth technology into the S-Pen, which turns the ‘stick’ into a remote as well.

This gives the new S-Pen a slew of functions to choose from. Its now a remote shutter for the camera, it can also control your songs and videos on both Spotify and YouTube, and even the slides during a presentation. Of course, you can also use the S-Pen for a wide range of features like note-taking, doodling, cropping, and even translating.

While these features may not sound like a huge improvement, it does show that Samsung is heading in the right direction when it comes to the S-Pen.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 carries both a 12-megapixel telephoto and a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens camera system.

Many users nowadays would consider the camera’s performance before actually making a smartphone purchase. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 keeps itself updated with a dual-camera setup as well as the same wide-angle and telephoto lens with dual aperture.

This allows you to actually choose between two aperture levels — F1.5 for low-light and night settings, and F2.4 when it’s during the day. It also comes with the ‘Scene Optimiser’, which will automatically adjust and recognise up to 20 different scenarios that you’re shooting. This ranges from scenery to people, food, and animals.

The end result is what you would expect it to be; the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 doesn’t disappoint in the camera department. Daytime shots are crisp and full of vibrant colours while night-time shots are capable of pulling in enough light to give the photo new life. It’s extremely fast autofocus also makes it much easier to shoot with. The Live Focus feature allows for greater portrait shots and you can choose between a close-up or wide-angle.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comes in three colours: (L-R) Metallic Copper, Midnight Black, and Ocean Blue.

After spending slightly over a week with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, it’s safe to say that it is the best Android smartphone currently available in the market. But of course, great functions and features come with a hefty price tag. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is available in two variants — the 128GB storage option starts at RM3,699 while the 512GB option goes for RM4,599.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 also comes in three different colours with Metallic Copper and Ocean Blue available only for the 128GB option. It’s Midnight Black option is available in both storage options.

There really isn’t much to turn someone away from the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. From its design to its performance, it is one Android smartphone that many are vying for. If we have to choose one aspect that can use some considerable work is the need for Bixby. With Samsung going all out in promoting its virtual assistant, it still has plenty to iron out before Bixby can even be considered in the same league as Google Assistant and Siri.

With that said, if you have the extra moolah to spare, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 should be your next smartphone of choice. (Images: Samsung & Getty)

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Wi-Liam Teh
Senior Writer
Wi-Liam is a geek at heart with a penchant for tattoos. Never without a drink in hand (preferably whisky, gin, or Guinness), he is also a writer by day and a keyboard warrior by night. On his day off, he masquerades as a streetwear and sneakerhead enthusiast while his bank account says otherwise.