It’s a phone. It’s a tablet. It’s a phablet. Samsung’s Note 9 is one of the best phones I’ve tried.
Samsung’s newest phone hits stores Friday and this is a big deal. Because the Note 9 is a big phone. The screen is 6.4″ diagonal, to put that in perspective, it’s .6″ larger than the S9 Plus and the iPhone X.
Sure it feels larger in your hand and you can’t send a text or open an app with just one hand, but that’s not easy to do with any phone these days. The added size gives the screen the opportunity to shine and it does because it’s the brightest screen I’ve seen on a smartphone.
I put the Note 9 alongside an iPhone X and streamed Transformers on both of them. While the iPhone X screen is plenty bright to enjoy the movie, the Note 9 was clearly brighter, especially in the scenes with very little light.
I was a little worried that the large screen and brightness would diminish the battery life, but Samsung made the battery in the Note larger than in the Note 8. It’s slightly thicker when you hold it, but it makes a big difference when you’re using the phone constantly during the day. After watching the entire 2 hour and 23-minute movie, the Note 9’s battery still had 81% of its life available. That’s a big deal if you can’t keep your phone on charge all day.
Stays cool when other phones are hot.
The other notable difference in the Note 9 and other Android phones is that it stays cool. Even after watching that entire movie and then playing about 45 minutes of virtual reality games, the Note 9 was still cool to the touch. You can’t say that about most phones which heat up after only a short time of playing games or watching videos.
Oh, and before I forget, the speakers on the Note 9 are very good. Several times while watching the movie I almost forgot I was watching on a smartphone with no headphones. It wasn’t quite surround-sound but it was close.
Photographs taken with the Note 9 are very bright, even in low light. The Note 9 has the same camera as the Galaxy S9 Plus. Putting a few low-light photos taken with the Note 9, side by side with the same photos taken with an iPhone X, there is no comparison. The Note 9’s camera captured every available detail in bright color
The S-Pen is finally useful.
The Note 9 also has an S-Pen which, has always been sort of an after-thought for most users. Unless you need to take a lot of handwritten notes or do any graphic designing, the S-Pen has been something else to keep up with, but with the Note 9 the new S-Pen has Bluetooth built-in. You know those moments when you’re trying to take a selfie with an outstretched arm and trying to hit the shutter button to take the photo? You can use the S-Pen like a remote control to snap the picture or even open the camera app. If you’re doing a presentation with PowerPoint or another presentation program, you can change slides just by pressing on the side of the S-Pen. Since it does have Bluetooth the S-Pen must be charged but it charges to full in just 40 seconds when you put it in its storage place on the bottom side of the phone.
All in all, the Note 9 is one of the best phones I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried a lot of them. It has a pretty hefty price tag of $1000 and $1249 but if you need to do more with a phone than take selfies, send email or check Facebook the Note 9 is a great phone. It’s perfect for: Android lovers and people who love large phones.
Some providers are offering special deals on the Note including AT&T and Verizon who currently have a buy-one-get-one free offer.
See the entire hands-on review