Samsung has just officially launched the Galaxy Note 9 at its special Unpacked event in New York. The launch follows months of rumours and leaks and, as per usual, many of them were right on the money.
As expected, the Galaxy Note 9 ramps up the S-Pen functionality to include Wireless Bluetooth remote control features – including control of the camera. The camera itself is based on the excellent tech seen in the Galaxy S9+ with a dual-sensor featuring a variable aperture and a bunch of new features and capabilities.
Another major feature is the big boost in onboard storage and a dock-less Samsung DeX capability – that’s the Desktop Experience allowing you to use the phone with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
It’s not been very long since the Galaxy Note 9 was introduced – in fact pre-order buyers are yet to even get their phones as the shipping date is August 24 – and Samsung has already pushed an update which slightly tweaks some of the camera functions.
The software build, being delivered OTA to Galaxy Note 9 handsets right now, is designated N960FXXU1ARH5, and it’ll be ready and waiting when customers get thier devices.
The main feature of the update is that it adds toggle options for lengths of recording time on the slow-mo video capture modes. There will be toggles for 0.2s and 0.4s in the Super Slow-Mo mode (720p @960fps) giving it a one-up on the Galaxy S9 series and allowing users a lot more versatility in capture than you might think.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Design & Display
We weren’t expecting big changes here and apparently that was a deliberate cost-saving move on Samsung’s part. The Galaxy Note 9 looks broadly similar to the Galaxy Note 8 in most respects, the only real difference in terms of feature layout comes on the back panel where we have a horizontal dual-sensor camera array with a fingerprint scanner positioned below it. Neat, as well as functional. Apparently the exterior is diamond-cut and it certainly looks clean and stylish.
Another design change is the fact that the Galaxy Note 9 is landing with some more jazzy colour options. However, contrary to earlier rumours that users could pick their own S-Pen colour, this appears to not be the case. Instead, you can get the blue one with a yellow S-Pen, while the copper, lavender, and black editions all come with S-Pens which match them rather than contrast.
The display is a 6.4in Super AMOLED 18.5:9 edge-to-edge Infinity Display. It certainly looks the business and we wouldn’t be surprised if in-depth display performance analysis shows it to be yet another best-in-class affair. Lastly, the handset has IP68 water and dust resistance once again.
Right on cue following the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 launch, and we have DisplayMate making the somewhat dubious claim that it’s the “best” smartphone display the site has tested to date.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that’s the case – but when you look at the other phones DisplayMate has tested over the years you quickly realise it pretty much focuses 90% or more on Samsung and Apple handsets.
So in terms of where the display tech – however excellent – stands in comparison to the rest of the market, we are none really the wiser. We just know it’s good. Really good. The best Samsung has ever produced. We expected as much, and from our own subjective experience of using a wide range of smartphones Samsung does produce some of the best displays on the market.
But we’re not using a range of cutting-edge testing methods to come to that conclusion, just our own eyeballs – but that said, at least we’re comparing it to dozens of other handsets from a wide range of manufacturers before we declare it the best display on the market.
Regardless, here are DisplayMate’s findings:
- Highest Absolute Color Accuracy (0.5 JNCD) – Visually Indistinguishable From Perfect.
- Smallest Change in Peak Luminance with the Image Content APL (2 percent).
- Smallest Shift in Color Accuracy and Intensity Scale with the Image Content APL (0.7 JNCD).
- Highest Peak Display Brightness (1,050 nits with 710 nits at 100% APL).
- Largest Native Color Gamut (113% DCI-P3 and 142% sRGB / Rec.709).
- Highest Contrast Ratio (Infinite).
- Lowest Screen Reflectance (4.4 percent).
- Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light (239).
- Smallest Brightness Variation with Viewing Angle (27 percent at 30 degrees).
- Smallest Color Variation of White with Viewing Angle (1.3 JNCD at 30 degrees).
- Highest Screen Resolution 3K (2960×1440) – 4K Does Not appear visually sharper on a Smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Specs & Hardware
As per Samsung’s usual MO of the Galaxy Note following the Galaxy S series, the overall hardware package is very similar to the Galaxy S9 series that came first. The processor is the same Snapdragon/Exynos 10nm affair as with the flagship from Q1, with 8GB of RAM, but it also has a new Water Carbon Cooling System to help with heat during high performance.
Expect this to be suitably snappy and responsive, with Samsung stating a 33% uplift in speed and 23% improvement in GPU performance. It also has 1.2Gbps network connectivity for superfast data transfer.
Internal storage has received a massive overhaul with options for 128GB and 512GB, the latter together with the 512GB of microSD support makes the Galaxy Note 9 the first 1TB storage handset to market.
The battery is a 4,000mAh “All Day” setup, according to Samsung. Of course, like the Galaxy Note 8 and the Galaxy S9 series, it supports quick charge features so you can quickly boost things if you need to.
Naturally, Samsung is leveraging its acquisition of AKG, so the handset has some AKG branded Stereo Speakers, which it says are the loudest ever.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Features
S-Pen Stylus With Remote Control
Naturally, Samsung has tweaked the S-Pen stylus with greater pressure sensitivity and accuracy – it was already impressive on the Galaxy Note 8, where it felt like a true pen-and-paper experience. Samsung has implemented a finer point, which it says improves the usability even further.
On top of this, however, Samsung has implemented the S-Pen as wireless Bluetooth accessory – it has its own battery, which is charged when the pen is docked and can quick charge to 30 minutes of use time in a few seconds.
The wireless functions allow you to remotely control some of the phone’s features, including using it as a remote shutter button for the camera. Double tapping the shutter key on the S-Pen switches between front and rear cameras.
The pen control can also be used to control Youtube video viewing, Power Point slides, and presentations. Indeed, part of Samsung’s live presentation was driven with the S-Pen remote.
Dual-Sensor, Variable Aperture Camera
The basic camera setup uses the same kit found inside the Galaxy S9+, which is a dual-sensor camera with two 12MP sensors using dual-pixel phase-detection autofocus, as well as the innovative variable aperture feature which massively improves image and video quality. This uses a 1.5/2.4 aperture which adjusts depending on the lighting conditions, just like the human eye.
Samsung has also added “Intelligent Camera” features, the UI notifies you of defects immediately after capture with on-screen prompts (for example, smudges or poor focus), but also packs smart scene recognition which automatically optimises picture quality (colour etc).
Dock-less Samsung DeX
Samsung DeX has been around for a few generations now, allowing users to turn their Samsung flagships into a portable PC by connecting it to a dock with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor.
However, on the Galaxy Note 9 Samsung has ditched the need for a dock and it’ll now work with is the phone’s Type-C cable and an adaptor for plugging it into a monitor. You can also still control and perform actions on the phone while it is plugged in, for example, sending texts or making calls.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Price & Release Date
Samsung revealed the Galaxy Note 9 128GB model will have an RRP of £899, while the 512GB model will cost £1,099. This means BOTH storage editions will be available in the UK finally! Huzzah!
Pre-orders will begin from 17:00 GMT on August 9 in the UK – ie: today, the day of launch. General release is August 24. Only black, lavender, and blue options will be available at first.