Buzz.ie has no hesitation in giving the Galaxy Note 9 a five out of five rating
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the most complete and perfect smartphone yet from the South Korean manufacturer.
Yes it’s expensive, and yes it’s large — but each individual user will weigh up how much consideration to give those factors before purchasing.
When it comes to design, build quality, camera, performance and battery life — there is little or nothing to quibble about on the Note 9.
The gorgeous super slim curved front and metal rimmed design that has been on the last few Samsung flagships is the same. Why change it?
And I should mention there is no notch, in case notches bother you. (They don’t bother me.)
The stunning, best-in-class, almost bezel-free, 2K Super AMOLED display has sloping Infinity edges. It is 6.4in including the curves and 6.3in without.
Samsung’s superior OLED panels use less juice and only power on the required pixels — thus displaying perfect blacks.
Everything looks bright, clear and striking — with good overall colour accuracy.
It uses a widescreen aspect ratio and has HDR support (which works on Netflix too).
The performance of the Note 9 in everyday use is outstanding.
It is powered by the Exynos octa-core processor and my 128GB review unit had 6GB RAM.
It breezes through everything you throw at it, even intensive games such as Asphalt 9 Legends.
It’s as fast and fluid as the Red Edition OnePlus 6 I tested — which had 8GB RAM.
The Note’s biggest selling point for many users is its Wacom-powered S Pen stylus. This is now Bluetooth-enabled and as fluid, smooth and super-responsive as ever.
The Bluetooth enables you to use the S Pen to skip music tracks or as a shutter release when taking photos. It’s a nice novelty feature but I haven’t used it other than to see it working.
Far more useful is the screen-off memo feature. When the display is powered down you can take out the S Pen and immediately start note-taking.
Slide the pen back in and the note automatically saves in Samsung’s Notes app. It’s neat and so useful. You can also use it with Google’s Keep which is a better option as it saves the notes online as well as on the device.
Battery life is excellent — I regularly had 20 per cent power left at midnight from an 8am start.
But naturally it depends on what you are doing. If you are gaming or streaming Netflix on the go, for example, the endurance is considerably less.
The rear camera system is the same 12MP lens with variable aperture (f/1.5 and f/2.4) introduced on the S9+ along with the second 12MP lens for 2x zooming.
Both sensors are optically stabilised.
You can get lovely bokeh from the wider aperture but in good lighting conditions it won’t switch on automatically so you will need to use the Pro mode and manually turn it on.
In lowlight conditions, the Huawei P20 Pro’s Night Mode still reigns supreme. But you’ll not be disappointed with any images captured by the Note 9.
It’s particularly strong on wide landscape shots. In general, colours are accurate, and exposures nicely balanced.
A new scene-detection feature has been much hyped but it doesn’t enhance images noticeably.
4K video capture gives you steady high-res footage in both 30 or 60fps, and you can do Super Slow-Mo video in full HD too.
Security unlock features on the phone include a fingerprint sensor on the rear, iris scanner and facial unlocking on the front.
All are fast but I’d prefer an in-screen fingerprint sensor for when your phone is on the desk during work hours.
Other plus points include the microSD slot, which can add up to 512GB more storage, the headphone port and the excellent speakers.
They have the loudest and best quality audio on a Samsung phone yet. Dolby Atmos is included.
My review model was traditional black, but I’d recommend you buy the more eye-catching ocean blue handset. This comes with a yellow S Pen.
The DeX desktop experience is improved on the Note 9. You don’t need a specific DeX dock anymore. You just plug in a USB-C to HDMI adapter and the Note 9 launches into desktop mode, and it can function as a trackpad for the desktop monitor.
On the downside, there are no gesture controls — as used on OnePlus 6 and iPhone X — and the OS is Android 8 Oreo not Android 9 Pie.
Samsung can be quite slow implementing Android updates so it may be 2019 before your Note 9 gets Pie which has new methods for multitasking and navigation.
Bixby 2 has been much hyped but from what I can see the improvements are visual only. The digital assistant in theory can still do more than Siri or Google Assistant but in my experience it is still hard of hearing.
And while I love phones with larger screens, it would be remiss not to highlight that it’s difficult to perform some tasks on this device using only one hand.
But that’s not an issue with me and I rate the Note 9 as the best overall smartphone you can buy at this time — bearing in mind it costs €1019 sim-free.
The Note 9’s biggest rival is Samsung’s own S9+ released earlier this year as it has almost identical specs, but no S Pen, and you can pick one up for €969.99 sim-free (from DID Electrical).
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 costs €1019 sim-free from Harvey Norman and DID Electrical, or for €449 on Three Billpay and €949 Three Prepay.
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