Being a tech lover does not exclude loving food too!
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Full, in-depth, Australian review
Go Big Or Go Home
- Solid specs
- Beautiful design
- New S-Pen features
- Incredibly expensive
- Not a huge upgrade on the Note 8
- Runs on Android Oreo
This is one of the best smartphones you can buy right now. But whether you should buy it is another question entirely.
Price$ 1,499.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 1 store)
Even in 2018 - a time when budget and mid-tier smartphones are offering more value than ever - there’s still something really infectious and compelling about the big, bold, underlined hype of a flagship device like the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Does anybody really need this much power in a smartphone? Who cares! This phone has it, and those power-users doomed to lust after the best are going to be drawn to it like moths. So it was with the Note 5 and the Note 8. And so it will be with the Note 9.
Really though, your prior exposure to the Samsung smartphones, and the Note brand specifically, is going to be the make-or-break factor here. If you don’t like the way Samsung’s Android offerings look and feel, the Note 9 won’t magically change this. Likewise, if you bought last year’s Note 8, you can probably stop reading right now. The Note 9 is one of the most expensive phones you can buy but there’s just not enough going on here for it to really offset the cost of upgrading from last year's model.
Still, if you’ve got the money and have your eye on a first-class journey to the zenith of the modern smartphone experience, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a hell of a way to get there. It’s not that much better than last year’s model but it’s still an incredibly impressive device across the board.
Display size: 6.4-inches
Display type: Super AMOLED, HDR10 compliant, WQHD+ (1440 x 2960 pixels)
Processor: Exynos 9810
Weight: 201 g
Dimensions: 161.9 mm x 76.4 mm x 8.8 mm
Operating System: Android 8.1
Fingerprint Sensor: Yes
Face Unlock: Yes
RAM: 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 128GB / 512GB
Ports: USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5, NFC, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Cat 18 LTE
Rear Camera: 12 MP (f/1.5-2.4) with dual pixel PDAF and OIS + 12 MP (f/2.4) with AF, OIS and 2x optical zoom
Front-Facing Camera: 8 MP (f/1.7) with AF
Colors: Metallic copper, Lavender purple, Ocean blue, Midnight black
Price: $1499 / $1799
Design - Look, Feel and Features
The Galaxy Note 9 invariably suffers from the fact that Samsung don’t really have any legitimate competition to measure themselves against in the Note’s stylus-driven niche. Sure, phone sizes are trending larger but when it comes to powerhouse phablets, there actually aren’t that many options that try and do what the Galaxy Note does.
Where the Note 8 upped the ante by bringing the S8’s edgeless display to the table, the Note 9 is pretty hands-off when it comes form and feel-factor. The infinity display, wireless and fast charging, IP68 resistance rating and gorgeous all-glass design are compelling on their own merits. But taken as a lump sum, they make for a device that doesn’t just look and feel like a rehash - it’s a borderline carbon copy of its predecessor.
Don’t get me wrong, the above are all things you’d definitely want - and expect - from a device with the price-tag that the Note 9 commands. But in addition to its strengths, a lot of the weaknesses of the Note 8 have also endured.
Some haven’t. For example, the single-stereo speaker on the Note 8 has been swapped out for the dual stereo setup of the S9+. However, plenty of minor annoyances like the non-customizable Bixby button and the rear fingerprint sensor remain. The later has been slightly relocated to be below the camera instead of beside it - but it’s still not ideal. Bixby also remains a sub-par part of the experience.
None of these sins are egregious enough to be branded a deal-breaker, but when you’re paying so much for the Note 9 compared to the Note 8, they really do serve to undercut the best-in-class proposition that Samsung are trying to make here.
Of course, there is one area where the Note 9 does offer significant differentiation between itself and its predecessors via a set of improvements that have been made to the signature S-Pen.
This time around, Samsung’s stylus comes with several new software functions - many of which are customizable. You can use it play and pause music. You can use it to take photos using the Note 9’s camera. You can even use it as a presentation tool.
These enhanced features do come with caveat, as the battery powering the S-Pen only lasts forty minutes. Thankfully, fully recharging the S-Pen itself only takes about a minute - so it’s not too much of a hassle.
Like last year’s phablet, the stylus experience here feels super responsive and accurate. And, in the right situations, the Note 9’s new S-Pen features can be surprisingly useful. Regardless, it does feel like Samsung is preaching to the choir.
If you’re eyeing another stylus-driven smartphone experience, these new features provide a more-than-adequate reason to stick with Sammy. If you’ve been a skeptic in the past, these new features don’t feel they’ll win you over.
The final new(ish) feature that Samsung are bringing to the table with the Note 9 is a new and improved DeX experience. In the past, you had to have a whole separate dock unit for Samsung’s DeX feature - which turns the Note’s Android interface into a desktop-like experience. Now, you just need a single USB-C to HDMI cable.
We had hoped to extensively test this feature as part of our review but haven’t yet managed to get our hands on the specific cable necessary to do so. We plan to update this review once we have done so.
Next Page: Camera, Performance, Battery Life and The Bottom Line
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Moto G6 review: A solid mid-tier effort with few compromises
- 5 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
Latest News Articles
- Samsung to put a time limit on free custom Android themes
- Google's Pixel smartphones get Night Sight in new update
- Samsung's next flagship processor comes with a NPU
- Forget the foldable, Samsung's One UI overhaul is the real big news here
- Oppo up the ante in the mid-tier space with new R17 and R17 Pro
PCW Evaluation Team
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
- Google Pixel 3 XL review: Ghost in the machine
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Apple iPhone XS review: Astonishment at a price
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies