The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is finally out in the open but the question is, are we as excited as we would be for say, a new iPhone launch? Though I can’t say much for some parts of the world (read as Apple fanbois), I certainly was quite fascinated by the device. Coincidentally (or not?) almost all the significant details of the Note 9 leaking prior to its launch made Samsung’s Unpacked event quite predictable. Except for that stool-shaped Galaxy Home.
What is unpredictable, however, is will the Note 9 muscle past its competition? It certainly has a massive hardware backing it, and the S-Pen has become a lot more powerful with the Bluetooth LE functionality, but Bixby is still a pain point and nowhere close to Google Assistant.
Let’s find out where the Galaxy Note 9, which is priced starting at $999, stands after being put head-to-head with its greatest competitors which are the iPhone X (existing member of the $999 club), Pixel 2 XL (the reigning camera king), Galaxy S9 Plus (wished it was the Note), Huawei P20 Pro (because triple-camera) and the OnePlus 6 (Because it’s OP).
Ready? Here we go.
Hold on though. PSA time. This comparison is again just purely based on the specifications of the Note 9. We haven’t tested it and therefore are not accountable for a misplaced decision you might make. Or not make.
Looks like the Oppo Find X (not in the comparison), has taken the cake when it comes to the most beautifully designed smartphone on this planet. But the Note 9 is no pushover either. The curved 6.4-inch Super AMOLED Infinity display was pleasing to the eye on the S9 Plus and it will most certainly be on the Note 9. The metallic back with its horizontal dual-camera system and a fingerprint sensor placed in a position that is relatively easily reachable (as compared to Note 8) makes this the best looking Note yet. And then there is also the S-pen, which is something I believe that every phablet with a 6-inch or above screen should have.
The iPhone X, on the other hand, while a brand new design for Apple, still fall short when we look at Android flagships. Pixel 2XL is the only exception for its decision to go with the same old design language which looks quite boring.
The Huawei P20 Pro and it’s triple camera system along with that gradient shifting colour scheme does make the phone stand out from the back. But on the front again we see that irritating notch and for some weird reason, a fingerprint sensor just below the 18:9 display crammed into the bottom bezel. The OnePlus 6 has the notch and a glass back, vertical dual-cameras, and basically the bland design language everyone is copying from the iPhone X.
Among all the competitors, at least looking at the photos of the Note 9, it really does looks like the most gorgeous looking device.
The Note 9 has the same chipset as the S9/S9 Plus ie. the Snapdragon 845 in some parts of the world and Exynos 9810 in others (India generally gets the Exynos variant). There’s also an 8 GB RAM + 512 GB internal storage version of the device which can be expanded to 1 TB using a micro-SD card slot. But it would seem that the Note 9 is almost crawling in front of the ridiculously high powered iPhone X (cue for Apple fanbois to come out of their caves) with the A11 Bionic chipset. Again, I say that this statement has been made seeing the benchmark results of the iPhone X and the S9 Plus.
But hold on we are comparing Android and iOS. What about fellow Android competitors? A quick look at benchmarks shows that the Huawei P20 Pro with its Kirin 970 chipset and the Pixel 2 XL with its outdated Snapdragon 835 are pushed out of the equation. However, the OnePlus 6, which costs only half of what the Note 9 does, could give the Samsung’s latest flagship a run for its money. Just wait for the full review.
The Note 8 last year and the S9 Plus this year had outstanding cameras. Now the Note 9 has basically copy pasted the S9 Plus’ camera with its two 12 MP cameras and the same dual-aperture (f/1.5 or f/2.4) feature. But it would seem that Samsung is going for software improvement and AI features such as the Scene Optimiser mode to give it an edge over the S9 Plus. Will it really make a big difference? Will the camera be better than the Pixel 2 XL (best camera. Period)? Unfortunately, these questions can only be answered after we have tested the Note 9’s camera in the real world.
Here is a spec sheet comparison between the Note 9 and the competitors I’ve mentioned above. (Sorry Vivo NEX and Oppo Find X. No hard feelings)
|Smartphone||Galaxy Note 9||Huawei P20 Pro||Samsung S9+||iPhone X||Google Pixel 2 XL|
|Display Size (inch)||6.42||6.1||6.2||5.8||6|
|Resolution (pixels)||1440 x 2960||1080 x 2240||1,440 x 2,960||2436 x 1125||1440 x 2880|
|Pixel Density (PPI)||516||408||529||458||538|
|Display Type||Super AMOLED||Super AMOLED||Super AMOLED||OLED Super Retina HDR||pOLED|
|Dimensions(mm)||161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8||162 x 77 x 8||158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5||143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7||157.9 × 76.7 × 7.9|
|Dual SIM||Yes||Yes||Yes (Variant)||No||No|
|Connectivity Types||GSM / HSPA / LTE||GSM / HSPA / LTE||GSM / HSPA / LTE||LTE, SCDMA, CDMA EV-DO Rev. A, UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA, GSM/EDGE||GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE / VoLTE|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Exynos 9810||Kirin 970||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Exynos 9810||A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|CPU Cores||Octa-core||Octa-core||Octa-core, Octa-core||Hexa-core||Octa-core|
|CPU Clock Speed (GHz)||4x Kryo 385 Gold @ 2.7 & 4x Kryo 385 Silver @ 1.7 and 4x Mongoose M3 @ 2.8 & 4x Cortex A55 @ 1.7||4×2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A53||4x Kryo 385 Gold @ 2.7 & 4x Kryo 385 Silver @ 1.7 and 4x Mongoose M3 @ 2.8 & 4x Cortex A55 @ 1.7||Hexa-core 4 x effieciency cores + 2 Performance cores||4x Kryo 280 @ 2.35 & 4x Kryo 280 @ 1.9|
|GPU||Adreno 630, Mali G72 MP18||Mali-G72 MP12||Adreno 630, Mali G72 MP18||–||Adreno 540|
|RAM||6, 8 GB||6 GB||6 GB||3GB||4 GB|
|Ruggedness||IP68||–||IP68||IP67 under IEC standard 60529||IP67|
|On-Board Memory||128, 512 GB||128 GB||64, 128, 256 GB||64 GB, 256 GB||64 GB, 128 GB|
|Expandable Memory||Yes, up to 512 GB||No||Yes, up to 256GB||No||No|
|Sensors||Iris scanner, fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Barometer, Heart-rate, SpO2||Face unlock, fingerprint (rear-mounted), under-display fingeprint accelerometer, gyro, proximity, barometer, compass||Iris scanner, fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Barometer, Heart-rate, SpO2||Face ID Barometer Three-axis gyro Accelerometer Proximity sensor Ambient light sensor||Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Barometer, Active Edge, Magnetometer, Hall effect|
|Primary Camera||12MP, f/1.5-2.4, 12 MP f/2.4 52 mm||40 MP, f/1.8, 20 MP B/W, f/1.6, 8 MP, f/2.4||12MP, f/1.5-2.4, 12 MP f/2.4 52 mm||12 MP wide-angle ƒ/1.8 aperture, telephoto ƒ/2.4 aperture||12.2 MP, f/1.8|
|Optical Image Stabilisation||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Camera Array||Dual Camera||Triple Camera||Dual Camera||Dual Camera||Single Camera|
|Autofocus System||Phase detection autofocus||Dual pixel, phase detection autofocus||Phase detection||Autofocus with Focus Pixels||Laser + Dual-Pixel Phase detection|
|Secondary Camera||8MP, f/1.7||24 MP, f/2.0||8MP, f/1.7||7 MP, f/2.2||8MP, f/2.4|
|Video Capture||720p @ 960 fps, 1080p @ 240 fps, 2160p @ 60fps, HDR||2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 1080p@30fps (gyro-EIS), 720p@960fps||720p @ 960 fps, 1080p @ 240 fps, 2160p @ 60fps, HDR||1080p @ 240 fps, 2160p @ 60 fps||720p @ 240 fps, 1080p @ 120 fps, 2160p @ 30 fps|
|OS Version||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||iOS 11||Android 8 Oreo|
|AI (Smart Assistant)||Yes, Bixby||Google Assistant||Yes, Bixby||Siri||Yes, Google Assistant|
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot||802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual, band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA|
|Bluetooth||v5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX||4.2, A2DP, LE||v5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX||v5.0||v5, A2DP, LE, aptX HD|
|Fingerprint Scanner||Yes, Rear button||Yes, front-facing||Yes, Rear button||No||Yes, Rear button|
|Radio||No||No||Yes, FM Radio||No||No|
|USB Type||Type-C 1.0 reversible connector||Type-C 1.0 reversible connector||Type-C Reversible connector||Reversible connector||Type-C Reversible connector|
|USB Standard||USB 3.1||USB v2.0||USB 3.1||Lightning||USB 2.0|
|Colors||Metallic copper, Lavender purple, Ocean blue||Red, Black||Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple||Space Grey, Silver||Black & White, Just Black|
|Prices in India||TBA (estimated Rs 75,000)||Rs 59,999||Rs 68,900||Rs 89,000||Starting Rs 73,000|
Well, we can’t give a verdict without doing a full review now, can we? But looking at the spec sheet it is quite obvious that the Note 9 has a lot going for it. Some things that stand out are Samsung’s decision to go with a massive 4,000 mAh battery (brave considering the Note 7 battery fiasco is still fresh in our minds), the DeX support, Bluetooth enabled S-Pen, heart sensor and a whole lot of other features that you probably won’t end up using anyway.
Will the Note 9 justify its massive $999 price tag? Be sure to read our upcoming detailed review of the Note 9, which will reveal layer by layer its flaws and the merits.