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Home / Technology / Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review – it's almost too good

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review – it's almost too good



What can not do this phone?

When the original Gears of War 2006 hit the market for the Xbox 360, reviewing the game quickly became a meme in itself. The slogan "it's almost too good" got around the internet, but it was said for a reason. Reviewers found that the game was too close to perfection to actually exist, and so some joked about having to remove points just to make the score a little more realistic. The same goes for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, a cell phone that sells for $ 1,000 at the low end and $ 1,250 at the top, but packs everything and the kitchen sink under its hood. It's the price to pay for so many things, and with improved s-pen, liquid cooling, and more RAM and memory than ever

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 specifications and what's in the box

launch as Samsung's most expensive flagship Just call, the Galaxy Note 9 packs everything at a starting price of £ 899 / $ 999 / € 999. This price nests you the version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but people can charge £ 1099 / $ 1250 / € 1250 upgrade to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Four colors will be available worldwide at launch: Metallic Copper, Midnight Black, Lavender Purple, and Ocean Blue, however, only the Lavender Purple (our test model) and Ocean Blue will be available on US carriers. The metal case and Gorilla Glass 5 are IP68 water and dustproof. All models support up to 512 GB of microSD cards, increasing the total available storage space of any of these models to 1TB of the high-end model. The Galaxy Note 9 has the same processors as the Galaxy S9, which means that US customers will find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 inside, while most international markets are powered by Samsung's Exynos 9810.

The front panel features a 6.4-inch Quad HD + Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2960 × 1440 pixels (516ppi) and curves on the left and right sides. Samsung has upgraded both models with a much larger 4,000mAh battery, and the phone supports wireless charging with WPC and PMA compatible, as well as QuickCharge 2.0 via the USB Type-C port (15W). Radio-wise, we're looking at an improved 4 × 4 MIMO, 5CA, LAA, LTE Cat.18 for most markets on the cellular network side, while Wi-Fi will be 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac (2.4 / 5GHz) Supported with VHT80 MU-MIMO and 1024QAM support. Bluetooth 5.0 (LE up to 2 Mbps), ANT +, NFC and MST radios are also housed inside and complete an incredible wireless experience.

Note 9 is slightly shorter than note 8 thanks to the reduced chin size 161.9 mm high (compared to 162.5 mm for note 8), but it is both wider and thicker than the phone and measures 76.4 mm wide and 8.8mm thin, compared to 74.8mm wide and 8.6mm thin for the 8th grade. It is also a bit heavier at 201g, compared to 195g for the 8th grade. The front panel has a selection of sensors including an iris scanner and an 8-megapixel autofocus front camera behind a 1: 1.7 lens. The pair of rear cameras are both 12 megapixel sensors, with the main 1.40-pixel size, dual aperture f / 1.5 and f / 2.4 capability, dual-pixel PDAF and OIS. The secondary camera is behind a f / 2.4 lens and has 2x zoom 50mm focal length, as well as OIS. Android 8.1 Oreo comes with the phone, while Samsung Experience 9.5 and the August 2018 security patch are on the market at this time.

Samsung has stylized the box a bit more than in recent years, with a beautiful minimalist S-Pen on the front, the same beautiful color as the phone itself. Inside, you'll find the Galaxy Note 9 itself with the S-Pen inside the body, usually the same color as the phone itself except for the Ocean Blue version, which comes with a yellow S-Pen. The rest of the box features the QuikcCharge 2.0 Wall Charger, a USB Type A to USB Type C connector, a pair of AKG earphones with a 3.5mm audio jack on the end. A USB Type-C USB Type-A USB Adapter is also included and provides the ability to use the OTG capabilities of a USB memory stick or to connect to the Samsung Smart Switch. Samsung also includes a pair of replacement tips for the S-Pen, a white and a gray, each with a different coefficient of friction and a tool for removing and attaching the replacement tips.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Display [19659010] Samsung has been thrilling us for years with its ultra-high-end AMOLED displays on mobile phones, and this year is better than ever. The Galaxy Note 9 now offers further enhancements to its OLED mobile panels and now offers OLED technology, the most color-accurate display on the market with perfect white balance, true color reproduction and, of course, infinite contrasts and true blacks. It's simply not possible to find a better display on a mobile device, and there are only a few consumer-level displays in the world that are so impressive regardless of the device. This display is also 0.1-inch larger than last year all while reducing the height of the phone by almost a millimeter. Although it has slightly thicker left and right bezels, so the device is slightly wider. Under the Gorilla Glass 5 is Samsung's custom Wacom-powered digitizer, which makes the S-Pen operate like a real pen magically writing on the screen while at the same time providing a separate, separate layer of touch-input for fingers.

One The main feature of the Note 8 screen was its ability to press over 1,000 nits for a short time in extremely bright conditions, such as direct sunlight, and the display on the Note 9 continues to do so. The Note 9's display is the lightest display available in bright sunlight. Samsung's Always on Display has been the best for generations, and the latest update to the Samsung Experience Android Skin has even made it possible to use GIFs on the Always On Display (AoD). There is nothing new specifically for Grade 9 in terms of AoD, but the Note series has the ability to write notes while the screen is off and the phone is locked for some time. If you remove the S-Pen while the screen is off, this mode will automatically be activated, allowing up to 99 pages of notes to be taken without having to unlock the phone. These notes can also be pinned to the screen, meaning they will be displayed at any time, even after the S-Pen has been put back in the scabbard.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Hardware and Build

Samsung's Overall Hardware Design Has Not Worked Since the Galaxy Note 7's launch, not much has changed for the note lineup, and this phone does indeed look like most. The biggest differences in design are due to the physical size and better screen-to-height ratio, although grade 9 is wider, thicker and heavier than last year's grade 8. This is the same beautiful design with two curved edges The left and right sides of the front and back of the phone are bent from the top to the sides. A thin metal frame separates the front from the back, as there is a large single piece of glass both at the front and at the back. You will find the same key configuration that we have seen on Samsung phones for some time. right, volume control on the left and the dedicated Bixby button under the volume rocker.

The Nano SIM and microSD card slot sits on top, while a slightly decentered USB Type-C port is turned on the bottom, flanked by a 3.5mm audio jack on the left and a speaker On the right side. On the right side of this speaker is the S-Pen slot, which keeps the S-Pen safe and comfortable when not in use, as well as charging the supercapacitor in the new S-Pen. On the back is a slightly reworked camera layout, which looks similar to Grade 8 in its horizontal orientation but has a fingerprint scanner below the camera's rectangle instead of inside the camera's rectangle. It's more or less exactly the same size and shape fingerprint scanner as the Note 8, just taken, rotated 90 degrees and moving instead under the camera. This is a much more comfortable design for a phone that is so large that it is easier to use than the previous year's design.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9S Pen

While much of the rest of the Galaxy Note 9 a Like a Charged Galaxy Note 8, the S-Pen has received a true and significant upgrade from all previous S-Pens: a Bluetooth radio , Samsung has for years been proud of its ability to not only design a fully-featured and wonderful feeling pen for its touch devices, but also pointed out that the S-Pen unlike any other pens on the market is not an active one Pen. Instead, Wacom digitizers are used to deliver power by sending out a signal hundreds of times a second and getting a response when that signal jumps back through the pen tip. It is a brilliant way to design a pen to be both a separate input layer for the hands and users who do not need to load the stylus to enjoy its functionality.

This S-Pen Still covers this floor and still works like any S-Pen at its most basic level. You will always be able to write in the pen regardless of the charge. Samsung's Bluetooth Supplement is just that; a feature addition. You can now use the S-Pen as a remote control for many apps, including the standard ability to start the camera and play back images without having to unlock the phone. The smartphone comes with 6 apps that include the Camera, Gallery, Shutter, Media, Chrome, and Hancom Office Editor remote S-Pen remote capabilities. Unfortunately, apps need to be built with this feature, which means it will ultimately be a niche feature if developers do not do it on a large scale. Given the popularity of the Note series, this is certainly a bigger option than just about any other phone on the market, but it's still not something that gave Samsung the ability to really adapt or make their own; it has to be pre-assembled.

The S-Pen is powered by a supercapacitor, not a conventional battery that has more positive characteristics than negative for this type of product. First, the S-Pen does not feel noticeably heavier or denser than the previous generation S-Pens. It's still light and small, but less pliable than the previous generation s-pens. The battery is designed for 30 minutes or about 200 clicks per full charge. That may not sound like much, but given its very limited functionality, it's unlikely to ever be drained of use, just the 30-minute time limit. The pen itself recharges completely in 40 seconds while in the case, thanks to a small wireless charging-like component in the pen and the phone. This totally passive way of charging is more than brilliant and really fits with the way Samsung has been developing the S-Pen for years and does not require external batteries or charging methods. Just put the pen in its normal resting place and the phone will do the rest.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Security, Performance, and Benchmarks

Samsung has introduced Intelligent Scan with this year's Galaxy S9 and S9 +, and the same technology is in place on the grade 9 too. This combines scanning of the face and iris in an intelligent way, but is ultimately less secure than just an iris scan or a fingerprint scan. Smart Scanning is a bit slower than just scanning fingerprints or iris itself, as iris is scanned first. If this does not succeed, face scanning will be used instead. This is a more convenient way to unlock the phone, as it requires fewer user inputs and latches, with the only requirement to look at the phone while it is turned on. Samsung Pass and Samsung Pay support both fingerprints and IRIS as valid, secure methods of biometric authentication, but not facial scanning. This is significant enough to show how unsafe facial scanning can possibly be and is certainly worth mentioning.

Samsung has added a new App Permission Monitor that notifies when an application requests permission in the background rather than during a specific user action. For example, Allo requests an open camera app at any time a camera permission that triggers this alarm constantly. Not only is it nice to know about these types of permissions that could be used to "spy on" a user, but also because some permissions, such as using the camera all the time, can lead to additional levels of battery drain.

Beneath the slender glass and metal case hides a new concept for Samsung mobile phones; a water-carbon cooling system. While we've seen heatpipes and other similar ideas to derive heat more efficiently, none of these heat reduction techniques has been as effective as water cooling. Although not an active water-cooling module, as you would find in a desktop gaming PC, the processor in the Galaxy Note 9 will not be as hot as other cell phones, and will stay at a more normal temperature for longer. Samsung is swinging the Galaxy Note 9 as a mobile phone that offers a world-class mobile gaming experience designed for games like Fortnite.

These console-quality games are full of experiences, not mobile markets and inputs, allowing players to play for hours without worrying about overheating the phone or dying off the battery. Part of the experience is hardware, but the other is an "AI-based algorithm." Samsung has integrated with the latest version of its Samsung Experience skin to intelligently scale CPU and GPU resources to keep the system from overheating, and the Balanced and playable frame rates keep significant thermal throttling. This includes VR experiences that Samsung has not talked about much this time, but they are still part of the Galaxy ecosystem. See below for the benchmarks we have also outlined, which gives a theoretical view of maximum performance.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Wireless connectivity, sound and battery life

Samsung's repertoire of features that focus on speed extends to the wireless radios Galaxy Note 9, which are the fastest and most advanced radios available in any phone in the market. No matter what carrier you're on, the Galaxy Note 9 regularly delivers faster and more reliable speeds than other phones. In our tests, this resulted on average in twice the speed of phones like the Huawei P20 Pro, with support for Giga LTE in markets with such capabilities. Given that last year's 8-year mark in stores with state-of-the-art, dense MIMO towers delivered real downloads of several hundred megabits per second, it would not be surprising that these speeds actually occur in the right region. I found the Galaxy Note 9 to be more sensitive to weak signals than the Huawei P20 Pro, as I had two LTE bars while traveling with the P20 Pro, but no signal at all on the Note 9 at the same location. These results were consistent in our tests in weak signal areas.

Samsung introduced the Galaxy S9 stereo speaker to their phones for the first time, and this feature has also achieved a rating of 9. The phone uses the headset above the screen as one of the speakers, while the other speaker on the bottom acts as the left or right speaker, depending on how the phone is aligned. Dolby Atmos virtual surround can also be activated to give these speakers even more complete, spatial sound and to provide the best sound reproduction on any modern device. If you place the phone on a table or other resonating surface, this playback will also be slightly improved, resulting in a pretty good replacement for external speakers. There is also support for 3.5mm audio connections through the dedicated bottom port and digital sound through the USB Type-C port. Wireless audio comes with Bluetooth 5.0 and supports all high quality codecs like aptX, aptX HD and LDAC, as well as dual output support for two pairs of wireless headsets or speakers simultaneously.

One of the most important changes for Note 9's hardware is the 30% larger battery, which makes the phone about 0.2 mm thick and at the same time extends the battery life by several hours. Fortunately, this 4,000mAh battery is at the top of the big-battery charts in cell phones and fortunately has been more prevalent since 2018 than in previous years. Samsung markets the Note 9's battery with "all-day battery life," and that's definitely an apt statement. Samsung has long had most of the features of every OEM out there, and part of the disadvantage of this variety of features is usually less than amazing battery life. Last year's grade 8 cut back the battery a little from the previous year, but now that Samsung goes well beyond the Note 7 debacle, they're boosting their battery life and making sure their batteries are not only safe, but also secure have a lot of time.

That does not mean that it could not be better, of course, since many other phones with 4,000mAh batteries can take more than 2 days of battery life, including Samsung's biggest competitor Huawei with his P20 Pro handset [19659005]. Samsung also has the slowest recharge of all major flagship phones on the market, and continues to be with Qualcomm's QuickCharge 2.0, which has been around since the beginning of 2015, when the Snapdragon 800 hit the market. Now that we're on QuickCharge 4.0 and many other proprietary charging standards are even faster, Samsung's 12-15W charging time is pretty much down. This phone has a wireless charging support for WPC and PMA chargers, so basically every wireless charger you have lying around should be able to charge the phone, including the faster 10W chargers.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Software [19659032] Samsung launches the Galaxy Note 9 with Android 8.1 Oreo even though Android 9.0 Pie comes out, but that could be a blessing rather than a curse, depending on your attitude towards Google's key design changes in pie. While it is not clear how Samsung will adapt to Google's changes in Screen Summary / Latest changes to the app's drawer are widely available or the various other visual and navigational changes such as gestures in the navigation bar That's for sure: there are many more features and unique options on the Samsung Experience skin than the Android devices will ever have. Samsung has also been rocking the August 2018 security patch since this update, an update that shipped one full week after the device was first used and is good for future security updates for the phone.

The Samsung Experience 9.5 Skin Tweaks a few things, and also makes a big change to DeX. You will find some slightly changed emojis in the huge list, as well as some that have been completely replaced. AR Emoji has seen some enhancements since the launch of the Galaxy S9, but none of them are exclusive to the Galaxy Note 9, and they work just as we saw on the S9, bugs and all. ARCore, however, is supported at startup, something that was not the case with the Galaxy S9, which opens up a lot of AR-related apps and services in the Google Play Store.

Samsung's GoodLock 2018 app has recently been updated with a number of new features, including a newer "One Hand Operation +" app that brings a brand new gesture-based navigation option to the table. This gesture-based navigation is performed by wiping inward from the left or right sides of the phone at the curved edges and is fully customizable in all respects. Again, not exclusive to the 9th grade, but another feature that has been added to the phone's vast repertoire and offers more customization than virtually any other.

Samsung DeX was launched in spring with the Galaxy S8 in 2017, but the original design requires a separately sold proprietary dock and requires a keyboard and mouse to be fully functional. Since then, Samsung has added a significant number of features and optimized compatibility and speed, recently added the ability to use the screen as a multi-touch mouse pad, if desired. With the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung allows the use of any generic USB C types for HDMI or DisplayPort cables, although Samsung continues to recommend the use of DeX certified cables for the best performance. We tested this functionality with Choetech's low-cost cables, which are available for about $ 17 retail and can be purchased through the links below. DeX is now 100% Plug and Play; Just connect the HDMI / DisplayPort end to your TV or monitor, and the other USB Type-C will end at the bottom of the phone, and the 9-note will mirror the screen to the external display in seconds.

DeX can be enabled via the pop-up prompt or notification feature by turning your TV or monitor into a desktop-like interface. This interface can be activated via the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse or via the screen of your phone by activating the touchpad function. It can be used either with your fingers or with the S-Pen. This is a completely different interface and "desktop" from your phone, meaning that you can perform multitasking by opening things and running on the screen of the phone while you are running completely separate apps and tasks on the TV or monitor together. Be forewarned that the display's frame rate is halved when using this dual-screen mode. While it is suitable for messaging or other low-key tasks, video or game viewing is adversely affected by the lower frame rate

Buy Choetech USB Type-C on DisplayPort Cable
Buy Choetech USB Type-C on HDMI Cables

Almost any app can run on DeXs desktop-like interface, so you would be able to move windows like you on any desktop computer OS. While this can be done through floating windows on the screen of the phone during a normal task, it is more effective on the larger screen due to its size and horizontal orientation. Being able to treat your phone more like a desktop is simply unbelievable, and while Samsung is not the first OEM to enable this capability, it is another amazing feature that is now available on the phone and only one need to plug in a simple $ 17 cable. However, games will get a bit confused at this interface as they are optimized for a touch screen experience when played either with a keyboard and mouse or just the touch screen itself, as the touchpad mode on the touch screen behaves more like the mouse pad a laptop would go rather than a direct input touchscreen the way to connect straight to the phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Camera Hardware and Software

It's been a long time since we've seen a Samsung phone debut without a really big new camera feature to mark its release, but it's exactly this Location where the Galaxy Note 9 is located. After launching the Samsung Galaxy S9 with a new, great feature earlier this year, the company is leveraging what it has added and optimizing the experience, adding some new small features, and this time focusing on optimization and efficiency. The biggest new feature is not even a camera feature in itself, but it does have a significant positive effect on the camera experience. The S-Pen now acts as a Bluetooth remote control. You can now stand up to 10 meters, click on the S-Pen button and take a picture. By default, press and hold the S-Pen button to launch the camera from any location. A brief tap takes a picture while simultaneously switching between the front and rear facing cameras. This will be a great help for group shots, taking selfies with any camera or just getting some interesting new angles on a shot you would not otherwise be able to make. It's a fantastic new feature that's built-in and does not require any additional apps or third-party accessories.

Samsung jumps on the train in a way with a new scene detection mode called "Scene Optimizer," which improves your photos with the identification of a total of 20 different scenes, but Samsung has clearly worked to distance itself from the term AI. There are probably a few reasons for this, but one of them is certainly the time it takes to spot a scene. While it may not take forever for objects to be detected in the scene, there is a significant delay that lasts at least one second for the phone to stop, followed by a scene change icon. While the 20 scenes are a similar number to those of the competitors, it is the subtlety of the Samsung methodology that ultimately dictates them. It's just a touch of extra greens, a splash of extra blue, maybe an extra contrast in the clouds for a sunset, unlike some other phones that look like a cartoon on acidity. Hopefully, it will be faster next time, but that will probably have to wait for something similar to the Huawei chip for neural processing.

Another AI-like feature is called fault detection and builds on what Samsung launched last year on the Galaxy S8, where it would warn you if the lens was greasy. In addition to this warning, you'll also find warnings that a picture is blurry, someone was blinking when the picture was taken, and that the backlight in a scene is even too strong. It's a helpful way to remind people that the photo is less unobtrusive without being obtrusive, and most importantly, it will help many people to stay in recordings that look bad in the end.

There are other software changes as well, including some minor changes in mode behavior, including a seemingly less sensitive carousel for switching between modes compared to the Galaxy S9. There is also the possibility to save files in the highly efficient H.265 codec, which significantly reduces the file size for recorded video. This is especially important when running 4K video at 60 frames per second, since a 10 second clip with the old codec requires an incredible 94 MB, while the new codec at 57 MB is much smaller. Extrapolate the video recorded over several minutes and you will quickly understand why this is important. While there is a maximum recording time of 5 minutes for 4K60 videos, it's hard to break it.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera results

Many differences may be subtle at first glance. Samsung seems to have somewhat reduced the saturation of previous devices, but the phone still shows some saturation over some of its competitors, namely the HTC U12 + and the Huawei P20 Pro in the following examples. The dynamic range is phenomenal and often brightens shadows, revealing more scenes. It's not consistent, but it's often enough. Samsungs Processing ist immer noch ein bisschen zu schwer, wenn es um Lärmminderung und Detailverlust geht, und obwohl es nicht so gut an die Konkurrenz, wie wir es in der Vergangenheit gesehen haben, verliert, hat es immer noch das schlechteste Zoom-Detail von den Großen Telefone, die wir getestet haben.

Scheinbar, um dieses Problem direkt zu beantworten, hat Samsung eine zweite Kamera mit 2x optischem Zoom-Objektiv auf Note 8 des letzten Jahres gesetzt, und das gilt auch für dieses Jahr. Wenn Sie es mit sich selbst vergleichen, ist es definitiv besser, die 2x Zoomtaste im Sucher zu verwenden, wenn Sie näher an etwas herangehen möchten. Mit der optischen Zoomfunktion wird die Detailverbesserung bei allen Lichtverhältnissen erheblich verbessert, jedoch werden dadurch die Standardzoomstufen nicht korrigiert, wenn Sie versuchen, mit der Standardzoomstufe nachträglich in das Bild zu zoomen. Es ist nicht so schön, es mit der Konkurrenz zu vergleichen. Meistens wird das HTC U12 + die Note 9 im Detail übertreffen, und je nach Foto ist es ein Gleichstand für die Farbtreue.

Das Huawei P20 Pro dagegen schlägt die Note 9 in sich Zoom Detail und Farbgenauigkeit in fast jedem Szenario. In der Tat kann die Kluft zwischen den beiden ziemlich stark sein, und oft kann die P20 Pro wie eine völlig andere Generation von Gerät aussehen. Teil des Unterschieds ist, dass Huawei ein Objektiv mit einer engeren Brennweite verwendet. Die andere liegt in der Verarbeitung des Bildes selbst. Samsungs Bilder neigen dazu, sehr überspitzt zu sein, eine Möglichkeit, die Illusion von zusätzlichen Details zu erzeugen, führt aber letztendlich zu mehr Artefakten in den Rahmen. Die Farbwiedergabe war in etwa einem Drittel der Bilder, die den sekundären Sensor verwenden, definitiv nicht richtig, und einige von ihnen sind auch übersättigt.

Diese sekundäre Kamera wird auch für den Porträtmodus verwendet, und wie im letzten Jahr Portraitaufnahmen aus der Note 9 sind in der Regel gut, wenn sie für Porträts von Personen verwendet werden, aber nicht so sehr, um den Bokeh-Effekt, wie er oft genannt wird, zu anderen Arten von Aufnahmen hinzuzufügen. Kantenerkennung bei Porträts ist oft nahezu perfekt, mit klaren Linien, die verblassen und oft genau berechnet werden. Samsung verwendet beide Kameras gleichzeitig, um die Aufnahme zu machen, aber der Hintergrundunschärfeeffekt wird nur auf die vergrößerte Aufnahme angewendet. Die Möglichkeit, aus dem Foto, das von einer der beiden Kameras aufgenommen wurde, auszuwählen oder die Hintergrundunschärfe zu ändern, ist wirklich fantastisch und wird nirgendwo anders angeboten. Samsung hat auch einige zusätzliche Bokeh-Formen hinzugefügt, was bedeutet, dass Sie das Aussehen von Lichtquellen auch im Hintergrund ändern können, aber nur, wenn es die richtige Art von Licht erkennt. Es gibt jedoch viele coole Formen, die Porträts eine zusätzliche Portion Spaß verleihen können.

Es kann jedoch schwierig sein, die Aufnahme mit diesem Telefon zu gestalten, je nachdem, was du seit diesem zweiten Bild zu erfassen versuchst Objektiv zoomt so weit hinein. Das macht Portrait-Selfies mit der nach hinten gerichteten Kamera sehr schwierig, da Sie Ihre Hand vollständig ausstrecken müssen, während Huawei das umdreht und die sekundäre Kamera nur dazu benutzt, die Tiefe zu berechnen, die Sie bekommen ein breiterer Winkel schoss mit unscharfem Hintergrund. In geringer Höhe, t finden Sie, dass die Note 9 öfter einen Hochformat-Modus abziehen kann, auch wenn es an den Rändern etwas verschwommen ist, wenn es dazu kommt, während die Methode von Huawei viel sensibler für wenig Licht und oft ist wird einfach nicht stören den Hintergrund zu verwischen. Quality wise, the P20 Pro produces better quality “bokeh shots” in any light when it actually is able to get portrait mode calculated, as the Note seems to often make the shot a little softer than the other phones do.

The front-facing camera is definitely improved over the Galaxy S9, and while it sports the same 8-megapixel sensor as that phone, shots look better in every lighting condition when comparing the two. Shots are incredibly well balanced, with colors that pop, looking both deep and natural, sporting an HDR methodology that does an excellent job of balancing out shadow detail and over-bright parts. We’ve seen previous generation Samsung phones overexpose the shot to bring more light to people’s faces, but this time around they seem to have been able to balance out scenes far better, offering bright faces and balanced backgrounds instead of having one of them washed out.

It’s not the highest resolution camera on the market, but at this point, unless you’re regularly zooming into faces, it likely doesn’t matter much. Something like the OPPO Find X shows the resolution difference, but many may not care so much about it, depending on the situation. Front-facing flash is awesome now too, with a really nice color and environment fill to the light, making it actually useful instead of a last-ditch effort. Front-facing portrait is an absolute mess though. The edge calculation is almost always wrong, and the effect looks forced and fake in every shot we took. There’s also a layer of haze that appears all around, making the shot overly blurry, and as a whole this just isn’t a good implementation.

Moving into low light we see Samsung’s same strengths and weaknesses continue, including scenes that look incredibly well balanced, bright and clean, with dynamic range that often is better against other phones we tested. You’ll find that light sources are far better balanced than some other phones, with lights that don’t look like they’re glowing as some other phones tend to do in these sorts of lighting conditions, yet the rest of the objects in the scenes aren’t dark at all; instead they’re super well lit and nicely balanced. As usual, detail doesn’t hold a candle to phones like the HTC U12+ and especially the Huawei P20 Pro, where the Note 9 typically loses in a detail comparison between these phones. Fine detail is often stripped out in photos, removing much of the material complexity of objects like wood, cloth or brick. See our low light photos in the gallery below for examples.

Very low light shots are where Samsung pulls ahead in some areas, particularly when movement is involved in some way. Outdoor festivals and concerts are examples of conditions where you’ll find the Note 9 likely performing better than the competition. Better and brighter lighting, better overall balance, more detail, nicer colors, and just a better overall image covers the gamut of differences in these particular types of situations when comparing the Note 9 with other phones. Samsung’s colors tend to be slightly warmer in many of these shots, which helps to bring a little more life into some very dark scenes. Other night-time scenes with little to no movement aren’t as good for the Note 9 though, and you’ll find that fine detail once again is scrubbed out when zooming in. In our sample shots, the P20 Pro pulled out some incredible detail in all scenes while the Note 9 caused bricks and other textured objects to look flat and smooth. It’s definitely excellent low light performance that’s better than many other smartphones, particularly when measuring the amount of light in a dark scene, but it’s not quite the absolute best overall when considering other aspects of photo quality at night.

Video recording has always been a big strength of Samsung phones, and that’s no exception here. The Note 9 is able to record up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, meeting the standard for best recording quality on the market. True to form, the recording quality at all times of day is phenomenal, with crisp and clean video that’s well stabilized, even at 60FPS, where many of the more advanced features like advanced stabilization cannot be enabled. It ties with the HTC U12+ in this regard, and pulls out better dynamic range than that phone too. Color balance tends to be cooler though, and I found some washed out elements in moderate lighting conditions, like an overcast sky or other similar scenes. Focusing doesn’t seem to be as fast or accurate as in the past though, oddly enough, or at least when compared to the vivo NEX S. Running a few different tests focusing on smaller objects shows the vivo NEX S is able to focus on these types of objects more accurately most of the time, while the Note 9 struggles a bit to do focus on what I intended.

Using that 2X zoom lens to zoom into objects seems to be far more effective in video mode than in photos. We had a few focusing issues, and like photos, the colors seem to be slightly off when compared to the P20 Pro, but it’s got some really nice dynamic range and image stabilization as well. Samsung ties the Huawei P20 Pro’s quality when measuring how well lit a dark scene is, as well as how sharp the details are. Stabilization is definitely better than the P20 Pro, which not much of a surprise given the P20 Pro’s generally poor video stabilization, and matches the HTC U12+ in smoothness overall. Colors tend to be warm and slightly saturated, sometimes introducing a green hue depending on lighting conditions. These can be more attractive in some situations, but aren’t color accurate at the end of the day. We also don’t see the big difference in quality at the drum circle in video mode like we did in photo mode between the Note 9 and P20 Pro, where the Note 9 took the better photos in this particular scenario, but they’re more neck and neck for video.

Slow motion still leaves a lot to be desired when compared to Sony or Huawei in quality, but features the best software design out there. Like the Galaxy S9, the Galaxy Note 9 is able to record at 960 frames per second up to 720p quality. Huawei also features these same specs, but the quality of the recording is quite a bit higher and more detailed, and Samsung’s looks more like SD footage than regular HD. Sony can do 960FPS at true 1080p resolution, besting both of these phones, but Samsung’s software design is the only one that features a good automatic capture mode when you setup the scene properly. It’s still only good in bright light though, which means basically anything indoors or at night simply will not show up in this mode; it’s just too dark.

The Good

Industry-leading display quality

Superb overall design

Fingerprint scanner is in a better place now

Brilliant S-Pen charging solution

More storage than ever

Best multi-tasking on the market with more RAM and all of Samsung’s features

Excellent sustained long-term performance

Fast wireless charging and wide support

More customization than any other phone on the market

New S-Pen features can be invaluable, albeit limited

New DeX interface via single display cable finally enables DeX for all

3.5mm audio jack on the phone

Dual-output Bluetooth 5.0 audio

Superb stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos virtual surround sound on-body

Ultra fast cell radios

Samsung Pay continues to be the best mobile payments solution in the industry

Excellent overall camera quality

4K 60FPS record ing with H.265 supp ort

The Bad

The price is incredibly high

New S-Pen features require developer integration

Camera fine photo detail can still leave a lot to be desired

Front-facing portrait mode is bad

Samsung 2018 camera interface is not a great design

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Conclusion

We’re at the point where it’s far more difficult to find negative aspects of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series than positive ones, and while the phone isn’t perfect in every way, it gets more right than any other phone on the market given the massive set of features and options available. Some have scoffed at the lack of the latest version of Android at launch, Android 9 Pie, but even without this milestone release Samsung is packing more features and options than anyone else in the industry, and truly giving the power user what they want. If you want the most powerful hardware, the most features, the most customization and the widest ability of any smartphone on the market with almost no compromise, you absolutely want the Galaxy Note 9.

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