Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB (Higher Storage Options Market Restricted), microSD up to 512GB
Primary Camera: Primary Camera: 12MP&12MP Dual-Sensor, Dual-Pixel Phase-Detection Autofocus, Optical Stabilisation, Variable Aperture (f/1.5-f/2.4) , LED Flash (Samsung Galaxy S9 is the same but single 12MP sensor)
So, broadly the design language used for the Galaxy S9 series and the Galaxy Note 9 is pretty much the same, which in turn is very similar to the last few generations of Galaxy flagship devices going back to the Galaxy S6.
The Galaxy Note 9 is again a glass and metal sandwich with curved edges, and “borderless” Super AMOLED “Ininfity Display”, with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio and wrap-around fitting which curves over the edges. The Galaxy S9 series is virtually the same deal.
The similarity is to be expected. Galaxy Note handsets are always a phablet spin-off of the Galaxy S flagships of the same year. For a couple of years, including this one, there’s been a phablet in the Galaxy S series with the “Plus” model, of course.
In this case there is a slightly wider gap in sizing between the Galaxy S9+ and the Galaxy Note 9 than there was between the Galaxy S8+ and Galaxy Note 8 last year, but only by 0.2in, so not much.
The Galaxy Note 9 is heavier and bigger in most proportions than the Galaxy S9 series, certainly there’s a bigger gap than between the Galaxy Note 9 and the Galaxy Note 8. But again, it’s not a huge leap in proportions, between the Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy Note 9, at least, of course the regular Galaxy S9 is much smaller and lighter than either.
The display technology on each should also be broadly comparable, again with the Galaxy Note series tending to borrow heavily from its contemporary Galaxy S flagship counterpart. The Galaxy S9 series attracted a ton of praise from technical reviews, enthusiasts, and casual users alike thanks to its market-leading Super AMOLED technology.
Visuals are insanely sharp, packed with detail and colour, and with excellent contrast, dark colour depth, and brightness. Readability in bright sunlight should also be well above par.
The design is subjective, though we’re rather fond of Samsung’s current style. Build quality across both flagship brands is superb, with the devices feeling very sturdy and premium in the hand. Again, both Galaxy S9 series and Galaxy Note 9 are on an equal footing here.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+: Hardware & Features
The Galaxy Note 9’s signature features are its large display - no longer so unique really, even within Samsung’s own range - and the S-Pen stylus used to write, draw, and input gestures, commands, and touch. This latter feature is still very much a standout for the Galaxy Note 9 and something few others in the industry have surpassed outside of the tablet sphere, and even there Samsung still holds its own.
The Galaxy S9 series, of course, does not have a stylus, so there is no real comparison here. Not everyone wants a stylus, to be fair, so this could be seen as a moot point depending on your preferences. For those who do like them, however, the Galaxy Note 9’s is a big draw - if you’ll pardon the pun.
In terms of actual stylus function, the S-Pen hasn’t changed hugely from the Galaxy Note 8. But this is no bad thing, as that was (in my view) the best digital stylus experience anywhere to date. To me it actually felt like writing and drawing on paper, which is not something I’ve found anywhere else.
Fortunately, Samsung has chosen not to mess unnecessarily with this winning formula. All it has done is make the Galaxy Note 9’s pen tip a bit finer, which it says makes it even better.
It has instead loaded the Galaxy Note 9 stylus with some other clever features. It now has its own internal battery which charges automatically when the stylus is docked inside the phone - a quick top up of a few minutes gives you 30 minutes of run-time, and as you’re docking it so regularly anyway you’re unlikely to ever run out of juice on it.
But why would you want it to have its own battery? Simple, it now links to the phone via Bluetooth, allowing for it to double-up as a remote control for your phone.
This allows you to use it to trigger the phone’s cameras, switch between front and back cameras, operate music and video playlists (skip tracks etc.), operate YouTube, and control presentations, including Power Point. Samsung teased that there are many more capabilities, this is just a taster. Frankly, the remote control camera is enough for me without the added bonuses!
We all know how important battery life is on people’s mobile devices.
For the Galaxy S9 series, while one could hardly describe either model as a slouch in the battery department, I and many other reviewers found it had somewhat less impressive battery life than its predecessor - the Galaxy S8 series, and the Galaxy Note 8 as well.
While of course we haven’t tested the Galaxy Note 9 yet, it does on paper have a much better start than the Galaxy S9 series with a full 4,000mAh battery cell as opposed to the 3,000mAh and 3,500mAh of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ respectively.
That said, it does have a ton more bells and whistles which could enthusiastically sip away at that enlarged power reservoir, so we’ll have to reserve judgement.
This is an area where Samsung has clearly been listening to feedback. The Galaxy S9 series came in options for 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB of onboard storage, all with microSD support for up to 512GB on cards. However, only the lower-level storage options were available in all regions, with the higher-tier being largely reserved for the Asian markets. This has been Samsung’s MO for quite a while now, much to the chagrin of consumers in Western markets.
That’s changing with the Galaxy Note 9. There’s two options now; 128GB and 512GB, both with up to 512GB on microSD, meaning the latter offers a massive 1TB of space total!
Crucially, both are global launches, being available everywhere.
There’s not a massive amount to compare here with all three devices in the comparison running the same processor setups. However, the Galaxy S9 only comes with one RAM option at 4GB, while the Galaxy S9+ has 6GB. The Galaxy Note 9 has two RAM options tied to the storage model you pick; 128GB comes with 6GB RAM, while 512GB comes with 8GB RAM. Obviously the more RAM the better, so the high-end Galaxy Note 9 option has an advantage here.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Camera
I’ve been fond of Samsung’s phone cameras for a while now, both in terms of image quality and performance, and in terms of how user-friendly the whole approach is. But with the Galaxy S9 the firm managed to improve the image quality in a way that surprised me, by introducing the variable aperture. The phone would automatically pick between f/1.5 and f/2.4 depending on the circumstances, to optimise the best quality by letting in just the right amount of light. Basically, this is what a human eye does, and the results surpassed my expectations when I reviewed the Galaxy S9 series.
It’s worth noting that the Galaxy S9 does this with one sensor, while the Galaxy S9+ did the same thing with a dual-sensor setup similar to the Galaxy Note 8, while still adding the brand new variable aperture.
The Galaxy Note 9 basically uses the same setup as the Galaxy S9+ - a dual-12MP sensor with variable apertures.
Samsung has added one or two extras, however, but they are driven by AI, therefore possibly software related, and we’re not clear whether an update might add them to the Galaxy S9 series in the future. The phone can essentially detect the scene you are shooting and optimise settings on the fly for best image quality. On top of that, it can detect errors during shooting - for example, a blur or smudge, and then notify you via the on-screen UI.