Samsung Galaxy Note9 review: Takes the mobile phone experience to a whole new level

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New Delhi | Updated: Aug 30, 2018 12:56 AM

The future is personal—the Bixby virtual assistant in the Note9 learns what you like to do the most, and makes the phone behave accordingly.

In many ways, the new Samsung Galaxy Note9 shows what the future of mobile connectivity devices will be like. The future is convergence—the Note9 is many devices in one. The future is small—the Note9 has more than 1 terabyte of storage (more than most laptops have). The future is personal—the Bixby virtual assistant in the Note9 learns what you like to do the most, and makes the phone behave accordingly.

The Galaxy Note has been one of the most powerful mobile technologies in the market. The Note9, as the cliché goes, is super-powerful. It can perform tasks most laptops will heat up executing. It’s got an ‘intelligent’ camera, a 4000mAh all-day battery, you can charge it wirelessly, it’s powered by a cutting-edge 10nm processor that can support ultra-fast network speeds (Samsung claims up to 1.2 gigabits per second) to stream and download without slowing the phone down. And if it does heat up, especially under gaming stress, there is a water carbon cooling system—there’s no ‘coolant’ flowing through a radiator, but a heat pipe with a carbon fibre interface and a drop of water inside, which condenses when chipsets heat up and spreads that heat equally. The Note9 is water-resistant, but not waterproof.

Then it’s got the signature feature, the S Pen stylus. It’s more than a mere tool for writing and drawing—it’s a Bluetooth-based remote control that can take selfies/photos, present slides, play and pause videos, and its range is about 30 feet.

Some things are easier done on a desktop, such as writing long emails, formatting text, extensively editing photos, and copying and pasting between apps. You can use the Note9 as a desktop, too, courtesy Samsung DeX. All you have to do is connect the Note9 to any external display that supports USB Type-C or HDMI adapter cables, and all the phone’s functions and apps will be projected onto that display.

Size matters: The Note9 is not really a one-handed phone. Often, you will have to use both hands to properly operate it, like when unlocking using the backside fingerprint unlocking mechanism (though there is a face unlock mechanism, too). That being said, it’s not unmanageable for people with small hands—you simply have to get used to the larger size. Another problem with its size is that when you carry it in, say, the front pocket of your jeans, a big bulge appears, and while walking the phone constantly rubs against your upper thigh. So, it’s best to keep it in your jacket pocket.

Also, it doesn’t come with the latest Android 9 Pie, but the Android 8.1 Oreo, and while the software is very fast, we don’t know why Samsung didn’t include the flagship Android in its flagship phone.

But if the Note9 is the only device you have, and you don’t have a laptop or a tablet, you’ll be just fine. The base model comes with 128GB, which can go up to 512GB. And then there is the option to insert a microSD card, taking total storage to 1TB. In addition, the combination of a large screen—Samsung screens are traditionally the best in business—and a stylus means you can do things you won’t be able to do on other devices. A large screen also means you can easily multitask—for example, you can text people and watch YouTube videos at the same time.

Clearly, the Note9 takes the mobile phone experience to a whole new level. But how do most of its daily-use features fare against that of its competitors?

Note9 versus Apple iPhone X

The Note9 appears to have more functionality, and one of the reasons is Android, which, simply, is more convenient and more user-friendly. And, of course, the Note9 has a headphone jack while the iPhone X doesn’t have one (you cannot listen to music and charge the iPhone X at the same time).

The iPhone X doesn’t have the microSD card option either.

Note9 versus Google Pixel 2
The camera of the Note9 comes closest to what is often touted as the best smartphone camera in the world, that of the Pixel 2. The 10x zoom in the Note9 brings things closer, and then clicks them with a precision of a compact digital camera. The other cool thing is the dual aperture—in low-light conditions it opens the aperture wide to allow more light, and in bright conditions it narrows the aperture so that the image doesn’t become too ‘loud’.

(The Galaxy Note9 is expensive. It is priced at Rs 67,900 for 128GB variant and Rs 84,900 for 512GB variant. The company is offering some EMI and post-paid deals with certain telecom operators such as Airtel, Vodafone and RJio).

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