For the last month, the Galaxy Note 9 has been my daily driver. Within an hour of using it, I hated my old phone (which I won’t name because it’s not really the phone’s fault) and never wanted to go back.
Obviously, being a tech reviewer, most of the stuff I use has to go back eventually (I’m not a millionaire, believe it or not), but I wanted to write a love note (get it) to this amazing piece of tech before I put it in the post.
There are a lot of Androids on the market, and I recommend all sorts of handsets to all kinds of people. But I love the Note 9 because as far as I’m concerned, no other phone is an all-rounder like this one. Certain phones will fulfil certain needs better, but if you’re looking for a people-pleaser, a guaranteed success, the Note 9 is it.
Why? Here are 9 reasons.
1. It’s big to the eyes, but not in the hand
When I first got the Note 9, a lot of people commented that it’d be too big. But it isn’t, even with my tiny hands. The 6.4-inch screen sounds massive, and it is, but with such tiny bezels (black borders around the edges) and the rounded sides, it doesn’t feel big at all. The handset is about the same size as a lot of phones with a smaller screen.
It’s also well-designed to be comfortable to hold, so you really don’t feel the size and weight very often. Films and TV look incredible on the quad-HD+ infinity display, and the curved edges really give it that immersive feel. It’s mesmerising.
2. Its stylus is amazing for beating your friends at Drawful
I’m not much of an artist, but I really like having the option of the S-Pen stylus that’s tucked away inside the handset. It’s really easy to remove: you push it inwards like an Ikea drawer and it pops out. The phone also automatically brings up shortcuts to the main things people do with a stylus when you pop it out, which is handy.
Personally, I mostly use it for things like doodling on Instagram stories. I also had a go at Inktober (see previous comment about not being much of an artist – but I still enjoyed it), and best of all, I had a way easier time at the smartphone drawing game Drawful against friends who were all using small screens and fat fingers. Winner.
3. The cameras are superb
No surprise to anyone who’s used a Samsung flagship recently. Both the 8MP selfie camera and the dual 12MP rear snappers take beautiful images in all kinds of light environments. It’s been reassuring knowing I have this on me when a photo opportunity comes up.
4. The battery lasts ages, and it has wireless charging
People whose phones don’t do wireless charging always tell me they don’t want it anyway, because it’s ‘slow’. Well, Samsung’s is pretty quick, but if your phone’s just sitting on the charger while you work (or on your bedside table while you recharge yourself), does it even matter?
Wireless charging is cool, it’s useful, and I always miss it when I’m using a phone without it.
That said, the Note 9’s battery lasts me all day despite that huge screen, and as you can probably imagine, I use my phone constantly.
5. It has a proper headphone jack
Yeah, I’m not on board with Bluetooth or USB-C headphones just yet. I’ll make the switch eventually, but for now, I really like that I can plug in all my existing headphones without a freakin’ dongle.
6. The software is effortless
One of the things I love about the more recent Samsungs is that while they do add extra stuff to Android, it’s mostly useful. SO MANY Androids have a load of rubbish on them that you can’t uninstall, or that fundamentally changes the experience – like forcing you to keep your icons on home screens, or replacing the swipe-up app drawer with an ugly button. And don’t get me started on some of the icon skins!
The Note 9 doesn’t yet have 9.0 Pie, the latest version of Android, which is disappointing. But it does manage to make 8.1 Oreo feel like the next best thing, and all the handy little software tweaks feel well-designed. The Note 9 is scheduled to get Pie around the beginning of 2019, which isn’t as long as it sounds!
Update: the Pie upgrade is rolling out now. Woohoo!
7. It’s surprisingly resilient
I’m a clums (no, that’s not a typo, I just think if you’re clumsy, you’re a clums). My poor phones get dropped a lot, and my flat has hard flooring. Eep.
Despite some truly cringe-making drops and that giant, curvy screen, the Note 9 hasn’t sustained so much as a dent since I’ve had it. I should probably have put it in a case nonetheless, though.
8. It’s waterproof
Another one of those features that you don’t think about most of the time, but you’re grateful for occasionally. It’s really nice to know that if I drop my phone in the sink, or take it out in the rain, it’s not going to glitch on me.
I should probably stop taking it in the bath, though, just for my own sanity. It’s meant to be a break!
9. It’s beautiful
My review model is the dark blue, with a lovely bright yellow stylus. It’s nice, as is Lavender, but have you seen the copper version? My god.
It’s not the most important thing about a phone, but when you’re dropping the best part of a grand on a pocket computer, it’s OK to want it to please your eyes. And while the screen definitely does that on any version of the Note 9, the copper version is where our hearts really sing.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be on sale in the UK (officially at least), so we’ll have to wait and see if it pops up sometime before Christmas. In the meantime, you’ve still got some gorgeous choices:
Me too. If you’ve been noodling on whether or not to get a Note 9, I can tell you from experience that you won’t be sorry if you do – despite the eye-watering outright cost of £849 (for 128GB). Samsung does monthly financing options, and of course there’s always mobile contracts to save you paying all that upfront.
I’ve got to move onto my next review model, but the Note 9 will have a special place in my heart – at least until the S10 next year.