Samsung Galaxy Note9 review

GSMArena team, 20 August 2018.

6.4 inches of Super AMOLED goodness

Back in the day, if you wanted a large-screened Galaxy you went for the Note. It got more complex with the introduction of the S-series edge/plus and whatnot versions - display sizes have been converging between the two lineups in a process that peaked last year with the 6.2-inch S8+ and 6.3-inch Note8.

Samsung Galaxy Note9 review

In a minor departure from that trend, this year Samsung's fitted a 6.4-inch display in the Note - 0.2>0.1, after all. It's a Super AMOLED panel, naturally, with QuadHD+ resolution in the company-specific 18.5:9 aspect ratio - so, 1,440x2,960px and 516ppi.

We measured a peak brightness of 658nits on the Galaxy Note9 in auto mode - incidentally, the exact same number as on the Galaxy S9. It is marginally better than the Note8's 647nits and slightly higher than the S9+'s 631nits. All of this year's Samsungs hover around 370nits in manual mode, while the Note8 could be pumped up a little higher to 412nits.

The iPhone can achieve slightly higher peak brightness (679nits in our testing) than the Note9 and the LG G7 ThinQ's outdoor mode sends it way up into the 900s. The rest of the competition is behind the new Note, though the LG V30 and the Xperia XZ2 are keeping up - unlike the Pixel 2 XL, Oppo Find X, and OnePlus 6 for that matter.

The number we recorded for minimum brightness was 1.9nits - excellent for keeping your eyes strain-free at night.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Note9 0 367
Samsung Galaxy Note9 (Max Auto) 0 658
Samsung Galaxy Note8 0 412
Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Max Auto) 0 647
Samsung Galaxy S9+ 0 376
Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Max Auto) 0 631
Samsung Galaxy S9 0 370
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Max Auto) 0 658
Apple iPhone X 0 679
HTC U12+ 0.2 366 1830
HTC U12+ (Max Auto) 0.214 389 1818
Xiaomi Mi 8 0 458
Xiaomi Mi 8 (Max Auto) 0.002 624 312000
LG V30 0.002 414 207000
LG V30 (Max Auto) 0.032 616 19250
LG G7 ThinQ 0.225 460 2044
LG G7 ThinQ (outdoor) 0.499 920 1844
Google Pixel 2 XL 0 420
Sony Xperia XZ2 0.431 618 1434
Huawei P20 Pro 0 412
Huawei P20 Pro (Max Auto) 0 582
Nokia 8 Sirocco 0 400
Nokia 8 Sirocco (Max Auto) 0.002 600 300000
OnePlus 6 0 456
Oppo Find X 0 426

When comes to sunlight legibility, in this market segment they are all good, but some are better. The Note9 belongs to the latter bunch posting a contrast reading virtually the same as the S9+'s, the two of them marginally behind the smaller S9. The iPhone is still uncontested at the top of the chart.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Apple iPhone X
    5.013
  • OnePlus 5T
    4.789
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    4.63
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    4.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    4.531
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Play
    4.459
  • Oppo R11
    4.454
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • OnePlus 6
    4.321
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Oppo R15 Pro
    4.251
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Nokia 8
    4.239
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (pre-update)
    4.234
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    4.148
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    4.147
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro (normal)
    4.096
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    4.087
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    4.086
  • Meizu 15
    4.082
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    4.052
  • Google Pixel 2 (pre-update)
    4.023
  • LG V30
    4.022
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • vivo NEX S
    4.012
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro
    3.998
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • LG G7 ThinQ (outdoor)
    3.978
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 8 (True Tone)
    3.957
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Oppo Find X
    3.954
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • OnePlus 5
    3.914
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    3.901
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    3.865
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)
    3.842
  • Samsung Galaxy A6+ (2018)
    3.834
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    3.812
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    3.767
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    3.765
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Nokia 8 Sirocco
    3.745
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
    3.729
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus (True Tone)
    3.725
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Huawei P20
    3.683
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
    3.675
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
    3.597
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    3.58
  • LG G6
    3.556
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Nokia 7 plus
    3.479
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Motorola Moto G6
    3.448
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    3.445
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    3.419
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018)
    3.397
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera
    3.393
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    3.39
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    3.378
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo F7
    3.333
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Archos Diamond Omega
    3.305
  • Honor 9
    3.289
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 5
    3.261
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Xiaomi Mi 5
    3.24
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    3.238
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • BlackBerry KEY2
    3.212
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    3.19
  • ZTE Nubia Z17
    3.159
  • Oppo R11s
    3.153
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • HTC U11 Life
    3.108
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • HTC U11
    3.089
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
    3.087
  • HTC U12+
    3.085
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    3.077
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL
    3.019
  • Motorola Moto X4
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia L1
    2.994
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • LG Q6
    2.987
  • Huawei P10 Lite
    2.974
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    2.952
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    2.951
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    2.938
  • Oppo Realme 1
    2.932
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2.92
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    2.913
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    2.896
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Nokia 3
    2.871
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Nokia 3.1
    2.837
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Honor 10 (Vivid)
    2.757
  • Nokia 2
    2.752
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Huawei Mate 10 (normal)
    2.742
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    2.737
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Huawei Honor 7X
    2.734
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    2.696
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    2.689
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • vivo V7+
    2.671
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Huawei Mate 10 Lite
    2.654
  • Oppo F5
    2.653
  • Doogee Mix
    2.642
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4a
    2.635
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Standard)
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Huawei P Smart
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Xiaomi Mi Max 2
    2.561
  • HTC U11+
    2.556
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A (Y1)
    2.556
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • BlackBerry Motion
    2.494
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Auto)
    2.417
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Vivo V7
    2.404
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Oppo F3
    2.376
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • Razer Phone
    2.328
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Sony Xperia L2
    2.266
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • HTC U11+ (EU)
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166

We've gotten used to getting super accurate colors from Samsung's AMOLEDs over the last few generations - so long as we stay out of the Adaptive display mode. In this default state, you get the signature vivid AMOLED colors and a still-not-bad average DeltaE of 4.9 when compared against the sRGB target space. If you want accurate sRGB reproduction, Basic is the display mode for you (average DeltaE of 1.7), AdobeRGB is represented truthfully in AMOLED Photo (average DeltaE of 1.5), while AMOLED Cinema stays true to the P3 color space to the tune of an average DeltaE of 1.2.

Samsung Galaxy Note9 battery life

One of the major steps up from the Note8 to the Note9 is battery capacity - the new model packs 4,000mAh worth of juice compared to the 3,300mAh of last year's Note. It's a significant upgrade over the S9+'s 3,500mAh too, and one of the largest batteries in the class - it's the Note9 and the Huawei's, and that's it.

The Note puts it to good use too, clocking just under 17 hours in our video playback test - incidentally the exact same result as the S9+, and some two-and-a-half hours more than the Note8. In the web browsing test, the Note9 lasted twelve-and-a-half hours, two more than the Note8 and 1:20h longer than the S9+. If you're one to do voice calls, the Note9 should last you more than 28 hours on a 3G network.

Taking all of the above into account, plus the pretty good standby efficiency, we calculated an overall Endurance rating of 97 hours for the Note9.

Samsung Galaxy Note9

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Samsung Galaxy Note9 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Regardless of battery capacity Samsungs seem to get to 37% in 30 minutes of charging from flat - that's what we measured on the S9+ and S9 (ok, 38% there, but the same ballpark), and that's what we got on the Note9. A full charge took 1:46h, so not half bad for a 4,000mAh cell, though we would've preferred a steeper climb in the first half hour.

Loudspeaker

With the Galaxy S9 and S9+ Samsung finally fitted stereo speakers, and now that is finally making it to the Note lineup as well. It's the type of implementation where the bottom-firing driver covers the low end of the spectrum and one of the channels in the stereo pair, while the earpiece is responsible for the other channel's mids and highs.

While in landscape, the speakers switch according to orientation, so the earpiece acts as left channel while the earpiece is on the left, and right channel if you hold the phone the other way around. When in portrait, the earpiece gets the channel it had last time the phone was in landscape.

The Note9 falls in the 'Very Good' bracket in our loudspeaker loudness test, a little short of Excellent, but still a few decibels louder than the S9 and S9+. As such, it's also a substantial improvement over last year's Note8.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Samsung Galaxy Note8 67.8 69.5 71.5 Good
Google Pixel 2 XL 66.2 70.4 78.2 Good
OnePlus 6 70.2 74.7 70.0 Good
Sony Xperia XZ2 66.1 71.8 78.1 Good
Apple iPhone X 68.9 74.0 76.2 Very Good
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S 68.1 70.1 81.5 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy S9+ 68.4 74.0 80.1 Very Good
Xiaomi Mi 8 68.1 72.3 82.2 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy S9 68.5 74.3 81.1 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy Note9 71.2 74.9 80.2 Very Good
Huawei P20 Pro 71.8 69.2 91.0 Excellent
Razer Phone 69.3 75.0 90.5 Excellent
LG G7 ThinQ 78.3 76.4 82.3 Excellent
HTC U12+ (Music) 76.0 73.6 88.5 Excellent
Nokia 8 Sirocco 83.6 76.4 80.7 Excellent
HTC U12+ (Theatre) 77.0 73.8 91.1 Excellent

Audio quality

The Samsung Galaxy Note9 got straight A’s on its audio quality report card. The phablet delivered perfect scores and loud output with an external amplifier, but as it turned out, that wasn’t anywhere near the most impressive part of its performance.

When we hooked up a pair of headphones the output was virtually unaffected - no stereo crosstalk spike, no intermodulation distortion nor any drop in loudness. It’s undoubtedly the best result we’ve seen this year and one that should put the Note9 on top of any audiophile’s list.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Samsung Galaxy Note9+0.01, -0.03-93.793.70.00170.0074-94.1
Samsung Galaxy Note9 (headphones)+0.03, -0.02-93.693.50.00330.046-93.2
Samsung Galaxy S9++0.01, -0.03-92.692.50.00120.0076-93.4
Samsung Galaxy S9+ (headphones)+0.03, -0.03-92.292.20.00170.042-76.3
Oppo Find X+0.03, -0.07-93.493.90.00120.0063-89.3
Oppo Find X (headphones)+0.01, -0.58-92.293.50.00880.330-55.7
HTC U12++0.02, -0.15-94.394.30.00210.0069-94.3
HTC U12+ (headphones)+0.18, -0.13-93.793.60.00240.104-52.7
LG V30+0.02, -0.01-93.293.10.00080.0069-94.2
LG V30 (headphones)+0.03, -0.02-92.992.90.00570.051-68.1

Samsung Galaxy Note9 frequency response
Samsung Galaxy Note9 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.