Samsung Galaxy Note9 review

GSMArena team, 20 August 2018.

Synthetic benchmarks

As is customary for Samsung flagships, the Galaxy Note9 exists in two distinct versions as far as the chipset is concerned - in this case, it's either the Snapdragon 845 or the Exynos 9810. It's a regional thing, however, so you won't be able to pick and choose.

Samsung Galaxy Note9 review

Both chips have been around for a while and we're all familiar with the performance that can be expected. For a quick summary of the architectures, you can check out our Galaxy S9+ review. Here, we'll just mention we're reviewing the Exynos Note9 in 6GB/128GB trim.

And it's performing pretty much as expected. In single-core GeekBench, it's a step behind the S9+, but the two are miles ahead of anything else that's available in the Android world - the big custom Mongoose cores are closer to Apple's Monsoons with neither Kryos (S845) nor generic Cortex-A73s (Kirin 970) being any real competition.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X
    4256
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    3771
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    3642
  • Xiaomi Mi MIx 2S
    2468
  • vivo NEX S
    2466
  • HTC U12+
    2456
  • OnePlus 6
    2450
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    2431
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    2395
  • Oppo Find X
    2322
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    2199
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    1987
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    1907
  • LG V30
    1901
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    1862
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (Android 9)
    1807

The top Snapdragon 845 crowd catches up in the multi-core test with the vivo NEX S and the Mi MIX 2X actually inching ahead of the Note9. Oddly enough, Samsung's own implementation of the S845 in the Galaxy S9+ is further down the chart. The Huawei P20 Pro (Kirin 970) is posting scores along the lines of last year's Snapdragon 835 devices.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X
    10215
  • vivo NEX S
    9160
  • Xiaomi Mi MIx 2S
    9158
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    9026
  • OnePlus 6
    9011
  • HTC U12+
    9001
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    8883
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    8865
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    8494
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    8349
  • Oppo Find X
    8018
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    6784
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    6679
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    6590
  • LG V30
    6365
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (Android 9)
    6055

When it comes to graphics performance, the Adreno 630 in the Snapdragon 845 has proven superior to Samsung's current Mali-G72MP18 solution, and the Note9 can't escape this limitation. In offscreen 1080p tests in GFXBench it consistently posts lower fps numbers than the Snapdragon 845 competition. It is very much in line with the S9+'s results, so there are no weird discrepancies between Samsungs, at least.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi MIx 2S
    83
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    83
  • vivo NEX S
    83
  • Oppo Find X
    82
  • Apple iPhone X
    81
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    75
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    74
  • OnePlus 6
    71
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    66
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    66
  • HTC U12+
    64
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    64
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    63
  • LG V30
    60
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    51
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (Android 9)
    46

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    61
  • Xiaomi Mi MIx 2S
    61
  • HTC U12+
    60
  • Oppo Find X
    60
  • vivo NEX S
    60
  • OnePlus 6
    58
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    57
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    53
  • Apple iPhone X
    51
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    47
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    45
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    43
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    42
  • LG V30
    41
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    40
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (Android 9)
    30

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 6
    35
  • Xiaomi Mi MIx 2S
    35
  • Oppo Find X
    35
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    35
  • HTC U12+
    35
  • vivo NEX S
    35
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    35
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    25
  • LG V30
    24
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (Android 9)
    24
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    23

Onscreen tests don't make it look much better, in no small part due to the fact that a lot of the competition is stuck at 1080p resolution for its display panels and the Note9 needs to render about twice as many pixels. The Note can consistently achieve an extra frame per second than the S9+ - that improved heat management design must be the reason.

Samsung Galaxy Note9 review

Samsung advertises (and early teardowns proved that to be the case) that there's a much bigger heat dissipation element - 'water-carbon cooling system', they call it - inside the Note9 than on previous Galaxy phones. Our experience during strenuous benchmarking sessions is that the phone does heat up on the outside, but doesn't throttle after repeated test runs. That would mean that the heat is successfully dissipated.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X
    59
  • Xiaomi Mi MIx 2S
    59
  • vivo NEX S
    59
  • OnePlus 6
    59
  • Oppo Find X
    58
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    57
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    55
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    51
  • HTC U12+
    50
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    46
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    45
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    43
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    37
  • LG V30
    35
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (Android 9)
    27

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi MIx 2S
    55
  • vivo NEX S
    55
  • OnePlus 6
    55
  • Oppo Find X
    50
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    50
  • Apple iPhone X
    44
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    37
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    34
  • HTC U12+
    33
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    30
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    24
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    23
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    20
  • LG V30
    19
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (Android 9)
    15

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • vivo NEX S
    34
  • Xiaomi Mi MIx 2S
    34
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    33
  • OnePlus 6
    33
  • Oppo Find X
    28
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    21
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    20
  • HTC U12+
    20
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    18
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    14
  • LG V30
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    13
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (Android 9)
    13

The Antutu score race is a top priority for some manufacturers, with the numbers pushing 300,000. The Exynos Galaxy Note9 is around the 250K mark, together with the Exynos S9+. Most of the Snapdragon 845 devices are a notch up, with the Oppo FindX and the vivo NEX S leading the way at around 290K.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find X
    291218
  • vivo NEX S
    287081
  • Xiaomi Mi MIx 2S
    270814
  • OnePlus 6
    264200
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    264044
  • HTC U12+
    263696
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    259393
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    248823
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    246660
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    217298
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    209884
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (Android 9)
    206711
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    201065
  • LG V30
    182374

It feels a bit pointless saying it, but we'll say it anyway - the Galaxy Note9 is a top-grade performer. It's unrivaled among droids in single-core CPU performance, and it's got class-leading multi-core results. When it comes to graphics, the Snapdragon 845-powered devices have the upper hand, putting out on average about 20% better numbers.